Short Story Sunday #1

  

Here is the first of many of the writings I would like to showcase here. I’ve always loved short stories. I have many I would love to share. So here goes nothing, let me know what ya’ll think!

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THE BEFORE/THE AFTER

 

Upon the fall of civilization, the world began to turn cold, dark and something unrecognizable.

There weren’t the fast paced machines, or technology that could connect you to someone in an instant. It became something more ruthless, more maniacal.

The world returned to its basic instinct of survival. Survival of the fittest and strongest and smartest.

Mankind became something to be feared. Fear is a drive that makes the most gentlemanly of men become cruel and inhuman.

When fear takes over, there isn’t anything anyone can do. People begin to act irrationally.

So long people have suffered. That fear just becomes a constant emotion that is used just as similarly to anger or happiness. Emotions are the drive humans use.

These emotions can take unpredictable turns.

A man stands alone on a precipice looking down on what was once a major metropolitan city. This city was known for its night life, its hunger for humanity, to ever be present.

Now, with dawn breaking on this once great city. It sits shrouded in darkness, in the quiet.

The man remembers what life was like in the before. He had been a part of this city. This city now crumbling in upon itself. The buildings, which this city took great pride in its architecture, now are just skeletons of what they once were.

The man remembers the before and now the after. The after now following the onslaught of bombs, and gunfire echoes constantly throughout his mind. He doesn’t sleep well, listening for any other sound of life. Any sound of human life.

Silence. The silence the man hears is deafening. Faintly, he can hear rocks, or brick fall.

The man has been alone for quite some time. For how long, he cannot remember. All he remembers is what once was and what now is.

Taking too long of a look at what sits below him, the man picks up his belongings. A rumpled and torn pack and sleeping bag are all the man was able to carry with him. The pack is full of what he has found along the way, a rusted knife, a copper bowl, torn t-shirt, and shorts, socks, canned items, seeds, half-used batteries, water bottles, and one photograph. This photo depicts a life that is now so far in the past the man cannot bear to pull it out and look at it like he did during the before.

The man, in his boots, ripped jeans, t-shirt, vest and jacket, turns and makes his way along the cliff, careful to not step too close to the edge.

There has to be someone out there, the man thinks to himself. I cannot be the only one.

A greyness of what once was daylight extends across the land around the man. He who walk in the shadow of death…repeats in the mind of the lonely man.

The man before experienced death. This kind of death now, he would not wish on anyone. It is an empty feeling. The man has not even had time to properly mourn. Not without all the facts.

These facts were so fast and incomplete during the before. He thinks on the news reports now. He focuses his thoughts on the memory of the women sitting at the desk. With her too done-up face and hair and a bright blue blazer that clashed with the background of the set.

Why would he focus on those aspects now? It must be the longing for human interaction. The reports stated unknown attacks were being made at governmental offices and had the workings of terrorists. The man remembers it started small and worked its way up through the rankings. All the way to the top. In fact, the first city to be turned to rubble was the capital.

The capital always held a kind of hope for the people of his world. It was where everything the man had known came out of. Now, with that solace gone, the world decided to turn against itself. The rest was not done by ordinary terrorists. What laid its foundation was fear.

This fear made humanity work in the opposite direction. Humanity was to stand alongside one another and not let the forces of evil rejoice and celebrate what it had done.

For too long the man was angry at what the others had done. How could they just give up? How can one nation just disintegrate until there was nothing left?

These unanswered questions keep the man awake at night. There is no purpose for him to be alive. But he is and he thanks fate or whatever action he can think of.

Continuing his journey, the man reaches a small ravine in what used to be a forest, now it is just stumps of trees and dried up plants. But in the ravine he sees water. The water is not from a well, lake or river. So it is clean. It must have come from the rain only a few nights ago.

The man fills his bottles and takes a hasty drink.

His loneliness stretches with each passing day. Hope. His hope is extinguished by every breath he takes. The punishment of being alive takes its toll, but he doesn’t stop in his pursuit. There must be someone. There has to be. 

But, as the sun sets, rises and sets again on the man. There is no one.

The man feels as though he is running on a treadmill, with nowhere to go and no destination in sight. It just keeps spinning and spinning.

The man sits, eats and drinks. What to do now?

Suddenly, the man hears a rustling sound and what sounds like a snort. He looks around but doesn’t see where the sound is coming from.

The man’s skin starts to prickle, knowing something is near. That dark emotion of fear creeps up his spine and signals something in his head.

Gathering up his camp, the man makes hasty work of retreating. He knows he is not strong enough for a fight and he knows the sounds he is hearing are not human-like.

There had been references of creatures descending upon the world just before the after. It almost seemed too unbelievable to be real. The creatures themselves didn’t seem too out of the ordinary. They were just animals one would typically see in a zoo or on the television. But as the world descended into darkness, the creatures, plants and civilization around them did too. Humanity seemed to be the most affected, just disappearing into nothing. Which is why the man, being alive and in this new world, was so confused.

Why him? Why was he spared?

Suddenly, the sound became real and a hideous dog-like creature surfaced behind a boulder just a few yards away from the man. The dog, a black-like color that looked like he had been burned walked around the large rock and began sniffing and snorting at the ground.

The man stopped in his tracks. Eyes focused on the creature that resembled a tracking hound, but from some unwelcome depths.

What was the man to do? All he had was a rusted knife that was too blunt to even carve a piece of wood.

It wouldn’t be too long before the hound noticed him. So taking a step back. The man proceeded to turn away from the hound. But, it was too late. The snarl, which raced up the man’s spine, sounded the alarm in the man’s head and, out of instinct, he began to run. A howl escaped from the hounds inner most pit and echoed off the rock, brick and mortar that surrounded the man.

Survival. The man knew the basics during the before. Go to work, make money, buy food, eat the food, and pay bills, again and again, over and over. There were no real threats other than the typical. Paying your bills on time so one would have heat and electric, buying food to feed oneself and family, being a respectable member of society.

Now the man had to hunt and gather for food, this food turned rancid in his stomach and the water from the rivers and lakes was tarnished from the chemicals that showered down after the explosions.

And now, running for one’s life was not something the man knew too much about.

Keep going, keep running, faster, was the mantra the man repeated over and over in his head.

The man could hear the panting of the hound getting closer and closer. Gaining on the man.

Life is too cruel, a thought the man could squeeze out from his bran’s sensors raced forward. Until the man hits and stumbles over a rock and falls. Turning over the man works to get up and begin his campaign of living once again, but it is too late.

The hound has descended upon him and cautiously walks over to him until his entire body is straddling the man’s. Looking down into the man’s face, the animal, if one could call it that, is breathing heavy. The breath is toxic to the man and through his breathing and gasping for air, the man gags on whatever could be possibly coming from the creature.

Death, comes to mind. This is now haunting the man. Does he want to die? If so, is this the way he would prefer to go?

Staring straight into the hound’s eyes he is paralyzed and doesn’t believe he is breathing but unknowingly feels his lungs move. His chest rising up, down; air moving through his body, in then out.

Centuries pass by between the man and creature. How long he must endure, the man thinks.

The hound doesn’t make a move to, well, do anything. He just stands there, panting, staring, and slobbering.

The man, begins the move and the hound’s body tenses. Not a good idea, the man thinks. The man is laying on his pack, bracing the upper part of his back so he is in sort of a sitting position/lying down.

The creature’s appearance triggers something in the man that he wasn’t able to pinpoint earlier.

It is a prickle in the back of his mind and now, with time and patience, he begins to bring it to the forefront of his brain.

Why is he here? Why was he the one to survive? Why is this creature here torturing him? What is he to do? These questions flood the man’s mind. The man begins to get light headed. Too much, too fast. The man begins to lose consciousness and soon just simply passes out.

Earlier that morning, the man was thinking about giving up the fight, letting go of everything. There is no one and there can’t be anyone to help him out of this fight.

Bells, beeps and whooshes flood his senses. The man moves his body, but remembers the hound is close so he doesn’t make too sudden a move.

He hears shuffling, and whispers? People? Maybe his prayers had been answered and other people, who might have been afraid, have come to his rescue.

The man tries to open one eye, but there is a blinding light overhead he shuts it immediately.

The man hears another male voice. The voice says something about him beginning to wake up and stir.

He has to show more signs he’s alive. His body comes into his brain’s wave length and suddenly the man is realizing he is in pain everywhere. The hound must have done a number on him.

The man lets out a gasp and then just opens both eyes and strains to keep them open. The light takes his breath away and he starts gasping.

Looking around, the man notices he is in a fairly large metal bed. His arm is hooked up to a machine which has fluid running down into his veins.

Further scanning the room, the man notices faces. Faces of people he knows and some he doesn’t. The photo. The memory of the photo comes rushing into his mind. It can’t be, they’re gone!

His family, his wife, his son, and his daughter are standing on the left side of the bed. A doctor and nurse on his right.

These people are just staring at the man not saying a word.

The man shakes his head and begins to get dizzy. This isn’t real, it can’t be. I saw what happened in the after. It can’t be. It. Just. Can’t!

The woman, who is his wife from the before, is talking.

“Are you alright honey? I know you didn’t mean it. We all love you.”

What is she saying? I don’t understand. Of course I didn’t mean to be where I was and I surely didn’t mean to come across that dog, but it just happened.

Upon further inspection the man notices his wrists are bandaged and his arms hurt suddenly. The man raises his wrists closer to his face, and with what must be an inquisitive look, the doctor speaks up.

“You harmed yourself, we had to do some extensive work on repairing your wrists, but they should be okay. You are going to be on psychiatric watch for some time, but with the proper help and medication, you should be able to go home in a couple of weeks.”

The man’s mind, stomach and entire body begin to roll. What. Is. Happening!

Soon, memories the man is not sure are his enter his mind. The man remembers loud sirens, being wet and being in and out of consciousness.

“But, the hound?” the man askes.

“You’re pretty out of it. It will take some time, but the hallucinations will go away.” the doctor says.

“I don’t understand” the man states, bewildered.

What is going on? He thinks.

The man lifts up his writs again and begins to unwrap them.

“Honey, don’t!” the man’s wife exclaims, with a look of horror on her face as she clutches the two children beside her.

“I want to see” the man states.

The doctor looks at the man’s wife, at the nurse and back at the man.

“I believe it will be alright if he takes a look, we can quickly bandage them back up.” says the doctor.

The man begins again unwrapping his wounds. Opening up the left hand’s wrapping, he sees the reason why the people standing around his bedside held the look of terror on their faces.

Deep, dark read wounds stretch up his arm. They are jagged. What are they, surely they are not…The man too shares the look of horror.

Claw marks? It just can’t be. This can’t be happening.

“We, eh..hem. assume you started with the razor and began using your nails.” the doctor says.

“Nurse, we should get new bandages, quickly we don’t want them to get infected.”

The nurse leaves the room. The man’s wife, who had taken their children out before the unveiling, leaves, trailing behind.

The man looks up at the doctor.

“What…um…no!”

“I know you are confused. It is the anesthesia wearing off and the pain medication. Morphine,” states the doctor, as though answering an unasked question.

The man doesn’t understand. These marks surely don’t look human. Can’t they see that? This isn’t right. This isn’t!

The man recounts his thoughts. I know I was unhappy. I was lost with no one. But did I want to end it? There was a dog. I know there was. The man closes his eyes and looks internally for strength and knowledge. Where did this dream, fantasy, memory come from and where did it go?

The truth is somewhere. It has to be.

The man drifts, unconscious.

Soon, the man feels his mind come back to reality and opens his eyes and the room, now in darkness. He can hear the quiet, minus the beeps and boops of the machines next to his bed.

The man hears a faint whispering near the corner of the room. He sees the figures of his wife and doctor in a serious conversation.

Again the man closes his eyes in order to fake sleep. He focuses on hearing what the two are saying.

“It is common in patients to wake from surgery to have had a horrific dream. That must be where the dog he believes he has seen comes in.”

“I just don’t understand. He was so frightened of what he saw.”

“I know, but with time he will be alright. He’ll need some therapy. Did he seem suicidal to you in the weeks before? Anything major happen at home, work?”

“I don’t believe so. He was so energetic and happy…”

The man’s wife trails off as though in thought. Of something that could possibly be the reason, but she shakes it off.

Suicidal? Surely that isn’t what happened…

It isn’t! The man silently screams in his head. I know what I saw and felt. It wasn’t me who did this.

Out of nowhere it seems, the man is transported back to his thoughts and is returned to that desolate place. He opens his eyes and standing over him is that gnarly, grimy, grisly hound staring at him.

The man looks deeper into the hound’s eyes. There is a layer of blackness and fear.

Fear? How could this animal be afraid of the man?

Deeper the man probes to see if he can decipher what the hound wants from him, but as he looks closer, he sees eyes that are familiar.

These eyes the man knows all too well. He had stared directly into them during the before. These eyes belonged to him. These eyes that are now part of the hound. These eyes that hold all the truth. These eyes that can only tell one thing…it is not the animal that is afraid.

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Thanks for reading!

Simply yours,

Nicole

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The friends you keep – Glenn is not dead

 I know I haven’t written in a while. There is no reason for it except I just haven’t felt inspired.
That said.
It is now November and the holiday season is in full swing. With celebrating Halloween everyone is once again hooked on the always thrilling, always intense, highly-anticipated new season of The Walking Dead on AMC.
I was not an instant fan. In fact, it took me until the finale of season 5, to watch the show from the beginning.
I, by definition, am a binge watcher and it didn’t take me long to get caught up. I am watching as everyone watches. I definitely realize how heart-wrenching it is..
I really couldn’t think straight after watching the “Thank You” episode that everyone is talking about right. Where someone who, may-or-may-not be dead (I am one of those who have thought of every theory under the sun.)

  

(Glenn on the set of The Walking Dead, photo courtesy of http://www.imdb.com)
But getting to know the characters more and thinking on how I would think/act during similar circumstances has made me wonder…
We choose the people around us on the basis of who we would want to survive with during a post-human-apocalypse. We want those people around us who would make those tough decisions, and as you may think you could, you have to wonder about the basic human instinct that is within you that make us humans.
I’m not saying would you would just resort to murder, absolutely not. But there are those times where you seek out the tough-love no one else can give from those that mean the most to you.
Here is my breakdown:
– You have the oracle, or the one who has all the reason. (That would be Hershel, Tyreese, Glenn)

These are the people who you go to for advice. Even if you don’t necessarily take it, you are drawn to their instincts as humans. The very beings that separate us from the wild.
– You have the ones that will always have your back. (That would be Michonne, Daryl, Carol)

These are the people who you know will always be there for you no matter the circumstances. They understand there are hard decisions to be made and they know the hardships that come with life. They will take into consideration what needs to be done and know it is the right for the good.
– You have the ones that will be skeptical of the world and what is out there (That would be Rick, Morgan, Abraham)

These are the leaders who lookout for their own and will do whatever it takes to make sure they survive over anyone else. In whatever the shape the world is in, they will morph into the ideal being that needs to adapt and, in the end, come out on top as the apex-predator.
There are so many reasons why these people are still alive. They know the ways of the world and they know how to make it work. It is not a pretty place and, even in today’s society, there is evil out there. We all have to adapt and become versions of ourselves that we may not want to be.
We all have to realize there is a strength deep down within us that takes control. That is survival. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world to tap into that. We are animals. We just have the gift of being able to decipher who/what we can trust.
For those who have their theories, 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicole.l.w.8

Twitter: @walbyni

Instagram: nicole_lyn_w

Have a better Monday!

Have a Better Monday!
Hello everyone! As you can see I decided to change the name. The name before wasn’t what I wanted and I didn’t feel that it embodied exactly what I wanted. The name now, “Nifty Intelligent Cool Open Lovely and Eclectic,” as you can see, is my name spelled out in adjectives that I feel describe me and what sort of messages I would like to convey.
I have also recently graduated from Tiffin University with my master’s degree and I have been putting some final touches on some of the things in my life. So, hopefully I will have more time to devote to my writing. Until then I here are some fun and interesting tidbits from around the World Wide Web…

Fun decorative ideas using string-lights.

Top ten of the best wines for spring!

What to read now!

Even after all these years, there is still always hope.

All the best!

Final moments 

“They were threatened by my intelligence and too stupid to know that’s why they hated me.” — Sheldon Cooper

Here u am listening to the podcast Serial which if you haven’t listened to, you most definitely should. But as I digress, I believed I haven’t had anything to write about, but I’m sitting here on the eve of my final day of classes of my masters program. I never thought I would get here.

It was a lot of work that I had expected, but didn’t realize it until it was too late. Finally working through it all and keeping my head up I got to the end. Now the next step is waiting on my grades.
Wish me luck! More updates will be on the way. I don’t want to get ahead of myself or jinx myself 😁😓😉

Where did all the time go?

 

Photo by-nicole walby 

 Where did the time go?


I sit here, looking at the computer screen, typing. Working on what ever comes next in the newsroom. I have worked at my local, small-town paper going on three years in October and it has been an experience to say the least. I have met some pretty great people and have had some really great and exciting times.

Another mile-stone that is coming up is my graduation with my master’s degree. It has been a long road. I have taken semesters off and worked as hard as I thought was possible. I have learned a lot and stand to continue to learn more as I wrap up my final course.

Where did all this time go?

A few years ago I was just finishing my undergraduate studies looking for a job in my field, believing I wouldn’t get one and I would have to move. I am lucky for getting the job I did when I did. Most college grads don’t get that chance.

Time moves faster than you think when you get older. There is more work to be done professionally and personally that make it so. Vacations too go faster. I think it is set up in our minds that we have to be able to get back on track when we return that we can’t fully commit to relaxing. I continue to think of all this potential free time that I am going to have when school is done, but then will I really have all the free time I think I’m going to have?

It is as though we are the clouds and life and time is the wind. There are days when you move slower throughout the day, then there are others when everything feels so rushed you can’t catch your breath.

In times like these I think of the people that matter the most and usually send out a simple text just to make them aware that I do think of them constantly. Even though it may not feel like it.

I have the tendency to shut everyone out when I’m in the middle of a semester. I don’t want my focus to waiver. It is a bad habit of mine and I feel that I have almost lost some of my best friends because of this mindset. I am getting better.

Here are a few of the things that I plan to incorporate in my spare time once my master’s degree is completed:

* More time with friends and family.
* More time for reading.
* More time to being outside.
* More time learning and researching for my work.
* Looking to expand my career.

Yes, things happen and I am aware that time is something we can not guarantee. But, I want to make more of an effort to have these things in my life. I tend to seclude myself without knowing it and then it is too late.

Life is about living and I don’t want to just stand while it goes past. My sister too is graduating high school these summer and it is important to me that we also spend time together as she is going away to college and, as I completely understand, time gets filled rather quickly.


All my love and again, thanks for reading,

Nik

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“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.”—Lucy Maud Montgomery

Five things at 25

As I sit here on my last day as a 25-year old, I continue to think where my life has really gone. Yes, I’m sitting in the same ole town surrounded by the same old buildings, same ole same ole. I have a different job, in fact a career as a writer and I’m happy for it.

I don’t feel any colossal change, but I do feel like I’m changing. Both physically and mentally. I have also been listening to a lot of David Bowie for the last week and as you listen to Billy rapping about his suicide and how all will change by the time you’re 25, you can see that the only thing that can change is you and you change your surroundings.

And as we think about how everyone is telling us we are juvenile delinquent wrecks for not living up to our full potential here are five things I have learned at 25.

1. Nothing is the same five years ago. It may sound cliché, but it is in no manner of speaking, the truth. In the last five years, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree, started my graduate work, had four jobs and moved three times. Twenty to twenty-five is the years of trying out and making mistakes. No, I don’t know exactly where I want to continue in life yet. I feel if I should, but I’ve never been the one to make definite plans. Life is life and not to sound over dramatic, you do only live once. No one has to have the right plans, because it all can change. Change is part of life and change is good, it makes us stronger.

2. With that change, one has to realize your friends will change. I’ve had my same best friend for over 12 years. She is one of the closest people I have in my life and we do live far away from each other, but we have made it work. There have been times when we have had rough patches, but we have never strayed. People have said you don’t have the same friends as you did in high school and I am glad to have proved them wrong. I don’t keep a lot of people close to me because I know there are changes that are going to be made in my life. Nothing is ever for certain.

3. Life is not over, there is still time to fulfill your dreams. I’ve had the same dream since I’ve been 16. I want a “Gilmore Girls” style inn/restaurant and I still want to pursue that dream. I’ve had to work to remember that dream can still be realized just with hard work.

4. Having “it all” isn’t important. I had always thought to be anything you need to be successful. Well, I may be successful on a local level, but it is minimal. The successes I have are my own personal accomplishments. Through life I have learned that we can be who we want, where we want, when we want. One has to realize that the small successes are just as important as the life-changing ones.

5. Keep going. There is so much talk of quarter-life crises, and yes there is no telling if it will or will not happen. But you should know that just to keep going, you will get through it and you will come out on top. I had mine and it was hard just to realize there was an end. Now I am working through my master’s degree and planning for a future that is yet to be determined. It is all very exciting and I can’t wait to see where everything goes and who I can meet along the way.

All the best and thanks for reading!

Nicole W., peace, love and *listen to more Bowie* 🙂