Time again for another story and this one brings in several influences. I draw on my trips to Florida and memories of my grandfather to create a story inspired by a picture of water and trees. The picture is from Flickr and is labelled as the Miami Art District. Enjoy the story and please share and comment below!
Sunshine and Asteroids
A warm salty breeze blew in along palm trees sprouting from the water like cat tails. They formed two neat rows, as though framing a wide boulevard, which of course they once had. The sun rose in the center of the water road, just as city planners envisioned many years ago. Though then, concrete lay between the palms, not the gently laping water now occupying the space. The suns waking rays cast a beautiful array of colors across the water, causing Tim to stand and admire the natural beauty.
He woke on a small island where a gas station once stood. He could remember all the out of state license plates that came there, paying for overpriced gas and soda on their way to the giant amusement parks a little farther south. He’d lived in Florida all his life and resented those people with their smugness and disregard for natural beauty of the land. Now, they’d never know it again. And in a way, he was ok with that. At least he knew it…once. He’d still be there when the receding waters revealed a new land, a new paradise, and he couldn’t wait. He just hoped he’d last long enough.
Tim ran out of food long ago, forced to eat any bug or small water creature brave enough to land on his patch of land. He guessed he lost more weight than he used to think he needed to lose and the unrelenting sun baked his skin to a dark brown. He kinda liked that. He always found it hard to get much of a tan before. Now, once the waters went away, he’d be skinny and tanned, ready to be the man of some girl’s dreams.
The waters rose several months ago, destroying everything in its path. At first, there was mass confusion. People didn’t heed the tidal wave warning thinking they were too far inland to be affected. As it turned out, they were very wrong. The enormous wave washed across the state, coming in from the Atlantic and crashing to the Gulf of Mexico. Tim couldn’t fathom such a large scale event and discounted all the radio and television warnings. His phone screamed at him as the state and then national weather alerts were raised.
No one knew the asteroid was out there until it was too late. Fortunately, instead of crashing in the midst of a large metropolis, its trajectory took it to the center of the Atlantic. As it turned out, that was probably worse than anything else. Going out from all directions, a huge wave circled out and grew in size and intensity until it raced towards the shore lines of Africa, Portugal, and the east coast of Canada and the United States. The government tried to get the population moving west, but the majority of the people thought they’d weather the storm, just like any other hurricane. That proved to be a mistake.
Tim marveled at the rising sun and breathed in deeply. Salty air filled his lungs. He exhaled loudly. “Yeah, that’s the ticket,” he said out to no one. He stretched his arms high overhead, his tense muscles straining. His arms popped and creaked, making him think of his grandfather. His grandfather was such a vibrant, fun loving man. Tim pictured him sitting in a chair on the back patio, bloody-mary in hand, smiling and joking. He missed his grandfather. Then, he started thinking about everyone else.
As far as he knew, Tim was all alone. He hadn’t seen anyone in over two months. At first, planes and helicopters and the occasional boat could be heard in the distance. Tim yelled and jumped and flailed his arms to no effect. None of them ever stopped or seemed to notice he was there. Then after about two weeks of that, it all stopped and stayed silent. The only sounds now filling his ears were the rustles of palm branches and the gentle waves.
He tried to leave his island once, but when several alligators and a shark…a shark! followed him, Tim felt safer on his small plot of dry land, so he set up camp and claimed it for his own. He spent the days yelling out for help or taunting the swiftly moving gators. Not once did the thought of them climbing up out of the water ever occur to him.
Tim watched the sun rise to its heights, the only show he could ever watch now, and sat still with his hands on his knees. The gnawing hunger in his stomach long ago turned to a constant feeling of emptiness that he learned to ignore, for the most part. Before long, Tim found he’d spent the entire day waiting, watching, and not moving. The sun started setting and darkness followed.
Black night covered the waters and stars filled the sky. If there was ever one thing Tim could be thankful for since the asteroid strike, it was the unending beauty of the night sky. He laid back on the cooling sand, mesmerized by the twinkling stars above. He could make out all the constellations: Orion, the Big Dipper, and many others he couldn’t name. As he lay there, ready for another night of nocturnal beauty, something caught his eye.
Red streaked down in the sky. One after another bright red and orange streaks fell from above, like a hailstorm of fire. Tim furrowed his brow trying to understand. All around him, small red streaks started smacking the water, huge cascading waves shooting up and out.
“What the…” Tim said as a rock the size of a quarter slammed into the sand just feet from him, forming a crater larger than twice the size of his head. Tim jumped up and backed away from the crater, his arms shaking. He looked up again at the sky.
For a moment, he thought he saw the familiar red of his grandfathers bloody-mary. It made him smile. The rock slammed in his head, killing him instantly. He died with a smile, thinking about his grandfather.