CHUCK WENDIG’S FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE – AN UNCHARTED APOCALYPSE: LIFTING OF THE VEIL

Апокалипсис

Chuck Wendig, over at http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/07/15/flash-fiction-challenge-an-uncharted-apocalypse/ has another flash challenge up and running.
 Prompt:  Flash fiction set in a very unconventional, never-before-seen apocalypse… a “Create Your Own End Times” story.  Get as creative as you want. I want the world to end — or be in the middle of ending — in a way we’ve never seen before.
Genre:  Humor, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, tragedy, literary, whatever. Go nuts.
Word Count:  1000 words
Deadline:  Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 12:00 PM EST. 

LIFTING OF THE VEIL

By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

PROLOGUE

 The year is 2100.  The world community, once defined by geographical boundaries of countries and continents, was now divided into unions… the Americas Union, the European Union, and the Sino-Japan Union.  The futility of war realized, military forces were reduced, taking on purely defensive roles within their own borders.  The global scientific community united, jointly developing and sharing new technologies.  Economies stabilized and prospered. 

 The world was at peace.

~~**~~

The first ship appeared over the Aegean Sea.  It dropped out of the clouds and hovered fifteen hundred meters over the blue-green waters, casting an enormous shadow over the fishing boats below.

In rapid succession, reports began pouring in from all over the world… East to West as the sun rose on another day.  The Mediterranean… the Indian…the Atlantic… the North Sea… the oceans over both Poles… the Pacific… the Bering Sea… the China Seas… thousands of alien craft dropped out of the sky… hovering over the Earth’s oceans and seas.

The massive ships ranged in size from fifty kilometers across and a kilometer high, to over a hundred and sixty kilometers in diameter and eight kilometers in height.

Military forces were put on high alert… a futile gesture, as there were no longer weapons in existence to defend with, should the alien craft prove hostile.  But, like Pavlov’s dogs… it was a conditioned response.

World leaders scrambled to “situation rooms” across the globe.  While no longer used for military purposes, the rooms still provided instant and global communication and exchange of information.  Ideas and opinions were exchanged… tempers flared… old prejudices resurfaced.  Accusations were shot out.

Helicopters packed with communications equipment were dispatched to the skies.  All attempts at contact were met with silence.

The huge circular craft hung in the air over the rolling waves below… violet-blue lights blinking around their perimeter… mute…

The world prayed.

~~**~~

After watching and waiting for six days, it was almost a relief when something finally happened.

A young dark-haired girl, daughter of the lighthouse keeper at Stora Karlsö on Gotland Island, off the coast of Sweden, reported it first… on of all places, her Facebook page.

As the sun rose over the Baltic, glinting off the burnished grey-black hull of the alien ship, three cylinders appeared from the bottom of the craft, equidistant around its perimeter.  The cylinders slowly extended down, and into the waters of the inland sea.

As the sun traveled from East to West across the globe, the other spacecraft did the same.

There was still no communication from the alien vessels.

As the landing legs extended from each craft and into the water, it appeared the aliens were settling in for a stay.  The pitch of the sounds emanating from the spacecraft changed as their engines powered down.

The world waited.

~~**~~

Sofia, the young girl from Sweden, noticed it first.  Arising early to greet the dawn, as had been her custom since long before the alien ship appeared over the southern Baltic Sea, the first thing the girl noticed as she stepped onto the beach was that the spaceship’s legs were withdrawing back up into the ship.  Her cry of joy was cut short however.

The girl noticed that the tiny little beach below the cliff where the lighthouse stood… was not so tiny anymore.  She could walk out almost fifty meters without getting her shoes wet.

“Havet håller på att försvinna!” she posted breathlessly a few minutes later, on her Facebook page.

The girl’s observations were repeated around the globe.  Scientists quickly confirmed these observations.  The world’s seas and oceans were indeed shrinking… at an alarming rate.

With this came the horrific realization… what had been taken for landing apparatus on the alien craft, were in fact gigantic siphon tubes.  The aliens were taking the Earth’s waters.

One by one, the alien ships withdrew their siphon tubes and left the Earth’s atmosphere… only to be replaced by more ships… their cavernous holds soon to be filled with the Earth’s life-giving liquid.

The world watched helplessly.

~~**~~

Within twenty-four hours, the world’s political, military, and scientific leaders were gathered in Helsinki.  On one thing, all were in agreement… without the oceans; life on Earth would cease to exist.  The only thing none could agree on was how long mankind could survive without the oceans waters.

The oceans are life… that is an irrefutable fact.  Oceans contain approximately ninety-seven percent of the water on Earth.  Ocean temperatures determine climate and wind patterns that affect all life; they play a huge role in life on the biosphere. Oceanic evaporation is the source of most rainfall… without rainfall, vegetation and crops die.  Without vegetation, the oxygen levels would soon deplete.  People and animals would die next.

There was a consensus that mankind would most likely die from oxygen starvation, than from lack of food or water.  The thought was almost too horrifying to contemplate.

The world trembled.

~~**~~

With the relentless of a bullet speeding towards its target, the ocean levels continued to drop.  If the aliens understood anything we had tried to communicate to them, they gave no indication.  The ships continued to fill… as one left, another took its place.

The low, rhythmic “thrumm” of the pumps on the alien crafts became a death knell.

World leaders addressed the nations.  The message was grim… brutally grim.

All efforts to contact the alien ships had failed.  There were no weapons with which to force the aliens’ withdrawal.

 At the current rate, the world’s oceans and seas would be depleted within a matter of weeks.  Climate changes…

Most people did not hear the rest of the broadcast.  Millions began flocking to the world’s freshwater lakes and rivers, which for reasons unknown; the aliens had shown no interest in.  People staked out “property” on water’s edge.

Hydroelectric dams shut down… electrical grids failed.

~~**~~

The riots and killings began… and spread like a wildfire.

The world began to die.

~~finis~~

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About VeronicaThePajamaThief

Bio: Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw Born in Lisboa, Portugal to parents of Portuguese/Russian descent, Veronica Marie and her wife, Christina Anne, call the Pacific Northwest home, where the couple are “still very much on honeymoon!” When not teaching and finishing her own studies for a Masters in Sociology, Veronica writes fiction, primarily noir - "I love dark!". Her long fascination with noir fiction prompted Veronica to try her own hand at writing fiction several years ago. She has been published in Pulp Metal Magazine, The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology, the horror anthology 100 Horrors, from Cruentus Libri Press, Nightfalls: an End of the World anthology, Drunk On The Moon 2: A Roman Dalton anthology and Gloves Off: Near To the Knuckle's debut anthology. Veronica has also appeared in the inaugural issue of Literary Orphans magazine and her horror/urban fantasy short story SOUL TAKER was recently chosen for inclusion in Lily Childs' february femmes fatales, an urban fantasy/horror anthology. Veronica counts among her mentors - Carole A Parker, Lily Childs, Paul D Brazill, Richard Godwin, Joyce Juzwik and Vicki Abelson. She is currently working on the third draft of her first novel – a memoir – as well the second draft of her first fiction novel, a fantasy novel and the publication of a collection of her flash fiction and short stories. Lily's The Feardom and Vicki Abelson's Women Who Write Facebook writing group have both been a tremendous source of support and inspiration for Veronica. Veronica’s writings can be found athttp://veronicathepajamathief.blogspot.com/ andhttp://veronicathepajamathiefwritespoetry.blogspot.com/, andhttps://veronicathepajamathief.wordpress.com/
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8 Responses to CHUCK WENDIG’S FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE – AN UNCHARTED APOCALYPSE: LIFTING OF THE VEIL

  1. This just ticks me off finally the worlds is at peace and some aliens have got to come in and screw with us. Very good Story Veronica. The Swedish was a nice touch. Bravo.

    • Thank you, Mike… thank you very much. It does seem to answer the question… were we being watched?

      Writing the whole story in narrative was a bit impersonal… the girl reminds the reader of what is at stake…

      Thank you for reading my little tale.

  2. BA Boucher says:

    I am very impressed with this story.

    It sets up the scenario quickly, strikes a voice, and plays with some good ideas. I especially like the armageddeon as reported by facebook.

    Two crits and some more praise:

    The prologue was uncessary I think.
    I like refrains in short pieces, I use them all the time. I love your refrain, “the world…” it is stark and complex, big and intimate. I loved that. Problem is I wanted more. Like one per section.

    But what you have actually gets the job done and sells the last line.

    I really like this piece and want to read more.

    Well done

    • Thank you, B A… I very much appreciate your reading my story and offering a critique.

      1,000 words is a bit spare for writing an apocalypse tale, so I felt I needed to jump right in and not spend a lot of time, or words, setting the story up.

      With all due respect, I must disagree with you on the prologue. An apocalypse story needs to create a sense of irony… as well as outrage. The intent of the prologue here was to do that. I wanted the reader to say… “Hey! WTH! No… we have learned… we are peaceful… we finally got our s*** together… you can’t take that from us now!”

      I like refrains too.. in short pieces; in a longer story, they are tedious. I am glad that you mentioned the refrain, because your comment made me go back and look at the story again. I see that I actually missed one in the final edit… my intent was a refrain at the end of each “chapter”. I have edited the story and moved “The world watched helplessly” to the end of the third “chapter”. Thank you pointing that out to me.

      I am very pleased that you enjoyed the story. This is another story where I could definitely turn this into a longer story.

  3. oldestgenxer says:

    We here in ‘merica have a very American-centric view of the world. As a narcissist myself, I can appreciate that. But getting a view of the global impact is refreshing. Good story.
    What if they were like the aliens from Signs, and the water was poison to them? That’ll teach em!
    PS–I like virgins.

    • Thank you, oldestgenxer… I am glad you liked the story.

      Yes, Americans are like that, aren’t they? Thinking that the world revolves around them… I hope it does not take an apocalypse to open their eyes that there are others on this big blue marble.

      You know something? I almost… almost… wrote the story differently. What if, since there were no conventional weapons to strike back at the aliens, what if… we dumped a chemical agent… Ricin, for example… into the water, and the aliens took the tainted water back to their planet… and had their own little “apocalypse”?

      Your “ps” about virgins threw me for a moment… there were no virgins in my story… then, I remembered the comment I left over on Chuck’s blog… haha! They say you can be a virgin only once… I was Amanda’s virgin… if ever there was a weekend of my life, I would love to repeat… hehe! But, I digress…

      Thank you for reading my little “apocalyptic…”

  4. e6n1 says:

    Gripping and well paced. I wish aliens would really come for any end of the world shindig.

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