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View Full Version : Lost While Searching-- a sci-fi short



cdr112
May 19th, 2014, 07:22 PM
This is something I wrote quickly a few days ago...I dropped a no name character into part of a universe I've been working on. Maybe I'll expand on this story down the road. Let me know what you guys think.
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After the Shift back in 2024 all I had left was a will to live and enough resources to survive for a few days.

I came to find myself surrounded by death and destruction. Everyone I cared for was gone, as far as I knew. I began to make my way to Sector City just south of the Texas and North American border. The few thousand people there were trying to find food and water. The years leading up to the Shift made water a priceless commodity and food, well let's just say that anything was fair game.
My journey to Sector City became more of a test of survival than I'd ever imagined it'd be. I gathered my water supply, a few gallons I scrounged up, my shotgun and all the ammo I had. I stuffed all the money I had in my pack and headed out. My plan was to make it to Sector Citythen catch the train to the East Coast Travel Station. From there I planned on hopping the cheapest Express Shuttle to the Moon. It was really the only place I could think to go since I had nothing left to keep me on Earth.

As I walked I couldn't help but think about what might have happened to my wife and son. I had sent them to the Atlantic Coast Province days before the Shift so they could get to the Moon Colony ahead of the coming Reckoning. I hadn't heard from them since. I hoped like hell they'd made it and were safe but it was unlikely. Word was that most people had perished from the intense earthquakes and the resulting tsunami. A planet already headed toward ruin from years of neglect and changing weather patterns blasted by a rapid shift of the polar axis was the recipe for chaos and disaster.

My two day walk was interrupted by a small group of Government Agents looking for any survivors in need of aid. They held me up for an hour or so but sent me on my way. They checked my identification and took about a half gallon of water as payment for the lax treatment. My next encounter with people wouldn't be so pleasant.

I'd found a good spot to make camp and set up for the night. I woke to the sound of footsteps on dry leaves. As I turned over I was in a fight for mylife. What seemed like a bear had his hands around my neck in a strangle hold lying on top of me. I rolled to my right and put his back in the hot coals of my campfire. He let my throat go and I gasped for air like I had just come up from the deepest part of the ocean. I quickly got to my feet and someone significantly smaller pounced on my back. I easily discarded what turned out to be his female companion. I drew my knife as he got to his feet and brandished a two foot long machete. The girl was now grabbing my water and my pack. I was able to move just in time to avoid the gigantic blade slicing through my face. I grabbed my shotgun from under the spot I'd been sleeping just seconds before and put a load of buckshot in his chest. He dropped his machete and fell flat on his back. I spun around to see the woman on her knees begging for her life.I approached her slowly as she sobbed. I gave her the leftover half gallon andtold her to get lost. As she stood up I noticed a necklace. It closelyresembled one that belonged to my wife. I questioned her about where it hadcome from and she explained a woman had traded it to her for some water and afew dollars. After a couple more minutes and several questions I realized itwas my wife she had seen. I packed my things and immediately headed east. I wason a mission and nothing was going to stop me.

I arrived at Sector City around noon and wasable to hop the train headed east around 3. The ride to the coast would takeabout 2 days. Getting any sleep proved to be impossible. The thought of myfamily being alone in such a hostile environment was too much to bear. Alongwith the occasional group of marauders trying to hijack the train, with littlesuccess, made for a noisy, uncomfortable ride.
I stepped off the train in the Atlantic Coast Provinceand the smell of food was heavy in the air. Some street vendors were sellingsomething that resembled a hamburger even though there hadn't been a cow in thispart of the country for at least 8 years. Only the very wealthy could affordbeef and they certainly didn't travel with the rest of us. Whatever it wastasted great. It'd been a couple days since I had actual meat. Protein bars andsynthetic chicken only go so far. I stuffed the whateverburger down my throatand headed toward the Grand Georgia Hotel.There really wasn't much "grand" about it but it was a place to callhome while I looked for my wife and son. I checked into room 613 and took a hotshower. After getting cleaned up I headed down to have a look around. After afew hours of checking shelters and dark alleys I decided to head back to thehotel. The next day I checked the city morgue and logged into the missingpersons database before I left. My search turned up empty. When I exited themorgue I had a deep feeling of despair. I went back to my room for some muchneeded rest. Emotions can drain your whole body.

I was running as fast I could, my wife just in the distance. I pushed ashard as I could but couldn't reach her. I stumbled and fell, a three footmachete blade driving into my chest. I woke up sweating and grabbing my chestlooking for signs of a cut. I was okay physically but mentally I was stressed.I slowly dozed back off.

After my restless night I felt a little hung over, like I wasn't reallyawake. I decided to go buy my ticket for the Shuttle. The next departure timewas rapidly approaching and the next one wasn't for another week. I didn't wantto be stuck here any longer than I needed to be. I figured if my wife wasn'tdead she would have made her way to the Moon as we originally planned. I packedmy things and headed to the Shuttle station.

Once we were all aboard and seated, liftoff came about 30 minutes later. Thetrip took about six hours and seemed to go by even faster. The idea that mywife was on the Moon kept me thinking about how great it would be to get there.To be reunited with my son and have my family back would be overwhelming. Wetouched down on Alpha Pad at 1:19 lunar time and were off the shuttle within amatter of minutes. As I exited the terminal I saw two men carrying a largeblack cargo container. They sat it on the back of a Surface Rover and droveaway. I made my way to the subsurface hotel called Underland Paradise andbooked into room 304. The space lag had wiped me out. I slept for several hoursand decided it was time to search for my wife and son.

I stepped out into the warm glow of the sun and looked at Earth setting onthe horizon. The lunar surface had been covered to allow for topside viewing. Iwalked back down to the subsurface and walked for a while. I went to the southend of the colony were my wife and son were supposed to go. As I approached Isaw the same two guys with the cargo box standing by a public data research terminal.Just passed them I saw my wife and son standing next to the black cargo box thetwo men had been moving. As I began to run in their direction one of the menstepped away from the terminal and yelled..."DOWN WITH FALSE HOPE...LONGLIVE REALITY!!!"....A blinding light filled my eyes as I screamed.....

As the light began to dim I looked around to see I was standing in themiddle of a cell, two nurses looking in a small window at me. I could hear themtalking.....

"Poor guy doesn't realize where he is." said the old nurse

"What do you mean?" asked the young nurse.

"He's been here for 14 years, everyday he wakes up and mumbles the samestory about his wife and son going to the moon and being killed in anexplosion."

The young nurse says "That's crazy everyone knows the Moon exploded over100 years ago."

"Exactly...there's no way he was around for that." the old nursereplied
"Don't worry sweetie, he's harmless. He wondered up onto the steps of theinstitution with his crazy story and the doctors felt he'd be better here withus on Mars."

ShadowEyes
May 20th, 2014, 01:48 AM
Hey guy. I'll try to point out some things and be on my way. I think you have a really nice concept for the story. However, you could be writing it better to its strengths, if you're interested in re-writing it. For instance, it can be trimmed a bit. You mentioned that "water [is] a priceless commodity." But just by showing us that the character trades with water establishes that fact later on. I'm interested in the nitty-gritty of the journey because those details, as the name implies, make everything seem rougher. You really have to focus the details, kind of like how sports commentators only comment when something happens or something becomes relevant. A lot of these details, points of conflict, while interesting, seem to be padding or unsupported. They're not connected, which would otherwise build tension.

Lots of things could be expanded upon.The setting is bleak; there may be tsunami water or cracked earth, but we don't get to see how that affects him. There may be sleeping on the ground, but it's not in focus. Cities are mentioned, but barely described. What I'm getting at is this story is just begging to be tapped for potential. You have so many ideas, but there's a lack of felt conflict. This is a steady monologue of suffering. Don't be afraid to really run his nose in the dirt.

One of my favorite sentences is, "What seemed like a bear..." This section is very well done. Everything has consequence, even though he does have a bit of a lucky break. And, oh gosh, you have a train ride! That just screams for scenery description. The point about a "hostile environment" seems pretty obvious by now. The same thing with the marauders: you say it happened, but it doesn't mean anything to me. He smells food, but what does it smell like? He can't get sleep; he thinks about his family: How so? Why would he possibly miss the Shuttle?

However, the ending is cute. It's a classic Twilight Zone-esque ending that really makes the character seem much more devastated. Anyway, I'm hoping to hear more from you. I like that you have a lot of good ideas and if you flesh them out, they'll really shine. Do you like the sci-fi genre?

Nosretap23
May 20th, 2014, 05:35 PM
I, too, really enjoyed the ending. Very cool. I think much of what I might say would second the previous comment. I think this story could really pop and be really great if you focused on detail and description. More showing vs. telling.

cdr112
May 20th, 2014, 06:49 PM
ShadowEyes,

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my post. After reading your comments I immediately began thinking about ways to show instead of tell. I plan on re-writing and re-working the story into a more detailed piece. I'm going to try and trim some of the fat and add more meat. Again, thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote.

cdr112
May 20th, 2014, 06:56 PM
Nosretap23,

Thank you for taking time to read my story. I really appreciate all the feedback and I will be re-working this story. I hope you will check it out when I re-post it.

ShadowEyes
May 23rd, 2014, 03:10 AM
ShadowEyes,

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my post. After reading your comments I immediately began thinking about ways to show instead of tell. I plan on re-writing and re-working the story into a more detailed piece. I'm going to try and trim some of the fat and add more meat. Again, thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote.

Alright! Just keep on writing is my (often hypocritical) advice. ^_^ I look forward to re-reading it.