Lightning blinded me once more as I opened my eyes, bringing the thunder everyone hates the sound of, and the rain that terrorises men and animal alike.
My breath catches as I realise I can breath again, a fresh taste in my mouth as I am flung forward and thrown towards the ground.
I can feel stone beneath me, wet, rigid. I scramble to my feet desperately, waiting for the water to seep in to my skin, for the pain to start, but when I look at my hands, I do not see blisters or sores. The water trickles in droplets down my palm and back on to the floor.
I do not look back, I am drawn to the light, the opening in the dark where the rain pours and the lightning strikes, smashing in to the rock and breaking away at what surrounds me.
My legs stumble and falter, but somehow, I keep myself upright, drawn to what my people call the acid rain.
I trip and fall to the ground, the light on the horizon goes dark. It is wet and cold, but again, the water does not burn like it is supposed too. It has no flame, no power. I push myself to my knees, the light on the horizon appearing once more.
My eyes must have adjusted. I can see the raggedness of the caves opening in to the world, I can see the stone tear apart as the lightning crashes against it.
So, why on earth am I still walking towards it? My father once told me an old saying of our people, that curiosity killed the cat. I don’t even know what a cat is, but it sounds evil.
I come to the edge and my heart freezes as I look upon the bright lights and sounds of a city as far and as wide as my eyes can see.
There are towers of windows and lights high in to the sky, things that move across straight roads seemlessly in all different colours. Sounds, so many sounds I’ve never heard before, ones that ring in my ears, ones that fill them with joy. There is something though, something I recognise in amongst the new.
People. Other people.
I kneel down, entranced by the scene. It looks like a city from one of the photo’s, of a world that had once been. People are running around, trying to escape the rain like I would, but their rain is not like ours. They run without cover, their skin bare to the elements.
Are they immune to the acid rain? Have they evolved? I hold my arm out, my body shakes as I wait for the familiar pain, but it does not come. It does not burn or melt my skin like it once had.
Had the nuclear storm ended as I’d been trapped, had the wasteland been rebuilt, taking back what was once ours on the barron land. How long had I been asleep? I touch my face, expecting wrinkles and leather skin like grandma had once, but it is still soft, still untouched by the old.
I stand with my arms opened, embracing this new world, a world where acid rain did not melt childrens faces and elders could walk outside without fear that their own translucent skin would betray them.
I look down at the cliff I’m on. If I am careful and do not falter, I could reach the bottom. I turn back, sending a silenf promise that once I found the city safe, I would return for my people.
After only two steps down, I was at the bottom. As if there is no cliff there at all.
I turn to the city. It looks even taller now. I am on one of their roads, they are grey like the ones they used to talk off, yellow and white lines running across them.
I notice the similarities more and more as I walk. The things that move pass me run on wheels. I am sure I have seen the wreckage of what a thousand years of a nuclear storm can do to them. The slabs on the pavement are familiar too, I have seen them used to build a wall, to keep out the monsters the acid rain had created. The towers of windows, the buildings, they are made of brick, of concrete, just like ours once were.
I feel an immense sense of fulfillment as I begin to run towards the center. I have woke in a place that had rebuilt the wasteland. A place where acid rain does not burn my skin. Has the nuclear storm finally ended?
People run pass me, I hear their voices complain about the rain, of how their hair would ruin or their make-up run. Do they not realise that they are in a place where rain does not scar your skin or make your face melt, in a place where the sun does not bare down on you and cook you from the inside out.
The people stare at me, look at me weird, as if I do not belong to this place, but as I look down to my blue overalls, I feel under dressed. The clothes they wear are different to ours, their more colourful, colours I have only ever seen faded. My feet do not stop to worry about such things, my mind wants to take it all in. Am I dreaming?
Am I even smart enough to think up such a place?
A chubby man get’s my attention. He is stood next to a newspaper stand, the papers flutter around as he tries to collect them up, to shelter them from the rain, but one escapes him. We both watch as it flies up, way out of his reach and he looks away, disheartened when it lands in a puddle near me. He walks away as I pick it up.
The words do not fade straight away. On the front page, it has The Times written across the top, it’s almost like the one I had found before, but it was fresh, white; not browned and aged and brittle. The photo shows me a family. A mother, a father and a child I think. The child looks sick, tubes coming from his nose. Cancer. An old illness that my people do not fall ill too. I look through it, the paper ripping as the wet sunk in, but I could not find anything of my world in it’s words.
My eyes get drawn to the date. The 26th April 2017. It is the same date, the same month, the same year, but this can not be my world. My world is a wasteland.
The rain continues to fall, but another bright glow from the sky makes me look up. The clouds have began to shift.
Is it the sun. It must be the sun. The clouds shift over, showing a white globe in the sky, but it does not blind me like the sun does.
Is it the moon. How can it be the moon. The moon was blown up, destroyed by a nuclear strike that had come for the world seconds after.
Thats because… I’m dreaming…
This is not my world. This world has never been a wasteland. They have not faced the acid rain. They have never faced the monsters that had evolved in the radioactive waters. A blip, a blip in the line of the universe. A world where nuclear war did not take our homes, or the beauty of the moon..
I look backwards, towards the cliff I had scaled and see only buildings. The cave I emerged from is gone. I had escaped the wasteland, but now I was trapped…
This piece was inspired by a promp from thinkbreathwriteblog.
The featured photo is from atideswellman
I don’t really know what caused me to talk about nuclear war and a wasteland, but it’s the first things that popped in to my head as I started to write. It’s also the first time I have written anything in present tense, so hopefully I’ve not messed up anywhere.
Have a good Wednesday!