Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and thirty-second piece in this series. This week’s is a 420-worder by Christopher Farley. This story will be podcasted in episode 40 (with two other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 25th May.
Where There Is Hope There Is Hunger
The bees were the first noticeable difference. Within just a few years there weren’t any. The pollen must have been modified in the same way the plants had been. The honey stocks fell quicker than a suicidal stockbroker after a Wall Street crash. They told us to be patient and that they would replenish the honey from laboratory stock, which they did. I don’t know what the hell it was made from but it was soft, runny and sweet, so I guess some people were happy. However, honey wasn’t the biggest problem; after all, we had sugar if we had the money to buy it. I didn’t. I just lost my sweet tooth.
At the same time, plant species started dying, and dying quicker than post-meteorite dinosaurs at that. I guess it must have been impossible to cross-pollenate something out of the test-tube, the bees must have thought so anyway. Why the government eggheads couldn’t think of it, I’ll never know; after all, it seems obvious now, doesn’t it?
However, unless you’re a vegetarian, the food-chain doesn’t stop with wheat and honey flowers. Animals in the food chain, all reliant on one another, just started disappearing, leaving only scavengers – rats and the like, to sift through the remains, and there were plenty of those.
So three years ago, I took to the mountains, where I managed to get by, living off the fruits of the forest, trapping what I could and making flour from chestnuts which helped me through the winter. It’s strange; I relocated to the mountains to try to eke out an existence while the bears and wolves moved down into the towns, looking for easy pickings, which made it perfect, for a short while anyway.
It’s now October. I haven’t even seen a squirrel, let alone eaten one, for at least four months and my stomach feels as if it’s touching my backbone. At least the water in the rivers is clean and I drink plenty of it. Wait! Water. The ocean. There have to be fish in the ocean. My stomach cramps and rumbles, and I feel a new spirit of survival running through me. Taking a swig of water, I look up at the early sprinkling of snow on the peaks far above me and doubt gnaws at me like I gnaw tree bark; this year there is little fruit and the chestnut trees are barren. Crossing this mountain range in winter would be hard at any time. It’ll be worse with no food.
I asked Chris what prompted this piece and he said…
Have you ever woken up with a song in your head, which has no reason at all for being there, you know, one you haven’t heard for years? Well, one morning I woke up with “Genetic Engineering” from OMD’s 1983 album “Dazzle Ships”. I hadn’t heard that album for a long time (I’ve still the original cassette) but it was going through my head that morning and was still there two minutes later when I started my morning writing exercise. This is the result.
And it was great. I love quirky. Thank you, Chris.
Upon moving to London, a bit like Dick Whittington, searching for streets of gold, he happened upon a beautiful Italian lady who later decided to take him to the sunny realm of southern Switzerland, where he can still be found, smiling inanely, continuously in search of Weissbier.
When he is not working or drinking he sits in front of the computer, searching for fictional inspiration. You can find Chris via his blogs http://christopherfarley.wordpress.com and http://talkingtosh.wordpress.com.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups.