I wrote this short story in response to a challenge from a fellow blogger, to write a 1000 word story based on the photo prompt, which I have included here. She actually posted a picture a day, and we were to come up with 1000 words a day. It was hard! I didn’t actually keep up, but this was one of the early stories, and I kinda like it. Yes, I realized after the fact that the time on the watch is not 6:25, but 6:35. But I had to keep it as 6:25 in the story, for obvious reasons. Oh well. I was writing fast, so you’ll have to forgive me.
Stacy touched the hair clip with her finger, adjusting it so it was an equal distance from the bow tie and the pen.
She heard Toby’s exasperated sigh, but she ignored it. She was on to something, she knew it. Sweat trickled down her nose, and she brushed it away absently.
“It’s red,” she muttered. She sat back, her shoulder muscles aching from being hunched over the desk for so long.
“No kidding,” Toby retorted. She heard him push back his chair, heard his quick footsteps on the tiled floor. She didn’t bother looking up. They had to figure this out. There wasn’t much time left.
Time. Her eyes were drawn to the watch. 6:25. The time when everything had stopped for Luke, and truth be told, for everyone else, too. Eight hours ago now, but it seemed like a lifetime.
She heard a scream, faintly, heard Toby’s quick intake of breath, the rattle of the shutters as he peered outside.
It was all just background noise, distractions she had to ignore as she focused on the objects illuminated by the thin beam of the flashlight.
The pen. The sunglasses. The wallet.
This configuration felt right. She looked them over again, desperately searching for the revelation that was tickling around her mind.
The shutters fell back against the window, and Toby came back, sliding into the chair opposite her.
“It’s getting worse out there.”
It was not worth commenting on. What did he expect, that it would get better?
The headphones. The bow tie. The phone.
Smashing glass, faintly at first, then closer.
Her head snapped up, met Toby’s startled gaze. He swore, his voice tight with fear as he popped up again, over to the window in two quick strides.
A louder scream, more glass breaking, and around the edges of those sounds a faint low-pitched, snarly muttering.
Stacy’s blood turned to ice, her eyes pinned on Toby’s silhouette against the window; a dark shadow against the darker night beyond.
“Turn it off!”
Tony’s voice made her jump, and Stacy snapped the flashlight off, plunging them into full dark.
“Oh God,” Toby exhaled, the words a thin sigh of terror. “I think there’s one coming in, or maybe more, I can’t see – “
The far-off noises of the city’s death continued as it had all night – muffled explosions, the sharp staccato of guns; the futile last fight of mankind.
Stacy forced her attention back to the objects, tracing them with her fingers.
The billfold. The phone. The watch. The glasses.
Toby sat down again, leaning over the desk. It was true, you could smell fear on a person. He reeked with it.
Her fingers touched the smooth leather surface of the Bible.
“We’ve got to get out of here. Now.” His voice was thin with panic.
“No. Not yet. I’ve got to figure this out.”
“We’ve been doing this for hours. There’s nothing to figure out! No message! No final words, no nothing! He died, like everyone else!”
The pen, the hair clip, the bow tie, the Bible.
The weird whooping electrical noise that had preceded the attack on the city, that had formed the background to everything else, was getting louder.
Her brother grabbed her hand, stopping her sweep of the objects again. His fingers were cold. “Stacy, listen. There’s nothing mystical about this. Those creatures – I dunno what the hell they are, or where they came from, but they are real. Luke died, just like the rest of them. Just because you found this stuff of his in his backpack doesn’t mean anything.” He squeezed her hand, hard, and she had to look up. She could see the faint glimmer of his eyes in the dark. “You haven’t had your pill. The OCD’s making you crazy. You’ve lined all this stuff up a million times, in a million different ways. I’ve gone along with it ‘cause I thought we were safe, that they wouldn’t get this far. But they have. They’re inside the building. We have to go, now!”
Stacy knew he was right. She could feel the cage of OCD closing around her, knew that what she was doing was not necessarily rational. But neither was anything else that was happening.
In a crazy world, maybe it was the crazy ones that could survive.
“I know,” she said. “But not just yet. Just give me a second – “
She pulled her hand away, fingers fluttering over the objects again.
“The hair clip is red,” she said, “that means something. The only thing of color.”
Toby exhaled.“We have to go. Now. Just take them with you if it makes you feel better.”
Muffled thumps drifted up from the building, from somewhere below, but not directly below. They had some time, yet.
“Red,” she said, touching the objects again. The pen, the bow tie, the Bible.
She froze, the revelation rolling over her like a freight train, the pieces snapping in to place.
“Read,” she hissed, picking up the small book. “Like reading. Read.”
She snapped on the flashlight, directing it at the pages, her fingers fumbling now.
“Stace! Turn it off, c’mon – “
She flipped through the pages frantically.
This Bible stuff was new to Cody, new to them all. He’d gone to some camp, came back all religious. Talked about Jesus.
Her fingers froze. Red words illuminated under the flashlight’s beam.
“Wait, how do you do this, I mean, when you look up a verse?”
“This is crazy – “
“I swear this is it, Toby, this is the answer. We have to find it.”
His eyes were frantic. He blew out his cheeks.
“You need a book, a chapter, and a verse, like, John 3:16.”
Her eyes caught on a word. Luke.
She flipped the pages.
“Luke 6:25. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” She looked up at her brother. “The end of the world. That’s what this means, what it’s telling us.”
“So maybe the answer is in here, too. The way out of this mess. It’s gotta be.”
Snappng off the flashlight, she scooped up the small book, dropping it into her pocket, her fingers skimming its edges quickly.
Taking her brother’s hand, they left quickly, two small figures racing away from Armegeddon.