Thursday, May 22, 2014

Come the Storm (WoE week 21)

Write at the Merge challenge this week is themed with Abandonment.

First the quote:

"Go off to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path." Ralph Waldo Emerson

and now the photo:

photo by Liam Andrew Cura courtesy Unsplash

Now, this scene is going to be weird. I wrote a short scene some time ago for a WoE prompt (week 20 of 2013) starring new characters: Sofie and Tiko. That scene to me felt like something post-apocalyptic but I didn't give it much thought until this prompt. I promise you, there is a ton of backstory for this scene, but it won't fit in 500 words. Well, to be honest, I'm a tad over that because I didn't want to chop anything out.

If I haven't completely befuddled you yet, read on. But. Since I've only written about Sofie and Tiko once before, and since it doesn't explain anything, I'll give you the Cliff Notes version.

Sofie and Tiko are on their way to Amarillo. (previous installment) Sofie's father, at some point in the past, released something horrible into the world and he died. (not included in previous installment)

I offer the following in response: Come the Storm

Turbulent clouds choked the sickly-green sky. Sofie shivered despite the heat, remembering how the sirens echoed through her hometown under such a canopy. The hairs on her arms and neck stretched in the charged air acknowledging the power in the brewing storm. She stepped up the pace in her hunt for shelter, moving through the derelict businesses of Downtown McCormick.

Each building was branded with the FEMA search and rescue code, though the orange paint was starting to fade after…had it really been fifteen years? Sofie paused to read the symbols on a condominium complex: 13/5/76, TX, 25 DOA, NE. Every possible entrance, windows included, was boarded up.

“Find one?” Sofie barely heard Tiko over the wind.

“No,” she shouted back and wiped a tear from her cheek. “Dead-on-arrival. No entry.”


Sofie drew her finger across her throat – her own perverted sign language – and moved on to the next building, and then the next, and the next, trailing orange x-boxes and DOAs in her wake.


She turned. Tiko formed a W with his fingers and tapped his chin before pointing to a crumbling cement structure on his side of the street. Sofie ran best she could through the driving wind, light-headed with joy as she read the symbol for herself: 13/5/76, TX, 0-0, F/W. The Texas Home Guard finally identified an unoccupied building with both food and water.

Sofie giggled. Even if after 15 years, the food and water was gone, it was still a building unscarred by death. It meant shelter for the night and with any luck, a functioning storm-cellar. Tiko helped her navigate through the hole in the chain-link fence and over the rubble of the building’s crumbling exterior. With a little effort, they pried the boards off a window cavity and climbed inside.

Tiko turned his flashlight on. “Office building, maybe? Condemned long before the plague hit, I think.”

Sofie crossed through the amber light and peered through the blackened solar window at the other end of the hall. “There’s a courtyard. And there’s ivy or moss or something climbing up the sides.”

“Woot! Green means water source. Now we can weather the storm.”

They found the lobby. Exposed concrete floors told the story of missing carpet, but Sofie sighed with relief. She preferred cold seeping through her sleeping bag to bugs infesting her slumber. As she unrolled her pack,  Tiko pulled out his salvage bag and began preparations for a salad of dandelions and wild onions, the fruits of their many stops along the abandoned roadway.

“I don’t know what I would’ve done without you, Tiko, honestly.” She averted her gaze from shame. “People try to avoid me, or hurt me, because of what my father did.”

“People are jackasses. You are not your father. You don’t know a virus from a volleyball.” Tiko selected a fungus from their salvage salad and chucked it across the room. “Or a mushroom from a toadstool, apparently.”

“They’ll never forgive him, will they.” The words tasted bitter across her tongue. For all his sins against mankind, Dmitri Kerov was still her father.

“No.” Tiko shook his head. “They never will. But I hope I can. Someday. When I can exchange my anger for peace.”

Some of the WoE crowd mentioned during the assessment that they aren't always sure when it's okay to leave criticism. I'll try to remember to be a better citizen and put a note at the end of my responses to the prompt, but if I don't, comments and constructive critiques are ALWAYS welcome here. Okay? Okay. so, let me have it. Give me what you've got. I can take it.


  1. I can see why you went back to this. It's an interesting story and it would be interesting to see how it developed. Lyssa M x

    1. Thanks! I know this one is disjointed, but I do have the backstory to support it, I promise. Basic premise is that Sofie's father did something that the rest of the world blames him for, and because he died, the mass mob crazies are looking to exact justice from Sofie, who knew nothing about her father's work because she was only a child when it happened.

      I think it would make for a compelling story, to see what happens to the families of "bad guys", kind of like the stigma that has been applied to the Booths and the Mudds, guilty by association stuff.

      I hope you enjoyed your visit. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!

  2. This was a fast and interesting read. I enjoyed the characters very much, as well as the descriptions. You made me see both their struggle and their successes, if you call it that. I like the part about Tiko and the food. Also, the dialogue flowed easily. No stopping here:~)

    I'm glad you want to expand this story. I say this because I wanted to know more about Sofie, Tiko and what Sofie's father did. There's a lot of interesting plot lines in this one.

    1. Thanks! I'm glad the dialogue worked. I did have about a hundred more words in the dialogue that I had to scrap, so I'm happy the story still flowed.

      I'm intrigued by Sofie's plight, and I've got a good idea what is in Tiko's backstory that brought the duo together. It's going to be an interesting ride for certain.

      I'm pleased you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Did my comment from before come through? I hope so!

    1. I don't know what happened, but after a brief email communication with Cam, this is the gist of the original comment and my response:

      Cam: I liked how the dialogue kept me grounded, despite the mysterious background and post-apocalyptic setting. And that I was super curious about what her father did!

      Me: Thanks! I'm glad the conversation worked, especially after I cut so much from it. As for what Sofie's father did, I'm still not 100% sure myself. I'm thinking that the plague isn't something that one man could do on his own, that he will be part of a research group at a pharmaceutical company or something. But he and a handful of others are definitely the scapegoats. It would give Sofie incentive to run if she knew what was happening to the other researchers' families.

      That's this week's notes anyway.

      I hope you enjoyed your visit. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!