Once There was Life

Chapter 5: Shatter Call

First came cabbage, then came…beans. Cecile dropped the list and started laughing. He had just assumed…he had just…he couldn’t stop laughing. He looked around at his audience of brick and concrete block houses.

“He gave me a shopping list,” he told the houses so they might join in the joke.

But houses didn’t joke and his mood was ruined.

“What is with people today?” Cecile asked himself, bending down to pick up the list.

He read it again. This task took him in a completely different direction. In fact, he wasn’t sure where to find all the items. This was… what did people call it, a challenge. Maybe if he asked — oh right, he had not seen anyone on the street and the buildings were rather dark. Was it possible that his sense of time was confused? No, even so, it was always dark and gloomy. People didn’t stop working or moving about just because it was late. Reason held that even at night there had to be a few shops open so he continued his path to the shopping district.

Here Cecile saw that it became even more odd. Even as he came across areas that should have been crowded, there were still no people. At least, they weren’t on the streets. He knew they existed because he could see wavering candle lights, detect moving curtains, and hear the occasional loud argument from inside a house, but not one person had stepped outside. It was almost as though they had all decided to celebrate the holidays without him, but there were no more-


There was…a maintenance day. He tilted his head up and saw the dark, black void of a world deprived of even artificial light. No light, no power. The generators must have been shut down for yearly repairs. A maintenance day. He absently reached out and touched the glass of the store window beside him. His fingertips indented in a film of frost. The city was frozen without power to its heaters. Cecile thought back to his brother gathering clothes on the streets, and turned his gaze to his own reflection in a clothing shop’s window. He had not given his brother’s actions a moment’s thought. Seeing himself reflected with his coat on, Cecile felt ashamed.

“If you had asked, would I have given it to you?”

He noticed that a man looked out at him from the other side of the glass. Cecile slid his hand into his coat pocket and wrapped his fingers around the cold metal grip of handgun. As the man inside the shop watched him, he pulled the gun and lifted it to point at his own head.

“The least you could do is feel bad.”

He pulled the trigger.


Chapter 4: Not to be Determined

Chapter 6: Up, Over, and To