Flash: 02: Outrun the Flames

This week’s flash is one I really had fun with. Had an eerie idea I wanted to explore a bit. I may revisit this for something longer in the future.

Hope you enjoy!




Dale hadn’t seen the sun in days. Air like mud clung to his skin. He rocked his chair on the back porch and watched the combine making its rows through the field. Its computer had been unresponsive since the day the sun disappeared and it puttered back and forth on the barren ground, only the sickening glow of the red sky above to give it a shadow. Everything was red. There were no stars in the sky. Nothing. Only the glow that had swallowed the sun and driven away the clouds. Nothing else cast light.

He tried to strike a match for his pipe, but it refused to cooperate. Sparking, but dying down again. His brain ached wondering how the combine was still running. A match refused to make a flame, but the back up engine had been running since the machine had lost solar power. It should have run out of fuel days ago. Power inside the home worked, but none of the lights. The ice box stayed cold. The oven cooked his food. No lights. The glow outside seemed to ignore the walls and fill even the inside of his home. Sleep had outrun him for several nights.

Out in the field, crows were scratching in the dead earth left in the wake of the machine. It had pulverized any semblance of crop, but the birds had still managed to find satisfaction in the dirt. A warm wind was blowing from the south, across the field. Quiet, soft, stale. The air carried a hint of damp decay with a prickling of metal. Dale wiped his brow, but the filth in the air did not come off. He could never get rid of the clinging feeling. Like dirty cobwebs stuck to his skin.

He could hear the radio crackle to life inside the house. With a labored heave, he stretched up out of the rocking chair and went inside. The screen door slammed behind him and the crows flapped into the air for a moment before alighting in the dirt again. The radio was buzzing that sound between channels. He picked it up and furrowed his brow at it for a moment before turning the knob. Voices slowly emerged from the buzz. It was the local preacher claiming again that the world was ending. Claiming the proof was in the air and could not be denied. Dale scrunched his nose and tuned the radio to the next channel.

Classical music drifted out of the speaker. He wondered if anyone else knew what was happening. The next channel was dead for some time until a triplet of short, sharp tones pierced the air. Dale thought to turn to the next channel, but the tones came again. Louder this time. Then again, louder and closer to the last set. He felt a prickle at the back of his neck. Outside, the combine had stopped and the motor finally died. He looked out the window to see three dark figures standing at the edge of the field. The crows were gone.

A row of lights in the sky caught his attention. They were moving in a straight line from the south; evenly spaced and creeping through the red.

The radio went silent.


Edit: Be sure to check out the conclusion here!



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