Tuesday, 16 July 2013

FLASH FICTION AT FIVE: Sirens by Ben Ditmars

The sirens went off. Everyone huddled around a small television set in the living room. I say living room lightly. It was more of an all-purpose kitchen and bedroom for all ten of us. But we were used to it. Especially when the “weather” was on. It was the difference between knowing you might live and having three minutes to say your goodbyes.

Grandma said the “weather” wasn’t always life and death. People used it to plan their day. Imagine that. Planning a day. I sure can’t. But grams talked about sunshine and rain like they were more than just stories. They were real, she told us. I never believed her.

I think the closest that I ever saw to sunshine was the blast. Some idiot from the next town had let off an H-bomb for the Fourth of July. Everyone had them.  Not us, of course, but most kids. Grandma said after the government fell, they were auctioned off from Washington and other places.

Either way, the black market ended up just being the market. They started making nukes for anyone with enough money. I saw the factory they built them in once. It was only a couple miles from our house. Mom always said not to go around there, but my friend Cal and I did anyway. It was enormous. They must have made two-hundred a day.

That’s why every rich kid in America got one for their birthday or Christmas. It’s also why we watched "the weather". We never know for sure where the fallout will end up. The weatherman tells us when to hide. On a good day he’s right. On a bad one, you end up like Cal. He wasn’t so lucky.

I still think about him and my other friends who died or moved away. It’s hard getting close to people in the best of times. I guess these are the worst of times....

“The weather” says we’re safe today, after a few commercials and a lot of news no one cares about. They always drag it out to the last minute. But at least we know. A little waiting with each other is better than nothing.

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