Aftereffect – Chapter 1 Sampler

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED. Once crowded cities now stand empty. The blue sky has been filled with a thick grey haze that holds onto the sun’s light–allowing only the smallest amount to pass through and illuminate the planet’s surface.

“Why does Pickett keep sending us on these runs, again?” Zath’s voice crackles through the speaker on his bright orange hazmat suit.

It was only a year ago that nuclear missiles were fired. However, nothing was the same after the first explosion. One bomb led to two, then three, and so on. When the bombs finally stopped falling the human race had almost completely moved underground, clinging to survival.

“You’d rather clean the sick bay?” Charles laughs, though the static from his suit’s speaker causes the sound to cut.

This was life now–living under the surface, only going above ground at the command of those in charge. Or at least, that’s how it was for them. Communication with those outside of where one was located had become a luxury of the past.

“No way, I’m still squeamish from last time.”

Neither of them knew Pickett, or one another, prior to the nukes. She was the one who brought everyone together. Her team gathered any and all survivors and brought them all to a secret underground military base for safety. From there a community was formed with Pickett as its head. Everyone works and contributes for the good of everyone living there.

The two men climb a small hill, overlooking what was the outskirts of a city.

Charles brings up a pair of binoculars and scans the streets below. “Still no movement down there…”

“There never is, I don’t understand why we keep getting sent up here. The surface is depressing…” Zath looks around as he speaks.

“These are scouting runs, remember?” Charles continues scanning, “Our job is to make sure there’s nothing around that will cause harm to the base.”

“That’s all well and good, but what would we do if we bumped into someone who wanted to harm us? We aren’t even armed.”

“Have you ever fired a gun before?” Charles pulls his head away from the binoculars and turns to face Zath.

“Once, when I was sixteen. My parents took me and my brother to a shooting range.” Zath holds out his arms, as if he’s holding a rifle, then mimes the recoil of taking a shot.

Charles pauses before bringing the lenses back to his eyes. “Sounds like fun, but it doesn’t count towards proper firearm training.”


“No, really. Guns are dangerous and if we don’t have proper training then we shouldn’t have them.”

A moment of silence creeps between them as Zath processes what has been said. “My point stands. I still don’t think we’re in a position to protect ourselves.”

“C’mon,” Charles begins to walk down the hill. “We’re almost done.”

A year ago the people living here took pride in the immaculate conditions of their yards. The bright green grass has wilted and browned since it was left behind. Large chunks of houses have collapsed into the streets and yards, spreading rubble and dust across everything. Street lights and sign posts have been knocked down, with telephone wires scattered haphazardly throughout the walkways, some still attached to the toppled poles.

Then something catches Charles’ eye. “Hey, what’s that?”

Zath turns, “What’s what?”