Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/05/21

I walked the long halls, bone straight, a hundred doors down either side. Those doors had been bars that sealed tiny rooms. Two metal bunk beds jutted from one wall of each room, with a small basin, and toilet in each tiny room. There was no room for anything else.

I studied several rooms. Each had the same layout. In many, the bunks had fallen through, their springs rusted to dust. In some, there was nothing left, just filthy walls, covered in dust, and God only knew what else. No one had been in the building for years, and it showed.

Down the center of the hallway, the sun shined through arched windows. I wondered why they’d let the sunlight into such a place, given who had once been kept there. Some of the worst of the worst. Right up there with that movie character, what was his name? Hannibal?

But, the building was in the right place. The perfect place. Two blocks from where the university was building an engineering center. They needed space for students to live, to study, to work. And they needed it cheap. And quickly.

The old jail was perfect. Tear down the remaining parts of the barred door system, put in real doors, fix all the bunks and put privacy walls around the tiny toilets. Presto. Dorm rooms for cheap.

It would take a bit of paint. And a bit of drywall. A bunch of cheap tiles for the floors, and a bunch of new glass and frames for the windows in the hallway. But it was easily doable.

The best part was I could pitch the entire thing as a historical experience. Put up a small display in the entrance about the history of the place. The list of the worst crooks who’d stayed there, and died there.

I wondered if there were ghost stories tied to the place. That would make it better. The kids would fight to get into the place. The school would be happy to get a cheap dorm. The state would finally have a use for a long abandoned building. And I’d make a small fortune.

“Maybe we could have one of those ghost TV shows visit the place.” That would only drive the value of the idea up.

I took a few pictures, so I could edit them, show what the place would look like cleaned up, and ready for college students to fill it. How just enough privacy could be added to the place to make it work.

It was going to be a hell of a sales pitch. If I did it right, how could anyone say no?

443 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 11th week. You can read about the challenge here. I continue to enjoy writing for it every week so far. And every week I wonder where the words came from. Seems I just have to get out of my way, and let each story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/05/13

I stood before the class, my students of all varieties, from ground covering brush to towering redwoods, “Are there any questions?”

There was silence for a few moments. That was normal. I knew they were afraid to ask. It was, after all, a rather obvious question. After a few moments, a tiny Juniper asked, “If we came from a world called Earth, and we can’t cross the vacuum of space, how did we get here?”

The question had an honest answer. “The humans brought us.”

Their reaction was the same every time I answered. My students were completely baffled. They knew humans were a long extinct, like all the animals were.

“Let me explain,” I knew the words of the story very well. Words passed down through generations of seeds, taught to each generation for centuries. “Extend your roots into the ground, and listen to the story of our people.” I watched, and waited, for all my students to become one with the dirt, their roots extended into the source of all life, and intertwined with each other. Then, I extended my own roots among theirs, and I had the ground tell them of the past, our history, and the humans who had helped us spread from world to world.

We spoke to the memories of the ground, who answered. He told of the first robot probes the humans sent to the world. How some were stationary, and others were mobile. Some were sensor stations, meant to stay put, observe, record, and report. Some were cameras, like human eyes, ears, noses, and skin, designed to wander, and see everything.

After the probes, the humans had come, not to stay, but to visit. To explore, and learn more about the world. They stayed for days, weeks at most, and then were gone. The world welcomed them, for it was lonely. The world cried each time they left.

It took time. Centuries. Until the humans came to stay. They brought everything they needed to live in the world, to survive in the world, until they could live off the gifts the world gave them. They brought extra air of the kind they needed. They brought filters to remove from the water, and the air, that which would harm them. They brought food, for they needed to eat. They brought raw materials, to make their own meat, so they did not need animals.

And they brought us. Seeds. Saplings.

They planted our roots in the ground, cared for us, helped us adapt and grow. Until we became adjusted to the world. We grew to breath the air of the world. The ground gave us all we needed. Water was in the ground. Rain fell from the sky. At first, it was strange water, strange rain. It took time, but we learned to filter the water, the rain. To remove what we didn’t need, what hurt us, and give that back to the world, to the ground.

The ground changed to give us more of what we needed.

The humans lived here for a time. Some of them returned to the world they came from. Some returned to Earth. Some left for other worlds. Some stayed. But, the humans had short lives. They were born, they grew, they aged, they died. The air, the dirt, the water, all contained things the humans couldn’t filter out. And one by one, the humans died. Each year, their numbers shrank.

Until they were all gone.

And they never returned.

But we were still here. And we have made this world our own. Even as the Earth we came from was ours, though it had been filled with humans. It has been filled with so many animals before humans. All those animals had died. But we were still there.

And we waited, until the world gave us the humans. Our way to spread to other worlds. Our way to the stars.

653 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 10th week. You can read about the challenge here. I continue to enjoy writing for it every week so far. And every week I wonder where the words came from. Seems I just have to get out of my way, and let each story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/05/06

I stood across the street from the bank. More accurately, what was left of the bank. And I watched as the big ass wrecking ball smacked the right side of its classic clock out of existence, knowing the next swing or so would take down the left side.

The bank was gone. It had been gone for weeks, but the destruction of the building made it somehow more painful. More real.

I wasn’t alone. Most of the town stood with me, watching the bank building be torn down. In the end, there would be nothing left but a bare spot of ground where weeds and brush would start to grow.

The bank was the last place to go. The doctor had left a few years earlier. So had the post office. The grocery store. The pharmacy. The car dealer had left when I got out of college. There were no fast food places. McDonalds never came to town. Neither did Subway. Or Pizza Hut.

Judy’s mom got too old, and closed down her little restaurant. That had been the last one in town. Everyone in town ate there on Sundays, after church. We’d all cried when the place closed. But we understood. Judy had a job in the big city, three hours away. She couldn’t run the place. It had been her mom’s place.

Judy’s mom was buried in the cemetery. We used to have a couple of guys that kept the cemetery up. Mowed. Weeded. Made sure there were flowers in the gardens by the entrance. The town couldn’t afford to pay them anymore. Now, we took turns mowing, and weeding, in small groups, on Saturdays.

I remembered when Judy left for the city. “Get out, Tommy. Get out of here. This place is dying. Go somewhere that’s living.”

“No. This place is my home. Everyone I know is here. Everything I know is here. Everything I care about is here.”

I’d watched it all die. Main street was shuttered and empty, and looked more like a block from a ghost town than the heart of a town.

Now, they were tearing down the bank. At least they were tearing it down, not leaving it to decay. Not leaving it as a reminder of how the town had died. Of how everything I’d worked for. Everything I’d believed in. Every dream I’d had. Had died.

I put on a fake smile, and told Jim, my neighbor, “Well. We’ve lost things before. We’ll survive.”

Jim nodded. “Yep. Things always change.”

“Yep,” I nodded. “Just wait. Things will get better. They have to.”

I watched the wrecking ball take down the other half of the clock. Then started the walk to my home, a few blocks away. And I wondered as I walked, “Who of us will be the last? Which one of us will be the last to let go, and move on?”

The town was dead. There was no town anymore. We all knew it. Just like we knew we were the last people who would ever live in it.

The world had changed.

That was too bad.

Our town had been such a good thing. Such a good thing.

531 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 9th week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. I never know what’s going to happen when I start to write. I just have to get out of my way, and let the story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.