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At the end of a city, four people watch it burn.

David Gane
David Gane
3 min read
Photo by Ricardo Utsumi / Unsplash

☠ Readers beware: This story is from a writing project I did between May 24 to June 24, 2021. The goal was to write a new story every day. Although I'm happy with them, they are first drafts and many could use some work.

We sat across the bay in our camper, watching the city burn. It was better than any memory of television or the internet I ever had.

We’d wake in the morning, make our breakfast and figure out which of the skyscrapers and landmarks had fallen through the night. Throughout the day, we’d gather wood and hunt and return later afternoon. After supper, we’d climb on the roof, hang our feet over the sides, and watch the sunset through the thick wisps of smoke.

There was just Ava and me as well as Justine and Hadley. The bridge had gone out months ago, so we weren’t worried about the hordes making it to us.

“How long do you think it’ll burn?” Ava asked.

I shrug since I didn’t know but then guess. “Maybe another few weeks.”

Justine always had strong opinions about things. “Nah, that place will burn for months. Once it into the subway tunnels and sewer lines, I betcha it could for years.”

“I once read about a town that had a fire in a coal mine and that shit burned for decades,” Hadley said. “People couldn’t even live there because of the carbon monoxide and heat.”

“Who knows what’s down below this place.”

We heard a loud, wrenching groan.

“This is it!” Justine shouted.

We’d been watching one of the tallest skyscrapers smouldering for the past week, and it had been slowly tilting over more and more, and we figured there’s have to come to a point when the weight would make it topple over. We’d even started making bets.

“Nah, it won’t be quite yet,” I said. My guess wasn’t for another couple of days, and since I’d bet my dessert for a week, I really didn’t want to lose.

“I think your waving goodbye to berries, boyo,” Hadley said.

Ava squeezed my hand. I knew she’d share with me if I asked, but I didn’t feel quite right taking it from her.

Sure enough, shit got real in the city, and a loud crack echoed across the water like someone fired a shotgun in front of us.

“There go the supports,” Justine said gleefully,

The whole building leaned forward like it was trying to touch its toes. But when it fell, it slammed into a building beside it, and that one buckled. They both started toppling together and hit a third one, a big ass one that rose in the centre of downtown. It shuddered before falling back towards the other buildings.

We fell silent as all three buildings fell into a cloud of dust that floated above the streets. Although we’d been watching the city for weeks, these landmarks that made up the city skyline were suddenly gone. Whatever vestige of the city had remained had been wiped away, probably taking many other buildings with them.

Over the next few days, we grew more restless, and it was finally Ava who suggested that we move on. We knew we had enough gas to get us to an old national park in the mountains where we could hide away from the hordes.

“That sounds good,” Justine said, and Hadley agreed.

It wasn’t hard. When you’re at the end of the world, you let go of the present and the past. You move in deep time when a million years is like the passing of a day.

I couldn’t think of a better place.

Writing Notes:

This one definitely fell apart at the end, mostly because I was tired. I went in without really much except an image from Deviant Art.

As I was writing, I was seeing the threads of my narrator not being good with estimating time, and thinking that I may go somewhere there. However, when the three buildings fell, I wasn't sure where to take it and my exhaustion hit right then. They all reacted to the buildings and that seemed to flummox me. Since I was thinking about time, that took me to the sense of the mountains having more meaning than the city for that. I simply didn't know how to form it into a coherent thought.

Fast Fiction

David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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