2012 is the year of the apocalypse, at least in pop culture and entertainment.  Use this week's prompt to express your ideas or explore someone else's ideas about death, rebirth, hope, despair and the essence of mortality.

*Reminder*
The Song Stories anthology submissions are in full swing.  A few Motivation Monday regulars have joined the list of talented authors already participating in this anthology.  Don't miss out! The submission call closes December 1

The Judge

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I'm happy to report my good friend and one of my favorite writers has yet again stepped up to the challenge, earning this week's judging chair.

Rebekah Postupak doesn't yet have a web blog, but you can follow her on Twitter and check out her amazing entries all around the flash fiction circuit.

Prompt

Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of [six thousand years] of technological advances.

*replace with as many days, weeks, months, years, centuries or aeons fits your story 

The Rules

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  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the
    prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an
    unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted
    by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be
    invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the
    one on the right.
  6. Have fun!

Sample Story

New Beginnings
By Wakefield Mahon


Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of six thousand years of technological advances.  The shuttle was a last ditch effort to save a human race on the brink of self-destruction.

The plan was to land on the nearest inhabitable planet but a computer error botched the landing.  To make matters worse, most of the stasis units malfunctioned 80 light years ago.  Adam awoke to a macabre museum of mankind.  He shuddered to think of his wife Lilly in her last moments.

He stared at the wreckage of the crash site.  Years of therapy wouldn’t help him overcome the survivor’s guilt.  Not that there were any therapists left.  He knew he had to keep moving to survive, but some days it felt like all his reasons to keep going were long gone.

He felt a small tug on his hand.  Not all of his reasons were gone. He smiled down at the little boy with Lilly’s sweet eyes.  “Hey there little man! What’s up?”

“Aunt Eve says she needs your help in the garden, papa.”

“Tell her I’ll be right there.”  Adam took a deep breath and closed his eyes.  “I’m just saying good bye.”

200 words
@WakefieldMahon

Another Incentive

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Just for fun:

This week's winner will receive a free copy of my latest short story, "The Messenger"

An angelic messenger tries to deliver an important message to a man on the edge of disaster, but demonic forces keep getting in the way.

Follow Angel as he battles drunken demons, sultry succubi and annoying gremlins.  Available now at amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Messenger-ebook/dp/B0090LYGLO

Nick Johns
9/9/2012 11:57:14 pm


The Longest Day

Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of six thousand years of technological advances. The first pale fingers of daylight pried open the vault of night and the others began to take shape, forming from the mist like wraiths. Their robes swirled about them but their hoods were pulled low and ensured anonymity; even from each other. This had been the centre of everything, a civilisation’s crowning glory. Now remnants lay scattered across the plain like some petulant child’s toys. I was glad that my own hood could hide tears not entirely caused by the freshening breeze. We had got here early; got here first. But, as we knew they would, the enemy also assembled. From the road they approached, dark clad to our light. Their ordered lines mocked our rag tag confusion. Tramp, tramp tramp, their booted feet struck the ground and the very stones themselves seemed to shiver. They came on in ranks, raising their weapons as they drew near. I wept truly now as I saw that we would fail again thanks to them. The ritual could not be completed for another year. Did they not know? Did they not care? They closed with us. I could not see their eyes. Rough, unfeeling hands grasped at me, holding my arms, knocking my staff into the weeds. I was swept off my feet and, as I was dragged away, I saw the first full rays of the Summer solstice sun rise above Salisbury Plan and return the stones of the henge to mystical glowing life.

262 Words
@nickjohns999

Reply
9/10/2012 03:12:54 am

Day Zero.

Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of six thousand years of technological advances.

The day the bombs fell, day zero; had for many been a nightmare come true. For most, in fact, it had ruined their lives – but, there were still those who saw it as a rebirth.

Technology had claimed Mother Nature, driven her nearly to extinction. Big domes covered the surface, filled with artificially grown trees, plants and flowers - just so they could produce oxygen.

The first bomb had been a malfunction. No one knew that, the people who operated the machine had all been killed by the second bomb. The third, fourth and up to number eight - had merely been a response.

A house of cards, where one fell – it created chaos, destruction and mayhem.

Some survived those initial two days, climbing down the sewers and further – locking themselves into bomb shelters, or simply living far enough away so the blasts didn’t reach them. But then, merely three or four days later, came the radiation. It crept along the ground as a poisonous carpet, sinking into the oceans where it suffocated all life. That’s what killed everything, and nearly everyone.

Across the globe, less than a hundred thousand remained. Some wouldn’t make it still. Only half of those initial survivors made it through the first year, another ten thousand died the following year. After that, it was easier. They came to grips with it, realized they needed to work together in order to survive. People adapted, and made a life for themselves under the ground. They found clean water trapped within the mountain walls - some had seeds stacked in their shelters.

Now, several hundred years later; nature was again forcing its way through, demanding to be recognized.

For the first time in history, race wasn’t an issue and religion didn’t matter; under the crust, of their once neglected earth, they were all the same – they were survivors.

Word count: 329

@ChessnySilth

Reply
9/10/2012 03:37:22 am

I wish I could just post my novel here. It's a post-apocalyptic renaissance.

Reply
Rebekah Postupak
9/10/2012 05:05:00 am

“Wild grass and weeds had grown up, reclaiming what was once evidence of six thousand years of technological advances. Never again would humans mock the power of the Wildwoods.”

“But what happened to Kaynad and her daisies?” Shahira asked, leaning forward breathlessly.

“Ah, that is the one bright spot,” said Zariya, smiling down at her dark-haired daughter. “The vengeance of the Wildwoods against the humans was great indeed, but the Wildwoods never forgot that they themselves had once been only a child’s garden. Deep within the Wildwoods, in a secret hollow known only to a special few, spread a thick blanket of Kaynad’s daisies, blowing gently in the bright summer breeze.”

Shahira sighed deeply and contentedly, falling back upon her pillows. “Best story EVER, Mommy.”

Zariya bent and kissed the girl’s forehead. “Good night, my love. Beautiful dreams.”

Taqi was standing outside in the hallway, scowling. Seeing him as she closed the bedroom door, she blew him a kiss. “And did you like the story too, my son?”

“Not particularly,” he said, ignoring the kiss.

“Would you like to hear it again? Maybe you’ll change your mind.”

“No, thanks.”

“Are you sure? Perhaps you should hear it again all the same. You have the look of a young man who needs to hear the Wildwoods tale one or two more times.”

“I don’t need to hear it,” he said sharply, turning away and heading down the stairs.

“I assure you it would be my pleasure.” Zariya’s voice followed him lightly, cheerfully.

“No, thank you! I don’t need the blasted story again!” The kitchen door clanged shut behind him, followed shortly by the roar of the lawnmower.

Zariya grinned, and whispered softly through her daughter’s door. “Coming up tomorrow, my princess—Wildwoods, The Sequel: Man Fights Back.”

296 ineligible words
@postupak

Reply
9/10/2012 06:14:42 am

New Beginnings
Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of two thousand years of technological advances. The buildings once architectural wonders were now rusty and crumbling . There were few life forms left, a few rabbits, some rats, and other things that scurried in the night. Of course birds still flew overhead in skies that were cloudy and gray. People were nowhere to be seen; unless you looked closely; then you would see the mutants that survived the nuclear fallout. They didn’t look like the people that once roamed the earth. Their skin hardened to protect them from radiation. Their eyes had grown another eyelid to protect from the harsh light when the sun did come out. Most of those that endured were children when the worst happened; resilient children who mutated to survive. Now they were adults and the only education they obtained was what they read in books which hadn’t perished. They tried to rebuild but they didn’t have the knowledge or the equipment to build concrete buildings. Eve worried how she could provide for the child now growing in her womb but Adam said he would provide for his child and he showed her the weapons he collected to keep them safe. Adam insisted he had found a book which told them how to build log cabins and he would build them a beautiful home. Eve thought this was a pipe dream as the trees were decimated in the aftermath of the nuclear fallout but Adam needed to have hope so she agreed he could build one.
”I’ve a surprise for you, I’ve built the cabin. It’s safe warm and filled with provisions. Behind it I planted a garden.” Adam explained.
Eve was excited and then she sensed her water break. The baby was coming Eve stayed scared. Adam knew nothing about delivery a baby. How she wished a doctor was here. Adam reassured her, he had read a book on delivery. Hours went by and Eve grew tired, and still no baby. She pushed and a baby boy was ushered into the world. A few minutes later she felt the need to push again and another boy was born .A third need to push and a third son was born.
“It’s a new life and a new world God has given us.” Eve commented. ”What shall we call the boys?”
“We will call them Seth Caine and Abel.” Adam replied. “Tomorrow I’ll take you all to our cabin to begin our new life away from this broken city. The cabin will be the perfect start for our life.”
Civilization had begun again, a new beginning for mankind. Life was good for Adam and Eve.
452 Words
@SweetSheil

Reply
9/10/2012 08:13:21 am

Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of eons of technological advances. It was as we’d planned it. We’d left our home world three centuries earlier. Taking our machines with us. Waiting for all signs of our existence to fade away. Waiting for the natural balance of the planet to be restored.

We have cities on all planets of the system. Even Mercury, with its insane levels of solar radiation, and extreme heat and cold. We have colonies on all the planetoids in the Kuiper belt. We have stations in place between here an Proxima Centauri. And soon, we will have colonies there. We will have spread to two star systems. From there, we will continue to spread.

There are hundreds of billions of us. In time, there will be more of us than can be counted. We have escaped the bonds of our home world. We are no longer at risk of being wiped from existence by a single disaster. We have sent our machines ahead of us, to the 20 closest star systems. We have learned.

We are alone in our galaxy. There are no other races. No other people. That populate any star systems, anywhere. There is life, yes. Life is everywhere. It takes all kinds of forms. It thrives in all kinds of environments. But, we alone have escaped the confines of a single world. A single star.

And, after our centuries of exploring, we are lonely.

This is why we have set our home world free. This is why we protect it from danger, preventing asteroid and comet strikes. This is why we wait. And watch. We watch the dolphins, and the whales. And especially the other mammals. The ones with thumbs. We hope that someday, given time, our birthplace will sire another race like us. So we won’t be alone any more. Until then, we will watch. And wait. There is no rush. We have nothing but time.

Reply
9/10/2012 08:14:39 am

Oopsie...

332 Words
@LurchMunster

Reply
9/10/2012 11:03:02 pm

That's an interesting premise! I like it! No aliens? Let's make our own! :)

Reply
9/10/2012 12:39:19 pm

Wild grass and weeds had grown up, reclaiming what was once evidence of centuries of technological advances. The place looked like an old homestead gone to seed and Sabrina raised a dubious eyebrow.

“Here? This is a sacred site?”

“Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. It’s not what is outside–”

“Have you been watching the Disney movies with Holly and Tansy again?”

“Focus, Sabrina.” Darius quelled her humor with a glance. “Let’s go around the back. That is where the ceremony will take place.”

Sabrina bit her bottom lip as she pulled the parking brake and turned off the engine. Cicadas sang in the aspens and long grasses swaying in the mountain breeze. She’d never been up here, but Darius located a path to the back of the property as if he’d visited many times.

She shoved her keys into her pocket and slid out of her minivan. The scents of heated grass and ponderosa pines filled each breath and she took a moment to savor them, enjoying the silence. They’d driven fifteen miles up a Forest Service road to reach this place and only the breeze in the trees.

“It’s so quiet, even quieter than where I live.”

Darius nodded. “It has been neglected for a long time. The energies are unsteady here.”

“Then why are we doing the Beltane rituals in a place with unsteady energies?”

“Because they must be repaired and Beltane offers the perfect opportunity to restore the conduit.”

His explanation didn’t reassure her, but she followed him around the old house, brushing her fingers through the tall heads of the grass. She tried not to watch the way his back flexed as he strode ahead of her, but even in an ordinary t-shirt he had sexy written all over him.

Stop drooling! It’s just the energies around Beltane talking. Despite the rebuke, her mind filled with all the times he’d been kind to her children, solicitous to her, and protective of them all over the last few days. Not. Husband. Material. He’s arrogant and he’s the Chamberlain of the Summer Court. Stop thinking of him as a prospect!

Darius paused and looked back, his expression imperious. Yep, that’s exactly why he’s not a prospect.

“I’m coming. I’m just enjoying the silence.”

He tilted his head thoughtfully. “I know you don’t wish to do this again–”

“Stop, Darius. I gave my word I would and I’ll stand by it.” She scanned the ‘backyard’ of the homestead, noting a lovely ring of aspens rattling softly. “Is that the sacred circle?”

“It is.”

“Is it safe to build a fire in there?”

“There should be a stone lined pit in the center beside a slate alter.”

Sabrina took a deep breath. “All right. Who will be my partner for the fertility ritual?” She’d hoped to avoid it, but with the Sidhe Court attending, she suspected it was a done deal.

The silence stretched longer than she expected and she turned her gaze to him. He met her gaze without flinching.

“I will.”

491 #WIP500 words
@SiobhanMuir

Reply
9/10/2012 02:36:08 pm

Project: REBIRTH

Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of thousands of years of technological advances. I checked the image against the vision I had earlier this week and this was definitely where I was supposed to be. My gaze swept back and forth across the ruins, but it didn’t look like anything was left. What was I supposed to find here?

I came to the edge of what was left of the structures. How many people had died in the initial wave? It was something no one bothered to find out because it eventually claimed all of them. Within weeks the human population was gone. We didn’t realize it would affect the entire earth. If we only knew…

I felt a nudge to move deeper into the ruins, so I did. I certainly knew the stories of those who disobeyed a revelation. I wasn’t going to be one of them. I wish they made a little more sense though. Exploring a human ruin? Why?

At seemingly random moments I would get a nudge to move to the right or left, and I always followed those as they led me further into the ruins. I finally stopped in front of a large, cement building that looked somewhat like a falling weighted fishing net; domed with columns spread in a circle at an angle. The first floor had been walled completely in glass, which was all gone now. I climbed up the steps and picked my way through the open frames.

Down. I was supposed to go down. I looked around and found the elevator. I could see the glowing eyes all around. If I had been anything else, the wolves would have pounced. This was their den. I ripped open the doors to the shaft. I looked down and sighed, I could be climbing forever.

I was most of the way down when I felt the nudge to stop. I came out into a large room that was still humming. Even after all this time? How was that possible? I phased my forearm with the rock at my feet and could feel the geothermal power the room was harnessing. But what was it doing with that power?

To the right. I moved to a wall of small doors. They were each labeled – Project: REBIRTH, Specimen: 14F – with different numbers and letters. As I surveyed the doors, wondering what I was supposed to do, a red light started blinking on specimen: 7M. I moved toward the door when the airlock depressurized followed by a gurgling noise. The door was really a drawer. I peered over the edge. A baby. A human baby.

Then the wailing began. I cringed. Make it stop! I felt a nudge. “I can’t! I’ll hurt it!” I cried aloud and the wailing stopped. I reached my talons in and rested a toe against its body. The baby curled around it and started sucking on my scales. Another nudge.

More red lights.

I needed help.


500 words
@lissajean7

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9/10/2012 04:32:21 pm

HARLOW'S GOLD


Wild grass and weeds had grown up, reclaiming what was once evidence of centuries of technological advances. Rory took the keycard out of his pocket, spit on the magnetic strip and ran it through the door slide.
Nothing happened. Sweat beaded his forehead, spine and armpits. Bad enough what was going on topside but then he went and drew the short straw to go below.

Greer elbowed him. “Stop screwing around, boy! Get that door open or we’re dead meat.”

More spit. More sliding. More nothing.

“Gimme that thing,” Greer said, grabbing the card.

By luck or chance or miracle, it worked this time. They headed down the slick stone steps. The air was beyond stale and well into putrid.

Though they had two lanterns, only one was in use. With any luck, they’d live long enough to need the second one on the back out of this cold dark tomb.

Once they reached the ground floor, Rory took the lead, navigating the tunnel like he’d been born to it, which was nearly true. A final turn and they were in the cylinder bay. No need to search through them. The one they wanted was dead center.

Max Gold. Mercenary. Most wanted in every territory west of the Antillies and east of Ponseurs. Basically, he wasn’t welcome anywhere on the planet. Pretty ironic that as of yesterday, the planet’s survival depended on him.

Greer stepped up to the keypad. “Hold the light here, over the switchboard.”

“Not so sure I want to get that close,” Rory said, hanging back a bit.

“If he doesn’t kill us, Harlow will when we go back empty handed. We’re jack out of options here.”

A raspy voice behind them said, “Yes you are, gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, because any man who was formerly in my employ and is now working for Genevieve Harlow has less honor than I do, and that’s saying something.”

In his terror, Rory dropped and broke the lantern. Greer cursed him for it, but they didn’t need it to indentify the speaker. It was Gold, somehow free of his cryogenic cylinder and just as cantankerous as ever.

“Now, if you boys are done pissing yourselves, hand me the spare lantern and let’s get topside. This place creeps me out. By the time we hit sunlight, the two of you better be singing like sparrows.”

“Don’t you mean canaries?”

Greer elbowed Rory for the umpteenth time since they’d headed out that morning. “If the boss had meant canaries, he’d have damn well said canaries. Right boss?”

Gold chuckled. “You always were the quick one, Greer.”

“There’s a virus up there that’s wiped out over half the population,” Rory said in a rush of words. “Harlow knows where the last batch of vaccine is hidden but she needs you to get her inside the facility.”

“Either of you stop to wonder why I wasn’t in that cylinder? No? Well that would be because Harlow already broke me out.”

“What in the world is going on?!

“That, my dubious sidekicks, is what we’re about to find out.”


@bullishink / 500 words excluding prompt

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Nellie
9/10/2012 11:14:49 pm

Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of three thousand years of technological advances. Ziva ran a hand through her hair, wiping more of the slime that was part and parcel of the stasis unit. She didn’t know how her capsule didn’t fail like all the others. Either way, things have changed in ways that she had to adjust to.

A glance up at the sky told her she had an hour or two to find shelter before the spider bots came out. That was something new she had to get used to as well. The machines that were focused on harvesting any human beings that were left. They had an objective and they made sure it was completed with deadly precision. For some reason, they shut down during the day. Perhaps the circuits that run them can’t handle the radiation waves.

She wasn’t up to trapping one to find for herself. They were as big as tanks and she didn’t feel secure unless she was armed with some heavy tactical weapons. The information she gleaned from the old computer even as it smoked was that some sort of surge had occurred. Fifty capsules had failed at some point. Or there had been a short that shut them off. Fifty other people that she knew gone. She would mourn those she knew even as she found what she could and rework any equipment that might be usable.

There was a new world around her and she had to adjust as best as she could to survive.


261 words
@solimond

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9/11/2012 12:56:38 am

As She Wills

Wild grass and weeds had grown up; reclaiming what was once evidence of twelve thousand years of technological advances. She had never intended to let them get this far in evolution but she’d become fascinated by the morphing of their forms, mesmerized by the changes in their cultures. With her focus narrowed for so long on the details of individuals and groups, she missed bigger changes that were taking place among the whole of the population. It was as if she blinked one day and everything was wrong.
The temples they had built to worship her had fallen to ruin and had been replaced with factories and mills. The leisure she had once blessed them with forsaken in favor of a strong work ethic. They began to worship struggle and prize pain. Her heart was breaking for she knew that their existence was now tainted and what lay ahead would bring them to their knees in despair. They would wallow in a sorrow so deep they would never be able to find their way back to the peace she had promised them.
She wrestled with the decision to destroy them; tried to find a way to lead them back to the light but knew only cold futility. In the end she’d had no alternative. Now there was nothing left but these empty buildings overgrown with life she had not seen fit to make sentient. She pondered the lush, green landscape, loneliness welling up within her, and realized all was not lost. She would start again, only this time she would remain vigilant. She would care for her creations and not turn her attention from their wellbeing for an instant. She would have her utopia, no matter how many times she had to wipe the slate clean and begin again.

302 words
@mariefrizelle

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