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Week Eight [Weekly Writing Challenges] Read 1058 times

Krystal Itzume

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Week Eight [Weekly Writing Challenges]
« on: September 23, 2014, 05:00:11 pm »
Sorry it is late!

Theme of themes: Deadline

Words to use: Tomato(es), Daniel, Win(ners)

Length: No length, but include a list.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Week Eight [Weekly Writing Challenges]
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2014, 09:04:16 pm »
1.   Coffee
2.   Donuts
3.   Creamer and sugar (why didn’t I make that 2?)
4.   Aeron’s laptop
5.   My laptop
6.   Two notebooks, empty
7.   Aeron’s UNIT files

Meeting on floor 9, room 907, 9 am.

All of these things, Setsuna had, except for the first three. He meant to remedy that as he walked into the grocery story. There was coffee to grab from the Caribou, a jug of it. There were donuts to get from the grocery store which held Caribou coffee. Then there was the walk to make, from the grocery store to the meeting. Setsuna had it all timed out in his head, but there had been a line at the coffee shop, and those jugs took a while to fill up. He made sure to get various packets of sugar and creamer before he left, also.

Then it was the walk, and the hot sun beat down on him. He was still getting used to the fact that when he looked back, there was no shadow trailing after him. No one else seemed to notice. Everyone was caught up in their own lives, with their own things to do.

He reached the building and walked right to the elevator, juggling items to try and hit the button. In the end, another man hit it for him, “Thank you,” Setsuna said with an exhale.

The other smiled, “Don’t mention it.” They both stepped in when the silver doors opened, “What floor are you going to?”

“Nine,” of course it had to be so high up.

The other chuckled, “That’s where I’m going. I’m a bit late to a meeting.” Neither, it seemed, were good with deadlines.

“Oh?” He looked him over, “You, too?”

The man nodded as the doors shut, “Yeah. I don't recognize you. Are you with UNIT?”

“I am, but I'm sort of the friend of our lawyer,”
he answered, “He sent me to get food. He expects the recent mess is going to take a while to clean up.”

“Yeah,” the man put a hand behind his head, “I’m not sure what Daniel was thinking when he shot the officer.”

Setsuna offered a shake of his head, sharing in the confusion through his expression. On the elevator marched up, until it reached the 9th floor where both men stepped off, “Let me carry something,” the man offered. Setsuna didn’t decline the offer. He handed over the donuts, and then led the way to the meeting room.

Aeron was already there, and he gave a nod to Setsuna, though his expression was clearly unhappy. He was not a man who had much patience for ineptness, and Setsuna’s being late was a sign of that. Aeron allowed for a break so that others could take up their donuts and coffee, and Setsuna brought one of each to Aeron. He also brought with him the laptop, files, and notebook, which he set down on the table before Aeron’s seat.

Aeron’s nose wrinkled when the food was held up to him, “Might as well be a tomato,” he said as he took the glazed donut and the cup of coffee. Setsuna’s confused look forced elaboration, “I never liked tomatoes.”

“Humor them,”
he reminded, “We have to blend in.” Aeron knew this, and so he bit into the donut that he considered disgusting, and drank of the coffee that had no more flavor for him. Not that he had ever been a huge fan of coffee in the first place.

Setsuna put his hand on the table and leaned back against it, “Anyone here you like?” He inquired, and Aeron cast his gaze over the lot. He shook his head.

“That was not the point of this, though.”


Setsuna knew better than to speak his query aloud. He understood well enough not to need clarification. “I’ll work on it,” was how he responded. “Next time there will be people you like.” Accidents would happen. Demotions. The next time Aeron met with UNIT’s officials, he would find people who wanted to work with him.

“Good,”
another sip of the wretched coffee, “We need to make sure to win when we strike. We will only get one chance.”

“You’re starting to sound like Arthur now.”


Aeron’s disgusted look did not stem from the donut, this time. “There is no deadline,” Setsuna reminded, “That was the flaw of Arthur’s thinking. We will have many opportunities. Don’t get fatalistic on me now, or I’ll have to fire you.”

Aeron ignored him. He turned to the gathered, “All right, now that everyone has something in their stomachs,” he set his coffee down on the table, “Let’s go over the situation again and prepare the paperwork, and make sure all the stories are straight. We need to have something settled by tonight.” Perhaps Aeron’s plan didn’t have deadlines, but he was still used to working in a world that only made any progress through the demands of deadlines. He didn't want to fall prey to Arthur's thinking, which had slowed the man down, either. It was difficult to keep marching forward with the fear that circumstances were going to trap him at some point, that there would come a time when there could be no escape plans, and the deadline would be hard.


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Re: Week Eight [Weekly Writing Challenges]
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2014, 10:31:27 pm »
This one is the opposite of the spread the sunshine thread for me.  Spread the gloom.


Deadline

One day, the noise finally came to a stop.  The sky was completely empty and no contrails were to be seen.  In Daniel's life, there had never been another day when the airplanes stopped flying, except on September 11th, 2001.  He remembered that day quite well.  However, this time the skies had been empty for three days and there was no sign that jet engines would be returning any time soon.

Although the airlines may have stopped flying, the world wasn't completely silent.  The roar of the jet engines had been replaced by the wail of sirens and the crack of gunshots.  For whatever reason, during any sort of civil disturbance, the natural instinct of dumb people is to start looting and shooting.  Chicago had plenty of dumb people, and it wasn't long until entire city blocks were on fire and the shelves of every store were empty.

No one really knew what had happened.  Some said that Washington D.C. was nuked.  Others said that a terrorist had poisoned the water supply in New York City.  The most popular explanation was that there was a revolution taking place--a new civil war.  This would explain why all the TV and radio stations went off the air.  Rumor had it that someone blew up the antenna towers in Chicago and it was assumed to be the same in other cities in America.  In any case, there was no news about what had happened.  Whatever passed for news was spread by word of mouth.

Surprisingly, neither the military nor national guard showed up to crack down on the rioters.  It wasn't clear whether the military had been destroyed or if the soldiers just stayed at home rather than report for duty.  However, at least the Chicago city police were out in force.  They had bulletproof vests, assault rifles, helicopters, and armored cars.  However, there was only so much a police force could do when half the city was in chaos.  Many officers resigned from the department after the first day of the chaos and remained at home to protect their families.

The December air chilled Dan and he blew into his hands to keep them warm.  The five layers of blankets he'd stacked on his bed helped too.  His house had been cold since the natural gas supply was shut off the day before.  Since then he'd been spending most of his time in his bed.  His only source of warmth besides the bed had been an old propane furnace he found in his garage.  The tank of propane he borrowed from the gas grill didn't last very long however and now he was stuck in the cold.

It also made sense for him to try to avoid moving about unnecessarily.  He knew that movement would burn calories and make him hungry.  While he had some cans of food in his closet and some water jugs in his fridge, he figured that he wasn't going to last for more than a couple of weeks at best before running out of food and water.

He'd given some tomato soup cans to his neighbors--tomato soup had the least amount of calories of any food he had (he checked), so it wasn't as valuable to him as his other stored food.  Additionally, by bribing the neighbors with soup cans he could hold them off for a while.  Unlike himself, the neighbors had children, and Daniel figured that a parent with a starving child would do anything to feed that child--including kill someone to steal food from them.  Daniel was friendly with his neighbors but he knew it wouldn’t last if the food ran short.

Dan also had some fuel in his car's gas tank.  He had siphoned that out and traded it for a couple more jugs of water.  The fuel was worthless to him, he figured, because where would he go?  From what everyone said, the rest of the state was in just as bad of shape as the city.  There was nowhere to run away to.

Shivering under his blankets, there was nothing to do except wait it out.  Occasionally, Dan left his house and would chat with his neighbors.  They'd share the latest gossip and then say goodbye and return to their homes.  They all speculated about what had happened to the government.  Would the utilities ever be turned back on?  Would the army finally show up?  No one knew for sure, but everyone had their own favorite fantasy to share. Flashlight batteries and handgun ammunition were traded back and forth between neighbors during these conversations.  No one had a real plan.  They all just waited.

Two weeks passed by like this.  His conversations with the neighbors got shorter and less friendly.  Daniel started carrying a loaded shotgun everywhere he went.  Some people hadn't eaten for the entire two weeks and were freaking out--going from door to door begging for food.  Others had run out of their prescription medications and went psycho.  Dan didn't want to shoot anyone, but he was ready to do whatever it took in order to survive.

Other folks turned to religion.  There were organized prayer meetings and meditation sessions, depending on what religion you followed.  For Dan, those kinds of events were a waste of valuable strength.  Everything for him revolved around survival by conserving his bodily health.  The spiritual side of things would take care of itself when the time came, he believed.  The morality of his actions were more important than how often he prayed.

Sometimes when he was feeling depressed he asked himself what he was surviving for.  Why didn't he just commit suicide and be done with it?  Some people, who had used up their medication and were in unbearable pain, did just that.  However, Dan didn't have the desire to kill himself.  He just kept hoping someone would somehow restore things back to the way they used to be.

It never happened though.  The weeks turned into a month and soon people were dying left and right.  Water no longer ran through the city pipes, disease was spreading, and nobody had any food.  Some people resorted to drinking from the sewer and slaughtering their pets for meat.

It didn't matter.  In the end, there was no rescue.  Daniel died from dehydration.

This was the deadline for America and no one lived through it, except for a few remote farmers and survivalists.  Civilization disappeared and the city landscape reverted back to nature.  Wild animals roamed the streets.

There was no winner at the end of civilization.  Perhaps one day a less violent, less stupid species would evolve to replace the homo sapiens, but that time could be millions of years into the future.  Perhaps an advanced species like dolphins, chimpanzees, or wolves would become civilized as the humans had been.  Like the dinosaurs, mankind would never regain its former glory and the remaining humans returned to a primitive cave man lifestyle.

Edit: oops I forgot the list...