Alex posted a science fiction teaser in what looks like it could be one of those Internet memes, except this one is of course for writers and would-be writers.
Since I am not a writer, not really anyway, and I don’t have any completed works to tease from, I decided to create a teaser from scratch. It is about a new setting I am working on and that I may explore in my NaNoWriMo novel instead of what I had originally intended. (It is really an extension of the same theme rather than something completely new, sometimes those ideas that pop up in my mind happen to complement each other rather than compete for attention.)
The atmosphere in the shelter was a mix of tense anticipation and quiet resignation. Some occupants stoically awaited their fate, others whimpered or cried. Luckily nobody had panicked – yet. I kept to myself, sitting on a chair staring at the heavy blast door, wondering what I would experience had I been on the other side.
The radio played music that was decades out of date. It sounded like an automatic transmission that had been designed decades ago during the height of the cold war. There had been no messages after the initial emergency broadcast. Somehow the absence of any human announcer was much spookier than news of the world’s destruction could possibly have been. At least it meant that there was still a radio station, somewhere out there, that had not yet been hit.
Max, the shelter’s owner, kept things organized. He talked to people, introduced himself to those he didn’t know – most of those in the shelter, including me. Max was an older man, at least fifty, and his graying hair and beard gave him a bit of a grandfatherly appearance. He smiled and talked in a calm voice. I don’t know how he managed to be so serene, but then again he was the one who had had the foresight to build a bomb shelter. Even a few hours ago people probably thought of him as “one of those survivalist nuts” and while I am sure he was as devastated as everybody else, a small part of him may have been gleeful that he had been right after all. A kind of Noah, except Max had not hesitated to rescue strangers.
“You doing alright,” a woman to my left asked. I turned around startled. I had been so lost in my thoughts that I had not even noticed that she had pulled up a chair and sat down. She, too, looked straight at the blast door as I had done, imitating me. I studied her for a moment. Dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin. Pretty.
I looked back at the door.
“All things considered.” It sounded not quite as positive as I had hoped.
For a moment neither of us spoke.
“Listen,” she broke the silence. “I am helping Max by making a list of everybody here, so we know who’s who, what jobs they have, and any medical conditions we should know about. Would you please tell me about yourself?”
I couldn’t help but smile because of the unexpected attention. Under other circumstances… “Sure. Name’s John Sanders. I… don’t have a job right now.” There seemed to be no reason to tell her about my recent legal troubles. It didn’t concern anybody in the shelter, and quite honestly, how could a little theft matter now?
“But what is your training? Maybe we must rely on your skills at some point.”
“I see.” I hadn’t thought her question through. There was too much on my mind. “I am a programmer. Not much help after the EMP fries every bit of electronics out there, I am afraid. Had first aid training, but that was a long, long time ago.”
I turned again, this time to find her looking at me. Yes, she was beautiful.
“I have two hands,” I shrugged. “Tell me how I can help, and I will. I can carry things, cook without poisoning us, and clean the bathroom. Whatever.”
She made some notes on her clipboard while I spoke.
“Thanks,” she said and stood up.
“Could I ask you something?”
“What is your name?”
I didn’t have a chance to follow up on that. The radio stopped playing that very moment. Then the lights went out, except for the reddish emergency lighting.
Two minutes later a pattern of tiny cracks in the walls began to glow a brilliant blue.
I am not sure I am eligible to join the evil writers’ club just yet but were I a writer, that is something I’d strive for.
We get better at what we do with lots of practice so feedback is, as always, appreciated – this explicitly includes corrections on spelling and grammar, as I am not a native English speaker.