Microfiction #writephoto: Starting over

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.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

33 thoughts on “Microfiction #writephoto: Starting over”

  1. Hopefully those who inherited the earth are better stewards than we were… I’m just wondering about the mouse and her babies – they sound like fox food to me. Nice take on the prompt.

  2. Excellent story, Jane. I agree with you and Sue that it does seem like a battlefield, and/or unnaturally empty. I hope the emissaries are wiser than we have been.

  3. You always deliver a freshness even in a stale spoiled world. I still hope we wake up to the beauty and stop the take take take… We humans are good at taking sad to say.

  4. I like the picture you’ve painted here. I could see it without the photo prompt. I love the beginning details and the way you imply the story with actions performed by the characters. Very well done.

  5. Gosh… is that a hint of a happy ending? I thought this was Jane Dougherty’s blog. Who are you, imposter?

    A lovely story of hope, Jane. We have to have hope. It keeps us going. A world without humans? Sounds good to me.

  6. Lovely (as usual). I really enjoy your attention to resonant detail. The emissaries arriving too late and taking the care to shift the mouse den, then the predator emerging. Beautiful scene.

    1. Thank you, Carl 🙂 One of the things I practice is picking out the detail that counts, and discarding the rest. I’m glad that’s what you see in the picture—means I got it right 🙂

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