The Bridge

When the sun grows too hot, open areas are the most dangerous.

Golden colors at Dubai Desert
Photo by David Law / Unsplash

This story is a part of a writing experiment I did from 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.

In the heat of the sun, Adam crawled into the dirt under the shade of the bridge. It was cool and felt good against his sunburned skin.

Two men had jumped him while he rushed back home after searching for water. They yanked at his sweater and sunglasses, and although he tried to fight them off, he’d grown too weak.

Now he was exposed and still had to get to the other side of the river.

He moved north, staying in the shades of the buildings for as long as he could. When he was out of the cover of the skyscrapers, he walked through the small businesses and houses. Most were abandoned and gutted, and people had busted open holes in their sides and constructed shelters between them.

Past the houses was the park was next, or at least what remained of it. The trees were now hulking grey skeletons and offered no shade.  He grabbed a plastic garbage can lid found in a rubbish pile and took it with him. He knew it wouldn’t last, but it was the only thing he could find.

He covered himself with it and raced across the deadly open space. The grass crackled under his feet and scattered like toothpicks. Before he even got halfway across, the plastic was already growing soft, and he could feel the parts where his skin was exposed to the hot sun.

He saw the bridge ahead but overlooked the jagged root of the fallen tree. He tripped, and the plastic lid went flying. Immediately, he felt the heat on his skin. He needed to get to cover now.

He raced to the bridge, but it wasn’t fast enough. His ears, neck, and arms were all bright red. He was in bad shape, and as he scuttled to the narrowest, most covered part of the bridge, the cool dirt was the closest thing to salvation.

The bridge above was a no-mans-land, littered with cars and trucks, their engines overheated, and their tires melted. The asphalt retained most of the heat of the day, so his shoes wouldn’t last long. He couldn’t go over it.

But the river was no better. It was almost gone, but what was left was the furthest thing from water. It was a thick oozing sludge, with the bodies of fish, plants, and humans floating in it like a toxic gumbo.

The only way to the other side and the safety of his home was by traversing the scaffolding under the bridge. But it wouldn’t be easy. His body was already shaking and going into shock from the burns.

He stumbled along the edge of the shadows to the ladder that led up to the platform. He pulled himself up and crawled along, hoping that there wasn’t anyone was hiding in the corners, waiting to take whatever he had left.

He was far away when he saw the gaping hole in the bridge above. The concrete had buckled under the intense heat and crumbled away. Someone had rebuilt the scaffolding, but he’d be exposed again, and he wasn’t sure he had the energy to make it across.

He could feel his strength waning. He needed a break, a minor miracle, to get him to the other side. After that was the cool shelter of the suburban neighbourhood. It was exposed and burnt, but it was only a few blocks until he’d be home.

That’s when a shadow moved out across the sky, plunging the city and its manmade buildings into darkness.

What the hell was going on?

Adam edged his way to the edge of the crack to see what was going on above. Was it allies, or even aliens, here to help them survive?

No, it wasn’t any of them. It was a solar eclipse, the moon moving across the path of the sun.

The land fell into darkness, and Adam was in awe. But he couldn’t waste it. He dragged his sorry broken ass across the platform and onto the other side. He raced to the other side, and as he rushed into the safety of the tunnel system that led him back home, the solar eclipse ended.

And that’s where, for now, his story ends.

Thank you so much for reading.

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