This flash fiction piece is written for The Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge. This week the challenge was to write 1000 words or less on the theme of the danger of undeserved power.
A Fallen God – 691 words
Hope had no idea how Bitty became the leader.
Perhaps the nuclear fallout had fried most of their brains. Bitty had an idiotic name, but worse than that he had a God complex.
They walked around aimlessly the first day, collecting people and food. Bitty had on a red coat, and people began to follow him. He dictated rules and led with an iron fist. Halfway through the first day, a teenager stole a can of green beans from Bitty, and he banished him to almost certain death. No one could survive this alone. Then they had found the clearing in the forest, and Bitty had set up camp.
Ash began to rain down on them, and Bitty sat in the center of the clearing like a lump on a log.
“I think we need to find shelter,” Hope said.
Bitty ate a granola bar, one of the few left in the stash. “They’re all dead.”
“If we don’t want to be dead, I think we need to find a shelter,” Hope repeated herself.
The group squatted around Bitty, eyeing the granola bar. He smiled then let out a maniacal laugh.
“Need I remind you, I’m in charge, Hope.”
“And a fine job you’re doing,” she muttered under her breath.
In a previous life, one before the nuke went off Bitty had been a janitor at the school where Hope taught science. He terrorized the children by jumping out of the bathroom stalls. He thought it was funny, but no one else did.
Hope walked away from the group and started picking up twigs. She wanted to find a cave. The group had sought shelter in the woods so surely there was a cave somewhere around here. She turned around and saw the boy sneaking up on her. Dirty face, torn clothes. He’d been orphaned and added to the group somewhere along the way. Hope guessed he was about ten, but maybe a small twelve.
“You’re right about him, you know.”
“Help me find a cave if you want to tag along.”
“Are we going to just leave them?”
“They’re blind followers and that’s how we got into this mess in the first place. Hand me your coat.”
He looked at his coat, shrugged, slipped it off and handed it to her. She tore it to pieces, with the help of a hunting knife scavenged from one of the dead along the way.
“Tie it loosely around your mouth. This radioactive waste can kill us.”
They found a cave. It wasn’t deep. Scat littered the ground which frightened her but not as much as the death falling from the sky.
The winter sun hid behind the ash rain.
“Shelter is always important, no matter what Bitty says.”
It took two days. Hope heard Bitty preaching his nonsense on the first night. The sheep huddled around him. Bitty said sunshine and fresh air were more important than shelter. The sun could barely shine through the darkening clouds.
On the second day, Bitty’s big mouth remained unusually quiet. The ash had stopped falling. They covered their mouths and crept into the clearing. Bitty sat on a throne of pine needles and coats. Hope could see his chest moving up and down, but just barely. The group of twenty surrounded him. Some had fallen forward on their knees with their heads between their outstretched arms as if they were praising a deity instead of a stupid idiot.
Hope put her arms around the boy.
“Search their pockets and backpacks for food and water. We should move on before more ash falls.”
“Are they dead?”
“Not yet. But they will be soon. There’s nothing we can do for them now. Bitty with his asinine ideas.”
Hope and the boy packed up bags and began marching out of the woods. They stopped at the edge of the clearing and looked back on the scene. Bitty’s head had rolled to the side, propped at an odd angle on his shoulder. Power had corrupted him and led to the deaths of the others. Hope knew she would never make that mistake, not now, when the future depended on their survival.
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