Today's story takes place in the Icarus Universe sometime in the first summer following the brief and devastating world war. It's a rare, light and quiet moment for Steven, Evie, and their three children under ten in their lives following the man made apocalypse.
Prior experience with the universe isn't necessary to understand or enjoy the story though. And as always, you can find the audio here.
Hearing her daughter laughing was a rarity these days. She smiled, savoring the moment.
“What are the chances of finding all these blueberries?” Aden asked. His eyes sparkled, and he wore a wide grin. He watched his little sister giggle while she skipped between the bushes, gorging on ripe berries.
“Pretty good considering this looks like a farm,” Evie answered. She guided Aden over a few steps and pointed. “The bushes are planted in neat rows, and there are too many of them for a home garden.”
“Yeah,” Aden shrugged. “But it’s been months, and there isn’t a lot of people left. Someone had to plant them, right?”
Evie chuckled, and she shook her head. “These bushes were planted at least a couple of years ago,” she explained. “They can’t get this big in a year.”
Aden sounded rather disappointed. He sighed and started slouching off after his dad and siblings.
“You thought we’d find people?” Evie asked as she walked beside her middle child.
Aden shrugged. “I was kind of hoping, yeah.”
Evie’s heart ached to hear the longing in her son’s voice, but she couldn’t bring herself to share his hope. Times like these tended to bring out the best and the worst in people, and she’d lost what little optimism she’d ever had the day the first bombs fell. She couldn’t stand the thought of squashing Aden’s faith things would turn around, so she changed the subject.
“Come on. Let’s fill up our bags and then see how many berries we can eat before we pop,” she said.
A grin overtook the look of disappointment on the boy’s face, and he nodded. “I bet I can eat more than you, Mama,” he said.
“Oh? I don’t know about that. I’m really hungry,” she replied. Evie ruffled Aden’s hair. “But you’ve got to fill all the empty food bags in your pack first.”
“Yes ma’am.” Aden trotted over to the nearest bush and slung his pack off his shoulders to dig out the washable food storage bags she’d splurged on years ago.
The rapid thump, thump, thump of tiny feet running her way caught Evie’s attention as Nadine ran up to her and threw her arms around Evie’s leg. She looked down at her youngest and giggled at the juice smeared, sticky, and utterly joyful face that greeted her.
“The bewies are yummy!” Nadine cheered.
“I can see that,” Evie said.
“You gonna eat some, Mama?”
Evie nodded. “I sure am, but I’m going to pick some for later first.”
Nadine threw her arms into the air with an exuberant, “Yay!” She danced around the bushes where Evie worked alongside Steven, Nathan, and Aden. As they worked, Nadine made up a tune about the blueberries that she sang while she skipped and played and stuffed a few more berries in her mouth.
“Um, Mom? Dad?” Nathan said several minutes later. “There are people heading this way, and they don’t look happy to see us.”
Each story in this series is 500 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first line generator like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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