Saturday, July 21, 2012

Old Faithful

This is a flash fiction piece for Emmie Mears' End Of The World contest. Here's the deal:

It's the day before the end of the world.
The twist? It’s an unexpected apocalypse.
The catch? You must use the phrase “end of the world” somewhere in your story.
One Rule: Don’t show the end of the world. Your characters don’t know it is their last day on earth.

So, basically, I had 500 words to write a story about the day before the end of the world, where no one knows it's the end of the world, and I can't show the end of the world...but I have to use the phrase 'end of the world'. Tricky, huh? It's a story about anything, but I chose to intimate the end of the world with my choice of location. I actually cried at the end thinking about what would happen to this precious family tomorrow... Yeah, I'm that pathetic! I hope you enjoy it as well! :)

Old Faithful Geyser; Upper Geyser Basin; William S Keller; 1966

“Ugh! It stinks here! Why did we have to come here for vacation? It stinks.” Adrianne had a whine in her voice that could shatter the teeth in my head. Plus she was dragging her feet.

“Please hurry up. We’re going to miss Old Faithful!” I had planned too much. I somehow overestimated the endurance of a five year old…or, perhaps, hoped for too much. We should’ve left her with Grandma.

“Doesn’t the fountain spray all the time?” Adrianne continued to shuffle her feet.

“It’s called a geyser, and it will be at least another hour before it erupts again, maybe two.” Timothy turned around and got right in her face, “so hurry up.”

“Erupts like a volcano?” she whispered.

“No. And Yes. It’s just water and steam, not ash, dust, gas, and molten rock, but it will spray it over 100 feet into the air, close to 200 if we’re lucky!”

“That sounds hot. I don’t want to be any hotter. It’s too hot here. Can we go home?”

Timothy turned to me with that look in his eyes, “Mom! We’re gonna miss it!”

I sighed and handed over the camera, “Here, take this and catch up with your Dad.” Timothy snatched the camera and took off after Brian and Michael. I hadn’t even realized they were so far ahead.

I picked up Adrianne. That set off a screaming tantrum that shook the earth, literally. Tremors are normal here, I had to remind myself.  I suppose blaming the tremor on my daughter was a little excessive, but she was acting like it was the end of the world. We’d seen the Grand Prismatic Spring this morning, and we were booked for a Wagon Train tour this evening. This was our window for Old Faithful.

As I carried a screaming five year old toward Old Faithful, I couldn’t help but notice the stares. I just wanted to die of shame, but I wanted to see Old Faithful more.

We didn’t miss it. They had saved us a seat. Brian leaned over and took Adrianne from me, “Hey Sweet Pea, do you want a lollipop?” He had pulled out our bribe bag. We tried to limit their sugar intake, but this was an emergency. She stopped crying immediately, so I wasn’t going to worry over it right now. One lollipop wouldn’t kill her.

Just then, Old Faithful erupted. Wow! I allowed myself several moments of awe before I turned to see that my family was also enjoying the moment. I reached for the camera from Timothy and snapped pictures.

Old Faithful sputtered out way too soon and the ground began to shake. This was a full-on earthquake! Also, not unusual here, I had to tell myself. But when the shaking only got worse, I felt Timothy pulling on my shirt. I looked at him with wide eyes and he was pointing. I followed his finger and saw a cloud of black. I turned back to Timothy, “That’s not normal, is it?”

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