Thursday, June 13, 2013

Flash Fiction: The Choice

Another Flash Fiction from Chuck Wendig. This time we were asked to merge the themes of two major pop-culture works. Mine randomly generated works were "Star Wars" and "The Stand." This was the hardest one for me yet...

 “She doesn’t know what she’s doing,” Jackson said. His nostrils were flaring and his teeth were clenched. Lana had been his only companion for years and she was being straddled by his new leader who’s dagger dug a little too far into Lana’s neck. A thin streak of blood traveled gracefully down, gathering into a small pool on the ground where she was pinned. Jackson locked gazes with Lana. He shook his head, why did she come here? He couldn’t take his eyes from her. She was risking her life for him, just like the first night they spent on this planet.
After the ship landed on Anthus, almost all of Jackson’s crew came down with an unfamiliar virus and died within hours. Only he and Lana were immune.

The journey to Anthus had taken two months longer than was planned and they were down to crumbs. “Wait here, I’m going to try to find something to eat.” Jackson said. Lana was covered in blankets and her teeth were chattering.  
“You don’t have to,” she said, teeth slamming violently together.
“I’ll be quick,” he promised, smiling encouragement to her. He threw another blanket on top of her and ducked through the small door of the ship. Letting his eyes adjust to the dark. It wasn’t night dark, but there were layers and layers of clouds blanketing everything around him. His own teeth started to chatter. He crossed his arms, trying to generate a little body heat, holding a knife in one fist, the other fist tucked beneath his arm.
There was no vegetation in sight, red dust covered the ground and fog blocked his view of the majority of his surroundings. After several minutes he found a sort of pool. It was less dense than water and had a silver color, thinking it poisonous he ignored it and kept going.  After several more minutes, a shadow passed quickly over his head. He looked up and saw the silhouette of some sort of flying creature.  That thing’s got to eat something. He followed. 
The creature disappeared and, after several minutes waiting for it to reappear, Jackson decided to head back. He turned in circles, trying to figure out which way he had come from. Nothing looked familiar. Everything looked familiar.
Hours passed as he walked aimlessly around. Red dust and clouds. He sat down and rested for a while, he dreamt that he was back in the ship. He woke up with tears in his eyes because he knew he was dreaming. He knew that when he woke up he’d be here, alone. His throat was dry, his stomach was painfully hollow, and he would do anything for a warm place to sleep.
He was continuing on his search when he finally saw something familiar. He ran to the pool of silvery liquid and took a greedy gulp, unable to restrain himself after days without even a sip of water. It paralyzed him immediately. He remained crouched, motionless with his head just inches from the surface of the pool. He couldn’t close his eyes, he couldn’t lie down, he was utterly paralyzed.  He could feel his knees ache, it was getting colder and his body couldn’t even shiver.
A warmth grabbed him from the shoulders and pulled him over onto his side. Lana.
“Jackson! What the hell happened? Are you okay?” He didn’t reply. “Jackson?” She shook him by the shoulders. His eyes were open but he was unresponsive. Other voices joined Lana. “What’s wrong with him?” she asked them.
“He drank from the pool of Lasthmer.  We must take him immediately if we hope to be able to save him.” The deep voice said.
They transported him to an underground city. No wonder I couldn’t find anything, it’s all down here. There were fruits growing overhead, dangling from vines winding along rocky ceiling. There was a whole community living there, fields and shops and roads, all under the shelter of the ground.
Jackson was remembering the last moments of his time with the clan that saved him. Yalan and her clan had arrived in a tornado of blood and swords. With a promise of fortune and safety, he was eager to join them.
His mind returned to the situation at hand.  Yalan pushed the dagger slightly further against Lana’s throat, the blood began flowing more freely. “Stop!” Jackson yelled.
“But she’s one of them,” Yalan said, her lip pushed out in a mock pout.
“Just, let me talk to her,” Yalan grudgingly got up, shooting Jackson a look that said, this better be good. “What are you doing here?” He hissed at Lana, he was annoyed she came.
“I’m saving your ass. You’re welcome by the way,” she sat up, her hand moving to the wound on her neck.
“I never asked to be saved. As you can see, I’m doing fine here.”
“Why did you do it, Jackson? Why did you leave us?” 
“Why? Jesus, Lana, they were all over us! They had us outnumbered five to one, and you ask me why I left? Why didn’t you leave with me? They gave us both a choice. I chose to have food and water, to be able to sleep without fear, to—"
“Yeah? And how do you sleep at night, knowing what they’ve done to the innocent people that not only clothed and fed you, but saved your sorry fucking life?” She spat in his face. “You weren’t worth it. They should have let you die you fucking traitor,” the look in her eyes turned to pure malice.
Jackson stood up slowly, gingerly wiping the spit from his eyes. He looked at Yalan, she gave him an encouraging nod. He helped Lana to her feet and leaned in to whisper, “Lana, between my life and yours, I choose mine every time.” Her eyes shot open in shock as he pushed his knife through her ribs and into her heart.

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