Decline. Flash Fiction.

Lance stood on the wall, looking out over the forest. He could feel the faint tremor of the machines below, the ones that worked to keep them all safe. Things lurked in the forest, waiting for their chance. It had been at least ten years since an attack and people had started to forget, not Lance, he knew they were still out there, waiting. He also knew the machines wouldn’t last much longer. The system was vast and complicated, made from things that were practically impossible to find, let alone manufacture. Even those in charge of the machines weren’t entirely sure how everything worked. Any time one of them broke down there was a chance it simply wouldn’t work again, even if the problem itself had been fixed. Lance suspected whatever they used as a power source was starting to run out, more and more of the machines were dying in the last few years. In the distance he could hear shrieking, then a loud roar. He studied the area he thought the noise came from, but he could see nothing. They were going to need to do something and soon. If they stayed here they had the walls and the dying machines, but how long would those keep everyone safe? If they left they would have nothing, but the machines could be brought with them, to protect them while they searched for somewhere safe. Though of course, there may not be anywhere that was safer than the small city they lived in. Few people went outside the walls, most that did didn’t return. When he was a child traders would occasionally visit, they would bring news of other cities. The last trader that had come had little to tell them. Cities had fallen, places were too dangerous to travel. As a child that had terrified him, if the traders were willing to brave the forest what could scare them?

Lance froze when he heard the high pitched whine, people started yelling below. He didn’t have to wait long for the explosion. It wasn’t as loud as he expected, he looked down from the wall and saw the machine, lying on the ground in a pile of broken parts. People were moving closer, no one seemed to have gotten hurt. The last machine that went like that had taken three people with it. With that one gone there were only thirty left inside the city, and there were only twelve of the harvesters left. Once they were gone they’d lose much of their food supplies. The machines could farm outside the walls, they could protect themselves and the crops they grew. Most of the creatures out there knew not to mess with the machines, though there were always ones that tried. Out in the forest there was another shriek, this time closer. Lance thought he spotted something moving through the trees but before he could get a good look it was gone. He made a note of it, if it was dangerous it was best to be on alert. Lance stretched and yawned, the job could be boring, but everyone preferred it that way.




About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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