May 11, 2014

An Apocalypse Short Story (without zombies)

This one's from last week - I forgot to post it. That's okay though since we don't have an assignment this week... The prompt for this was 2 - 3 pages in the present or future with the topic of the End of the World - a focus placed on Scene and Exposition. [Its a "cult".]

The End Brings New Beginnings
 Lilly sits alone in the bath tub, stretching out like a lazy cat. Her body is wet and so is her face. The water sloshes around as she tries to stand and dry herself, her balance thrown off by her huge pregnant belly. The simple white dress Robert chose for her lay limp and slightly wrinkled upon the white ceramic of the sink. The other women will probably iron theirs, crafting a neat and perfectly presentable appearance but Lilly is eight months pregnant and exhausted. She believes God will understand. 
The dress is long, several inches below her knees, but it is sleeveless. There is a breeze today and as Lilly peeks out the window, she sees that already the sky is turning a somber slate, not blue but not quite grey either it lingers in between as the clouds begin to swirl high above. She will have to wear her sweater. Her sweater is cream, not white. Robert wants the women to wear pure white but it looks cold outside and the dingy discolored sweater will have to do. The dark haired woman pulls the cotton cloth over her mass of wet curls. She has to tug at the lace trim which clings to her wet stomach, refusing to lie properly. She planned on braiding her hair but her baby moves around inside of her and as she looks at her reflection in the glass of the window, wishing she had a real mirror, she decides it does not matter. God will understand.  

It is late in the afternoon, dusk, and the end is near, just moments away. By now, almost everyone is here, outside the tall red barn an acre south of the compound chapel. Some chatter excitedly, others are silent and gazing at the sky which grows greyer with every passing second. 
The wind blows gently through Jennifer’s tresses. She is nearly fifteen years younger than him. The world outside the compound would never understand their relationship but she is convinced that it is true love. Robert is a prophet after all, the holiest man in the compound, probably in the whole world. He is a modern-day Noah, chosen to gather his family before the End. There will be no ark, no dry land or olive branch, no repopulation, but tonight they will be ready for what is to come.
 Robert pulls Jennifer close and kisses her on the cheek. The rough little hairs on his face that normally scratch against her skin are gone. Today, he is not a scruffy homesteader like usual.  Today, her husband is different, like a man from the city, neat and clean with freshly shaven skin and hair slicked back to look his best for when the time came. The End of Time. His lightly wrinkled skin pulls gently over his prominent cheekbones as he smiles with pride. “It’s coming, my love,” he whispers softly into her ear, “just like we knew it would.” A complacent sigh flows forth from his lips as Robert wraps one arm around Jennifer’s hips and clutches the chubby cheek of her older sister, Sara, with his other. “Today, my dear, you shall be with me in Paradise,” his broad shoulders tower over the young women as he leans down and kisses Sara’s forehead. Jennifer looks away. His strong scent of sweat and pine linger in the air and Jennifer is glad to be at his side. Though she struggles to suppress her jealousy, she is grateful for God’s providence that she can share these final moments with Sara and Robert, of course. Of his twenty-something wives, his two favorites, the sisters, cling to his sides. 
Jennifer cannot bring herself to look anywhere but into the eyes and face of the prophet, her lover. Still, Jennifer wishes it was just her and Robert – alone in their final moments together.

            April sits compliantly on the kitchen counter as she waits for her mother June to finish. June is opening and closing cupboards, looking for something, anything that might be useful either to eat or sell. Water flows over the side of the jars and into the sink as June fills a few and stuffs them into her bag. For a few seconds, it sounds as if water is sloshing around. She peeks at the jars but the meniscus is still and the sound continues. Perhaps it was upstairs, she worries, but it is too late, nobody should be in the house. Not tonight. It is nearly dark and she knows, by now, everybody should be dressed in white, standing around outside singing hymns and waiting for Jesus, on the hill behind the barn. She could already see dozens of candles lit in the distance. It will take a few days to notice she was gone. Maybe by then they will know Robert is a phony and they will leave too, she thinks to herself.
Anxiety washes over June in waves. This would be her only chance to leave. She could not shake the doubts that plagued her mind for months. She could feel it, whenever he spoke. It rose up from deep within her, like a tiny voice rising from the pit of her stomach. Robert is not a prophet. She feels it now, and as she tosses a bag over her shoulder and puts April on her hip. The floor creaks. The child smiles and waves. June whips around to see who it is. Lilly.  

The women are quiet. Lilly helps her find the coffee can in the cupboard. She pulls out a few bills and pushes them into June’s reluctant hands. “For a bus, or a motel.” Lilly says as she fidgets with her cream colored sweater. They hug each other tightly before stepping out into the night. 

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