Wasteland Treasure

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A chilling, hoarse wind burned Aaron’s cheek as he walked along the deserted road. The air carried an eerie, cemetery like feeling and bodies lay all around him. Silence hung heavily upon the landscape and only the wheezing breaths through his gas mask pierced the breeze. The nuclear war of 2025 had carved up the earth like cheese. Massive craters, the likes of which are meant for meteorites covered the surface. The few survivors now lived like vultures, scavenging the landscape in search of supplies. Aaron searched through a house and picked up what looked to be a picture frame, it fell to the floor in a pile of ash, not unlike the world, and he wondered how it had gotten this bad.

Aaron sat at the table with his wife Amy, and kids John and Susie, watching the daily news. It was an early morning tradition and was one of the only times they could be together. The normal stories came on of nation-wide court cases, county murders and so on, paying no attention to these Aaron turned to his wife. “Big day today” He said as the TV blared in the background. “I may be getting a promotion, if everything goes well and we can move out of this heap of junk.” Debra opened her mouth to respond but was cut off by an blood curdling screech coming from the TV. The headline read “URGENT NEWS, WORLD ON THE BRINK OF NUCLEAR WAR.” The family dropper their current tasks and tuned into the screen. Even the dog seemed to know something big was happening. “I know there has been some tension, but I didn’t think it had gotten this bad.” Aaron said as the magnitude of the situation struck me. “What’s going on daddy?” asked John and Aaron simultaneously as they heard the worried tone of his father’s voice that came out every time something just wasn’t right. “Nothing, everything’s just fine” Aaron said although he knew it wasn’t. He quickly turned off the TV and ushered the kids out of the room, assuring them everything would be okay. “Wait daddy” called Susie, running back to him. “I have something for you before you leave.” Susie handed him a small, fuzzy teddy bear which fit into the palm of his hand and he smiled. Kissing her on the cheek Aaron put the teddy bear in his pocket to keep it safe and then took Susie out of the room.
Glancing at his watch he realized that he was running late. He swiped his keys off the table, kissed Amy goodbye and rushed out the doorway. The pocket of his sleek black business pants caught onto the doorway and he tore it out in frustration. Mildly jogging to the car, he didn’t even notice the large hole in his pants. He arrived at the airport, no complications what so ever, disregarding the blasting news channels located in every single terminal. “Last call for Flight 48 to Houston, Texas” Called the airport worker as Aaron’s fast pace brought him there just in time. He hopped onto the plane and slouched back in his seat to relax. His hand went right through the hole in his pocket as he reached for the teddy bear Susie had given him before he left. Then it struck him. His worries and haste had lost the teddy bear. Disappointment flushed over him as he knew he’d have to return home without it. The flight attendants went through their procedures, and then lift off started, taking Aarons mind off the subject. The plane took off into the air smoothly, Aarons ears popped, and he settled back into his seat, thinking about the trip ahead.
He awoke to whispers, which as the situation built up, amassed into ear piercing screams. His vision was blurred and his senses started coming back to him. He had a few beers complimentary of the airline before he went to sleep. Through the veil that covered his mind, he could make out shouts of “BOMB!” and “MISSILE!” He was lucky enough to get the window seat and looked up in time to witness the explosion. Time stood still as a small black spec collided with the earth’s surface. Smoke burst up, forming a mushroom cloud of death and destruction. The crowds around the windows stood silent in disbelief, nobody knew what to say. Then it hit them. When an explosion of energy that massive takes place it creates an Electromagnetic Pulse. Knocking out anything and everything in the area. Being in the air won’t save you. The lights went out as the entire plane shook violently. All power was lost. Aaron’s mind raced and he focused on everything he had ever done during his life, in a matter of seconds. The silence of disbelief ended and chaos erupted in the plane. The nose of the plane dropped, and their decent began. The clever people, stayed in their seats, seatbelt attached and watched as gravity worked it’s magic. Those left standing and screaming were pulled to the front of the plane, slamming them into the door of the cockpit. The decent accelerated and still Aaron sat in his seat, staring blankly out the window, it was over. Closing his eyes, Aaron awaited the end.

He watched the picture frame fall apart and slip like sand through his fingers as his world had done not so long ago. Life had become a blur for Aaron; a daily routine had taken control of his mind. He hardly slept and when he did it was feverish and uncomfortable. He traveled along the outer edges of the bombings, going from house to house, where the radius of destruction had least affected. But even these places were desolate. He had lost track of time, place, emotion and food was running scarce as he entered another neighborhood looking for useful items. He swallowed the fear down his parched throat and stepped through the mud into the cul-de-sac.
There was an instant recognition that hit him but he could not put his finger on it. The houses were bare, some left just as squares of land, unable to tell that a family once lived there. He felt he had been here before. The street seemed so familiar to his feet and despite the gasmask contraption covering his face, it smelled of home. He felt it. It seemed as if it was a mirage. He walked up his old driveway, past his old, shiny car and peered into it. The reflection showed his old, clean shaved face and a smile, which in reality was a nothing but dirt smeared, rough skinned shape which carried no emotions. He climbed the steps to his once welcoming doorway and stopped.
There he saw Susie and John running towards him and he got low to hold them in his arms. They jumped, yelling “Daddy! We missed you!” into his arms and then they disappeared. Just vanished in the blink of an eye. In their place lay a teddy bear, amongst the ash and rubble. The small brown bear had not a scratch on it. He picked it up expecting it to disappear just like the rest but it was solid as a rock. Tears stung his eyes as he placed it in his pocket for safety, the non-ripped one, and walked away.





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