Charcoal

Hey everyone! This is a little piece I wrote (around 700 words) that involves an interaction between several people at the end of the world. Not much more to say past that, so see what you think!

A weathered looking man clad in some simple boots, plain threadbare trousers, a faded navy blue shirt the collar of which is open, over which he wears a patchwork coat, sits atop a bleached and petrified log. A small yet ferocious fire roars a few feet past the toes of his boots, illuminating the failing light as three men, grubby but calm, appear from the murk. One gestures, but says nothing aloud, asking if they can join the weathered looking man. He simply nods in response as they take places around the fire, sitting in the ash that covers the ground. They take a while to settle, but once they do the weathered man feels oblige to start talking.

“I could sit here and tell you some heroic tale of how we pushed back our enemy. The beings from the stars that came to this world with nothing but malice, or how we, humanity, fought bravely and valiantly until we dispatched each and every one of them from our lush vibrant world. But such things would be a lie. It’s true our enemy are gone, for now at least. No one knows if we defeated all their number, or just the first wave of many more that are yet to come. You see it matters little as I sit here atop the petrified remains of this tree trunk, bleached grey by the same forsaken charcoal coloured ash that blankets our world. What we achieved was not a victory over them. It was simply survival. We survived and they did not. But that survival will be short-lived, as the human race is condemned. Dead. The remnants that remain of our species have been left scattered across the Earth’s charcoal coloured surface. It’s a surface devoid now of water and almost all life, besides the few of us that remain that is.

Those that remain will forever be fighting and dying to carve out whatever worthless existence they can until they meet their fate too. It’s a fate we will all meet. Just some will meet it sooner than others. A few will even meet it on their terms, most won’t. Just like the billions of others that didn’t. I know what did this, but speaking it will do little good. It won’t change the past and it can’t save the future. The end was written for us all the day they came down to our world. Their technologies made sure of that.

Now we just sit and wait…then we die.” The weathered looking man says his clothes stained by the charcoal ash.

“If it’s all for nought why you armed?” One of the three men, a younger man with ash stained skin, asks.

The weathered man sniffs ready for what he knows will come next. His eyelids drop closed slowly, a physical sign of the fatigue the weathered man feels deep in his bones. At one time he would have been saddened by the senselessness of what will soon come, but he’d been a different man then. So instead he simply exhales, as he comes to stand. It’s a simple yet clear announcement to the three men who spring into action; their homemade blades quickly coming to be brandished high above their heads so they can strike. But the man doesn’t meet their weapons. Instead, he, as fast as lightning, pulls a revolver from his hip and fires in three separate directions, with a flourish. A single heavy bullet strikes each of the men in the centre of their mass, their chests. The impacts knock each of the men clean off their feet. Their bodies slamming into the ash, which plumes briefly in the moments before it comes to settle again. Though now the ash rests atop their bodies, leaving them coated in a thin layer, just as the man sighs heavily as he returns the revolver, his revolver, to its holster, which is concealed beneath his knee length patchwork coat. The cavities in each of the dead men’s chests are a result of the bullets that took their lives. The cratered holes large enough to reveal their rib cages, lungs and all the other gore that would usually be found within a man’s chest cavity.

“Like I said…we’re all just waiting to die. Some on their own terms, most not.” The weathered looking man says as he retakes his perch atop the stained petrified tree trunk.

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