Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 48

This week's picture prompt comes from Hossein Zare, an Iranian artist. He has some wonderful work, check out the gallery on his website here.

This turned out gentler than planned. I wanted to give it a twist at the end, but it came out how it came out, as they often do. I look forward to seeing how others interpret this weeks.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

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

Not a Mirage

“Not much further now. Look you can see it up ahead.”

“Are you sure that’s real and not another mirage?”

“It has to be, look how the light sun is highlighting it.”

Gabriel paused to catch her breath and look at their destination – a tree. It could be the only tree on earth. They’d been travelling for years and not seen one yet. It looked too real with its rich green foliage standing out against the scorched earth it stood in; it seemed surreal.

But then the whole of the earth was scorched now, the only life that could be sustained was in the crowded, dirty cities, using recycled ocean water. The seas might still exist but nothing lived in them now – nothing lived anywhere anymore, except humans in their cities. Mankind had made sure of that – or at least the ones that controlled the bombs. A hundred years had passed and the land had grown hot, arid and barren. The only plants that grew were in underground glasshouses and were only for those that could afford them, the rest of the population had to make do with supplements; it was the second largest thing to cull the population after the bombs, and the one that kept it to a minimum.

Gabriel and Peter hadn’t wanted to stay in the cities. They were dangerous and toxic. They didn’t believe the stories that there was nothing out here; they wanted to find out for themselves. So they had. They had travelled across landmass after landmass, witnessing the desertification, the monotony broken only by isolated, congested cities where the people crowded in, trying to survive.

Up until now the only sightings of any other living thing between the cities had been water starved illusions. Gabriel was surprised they were still alive.

And here ahead of them was a tree – or potential tree. She had only seen them on computers and in old films. She wondered what it would smell and feel like.

“Oh I hope it is real, Peter.”

“Let’s find out, Gabby.”

He took her hand and led her down the rocky hillside onto the plain. The tree loomed larger as they drew closer. It didn’t wobble or shimmer, it remained steady. Gabby felt the same urgency as Peter as he tugged at her hand, upping their pace, breaking into a jog as they approached. They stopped a foot away, silently observing. They could hear the whoosh of the wind blowing through its leaves and smell the slightly acrid smell of its foliage. Peter stepped forward and tentatively put out a hand to its trunk. His fingers brushed its surface and he moved closer pressing both hands against it.

“It IS real!” he laughed. “It is! It is!”

Gabby rushed forward to join him, flinging her arms around the tree’s wide girth and embracing it. She felt the rough texture of the bark under her cheek and inhaled the woody smell, so alien yet so familiar. 

Peter stepped back a couple of feet and started digging in the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“If it can survive here, then so can we. There must be a water source.”

After he dug down a foot or more the earth started to get damp.

“See? I told you.”

Gabby joined him and after a while they had a puddle of water in the bottom of a hole. It smelt of sand and soil but when they licked it, it was sweet. Gabby cupped a handful, it was a little gritty but it quenched her thirst. She took another and found that the hole never quite emptied.

Once they had both had their fill, they settled down against the base of the tree.

“What shall we do now, Peter?”

“Set up camp, Gabby, this is our home now, and our tree.”

She smiled. They had done it. They had found life outside the cities; a fresh start, a new beginning.

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