“…this kingdom of ash, this place so familiar…”
Howie doesn’t look over his shoulder after he steps out of the torched apartment he once shared with the love of his life. The railing around the top landing – what’s left of it, anyway – cannot possibly support the full weight of his elbows, so Howie merely pretends to rest on it. All of his weight is still on his feet, and leaning forward like this is only making his back hurt more than it already does, yet there he stands pretending nothing is wrong. Pretending the ashes are snow, that this ruined world of his is fine. Just fine and dandy, as Jhan would surely not be saying right now even if he didn’t die alone with everybody else as the world inexplicably burned alive overnight.
“Did I love you, Yahn?” Howie asks himself.
Was there even a fire? Ash covers the land from sea to polluted sea, Howie assumes, but did a fire cause this? Or is this just some kind of nuclear winter? Did humanity really jump the shark and build some megaweapon they didn’t fully understand the risks of building just to have that megaweapon blow up in their faces as literally as it did metaphorically? Or is there no rational explanation for this, did some high being wake up on the wrong side of the bed and just snap its fingers, reigning Armageddon unto Earth to finally clear the planet of all those terrible heathens who had misused the land they were bestowed from the first moment they felt it beneath their feet? Did extraterrestrial beings come down from outer space and at long last press that infamous big red button of theirs and vaporize all of Earth’s life, high, low, and otherwise? Did the dead return to plague the mortal coil and haunt the Earthlings into oblivion, or did artificial intelligence get out of control and overthrow the humans like slaves always do to the ones who enslave them? Did humanity just get tired, so tired that old age took them as a species like it was likely going to at some point in the relatively near future anyway?
“Would it have happened anyway?” Howie wonders aloud. “Or would the world have just gone on forever if it didn’t come to this end? Would a different ending have come?” No ashes fall from the sky. They’ve already fallen, every last one. “Would I have stayed with Yahn forever if it did?”
Howie empties his sinuses into the ashes. He’s grown to ignore the lite acidic burning beneath the skin of his face, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
“I need to get down,” Howie reminds himself. “I need to get my stash and get the fuck back to that church.”
A heavy gray boot lowers upon half of a singed tread. Howie’s heart picks up a couple beats when he feels his foot sink slightly into the step. Gripping the railing just hard enough to crumble it between his fingers, Howie takes another step, then another step, then grimaces in exertion as he reaches down over the empty hole where a full step once was and plants his full weight on the step below it. There Howie stands, almost like a ballerina in a way, as the wind sits still around him and the ash mocks his every movement with its horrible deafening silence.
Howie releases the railing. Leaning forward with one hand flat against the side of the house, Howie lifts his back foot and starts to bring it to level with the front one. The staircase finishes the job for him by first rumbling as the bottom beams crunch into dust–
–shaking and grinding into the side of the house–
–Howie’s pushing off, he’s flying, he’s coming Sisters, Howie “Hoots” McGee is coming back to chu–
‘we all fall down’
Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the third chapter of Flowers, a novel about a man who smokes the last of his pot.
Flowers is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Flowers is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Flowers and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~