Wednesday 29 November 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 32

This week's picture prompt is a painting by Keith Alexander, called 'Dead End'. It doesn't look like a painting at all. Keith Alexander was a white African artist, and much of his art was inspired by what he saw. This particular painting was inspired by a train in the Namibian Desert called Martin Luther. Sadly Keith Alexander passed away in 1998 at the young age of 52.

I have had the opening of this story in my head ever since I spotted this picture. It is sort of my nod to Stephen King's magnificent novel, The Stand, but doesn't come close to the fantastic tale or characters he weaves in that.  This book also reminds me of The Dark Tower series - which crosses over with The Stand - and Blane the Pain (DT No.3). Interested to know what others see in this picture.

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How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

The Power of Books

“Have you ever ridden on one of these, dad?”Jasper climbed up the side of the old rusted steam train.
“Maybe once or twice, when I was young like you, but these were already past my time when I was a boy. The trains we used to ride on were electric.”
“E-lec-tric? What does that mean dad?”
“It means they worked using electricity, and not steam like this old train.”
“What is ele-triz-eaty?”
“ElectriCITY. It was a form of power, it made things go.”
Jasper was up in the cabin now, fiddling with the rusted lever. He glanced at his dad, who could see he didn’t understand.
“Power is like energy it makes things work. With this old thing ...” Paul patted the metal side of the engine, “you had to burn coal in there.” He pointed to the furnace. “Which then heated water in there,” he pointed to an area above the furnace, “and the hot steam would push the pistons round which would make the wheels turn.” Jasper looked at every place his dad pointed. “But although electricity was created the same way, it was made in huge power plants and stored in big generators, so they could send it through wires to different things and places, including lights for homes and ovens and TVs.” Paul knew his son didn’t know what any of those things were, but he enjoyed remembering them and attempting to pass on the knowledge.
“So what happened to all the power?”
“It stopped being made.”
“Because there were no people to make it anymore.”
“Was that when all the people got sick?”
“Did you get sick too, Dad?”
“No, Jasper, I didn’t otherwise I wouldn’t be here either. I was one of the lucky ones. I was immune.”
“Ee-moon? What does that mean?”
“It means I can’t catch it. And neither can you.”
Jasper stopped fiddling with the engine and sat down in the cab, hanging his legs over the edge, and looked down intently at his dad. Paul could see him thinking.
“Do people still get sick, dad?”
“Not anymore, Jasper, no. All the people who are left are all immune too.”
“Good. It doesn’t sound like it was good.”
Paul smiled at how simply his son stated the catastrophic event.
“It wasn’t, billions of people died all over the world.”
“Will we ever have electree-city again, dad?”
“I don’t know son, maybe. There aren’t many people left who know how to make it, but there should be books somewhere that we can read that will tell us, if we can find them.”
“Can you read, dad?”
“Yes. I can.”
“Can you teach me?”
“I can, but we have to find some books first.”
“Where are they?”
“In the towns, you know, where all the buildings are.”
“Where the bad people live?”
Paul’s smile dropped when he thought about how bad it had gotten in the cities. It was why he and Jeanie had left to live in the desert. “Yes, like where the bad people live.”
“Will they let us have some books?”
“I’m not sure. It depends if they have been burning them or not.”
“Why would they do that?”
“To keep warm, or use the flames for light.”
“But if they burn the books we won’t know how to make power!” Jasper was outraged.
“That’s true. But maybe we can find another town where there aren’t bad people.”
“By walking that way?” Paul pointed to the hills in the distance.
“It looks a long way.”
“It is.”
Jasper looked back at the tent he called home, the only one he had known since his birth five years earlier.
“Will mum come too?”
“Of course. We’ll all go.”
Paul saw his partner on the horizon, carrying something on her shoulder.
“Come on, let’s go see what your mum’s caught.”
“Yummy! Food!”
Jasper jumped down and went running towards his mum. Paul looked on. Whatever she was carrying was big. He hoped it meant they could feed themselves up before the big journey.


  1. Replies
    1. Love this, love the depth and the metaphor. Excellent. Thanks for joining.

  2. As with many of my tales, it says virtually nothing. I have measured its value only by the number of words and the challenge of fitting something within the word limit. I should probably do this again, it was harder than my usual self-imposed limits.


    1. Ooo what a cliffhanger. Nice little tale withe great characterservice. Thanks for joining.