Today’s story is thanks to the Chuck Wendig Challenge of August 1st at http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/01/flash-fiction-challenge-random-title-challenge/ . He provided a list of story titles and it was my job to pick one and write a story to it. This type of writing exercise really stretches the brain. Here’s my take on the title I picked:
The Enemy Rule
I watched as a pair of soldiers stapled an eleven by fourteen inch sheet of paper to the telephone pole. Little knots of people stood around every other pole along Main Street, reading the sheets the enemy had just posted.
I had just come out of the Co-op. There was nothing inside except a few exotic canned goods. One of the first directives to come from the enemy was for farmers to take all of their produce to the industrial park where they had set up an efficient shipping line. Everything was sent back to their country.
When they marched on to the next pole I stepped up to read the notice. A notice! We were back to the seventeenth century. The enemy had dropped four electro-magnetic pulse bombs across the country. That’s all it took to fry every electronic device we depended on and send us back nearly to the stone age. An antique car sputtered down Main Street. Everyone on the street turned to watch. The old cars weren’t electronic so anyone with a rusting hulk in the back yard was doing their best to resurrect the beasts. It was hard to do when parts had to be scrounged locally.
I read the poster.
1. Curfew is sundown. Anyone outside after sundown will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.
2. No groups shall form larger than three non-family people. Anyone found in a non-family group larger than three people will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.
3. No travel is permitted outside town limits. All travel across town limit borders must be approved by the People’s Superintendent of the town. Anyone found travelling without the proper permits will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.
It was clear they just wanted to shoot us all and make way for the immigrants. Half of my block had already been cleared. The Wilson family next door were all shot the first day of the invasion. John tried to keep the soldiers out of his house. They dragged the whole family out on the front lawn and shot them, including the dog. I was thankful that I lived alone. That was a month ago. Last week the soldiers helped a family from their country move in. They’ve already dug up the whole yard and started planting vegetables. They even ripped out Emily Wilson’s prize yellow roses. It happened all up and down the block. The new people move in and they begin planting vegetables immediately.
A squad of soldiers came around the corner in a column of two. I stepped into the street and bowed low keeping my eyes on the pavement. That was Rule One on Day One and it didn’t take us long to learn it. A lot of people were shot on Day One.
My stomach growled. My pantry was nearly bare and my tiny vegetable patch wasn’t keeping me fed and it was the height of summer. No food was reaching the markets. I stood up after the squad passed and finished reading the poster. It was more of the same. I turned away. Nothing posted since Day One told us what to do to get along, to survive.
On my block I noticed all the new families out in their yards, tending the new gardens. I bowed politely. They bowed back. There was no point in trying to talk to them. Not only did they not speak my language, they’d retreat into the house if I tried to approach. I could tell which houses the newcomers were in. They all had gardens. I stopped to count. Six houses left with original owners.
An cargo truck was parked outside a newcomer house at the other end of the block. Soldiers carried boxes and bags of food to the house. I slowed my pace and watched. The truck stopped at every newcomer house. At the Wilson’s old place I could see bags of rice, beans and boxes of canned goods and fresh vegetables, even some butcher paper wrapped meat. My stomach growled again.
When the Sergeant looked my way I bowed. He frowned. I went up my front walk and opened the door. His crew came back to the truck and delivered food to the house across the street. I shut the door and hung my shopping bag on the hook in the front hall. Are they getting food because they’re from the conquering country or because they’re cooperating by growing food?
I went out to the garden shed. Like any gardener, I had a lot of seed out there. I looked through the packets; some of it was pretty old. I dug out my seed starter trays, filled them with the last of my starter soil and wet it down. I planted one whole tray with cabbage. It was too late for pumpkin but the acorn squash might mature before the next hard frost. Those went into another tray. I held the Swiss Chard packet in my hand. This stuff could go directly in the ground and it over wintered. I put that one aside. It went that way until I ran out of trays. I pulled my tiller out of the shed and peeked into the gas reservoir. Half a tank. There was about three quarters of a can of gas. I filled the tiller tank and pulled the cord. It started right up.
It took three days to clear the sod. I noticed the new neighbors watching. The third day I even had a brief nod from the new missus over there. The Swiss Chard was the first thing I put in. Then my remaining summer lettuce seed, herbs, cucumbers, and anything that had a chance to mature before winter.
The next month the supply truck stopped at my house. I bowed to the Sergeant. He nodded back and made a check on his clipboard.
Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html