Friday the Thirteenth

At last week’s group Annette had come up with another interesting writing prompt for us. We had been asked to bring a book along with us. Of course I took one by my favourite author, me! I took my first novel from a few years back -Winner.
We were asked to chose a page number, then a line number and make a note of the sentence that fitted around that. The sentence on the page and line number I chose was: ‘They were loaded down with a couple of shopping bags and a tray of food’.
We were then given a different page number and asked to make a note of the first three words and the last three. The ones on my given page were: ‘Phew I am’ and ‘and you too‘.
Additional optional flash cards of words were supplied if we wanted to take some more words. I chose: powerless, judge,tattered and scatological. (I used all these except scatological, but dd include a scatological phrase)

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This was my thirty minute story:

“Phew I am exhausted,” Dan commented. He and Amelia were loaded down with a couple of shopping bags and a tray of food. They took a table and sat themselves down to enjoy a few moments of warmth. The chairs albeit only made of formed plastic were comfortable to their backs. It had been a while since they had enjoyed such luxury.

They looked around the makeshift café. It seemed that everyone was in the same situation as them. Not long ago most of these people would have been in their smarter clothes having enjoyed a morning’s shopping in the mall, or town centre. How things can change in an instant.

Dan and Amelia had lived off grid for a long while now and were used to the hardships many of these people were only just finding out about for themselves.  Tattered clothes were nothing to these two friends, at least they had a few layers on and were warm.  Judging by the looks most of the other patrons wore on their faces they were still suffering the after-burn of a world turned upside down.

‘Why had people accepted the type of powerlessness that lead to this mess?’ Dan wondered, not for the first or even hundredth time.  At least he and Amelia had tried to make a difference. They had joined the resistance even before the balance of power had changed. They could see what was coming.

Almost as soon as their esteemed leader had accepted the position, of head of Government, things started to change as he implemented statute after statute improving the lives of his family and friends whilst pushing everyone else further down the ladder.  While he promised equality and unity in every speech, every action belied his words.

Society soon started to fall apart. IN what felt like the dim and distant past the country had been hugely respected by developing countries. Now it was no better than the backwaters those other countries had been. Rapidly things slipped further and further into chaos, as white turned against black, the unemployed, of which there were many, turned against the people who had jobs, no matter how badly paid they had been. The healthy attacked the sick, the poor attacked the even poorer, and so on and so on. It became a war of haves against have-nots.

When the other world powers tried to step in and comment or even chastise their esteemed leader the shit really hit the fan. That’s when the reciprocal bombing began, and then escalated. It wasn’t long before the cities were little more than bombed out shells and the makeshift cafes such as this one started to spring up to feed the ever-increasing ranks of the homeless. Nowadays this type of café was just about all there was for the likes of most of the population. No one seemed to have a permanent home anymore, everyone carried around their homes in shopping bags.

Dan and Amelia ate quickly in silence. They knew that to say anything could start a fight that could end with the whole cafe at war. Eye contact between the patrons was pretty non-existent. No one wanted to share these days, not even a glance.

As soon as Dan and Amelia finished their gruel they stood and returned the trays to the counter where others were mutely waiting their food.  They headed for the door, carefully negotiating the small space crammed with tables. Even an unintentional invasion of personal space could cause the illogical hate to flare.

Dan reached for the door handle. They were headed back out into the apocalyptic cold. As he pulled the door open he glanced over his shoulder having had a strong sense of being watched.  At a nearby table he thought he recognised one of his old friends and was sure he in turn had been recognised. It didn’t matter now,  anything they may have shared in the past was now long gone. Dan felt sure they had nothing to say to each other anymore. He opened the door wide for Amelia to pass through. As he did so he was surprised to hear the hushed voice of his friend carry across the room.

“Happy Friday the thirteenth, my friend,”

“And you too,” he whispered back.

First contact had been made.

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