This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt
Fifty years after the end of the conflict, the wasteland showed only the barest trace of green. The bodies were gone, bleached bones covered in dry, shifting earth. No vegetation anchored it, and winds blew the earth from drift to drift. Here and there, desert animals were returning: rodents and in their wake, small predators and raptors.
The earth licked its wounds, letting the toxins leach away and the scars close over. On the hillock, a gun carriage rotted into the earth, the only evidence of man in the landscape that stretched from horizon to horizon, a dried-up lake, a range of hills, and a dense mist where the ocean lay. Or had done once.
The two emissaries took a last look at the emptiness before turning back to their shuttle. They had arrived too late to make contact.
“Perhaps it is just as well,” one said.
“Now it can all start again. But this time, we will take charge.”
They walked carefully around the vessel, sweeping the earth clear. One of them bent, and with long, slender fingers, scooped up a nest of mice and placed it clear of the blast from the reactors. Satisfied that all was well, the two took up their places in the capsule and returned to their mother ship.
The sun sank to the horizon. A mouse carried her babies into the tunnel-dark safety of a new nest. A fox slunk out from beneath the gun carriage and sniffed the air. Puzzled, she raised her muzzle and tasted the strange scent of well-being. She trotted without fear in the direction of a small watercourse. Something said the cubs would eat well tonight.