Preservation. Flash Fiction.

Brad grabbed his bag and got out of the truck, several men in uniform jumped out and quickly gathered in formation before moving off, leaving Brad and another man alone at the truck. The man ignored Brad, he was focused entirely on a laptop. Brad looked around at the empty town, just like the others. It was the sixth town so far to go silent, each of the towns appeared normal enough, no fires, no damage. Cars were parked neatly at the side of the road, stores had their shutters open and their doors unlocked, houses had family meals laid out on the tables. The only things missing were the living, there seemed to be no life, animal or human, inside the town. Brad leaned against the truck, as a doctor there was little he could do until there was an injury or a survivor was found. He wasn’t sure why they insisted he go on every mission, particularly after the fourth empty town. At that point the pattern was pretty obvious to anyone with a brain.
“I’m going for a look around.”
The man didn’t look up from the laptop, “Don’t go to far, don’t turn the radio off. Don’t go inside anywhere.”
Brad rolled his eyes and walked away from the truck, as the sounds of clacking keys faded he realised how truly quiet it was in the town, no sound of engines rumbling or birds singing, there wasn’t even a breeze to rattle the trees.

Almost two hours later and the team was back at the truck, Brad had spent most of his time in the town square, sitting on a comfortable enough wooden bench while he waited for something, anything to happen. “Same situation as everywhere else, like the people just vanished en masse. No signs of struggles or injury.”
“Hey, what the hell is that?” one of the soldiers was pointing over Brads head, he turned quickly and saw a bright wall of light moving towards them rapidly, Brad heard shouting behind him, someone grabbed his shoulder roughly and started dragging him. Brad shook off the hand and started running, the truck was only ten feet away if they could get in then-the light washed over him, blindingly bright.

When Brad opened his eyes again he was standing in the middle of a large, silent crowd. He tried to turn his head but couldn’t, the only thing he could move were his eyes. He spotted one of the soldiers standing a few feet away from him, his name was Joey or Jack, something with a J. His eyes were wide and moving back and forth. Brad tried to signal him but the solider wasn’t looking at him, he was looking at something behind and above Brad’s head. Somewhere there was a loud sharp siren, then the rumble of water in pipes before he could hear it splashing to the ground. The room was filling up quickly, already he could feel the water at shin height, after another minute it was just below his chin and a few seconds after that started filling his mouth. The liquid was bitter and burned as it began rushing down his throat, he tried to move, to swim, to cough but he couldn’t. The burning in his lungs intensified then everything went dark.

Brad woke suddenly, one moment everything was darkness, the next it was absurdly bright. The sun was rising and it was right in his eyes, he was in the town square again. Had he fallen asleep on the bench? He went to shade his eyes but couldn’t. His heart started beating faster, thudding heavily in his chest. He spotted other people they all looked like statues, from this distance he couldn’t see if their eyes were moving too. He felt something poke at his back, a short, sharp prod. An alarm blared, “Please do not touch the attractions. This is a protected area.” someone was yelling behind him, but he couldn’t make out the words, it was English, but the speaker seemed to have some kind of speech impediment. Brad tried to scream as something stepped into view, it was above five foot tall, with two long arms that reached to the ground, its face was circular and wide, with several eyes dotted around it’s skull in a ring. It opened it’s mouth. Thin and full of sharp teeth, it spoke and he recognised the speech impediment. A second later a smaller one ran into view and grabbed the taller ones hand, pulling it towards another frozen person.

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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