The World’s Edge

by joetwo

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Incidentally, there is a new picture it and write publication available to purchase here. 23 authors, including myself, are contributors. If you like this, buy that. Anyway, Enjoy.

The World’s Edge

Frank awoke confused and frightened. He remembered very little about what had happened the night before. Someone had given him a drink. He could vaguely recall being very unsteady on his feet and trying to run but tripping up on his own feet. It was all very confusing.

Frank sat up in his bed and called out, no one answered. He was in what looked like a hostel, there were half opened drawers and clothes strewn over the floors. He left the building and was greeted by a barren scene. Along the street were many empty cars randomly positioned. Doors opened, some still with bags of groceries on the back seat. Some even had keys in their ignition but when he tried to drive them, none of them even tried to start. It was all very puzzling.

Frank was already feeling a rumbling in his stomach as he wandered the urban wasteland. He found a café and looked inside it for something to eat. The power wasn’t working, the freezer, still stocked with food, was only just beginning to melt. He found some bacon rashers and eggs and was able to cook some breakfast using the gas hob. It was stark, but filling.

Sated physically, Frank began his search for others anew. He spent a good three hours walking around the quiet streets. Many of the stores and houses were unlocked and Frank found a similar story in everyone of them. They all appeared to have been abandoned suddenly. Clothes, toys, books, miscellaneous equipment were all left as is, only people were missing. He looked, he called, he searched, he still couldn’t find anyone.

The sun was high in the sky when he stopped again for more food. He was in the outskirts of the urban sprawl of what he gathered was a medium-sized town. He entered a smallish house and found a can of tuna and bread rolls in a plastic shopping bag that had been dropped in the hallway. By now he had been almost so used to people not being there that he had dropped his guard while he ate. It thus came as a surprise when he heard coughing behind him.

Frank rose suddenly and turned to come face to face with a young woman at the door of the house. She was holding a hammer in her hand and looked frightened “Who are you?” she asked, “Where is everybody?”

“I don’t know.” Frank held his hands out “There was no one here when I woke up. I don’t remember what happened. I think I may have been drugged.”

The frightened face on the woman turned to one of abject sadness. She dropped the hammer and brought her hands to her face and started crying. Frank cautiously approached her and took her in his arms, hugging her. At the physical touch, Frank’s emotions bubbled up to the surface as well. He came to the realisation that he needed it as much as she did. They spent nearly fifteen minutes embracing and crying together.

The woman’s name was Ciara. She had woken in one of the houses in the suburbs and had wandered aimlessly until she had seen Frank through the window when he was eating. She had been through a similar experience as Frank, a mysterious figure who gave her something to drink and vague memories of intoxication, Frank quickly realised that she did not know anything he didn’t about the situation.

Still; having two people to explore was better than just one. They figured that if the town was empty, maybe answers could be found by going out into the countryside. They searched the houses, garages and sheds of outer suburbia for anything that could be useful. There were torches, firelighters and matches, a rumpled tent and a backpack full of tins and other non-perishable food. They decided to stay the night in the comfort of a house and that they would set out in the morning.

Even after all the activity of the previous day. Both Frank and Ciara found it difficult to sleep. The night was cold and there was no heating working in any of the houses they had checked so they tried to share a bed but it was awkward. They both found themselves awake after only a few short minutes of sleeping. After only a few short hours Frank decided that he was going to go out and get his bearings.

Frank had never really looked at the sky in his life, it was only something that was above him but even his inexperienced eyes found something unusual in the sky above. The moon was huge. At least three  times the size that he had remembered. It was already starting to drop low towards the horizon casting it’s ghostly light over dark streets.

Frank felt a sudden feeling that this was important, that maybe this light in the sky had answers. “Will you look at that!” It was Ciara, she had made some cocoa with a camping stove and had wondered what Frank was looking at. “Look at it!” Frank implored “That is not normal! I think we should follow it.”

In any normal situation. What Frank said would have rightly been considered the ravings of a madman but the world was what it was and Ciara did not argue. They quickly gathered their scavenged possessions and set out into the night.

They walked along, using the light of the sinking moon and their feeble torches to find their way. The buildings quickly thinned to open countryside. It was strangely quiet, devoid of even the sounds of nature. They walked and walked as far as they could. Then they came to the barrier.

It was a fence followed by thick briar and bush, followed by a deep chasm filled with a raging river. Frank and Ciara looked at each other in despair and argued about what to do next. Ciara wanted to go back to the town, were there was, for the meantime, food and shelter. Frank said they had only been a there a short time and suggested that if they were to walk along the fence, maybe a way through would present itself “After all.” Frank figured “The town probably isn’t going anywhere.”

Ciara reluctantly agreed and they started walking along the fence. They watched as the moon slowly got lower and lower in the sky until it was just about touching the ground. At almost that moment they noticed the chasm twist and turn at almost a right angle to the fence. Frank ran ahead, dragging Ciara with him until the were in front of the turn in the chasm. “You see!” Frank said to Ciara, panting, “That’s one obstacle gone.” If we go back to one of the farm houses maybe we can find some pliers and tools to cut through this…”

But he was stopped suddenly by the look of shock on his companion’s face. Frank turned to see what she was looking at and was greeted by a sight that melted his heart.

The moon had dropped to the lip of the chasm. Its milky substance was distorting, stretching, and converting to liquid that was falling into the river and adding to it.

It was incredible, it was unbelievable. Frank did not know what to say. Wherever it was they had ended up he did not know. They were at the edge of the world, he did not know where to go next.