Content Warning

Greetings and Salutations.
Because my stories have bite, they can contain content that isn't suitable for work or children. Not a lot of truly graphic sex or violence, but there are some questionable or heated posts. F-bombs are not uncommon, so watch your footing.

Friday, February 7, 2020

#FridayFlash - Slim Pickings

Evening spread its colors across the sky as birds began their final song. Tom stirred the pot of rice above the low fire, Sally huddled beside him.

"Just a little longer," he told her, smiling at his daughter. Tom's stomach rumbled, the smoke and steam whetting his appetite. Considering how long it had been since their last meal, he was impressed with how well he held out against scarfing the half-cooked rice.

Sally looked up at him with big brown eyes. Her mother had called them doe eyes, had always teased that they would trap anyone who fell into them. They shown with whatever emotion she felt, like warm pools of her soul.

They currently shown with sadness and hunger and trust. "We're going to eat soon?"

Another notch taken from his heart. Four months since the plague had ransacked the world. Two months since his wife, Jen, had passed away. One month since he'd had to take Sally on the road in search of food.

"We're going to see," he said, giving the slowly bubbling rice another stir. "It might be bad, like those potatoes at the last farm." Tom tried to sound neutral, to not let her hear his despair. Six was too young to lose a mother, let along worry about her own mortality.

"I'm hungry." She cuddled up against his side.

One more tiny notch. Tom only held on because Sally needed him. He couldn't give up while she still drew breath. "I know, punkin." It got harder every day.

Sally stayed quiet, not even fidgeting. Once so loud and playful, she'd become solemn and thoughtful, far beyond her years. She did what she was told, followed him without question, and put on a brave face when she needed to.

How had it come to this? Society had fallen so far, so fast, without warning, with hardly a struggle. He'd heard of riots in the city before all news died. Theories and suspicion had flown across the internet, but no answers had arisen.

Now he was in the dark with his baby girl, living day to day, hand to mouth, scratching in the dirt for whatever meager food they could find.

Minutes passed. He basked in the fire and the love of his daughter. For a moment, he forgot the horrors of the world. Tom's stomach wasn't as empty, his body wasn't as sore, his heart wasn't as downfallen.

Sally stirred when he finally brought a spoonful to his mouth. Tom blew on the rice, barely letting it cool before he took a bite. "Is it ready?" she asked, eager.

Bitterness filled his mouth and his body reacted immediately. He spat it out, dropped the spoon. Poisoned! Corrupt as everything he'd tasted lately. The plague had killed more than humans.


He turned to face her, but her liquid brown eyes gave him pause. How could he tell her that the food was rotten? They had a few more cans of dog food, but that was running low, wouldn't last them very long.

"Think there's food in the next valley?" Sally asked, taking his hand. She nodded, answering her question. "Yeah. There is. Has to be."

He held back the defeated sigh and smiled. "Yeah. You're right." And maybe the next valley. Or the next. Or the next after that.