I walked on, unsteady and feeling drained, but thinking I had another day or two left in me. I kept asking myself what good would any more time do me. What was the point in going on? I had no place to go. The world had somehow ended and, apparently, I was the last one standing.

I’d been out of town on business when it happened, and I was still unsure exactly what had happened. I’d emerged from the bunker where I’d been doing research for the prior two days, and found the world had literally ceased to be. Bodies were strewn everywhere, and every conceivable type of vehicle was scattered helter-skelter in the streets. Whatever had happened seemed to have occurred without warning and had been instantly fatal to everyone.

I’d survived, but the prognosis for continuing to do so was not favorable. The air was fouled with something chemical that had a familiar odor but I was unable to identify it. It rained like clockwork every hour for fifteen or twenty minutes, and when it rained the foul odor seemed to get stronger.

I turned off onto a residential street where everything appeared to be intact. Houses stood undamaged, automobiles sat in driveways, and freshly mowed yards soaked up the still falling rain. A colorful object lay on the sidewalk a few houses ahead.

When I reached the object, I stood and stared at it, my mind exploding with vivid and painful memories. Memories I’d done my best to push aside as I’d wandered through the wasteland of a world which had ceased to be.

girl and ducks 2Suddenly, like a movie on a screen, I could see my young daughter standing at the curb, her brightly colored umbrella held over her, as she watched a mother duck and her five little ducklings step off the curb and start across the street. She followed them, staying a few feet back so as not to frighten them, and saw them safely across the street to the park. As the mama duck and her brood waddled toward the pond in the middle of the park, my little girl looked over at me and beamed with pride.


I picked up the umbrella, shook the acrid rain from it and opened it. I continued down the sidewalk, smiling as I carried the memory of my daughter above my head and in my heart and mind.

I’d found something more than an umbrella; I’d found hope. For the first time since I’d emerged from the research bunker, I wondered if perhaps other towns had survived whatever had befallen this one. Maybe my family twelve-hundred miles away was safe, unharmed, and wondering if I might somehow have survived.

My mind was whirring with thoughts, but one kept shouting above the rest: I’ve got to get back home.

Copyright © 2011 C. Mashburn

Part one: The Last Grain of Sand

Part three: Like a Fairy Tale

Part four: Then There Were Three

Part five: Cinnamon

Part six: L. Aliens in the Morning

Part seven: Dearest Wife

Part eight: Dearest John

Part nine: L. Angel

Part ten: The Books

Part eleven: Play Money

( Image Credit: Google.com ) Hourglass

Picture credit http://chance-of-sunshine.blogspot.com/2011/09/follow-rain-home.html


  1. ManicDdaily said

    You accomplish a lot in a short space, and very polished. I know you are working with the prompt–I can’t help feeling that there may be more desperation than hope, but maybe that’s me, I’m talking about! Well done with prompt. K.

    • In a situation such as this, desperation would be a driving force, but what I try to convey is that the slightest spark of hope can renew one’s strength.
      Thank you for the thought-filled comment!

  2. terri0729 said

    Fabulous addition Charlie, I loved it!! Blessings, Terri

  3. Usha Dawn said

    Hope is the biggest strength for anyone…even the dead becomes live …very good post …it kept on toes as whats next 🙂
    Keep it up

    • Thank you very much, Usha. I am hoping to continue the story via the Bluebell Slam prompts–at least for a few more weeks. We will see how it works out.

  4. Jamie said

    That’s certainly got me wanting to read the earlier part. Nice tie-in of the prompt.

    • I think you’d like the first segment. It’s linked in this one. Thanks for the visit and comment!

  5. morning said

    hopeful piece.

    parent and child, hope and struggle,

    that’s life, your story is full of life.


  6. Excellent, very readable!!! I didn’t read the prompt and found that this stands easily on its own! The fact that I enjoy your work makes your comments about my work so meaningful to me. Thank you for sharing your writing and taking the time to read mine!

    • Thank you very much, Sherrie. I was telling my mom about your writing today, and she wants me to forward them to her. I enjoy your writings tremendously.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting on mine!

  7. Very nice use of the prompt. Sometimes when everything falls apart and our world seems to come to an end, the sight of something normal brings hope. Thanks!

  8. Hope is a perfect topic to write about.

    rainbow shows up after rain.
    well done.

  9. Great job…I was not expecting a god outcome when he emerged from his bunker and found that umbrella…so glad it left hope all was well

  10. thingy said

    Fabulous! Scary, yet full of hope. Love this.

  11. Very well done Charles! Now, I’m waiting to read the next chapter. Will he get home and find his family well?
    It made me sad, but then when he found the umbrella I thought there have to be more people out there. He can’t be all alone!
    I love that it grips you and draws you in. Can’t wait to read more!

    • Thank you for the wonderful comments, Elizena! I hope to post another segment sometime this week!

  12. A nice turn, Charles. That which began as bleak ends on a more uplifting note. A great snapshot of the human spirit.
    Mark Butkus

  13. Sherry Mashburn said

    . . . as I carried the memory of my daughter above my head and in my heart and mind. Beautiful turn of phrase!

  14. bijaylaxmi said

    Great continuation of the story….. I am now curious to go through the “Like a Fairy Tale”….:)

  15. Mikael said

    Wondering what on earth happened to everyone, what the heck is up with the rain… and how far this man must travel to get home. I’m so glad there is still more to read. 🙂

    • I like your questions. Especially the one about the rain, because as I continue this, I “might” need to say more about the rain. I kind of have an idea for it, but it will come to me as I write more about the adventures of this world “after”. ooooo… wouldn’t that be a catchy title? “The World After”. People would have to pick up the book to read the back and find out “after” what? And of course, I would tease them, and they’d have to open the book and try to figure it out, and they wouldn’t be able to, and they’d have to buy it! Ha! I’m a genius!

  16. Kirsten said

    Isn’t it amazing how an object as simple as an umbrella can bring back a flood of memories that renews our hope! I love when God works like that 🙂

    I’m wondering what happened while he was in the bunker. Does the chemical smell mean that it could happen again to any other people or survived? Or is what killed them completely inactive since he is walking around? Was it fast acting since bodies and vehicles are scattered?

    Hmmm…guess I need to keep reading! lol

    • I just don’t know! I keep getting these weird ideas from the varius prompts, and this story just keeps rolling along!

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