This was a writing prompt from Your Next Favorite Author’s blog:
Tell a story based on this setting:
It’s been a few years now, since the grid went down. Sure, a few folk still have gas for their cars, or generators, but most of us have had to learn how to live it rough. I was one of the lucky ones – the day things went south, I was doing a bit of light maintenance on my retreat. I remember those early days all too well. I still have not found any survivors, though I have been looking since about a week after it happened.
The world had seen it coming, though none knew when it was going to happen. First it was prophesied in 2000 – a major financial crash. Then it was 2014 – I don’t even recall what the trigger was supposed to be. The next prediction was 2017 when the US elections finally took hold. We didn’t make it to 2017. I don’t know what triggered “The Event” or how “they” managed to pull it off. All I know is that I was in the middle of sawing a board to replace one that showed signs of rot when everything went dead.
Since this is my retreat, I’m off the grid – everything is solar, wind, or nature powered. So, I guess whatever it was, was from an EMP blast. Now, I get to sit and wait. There’s four more who agreed to be here when things went down. I hope they’ve made it out all right. That glow on the horizon has me worried. One thing we did not count on was some idiot setting the forest on fire. When I first saw it, I thought I was watching the sun set. Then I realized – that glow is to the south, not the west. There’s no natural fire break either between here and there. If that really is a spreading fire, not just some town going up in flames, I’m in trouble. Guess it’s time to start looking at the supplies, and putting together a bug out bug out pack.
I’m glad we’d already brought the heavy supplies up. I know we hoped we’d never need them, but at least I’ve got them now. So, let’s see…
Hiking pack – yep, there’s mine. The straps are already adjusted. That’ll save some time. Canteen, filter, extra filters and hoses – check, check, and double check. Freeze dried foods? Yup, in the front pocket. Clothes. Oh, blast, where are my extra clothes? Guess those are coming up with Loren – if she can make it.
I remember now, I’d taken a couple boxes over to her place. She was supposed to come up last weekend and drop them off. Did she not get here?
Nope, no boxes. Not in her room, or in the storage room. Wonder if she was caught up in whatever triggered this? Anyway, guess I’ll have to just use the clothes I brought with me. Not enough, not enough by far. But, better than traipsing through that mess out there naked. And, I know I had socks – I brought those up two weeks ago. Unless Eric “borrowed” them again.
Yep, there they are. Into the pack with you. And my extra hikers. Lord knows when I’ll be able to figure out how to get a good tan on a hide, so I can start making my own moccasins. Why didn’t we think about that? All of us were counting on our shoes lasting a while.
With a grunt, I hefted the pack to my back to check the balance. Took me a couple of repacks to get that right, but once I did, I knew I was as ready as I could get. I didn’t want to leave if I could help it. But, that fire really had me worried. So did the absence of my survival team. Loren was a bit of a flake, but man could she make these rations taste like manna. Chris was on the light fingered side, though I didn’t mind. So long as he used those fingers to build up our supplies when we need it. Lenny was our leader – he’s been living off grid for ages. Why he chose to throw in with us, I’ll never fully understand. Out of the lot, he’s the one I expected to show up first. This cabin, comfy as it is, is not our actual destination. Lenny refused to let us know where his place was, but we all know that’s where we’ll be going. This is just the trail head, the collecting point, and where we all know to meet up.
Day four, and no one has shown up. The glow hasn’t gotten any dimmer, but it also hasn’t gotten any closer. I’m torn between pulling out, and staying. I’m not worried about being one woman alone in the brush, though I do worry about being a single human out there without back up. Where are they? I’ve found the arsenal Chris brought up – the cross bow is going to be a life saver. And, I found his supply of bolt tips. At least I can start living off the land, instead of out of the pantry. I wonder if there’s any wild-forage around that I can trust? It would be nice to have a salad now and again. Sandwiches are off the menu until we can get a field plowed for grain. Loren was responsible for bringing the horses and harness – even Lenny said we’ll need them once things go way wrong. I think this qualifies. If they aren’t here in a few more days, I guess it’ll be time to move out. I trust Chris to keep his mouth closed, but if Loren was stopped, no idea how many others know about this place. Cross bows and knives won’t last long if I wind up in a firefight with idiots wielding guns.
Day eight of this new reality. It’s time to pull out. Even on foot, I could have walked the distance from my old home to here in this time. I’ll grant, that I would have had to walk eighteen hours a day, but I still could have made it. So, now I’m alone in a world that’s gone silent. Time to learn if my survival skills are up to the task.