This is a taste of a recent idea I had. It is set in post-nuclear times.
|Ashes fall like snowflakes masking the debris created by the ruins of a crumbling city. Coals, still glowing in diminishing tangerine spheres, spit steam into the air as they crackle like dry bones amid the silence of destruction.
A black spot on the landscape takes a step to the side. Tanned arms move in stark contrast to the white backdrop. A shriek, like the low rumble of gravel on top of a mountain, sounds off in the far distance.
An older adult male glances in that direction quickly, his salt-and-pepper hair quaking for a moment. His scarred features melt back into a mask of determination as he continues to sift through the ashes and waste before him.
He picks up the most recently-unearthed bit of trash... a juice box. He dusts off the top of the yellow container, his gnarled hands scrabble, either with haste or lack of movement due to the extent of his injuries.
He smells the opening of the container and sneezes. Holding the box up, he carefully wipes off the bottom of the package. "Citrus Blast" screams from the banana in Mc Caw contrast. Looking past the box, a page of the "New York Times" flutters amid the ash.
"Atlantian Terrorist Cult Threatens U. S. with Nuclear Muscles"
"Lawmakers at a standstill; some say ransom too high"
"As the time ticks down on the clock set by the Atlantians, politicians are still arguing about whether or not the million-person ransom demanded by the group is too high. As of 8:00 a.m., this morning, U.S. officials have forty hours until the deadline runs out. Then the Atlantians, believing the end of the world is scheduled for that date, December 22nd, 2013 (as per their adopted Mayan calendar) anyway, promise to launch the four bombs known to be aimed at major American cities..."
Another shriek sounds. Closer – much closer. The man glances up to his right; his eyes trained on the horizon. Scars criss-cross his face in haphazard indifference. His eyes, mere slits hidden beneath bubbled and burnt flesh, widen in fear.
He hunkers down into the debris; nesting. The juice box, still in his hands, bursts into flames as a creature ponderously flaps into view. The long tail feathers drag in the ashes as its leathery wings whip the blizzard into a frenzy.
Slightly radiant, emanating its own glow, the creature is made of neon orange scales. Its beak, a slash of white, glistens; even with no sun to reflect upon it. The only feathers on the creature are the red tail feathers, filling out to blue and then tapering back again.
He screams his warning. "Phoenix, run!" and black slashes, previously unseen, start moving as a half-dozen people scatter. The man stands still in his attempt to divert attention. He raises his hand and starts moving it side-to-side above his head.
The scream emanating from her beak has the added timbre of fire as the creature moves her head around. Her eyes dilate as she focuses on the fire dancing in the man's hand. Heavily, her body starts moving toward the man, the creature's head slightly askew so she can see the fire clearly.
Ash raises in the air, falling on the man's clothing along with smaller pieces of debris. The man continues to wave the fire at her, taunting. The animal positions her legs in a predatory position as she moves closer, her claws open.
The man lobs the fireball at her, and a few tendrils of flame catch as the majority of the projectile bounces off of her scales. The shriek erupts again as the wind from her flight dowse the flame.
He turns to run, but his foot catches on some of the rubble and he falls in a puff of marshmallow. The phoenix closes the distance between them as he scrabbles for footing in the shifting ground. He grabs another piece of trash as her claws close in around his torso and quickly lifts him into the air.
Once the prey was caught, she flies easier, gaining altitude quickly through the streets. Soon she flies about 100 feet in the air as the man once again regains his senses. The trash is still in his hands and soon he is holding a fireball. He aims and solidly lobs it at the back of her head.
Her head jerks forward and she drops him, turning upright to smother the flame. The man falls silently through the air, turning him over. When he can see just how far up she's carried him, he starts screaming.
He lands in an empty area: devoid of most rubble. The sounds of the phoenix still echo around him, but they are further away now. Silently, slowly, people come up to him and stand around him. Each of their faces are as scarred and bubbled as his is. He stares at them without seeing them and babbles.
"Tell Anne that I forgot something... tell her to take the kids to soccer practice. Don't let her forget that; she always seems to. I don't think she likes the sun too much... that must be why. I keep thinking that I need to tell her something... will someone please remember? She always had... something... She needs to practice the piano tonight. I promised... Tell her I kept my promise; don't let her find out I'm sleeping on the job." The last words came out in a mumbled whisper as the tension slides away from his puckered face and into the ashes.