Here I will publish every Writing Prompt story I write. Writing Prompts is a Reddit sub forum (r/WritingPrompts) for budding writers, where they can write as a response to a writing prompt. 16-09-2015
His eyes watered as the whiskey burned down his throat. He checked his watch – 11 AM. A little early, he thought, but who was around to care about anyway ? He remembered how his wife got him on the wagon after he’d gotten back from his first deployment. His wife. He took another swig. It was a good day. He could remember his wife’s name. Joline. He used to call her Jo. He couldn’t remember her face though. It wasn’t that good a day.
Somedays it was hard to remember his own name. Jack Star. Sergeant Jack Star. Of the Ninth battalion. Formerly, of the ninth battalion. He took another swig. It didn’t matter now.
He wasn’t exactly sure how this had happened, any of it. He remembered a firefight. It was an ordinary training exercise, they’d been told. Just routine. And then the nameless, faceless enemy they’d been training to fight ambushed them. He barely got his rifle up when he was hit. He remembered trying to crawl away, on his belly, on all fours, trying not to die there, in the middle of another godforsaken desert.
The next thing he knew, he woke up in Metro city, in a hospital bed.
He cried himself hoarse for two days, slipping in and out of consciousness before he realised no one was coming. No one was left. When he finally dragged himself out of his bed, he found the hospital empty.
That was 3 months ago. He had driven over hundreds of miles since then, looking for his wife, for any one. Any one to talk to , to tell him that he wasn’t insane, that all this wasn’t just a figment of his madness. But all he found were empty buildings, towns, cities. Homes and cars abandoned with no hint of why. Sometimes he wondered if he was making all this up. If he would wake up one day in a psych ward and realise he had dreamed all this. Or perhaps he was dead already, maybe he had bled out in the desert, and this was what afterlife looked like. He had stopped watering his whiskey after the second empty town, now he just drank it straight down. He took another swig.
He scratched absentmindedly at his shoulder as he felt the familiar drowning feeling of loss, and despair. Some days it was too much to take. He stopped abruptly when he realised what he was doing. His shoulder always itched. An old bullet wound, a scar.
He put down the flask and picked up his rifle again scoping the city through his lens. He wasn’t particularly afraid of trouble, it was just a habit. He would climb to the top of the highest vantage point in every town he found himself in, and look around for any signs of life. Nothing. Just like the last dozen towns, just like the last three months. As far as he could tell he was the only one alive in an empty world. Everyone else had just.. disappeared. He felt the familiar feeling of hopelessness closing in. It came in waves and ebbed away after a while leaving him empty and alone. He steadied the rifle, sweat pouring down his face.
He was about to put down the rifle and get back to his flask when something in the distance caught his eye. He froze. It was the man. The man who had shot him, one of the mercenaries they had been fighting in the desert, the ones behind the ambush. He didn’t know his name, only knew the red mask he was wearing. Without thinking, he pulled the trigger and put a bullet through his chest. Immediately he realised what he had done and cursed himself. He had shot the only living soul he had met in the last three months. His heart was pounding so loudly it felt like it would burst out of his chest. About to lower his rifle in disgust, he froze again. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
The man in the red mask stood up, clutching his chest, looking around wildly. There was a small pool of blood on the ground where he had fallen but he wasn’t bleeding anymore. The man in the mask looked up towards the tower Jack was in.
Jack started scratching his shoulder and then suddenly stopped. His shoulder. It had always itched. Until now that is. He had made a startling discovery when he woke up in the hospital. He had no injuries from the fight that put him there. None. His old scars had also disappeared. The old football injury that had nearly gotten him kicked out of the army, that meant he could never fully straighten his left ring finger. Gone.
Something had happened to him in the hospital. Something that was too absurd to even think about.
The man in the red mask was walking towards the tower now, no sign that he had been shot through the chest a minute ago. He reached up and took off his mask.
Jack Star took another swig and emptied his flask.