by Jake DeHaai
His bright blue eyes provided the only color to the barren wasteland. The deep creases around his mouth told tales of violence, love, and loss. He walked across the decrepit highway, the realization had set in, he was alone. He was isolated. His past had hardened him, taught him to show no emotion. Yet his internal sadness had broken out of his hardened shell and was plastered on his face permanently. The emptiness of this land constantly reminded him that everyone he had ever loved, spoke to, or even glanced at—were dead.
Screaming. Buildings engulfed in fire. People burning, trying to run from imminent death.
He used to walk the path of God; but after seeing what man could do to each other, he had decided that there was no God, for no God could let its creation do this to one another.
All the man had done was walk. He was constantly on the move, on the run from his pain, sleeping wherever he could, but never for more than a few hours. The soldiers would find him if he did. Every day was just like the last, wandering, trying to survive as the pale gray sky loomed over him.
Eyes blinded by the bright light, which followed the ear shattering boom. The concussion knocked over buildings, uprooted trees.
Pieces of his past came to him, but only in snippets. His conscious was in turmoil, plaguing him with despair. But then he saw the town. It was like a distant desert oasis, luring him with food and safety. But soon skepticism took a hold of him. The soldiers patrolled the towns, looking for him. He gathered up his courage and decided to take his chances, for he needed food.
Upon approaching the town, with one hand on his pistol, he gazed out at the ramshackled buildings, lifeless and ruined, and his inner feeling of hope dispersed. He wandered the streets of the ghost town. The cracked pavement of the road and the dilapidated facades of the buildings set off an eery tone. The ruins of rundown park caught his eye. He could still see the frame of the rusted over swing-set. The metal merry-go-round was turning slowly in the breeze, creaking with each movement. He made his way toward a faded bench. Sitting on it he opened up his rucksack. It was littered with .44 bullets and empty tin cans. As he noticed the bullets, the realization of his situation started to set in. An idea expanded across his face. It was appealing, for he had no food, no water, no friends, no shelter, and no hope.
He took the pistol out of his belt, pressed the catch on the side. He sat there and watched as the clip fell to the ground. The ringing of the metal hitting the street filled the town with noise. He didn’t care. He slowly picked it up, feeling its weight in his hands. He sorted through his array of bullets and chose one. He brought it to eye level and gazed at it. It was weathered and scratched with age. He brought it back down and pushed it into the clip. He put the clip back in the gun and pulled back the slide. He felt the cold hard steel in his mouth as he was preparing to pull the trigger. He squeezed.