The mother and son contemplated the overturned bread truck with mixed emotions. Though they hadn’t eaten for days, the interior of the innocent looking white vehicle might hold more than they wished to see. Josie told her son to hide nearby while she investigated.The doors must have fallen shut after the truck was looted, because the inside was mostly empty of everything save some debris and the slowly transforming corpse in the driver’s seat. Josie, driven by morbid curiosity, leaned forward to gaze upon all that remained of the the unfortunate soul.
Fungal growth transformed his skin bizarre shades of yellow and green like some horrific chia pet, while long velvety shoots grew from his eyes, nose, and ears, permanently fixing him to his seat.
She knew she should hurry before other scavengers returned, but simple human decency prevented her. She wanted to close his eyes.
Leaning over the driver, she broke off the eye stalks. Weird tendrils reached out for her like spectral hands. She batted them away, loosing more spores into the air like a fine mist.
She tried to shield her mouth and coughed, sharp loud exhalations racking her body.
She closed the lids, a futile gesture since their thin skin would soon sprout more alien tendrils. As she turned back to address her son, she spotted, out of the corner of her eye, the clear plastic of a loaf of bread wedged between driver and door. She made to grab it when her son called again.
“Mommy! Someone’s coming!”
Noticing the mold inside the wrapping, she threw the loaf aside in disgust. They hadn’t eaten in days but were not yet desperate enough to stomach such fare, even given their supposed immunity to the spores’ malignant effects. They might not lose their minds to the alien fungus, but simple food poisoning could kill them just as well. She ran out to her son.
None too soon, she reached Jack and ducked behind a large piece of concrete debris – carnage from the past weeks’ mayhem. They peered over its edge at the walking dead, descending upon the bread truck as if they needed the food. But of course, they did. Their masters beckoned, and they would not stop until the Earth was picked clean and seeded with their monstrous spores.
Finding nothing, they exited and walked, single file, in the direction of the mother-ship. Josie hugged her son, remembering similar lines for bread and unemployment only weeks before, lines they might have shared with those same unfortunates. She knew that she and her son would never walk such a line again.
At least their deaths would be clean. She wiped the green spores from her clothes, grabbed Jack’s hand, and ran into the shadows.
The excellent story you just read (CATHERINE RUSSELL’S “BREAD”) appears here on my blog as a part of the Great April Fool’s Day FridayFlash Blog Swap, organized by Tony Noland. You can find my story for today (ALL THE KING’S HORSES) at Catherine’s website, (who, by the way, was a joy to work with!) http://ganymeder.com To read all the dozens of stories swapping around as a part of the GAFDFFBS, check out the GAFDFFBS index over at Tony’s blog Landless. For hundreds of thousands of words of fantastic flash fiction stories, check out the FridayFlash hashtag on Twitter. It happens every Friday!
Read more: http://www.tonynoland.com/#ixzz1IEXBfmOw