3 Words: Coke, Wrap, Corner (June 15, 2012 prompt)
by William Ross
Author’s Note: This story was inspired (though loosely) by real events.
“Why are we here?” My little girl, Janie, asked me.
“Well,” I replied, trying to keep things simple, “I guess we’re here so we can grow. So we can multiply.”
“No daddy, why are we here? Why are we on Casserola?”
Then I understood. Why I thought my daughter was speaking metaphysically I have no idea. “We’re here because our ancestors, a long, long time ago, floated here from another world.”
“How long ago?”
“So long ago that they didn’t even know what they were doing. They couldn’t think and they were so small you couldn’t even see them.”
“Wow! That must have been a really long time ago! Did you meet them?”
I’m getting old, but I’m not that old. “No,” I said, smiling, “but I bet your mother did!”
Her face lit up with excitement. “I’m gonna go ask her!” She exclaimed as she scampered out of the room.
I walked outside and took a deep breath of the cool, moist air around me. We were spoiled here in Corner. It was small, quiet and protected on two sides by the clear, majestic cliffs stretching far into the sky. Casserola was usually dark. We all preferred it that way.
I walked through the woods, gazing at the many plants in bloom. The black, green and blue shrubs erupted with life. Eventually I arrived at the edge of the plains, stretching before me as far as I could see. I knew that the cliffs were out there somewhere, though I had never seen them for myself. Some said they were carved out of Casserola long ago by the giants.
I stood there at the edge of the woods, gazing out across the flat ground toward the Great Obelisk. Many had tried to decipher the four strange characters inscribed on the pillar: C-o-k-e.
Suddenly the sun appeared with its searing rays of light. I dove into the woods, taking cover under a thick, black shrub where I planned to wait it out as we always did. Sun drills were practiced at school and we had all dealt with this before, but something worried me still. It should be gone by now, I thought. I knew that something was seriously wrong so I climbed out of the bush and sprinted toward home. Before long found myself bursting through my front door.
“Don’t move! I’m coming to you!”
It was at that moment that I felt the first tremor. The ground shifted violently under my feet and I fell to the floor. As I scrambled to the closet my wife and daughter were hiding in everything tilted sharply. I fell into the far wall with a thud and struggled to catch my breath.
I looked up and saw Janie gripping the door frame above me. Kari had pulled herself back into the closet and was reaching down to pull Janie up too. Unable to find a way back up to them I turned and looked out the window. Through the trees I could see the giant as he peeled back the sky. Warm, dry air rushed in around us. Using a massive shovel-like device he began to scoop large pieces of ground away and cast them away like trash.
“Jump down to me!” I called to my wife and daughter. “I’ll catch you!”
“I think we should stay here!” Janie called back, “we can wait it out like we always do!”
“Trust your father,” Kari said softly as she picked Janie up and dropped her down to me.
I caught her and then helped Kari slide down the sharp incline that was our floor. Still holding Janie I grabbed Kari’s hand and ran along the v-shape below our feet where floor met wall. We slipped out the door and clambered up what was now a steep hill toward the clear walls. A few small trees jutted directly out of the cliff face and I boosted my girls onto the trunks. I climbed up and turned around just in time to watch as the giant scooped away our house, leaving a jagged cliff instead.
Kari consoled Janie, who was crying hard, but looked frightened and ready to burst into tears herself. I wrapped my arms around them both and told them everything would be okay, even though I doubted that myself. The giant scooped away the ground beneath us, leaving us hanging desperately over a vast emptiness.
So now we are here, with nothing to do but cry and reflect on our lives. I can see and hear the rains as they flood what is left of Casserola, strange bubbles forming on the surface.
“Daddy?” Janie says, between sobs, “are we going to die today?”
“I don’t know,” is all I can get myself to say, even though I know the answer.
Kari, of course, knows the answer too. “I love you. I love you both and I always will.”
The foamy water is lapping against my feet, stinging them. It’s doubtful any other mold people have survived. We’re all that’s left.
“I love you too,” I whisper, “and Janie, no matter what happens, you will always be my little spore.”