[Short Story] Catherine and the Wasteland [Excerpt]

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It started with the sound of thunder, followed by an earthquake accompanied by what felt like a roaring explosion of deafening magnitude. The earth shook and the sounds of crashing steel and brick filled the small, underground room. It was these noises that woke up Catherine inside her small, stone encased, box of a bed that protected her. Inside her space, shrouded in pitch, black darkness she waited patiently for the noises and shaking to stop. She tried to count the time, but it was useless to measure anything beyond just mere minutes in her current state. Maybe hours passed. Perhaps days. Finally, things quieted down, but Catherine was unable to go back to sleep. She allowed herself to remain laying down until the slow creep of hunger began to over take her and force her out of her deep sleep.

When she emerged, Catherine was surprised to find so many people hiding in the labyrinth with her. Usually, no one was foolish enough to make their way this far down here, and that was the point. Still, she was awake, hungry and there these people were. Fresh blood for a fresh start. Most of the dozen or so people were shocked into hushed silence when she emerged from her place of rest; her bed was well disguised and hidden within a stone platform that doubled as an alter. However, as most of these situations tended to play out, this sense of awe did not last long as the people began to scream, cry, and pray as soon as she grabbed the first victim that was within arms reach and started draining them of their blood. After finishing him, Catherine lifted the dead body of the haggard man she had just bitten into and tossed him to the other end of the room. Despite her petite body, Catherine was pleased to find that her superhuman strength hadn’t left her while she slumbered. She looked down at the red and white sun dress she was wearing and remembered the hat that went with it. She turned back and rummaged around in her coffin and found the matching hat: it’s large rimmed frame and deep red color illuminated with the rest of her inside the darkness of the small, stone basement. Delicately, she placed it on her head, ignoring the soft, scared, whimpering noises of these new guests of hers. Finally, after adjusting her hat to a perfect tilt, Catherine looked at them a spoke:

“I need a mirror,”

A woman, who was wearing a black business suit that reminded Catherine of her late father spoke up. This woman looked liked she hadn’t bathed in awhile and her clothes looked slightly torn and dirt stained like the rest of the crowd.

“A mirror?” the woman stuttered, her voice trembling like the rest of her body: shaking like a wilted leaf.

“Yes,” said Catherine, “I need to see if my dress is stained. It was given to me by a well respected duke in his day, you know.”

The huddled crowd looked at each other, confused by what they had just heard.

“I don’t think anyone has a mirror here,” the woman answered back.

Catherine sighed and walked over to this woman and bent down to meet her at eye level. She squinted at her, getting a whiff of this woman’s odor and grimaced.

“I should have known,” Catherine groaned, her condescension becoming almost as palpable as the smells in the room, “you people look absolutely filthy. Does no one not take pride in their appearance anymore?”

Catherine rose up slightly to get a closer look at this woman, but the woman’s eyes widened in fear and she held up her hand to stop her.

“Wait!” the woman yelped, “wait! I have something, a phone.”

Catherine rolled her eyes.

“You have a phone that turns into a mirror?” Catherine asked, unconvinced.

The woman pulled out a white rectangular object from her pocket with a small glass eye and held it in front of her face with both hands. There was the sound of a snap, which caused Catherine to raise her eyebrows at this contraption, curious as to what the woman had done. The woman shakily turned the rectangle around and showed her.

“Here!” she held it up to Catherine, nearly dropping the object, “this is you!”

Catherine held the thing in her palms and looked at it. It took her a few moments to realize that this was a photo of her, probably the highest quality photo she had ever seen of herself. It was like looking at a living painting, she thought. It showed her in the sundress, along with her hat, her pale skin, blonde hair, and green eyes all in color. Never before had she seen herself like this and Catherine couldn’t help but feel moved by it.

“How lovely,” Catherine whispered, marveling at the device.

4 thoughts on “[Short Story] Catherine and the Wasteland [Excerpt]

  1. Pingback: Catherine and the Wasteland is now in an Anthology! [Announcement] | Nocturnal Muse Sessions

  2. Pingback: The TL;DR Redditwriters Mixtape is now out in paperback! [Announcement] | Nocturnal Muse Sessions

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