I know I’m late; I was pretty busy this past weekend. Hope you enjoy this story. This story is set in the aftermath of a nuclear fallout. Tried to practise my descriptive skills, any feedback is welcome.
Inside the bomb shelter, Jenny awoke. She looked to her left at her younger brother. Wrapped up in a bundle of blankets, Bobby was still sleeping peacefully.
Rubbing her eyes and yawning, she took out her toothbrush from her duffel bag. The bristles were frayed and worn from weeks of continuous use. She could no longer get a replacement, though. She doubted that the nearest supermarket was still active. It had probably been overrun by survivors.
She squeezed out a minuscule blob of toothpaste onto the toothbrush and moistened her mouth with her own saliva. Clean, non-irradiated water was scarce. Jenny’s bomb shelter had a tap that was supplied with groundwater, but she had tested the water and it was contaminated with too much radiation to be fit for drinking. Jenny and her brother were currently rationing their water from a reserve tank in their shelter.
She finished brushing her teeth and spat out the paste into the sink. Bobby stirred and pulled the blankets closer to himself.
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five lay next to her mattress. She had just finished it yesterday. She remembered the day she had borrowed it from the library. It was also the day that the atomic bombs had started flying.
Jenny and Bobby’s parents had been away from home when the bomb sirens rang out; their dad had been away on a business trip to Florida, her mother had been teaching in the neighbourhood school. Jenny had rushed Bobby down to the bomb shelter. From within, they heard the muffled explosions as the nuclear warheads rained down on the town. When the bombing stopped, she had checked Twitter on her phone. Her stream was abuzz as friends came online to check frantically that all their BFFs were alive. Jenny’s best friend hadn’t been online. She had sent her a tweet. She hadn’t received a reply since. She hadn’t heard from her mum or dad either.
She checked the news sites. America had declared war on North Korea, and the worse scenario that anyone had been too scared to envision had come alive: they had launched their nukes at each other. Other countries had taken either side, and soon enough, the entire world had descended into nuclear holocaust.
She had long been used to reading about the plights of citizens in war-torn countries as part of her current affairs studies in school. All that did for her was give her writing points for her essays, and filled her with some passing sympathy, and she would say a short prayer for the downtrodden. Now, she wondered, was she the subject of anyone’s prayers or sympathies, in some country that had perhaps been left untouched by nuclear war?
She hadn’t left the shelter for three weeks now. She was afraid of what she would see. In three weeks, she and her brother had established a living routine in their bunker. Wake, eat breakfast from tinned food, while away the time playing chess, talking, or reading, then sleep. But she knew this couldn’t last forever. The water reserves were already halfway through, despite their best efforts to use as little as possible. She had to find another source of water. If only they had a water purifier or condenser…
She went to her brother, who was still snoring gently. “Bobby?” she shook him awake as he opened his eyes blearily. “I’m going out for a while,” she told him. “S’okay,” he mumbled. “Take care sis.”
She opened the hatch. Some sunlight hit her hand, and it stung. She went back in to put on a jacket.
She lifted up the hatch and walked out for the first time in three weeks.
Most of the surrounding buildings had been reduced to rubble, including her own house. She felt her skin chilled even underneath the jacket. The atmosphere was hazy with dust thrown up from the destroyed buildings. The sun, obscured by the haze, was not glaring, but it seemed hotter than usual; she could feel her hands burning up. She stuffed her hands into her pockets. She recalled some factoids from her science classes in school, when there still was school. Nuclear winter, destruction of the ozone layer, so on and so forth.
She went under the shadow of a destroyed building and sat against it. She stared at the wasteland that surrounded her. Just a month ago, the streets would have been filled with honking cars, children laughing as they rode in their bicycles, runners jogging by with earphones stuck in their ears. But now, nothing. No sounds. Only a slight stirring of the wind, the sky continually overcast, yet the sun more scorching than ever.
She couldn’t take it any more. How was she going to keep her brother and herself alive? She was only fifteen, she didn’t even know where to go…she buried her head in between her knees and cried.
She didn’t hear the footsteps that got louder between her sobs. “Jenny? Is that you?” a familiar voice pierced through her crying. She looked up at the person who had called her name.
“Dad?” he was almost indistinguishable beneath the balaclava and the scarves. “Dad!” she cried as she jumped up and hugged him. “You’re alive!” She continued to cry into her father’s jacket.
She looked up at his smiling face. “I thought you were dead! How did you make it back from Florida?”
“I’ll tell you the whole story. It’s a long way from Florida without a flight.” Her father looked around. “Is Bobby – ”
“Yes, he’s still alive! I’ve been taking care of him. We’ve been living in the shelter since the bombing.” she ushered him towards the hatch.
“That’s a relief!” her dad laughed. “What about mum?”
“I have no idea, Dad,” said Jenny, her voice tinged with sadness.
“We’ll find out, okay?” her dad patted her reassuringly. “Let’s go back to the shelter first, so I can see Bobby.”
Jenny rubbed the tears from her eyes, and followed her dad back to the bomb shelter, hope filling her heart.