Sunday Snippet – 14th April 2024

Philip HarrisWritingLeave a Comment

I’m supposed to be writing so it’s the perfect time to post a new snippet.

I’m going way back into the archives to an abandoned story today. It looks like this one was written in November 2014. I never finished the story, and I really have no idea what it’s about, but like I said, I’m procrastinating, so here it is anyway. As always, this is unedited.

Elizabeth stood at the edge of the dying city. Ahead of her, barely visible through the ever-present rain, stood the decaying hulk of the storage facility. The war and the years of torrential acid rain that had followed it had taken its toll on the metal, glass and concrete. The rust-streaked walls were crumbling away, exposing the metal frame within, and the windows had collapsed outward, scattering fragments of glass across the ground like diamonds. Rain poured from the roof, pooling around the base of the building and turning the road to mud.

“There you are,” said Elizabeth. She pushed on towards the building, picking her way between the puddles that littered the ground.

Her environment suit beeped softly. “Oxygen at 50%” said the suit’s calm, reassuring voice.

As Elizabeth reached the building, a dark shadow flitted across the corner of her vision. She turned and caught sight of a tail disappearing into the carcass of some sort of tanker. Elizabeth shuddered. A rat. At least, that was what her crew called them – they were bigger than any rat she’d ever seen on Earth.

She returned her attention to the building. Now she was closer, she could see scorch marks across the surface of the concrete – evidence of the conflict that had wiped out the entire population and plunged the planet into a decades long “acid winter”. Despite the attack on the building, and the onslaught of the weather, the door was still intact. It was locked and when Elizabeth pulled the handle, it groaned but little more.

Elizabeth unclipped two of the survey charges from her belt and attached them to the edge of the door, beside the hinges. She retreated behind a nearby mound of rubble, staying clear of the rat’s tanker, and pressed the detonator. There was a dull thump and a small cloud of smoke as the topmost charge blew. The second sputtered and hissed for a few seconds, then fell silent.


As Elizabeth walked back over to the door, the ground began to shake. She steadied herself against a nearby vehicle. There was a loud crash from somewhere off in the distance, too far away for her to see what had collapsed. Something, another rat maybe, moved inside the vehicle and Elizabeth pulled her hand away.

A gravelly voice with a thick Scottish accent filled Elizabeth’s helmet. “Professor? You there?”

“Yes, I’m here.”

“Things are getting pretty hairy here, prof. You’d better be making your way back.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “We agreed 12 hours. I paid you for 12 hours.”

“Sure, you did. But that was before I saw how bad it’s got here. This whole region’s gonna break apart any time now and I don’t intend to be here when it does.”

There was a burst of static and Elizabeth flinched. “I’ve found the archives. I’ll get back to the ship as soon as I can. Until then, stay where you are.”

The ground shuddered again.

“I can’t promise that, prof. You might want to hurry up.”

Teeth clenched, Elizabeth flicked off the radio and moved back to the building. She wasn’t leaving yet.

[Sunday Snippet – 14th April 2024 by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 14th April 2024]

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