Dust Cloud

He’s sitting at the table nibbling on a juicy snack when he spots it: the big cloud of dust.

“Shit.” He stands up, the wooden chair screeching on the tiled floor. “Shit.” He grabs the binoculars from the hook on the wall. He focuses as far down the road as he can, straining his eyes to try and see through the cloud. “Shitting… shit.” A dust cloud normally means they’re coming, and in large numbers.

There! He spots a shadowy outline of a shape moving through the dust, a few hundred metres down. He throws the binoculars back on the hook and takes off down the hall, knocking his plate and cup flying.

A head pops out from a doorway, groggy, annoyed at the noise.

“Jesus, keep it down, will you…” she says, yawning. “Some of us were on night watch, you know.”

“Dust cloud,” he shouts, clipping her elbow on his way past.

“Shit.” She grabs her shotgun and her boots from behind the door and runs down the hall after him.

She catches up to him in the turret, prepping the guns.

“Why can’t they just leave us alone?” he says, shaking his head.

She jumps into a gunner seat.

“Hey.” She grabs his arm. “Focus. We take them down. We survive. It’s us or them.” She loads the first magazine. “We’re just… infected. We’re still human.” She peers down the sights at the oncoming wave and squeezes off a round.

6 thoughts on “Dust Cloud”

  1. This story is about a community who are keeping 24 hour watch and defending against a ravenous horde. They appear at a distance on the road and the watcher wakes the defences and settles to it. As the story closes the story suggests that the defenders are somehow infected (with an unknown agent) and thus the attackers presumably a vengeful human mob.

    I like the slow set up and everydayness of it. Keeping watch and the associated tiredness and trials come through well.

    Had a physical visualisation problem with: ‘He throws the binoculars back on the hook’ but loved similar everyday physical phrases like ‘clipping her elbow on his way past.’

    Also the sentence ‘She grabs her shotgun and her boots from behind the door ‘ is amazing in the amount of information it casually gives the reader in terms of their situation.

    Enjoyed the ‘I am Legend’ twistyness at the end but the general military tiredness was great.

  2. Thanks! :)

    I have a thing about zombies at the moment (And cowboys. But not mixed together. Well, mostly not. ), so I had that kind of scenario in mind. Vengeful human mob – most definitely. I wanted to put in more obvious “they are teh zombies” kind of overtones (What was the juicy snack?), but space was out.

    Point taken re binocular tossing. Wanted a hurried feeling, but will think of something better.

  3. I liked this a lot. You captured beautifully the way that even the most awful situations can become incredibly normal if they happen for long enough. The characters and the situation rang true.

    It was a wonderfully twisted way to view a picture of a pastoral misty lane. Loved the twist.

    1. Thank you!
      I wanted that routine feeling – glad it came out rightish.

      I think I need to get a t-shirt with “wonderfully twisted” on it. :)
      Or a face tattoo.

  4. Hooray, reverse zombies! (Like reverse cowgirls, only less dodgy). The terse, clipped, active language really works here, and you’re doing your usual with throwaway ideas which suddenly click into focus as the twist is revealed. (“Juicy snack” is wonderful and horrible). This felt very real, urgent, atmospheric, I was vividly drawn into the scenario. The zombie twist is just a bonus :>.

    1. Thank you!
      I do enjoy my twists, don’t I?
      (And zombies.)

      I tried to focus on keeping the language simple, and on a few physical details to get the feeling of the sudden urgency.
      Sort of.
      Thing.

      [I think I shall have to make my next story about reverse cowgirl(s) so that I can maintain my dodgy quotient…]

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