Prologue – Day Zero – Marin

            I had the music turned up that afternoon, loud enough to drown out the awful muszak that corporate seemed to think was the right kind of music for the store.  Cleaning the storage closet wouldn’t ordinarily be my idea of fun—it’s not really anyone’s idea of fun—but it was just one last shift before I started the process of moving to the east coast, to start my graduate work out there.  Better yet, it was one last shift that I didn’t have to deal with sweaty, demanding customers who wanted everything practically for free.
            I wouldn’t have been there at all that day unless my sales manager hadn’t practically begged for me to come in and do it.  Never really could say no to that woman.  In the end, I suppose it was best that I was there.  I shudder to think what might have happened if I hadn’t been, how things would have turned out if I hadn’t been there.
            Sufficient to say, I probably wouldn’t have survived.
            Belting out lyrics to a song I’d heard a dozen times in the last week at the top of my lungs, I was stacking toilet paper on the shelves of the storage closet when I realized I wasn’t singing along with the song anymore—I was singing along with static.
            “Damn it anyway,” I muttered, putting down the last couple rolls on the shelf haphazardly and climbing down from the ladder.  Of course it would flake out when I’m up a ladder.  Bloody radio.  The thing was probably older than I was—or at the very least was half my age.  It would start to get static-y often enough, though generally not the full on static I was getting right now.  I started to fiddle with the tuning dial, leaning against the shelves inside the small space, chewing my lower lip.  I don’t remember them saying that the fragments from that asteroid were going to screw with radio signals—satellite, yeah, but radio?  I mumbled a few more curse words as I continued to play with the tuner—static across the board.  “Damn it.”
            The world exploded.

            Take a breath and wait to die.
            Take a breath and wait to die.
            Take a breath and wait to die.
            Take a breath—
            I coughed hard, trying to roll onto my side, hacking, struggling to breathe.  I hadn’t had visions in four years.  No dreams that I could remember.  Only little things.  That was all—little, inconsequential things.  Nothing like that October day four years ago, when I was so sure that what I saw was real.  My ribs hurt, my head rang, and I could still hear those selfsame whispers that I’d heard before as I stood, staring transfixed at what I believed was a mushroom cloud rising just beyond the carillon tower at the university, out in the distance, somewhere across the lake.
            Take a breath and wait to die.
            No!  I hacked and spat, struggling onto my side.  The shelves had fallen onto me.  All I could hear, now that the voice was gone, was the sound of blood pounding in my ears.  No muszak.  No nothing.
            “Molly!  Terra?  Anyone?”  I continued to try to struggling out from under the shelves, growling in frustration, wincing as I did.  My bruises are going to have bruises.  Should get hazard pay for this shit.  “Ungh.  Guys!  I need help back here.”
            No one came.
            I’m not sure how long it took me to get the shelves off of myself—it took me longer to catch my breath afterwards, stumble to my feet, force the door open.  Longer still for my head to clear as I found myself staring at a red sky, a dark streak trailing from somewhere off in the distance.  My eyes stung, tearing—probably from the dust, or from the chemicals that were probably leaking from the bottles I hadn’t gotten up on the shelves yet.  I tried not to think about those as I stumbled clear of the now open door, blinking blearily.
            What the hell just happened?  I rubbed at my head.  Was I dreaming?  Hallucinating?  I leaned against the doorframe until I felt it starting to waver under my weight.  I stumbled forward in enough time to turn, watch the walls that had sheltered me collapse in on themselves.
            “Damn,” I mumbled, scrubbing my hand over my face, frowning at the bright red streak of blood across it as I pulled it away.  I explored with my fingers, finally finding a gash the length of my pinkie finger along my hairline.
            Better deal with that.  I stumbled through the wreckage that had once been my store, struggling to come to terms with what had just happened—struggling to sort out what had just happened.  I stared up at the sky, watching a few meteorites streaking through the red, leaving bright trails in the sky.  A rumble a few moments later heralded one hitting the ground.  Smoke billowed in the distance, almost in the shape of a mushroom rising lazily against the horizon.
            Oh god.  I sank to my knees.  Oh god.  Oh god…
            Take a breath and wait to die.


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5 Responses to Prologue – Day Zero – Marin

  1. I just found this and started reading it. It’s looking good so far. I’ve added a link to it on my apocalyptic fiction site:

  2. Seraph says:

    Read your request for a review and, having been in much the same position until Gavin reached me in his recent rounds, figured I can help. Obviously I’ve just started reading, but I like getting live feedback and figured you would too. This is a good opening, with just enough information and scene-setting to get the reader involved, but plenty left hanging in the air to explore in the chapters proper. The writing is generally good, but I did find one typo you might want to fix:

    “Molly! Terra? Anyone?” I continued to try to struggl[ing] out from under the shelves…

    I look forward to reading some more.

    • Erin M. Klitzke says:

      I made a note to go and read Shadow after seeing yours. I think I came across it a while back and thought “Oh, I should read that!” but never got around to it. Expect a returned favor soon!

  3. I love a good post apocalypse story and this looks like the beginning of something seriously cool. 😀

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