Post-Apocalyptic Short Story Writing Contest Winners announced for 2022

Short story Writing Contest Ends and Time to show off Winners Back in September, I launched our Launch

Our short story writing contest wrangles and it is time to show off the winners!

In September, we launched second annual Post-Apocalyptic Media Short Story Contest to showcase indie writers whon’t yet published. Short stories (2,000-5,000 words) and post-apocalyptic genre needed to be short.

This was our second year doing this contest and it was exciting to see our number of entries drop more than 10 -sag from last year! Reedsy picks Up 2022 Best Writing Contest, submits most important to that.

The brand new feature that we chose to add this year was a special celebration of those who didnt rank in the top three, but still showed exemplary talent on their story. 10 Runners Up, 20 Honorable Mentions Included As Of Today. Check out the full list below!


Stephen James’s Orderly 1st Place Felecia Burgett, The Amalgams Children 2nd Place 3rd Place: She and E by Wendy Kaminski

Which Looks like Rainy Day Bravery by Kevin Broccoli Miles Bergquist’s Sun Grew Hotter Anne Wilkins’ The Blue Devil Marlin Bressi’s Post-Apocalyptic Chicken Wizard Charlie Dearing The Andromeda Gambit Amalie Wad’s Venison by Amalie Wad Neal McIntyre’s The Ill-Conceived Death Wishes of Spectacle Grace Any Last Orders by Kristina Yaneva Olivia Ramsey’s The Light Behind Ash Sadie Kaye: The Opposite of Truth

Lily Steinberg’s Senescence Magdalena Smiths The Green Ones Beware of an Old Man by JJShurte Dempsey Hyatt’s Time Bends You Christopher Jacob Canady’s Melodys Song Chase D. Cartwright Roar: Chase D. Cartwright Travis W. Shpeley, An Early Morning Dark Roast Frederick Barstow-Stow Progress Report Ernesto V. Campoy’s Sirius A Linda Wright’s Dog Island Perdita Stott Is A Handful Of Sky Leftie Aube tells us Should We Go, We Dont Come Back Violet Piper’s Jerking Forward Sarah Ang’s Pearl Diving J.D. Donner’s Beneath the Surface Marjorie Eriksson In A Stone Thrown By Distant Gods R.J. Riley’s The Flip of Fate Carmie Hsiao’s Mirage Chuck Miriam: Spidersick in San Francisco, 2045 Nat Click: Nat’s Great Gathering

Well let’s look at the top 3 winning entries now!

Third Place: She and E by Wendy Kaminski

She flicked freezing, fetid mud off her heavy-duty gloves. No luck for today, but this area mostly gets out now – and soon shed have to decide if to move on. E tilted slightly in makeshift carrier on back; pulled glove and climbed back to grab blanket more snugly around him. Back home and he was a little restless. Those didnt eat much of the other stuff for him to do.

Wrongly, compared to letting people to your homes where the lahars hit, you could find valuables here by cartload. After losing a few of the day, braver among them quickly saw the value to have and set to work, followed not long after by scavengers, happy to let others take the initial risk, as long as they could do clean-up and get at least some items to trade for necessities: gnarled bits of copper pipe too small for the big haulers, the occasional piece of silver jewelry or cutlery, perhaps a small, overlooked bit of gold if you were lucky your luck would have to hold.

Fittest’s survival assures fewer, not many left. Some of the population had not survived the weeks that followed now stretching into months over initial cataclysm and accompanying corpses (dont say most still polluted the mud in various stages of decay), said she, and she was unable to comprehend it either way or with much to do.

Thats one of the first things you gained: that large numbness, not just from the cold, that you could never seem to shake. Winning decimate started when soldiers lost over 10% of the comrades long ago. Was for it when just about those, she wondered, and had it yet passed?

You tried often to avoid people these days too, but unless you had lucky enough to be alive with some close family. She hadnt.

E: E came upon him suddenly one day while scavenging; both in surprise with others. This was some weeks back, and he seemed non-verbal, but she couldnt be sure if she had ever talked, or if disaster and intervening time had left him mute. She didn’t know E of his actual name as the letter embroidered on his jacket on her jacket.

She also said that never knowing how he had survived. The size of him, but looked comfortable in great shape; she said he probably had around 5 years. She had scavenged him up from where he rumbled, huddled in corner of this may have been his own home. She found that only way she had survived was in consuming any packaged food she would pull out of the mud near her homes – until her decision was made. A child of his age would tell him where his own kitchen had been, how to locate the food therein.

Her ears picked up on distant sounds of slush, debris being thrown through, and she decided to move on for the day. It was a long while since she found an intact packaged food bar on her scavenging earlier that morning, with a corner on its foil wrapper bright at the brownscape. This would have been a good trade to do with food growth more expensive than metals, but carrying it on your man ensured that you would not have it long if you could meet a stronger force. Best to have it right after you tried to drink if you wanted to eat at all.

She couldn’t linger with someone else nearby. She removed and tucked her gloves into waistband and tore into foil; stale but not spoilt.

Afar she cut a piece for E as she hiked parallel to the western river, had it rubbed up but already she could tell that his head was turned the other way in refusal and was going to stay in the room. She had never had a child but were it normal for them to refuse food even when it was so thin? Maybe he was ill. If so, there was nothing she could do about that. She tucked half the bar away, won’t try again later, then ate the rest in a single bite.

They rerouted back to her campsite, she thought it was Christmas Paradise. The cataclysm had indeed happened to Christmas – that wasnt why she called it that: it was due to the lush, red-and-green ivy covered trees, landscapes there and because she had found the spot back when she still had the spirit to name things.

It was only a small swath of land but it crossed the river on its downward slope, and despite its verdant appeal in a world of muted grays and browns, she had never once had to deal with any unwanted visitors.

Christmas Paradise: Track of high-quality camping supplies from garage of abandoned Tudor-style home helped make tent tightly inhabited by several solid trees. Her tent even had a flat, rocky outcrop on which she could have had a fire, but she didnt want to draw attention, so she kept only a small, vented pit fire near her tent, as she recommended by one of the camping guides. It worked for some warmth but did not advertise flames for miles around.

Cooking wasn’t required, and fare consisted of pre-packaged food, of course. Dacă bags of rice or pasta were found, she would resale them for a day in settled water, until they seemed soft enough to eat. Silt could accumulate at bottom of pan and be mixed in with a little of the food, but just enough to eat, still untainted.

She had many bags of dried beans buried nearby but those were for emergency if second more convenient food wasnt available. Maybe that was that long ago but they werent yet here. Beans would produce a cooking sensation and took more time to prepare; she didn’t enjoy the attention that might draw.

It was now about Midday, but they kept keeping to that-late schedule of wakefulness, so it was best to sleep – which also helps you see danger more clearly, if it unexpectedly wokes. E strapped back into a cute zoo bag, grateful for everything he had bought, stayed on her hut. Ils slept.


Little of the note remains to say, in the way of the time. The days grew with an umber sameness, the nights, eigengrau.

She was eventually sent northward to new territory, unfamiliar and more hostile. She never strayed far from Christmas Paradise, sometimes they had to take the sleeping bag for a couple weeks if they were not. And not that they could sleep at night, but at least stay warm and huddle together until daylight found them safe again to make their way back home.

But they didn’t find precious metals, only food now. They avoided concentrated sources like grocery stores where food was (or had been, at some time), where gangs seemed sure to have arrived first, and could still lurk. She stuck to remote communities: remote enough that hungry, overgrown population picked clean, but not so remote that those from the old ways could still keep vigilant.

Time finally ends down and after that. Survival isnt always a bigiose triumph in one fell swoop: you wake up more and again, remarkable only when, one day, you simply do. She was finally fast moving to that one day.

She had been greedy: raining hard, theyd again failed to find food while out. Deluge kept refilling her efforts to search buried packs, she took it back to get home, wished for it could end up right on the road to dig into bean stash.

Soddenly her fingers froze her mud-soaked gloves, so she had just removed them from the destroyed home she had been looting. Perhaps just a fireplace tool, but she may find a better place for it if she had to do so instead. She was not taking both E and a sleeping bag for this particular trip so she could certainly carry home a spoil.

crimson gash slammed palm and retrieved from her hand as she hit the object -and then yelled. She couldt see him in his harness on her back; but feared Es eyes would be large and scared, so pushed forward to control her own panic. She tied the head tight around her palm, pulled out the bandana that held her hair back, tied it tightly, then used the gloves back on to save the bleeding.

Already she felt a bit light-headed as she trudged back home, grateful that E weighed so little, since letting him down to try to keep up on his own would slow her down entirely.

New Day: They had Christmas Paradise back at the early -eating. Tudor features well equipped first aid kit – but it did quite as well, with little of everything she would have liked to have – antibiotics, prescription painkillers, and sutures. Still, it would have to happen. She wiped the wound with antiseptic pads, wrapped it with antibiotic gel, gauze. E remained wide-eyed, open-mouthed with something she felt like a bit of shock as she finished bandaging and wiped down some aspirin. “It is not overpowering to chat at him”, she says as she worked, seeking a new sense of calm.

She walked through the kit to find out more about the kit for that. In the evening she laid down and snuggled him to nap before keeping watch but the dawn was breaking and her hand was badly throbbing. During the first day of surgery, she examined the limb with a bit of excitement and found it inflamed even outside of the bandaged area. Not bad.

E might be okay long enough without her until someone else will come along hopefully someone kind who could and would look after him!.

After several days chatting to him for cooking, she had also seen him down, including gathering the wood, building the fire and keeping it going, maintaining a freshwater supply, soaking, draining, and having a long process involved in picking edibles out of the packaged beans. Lonely watched, he didn’t take the eye off of her job.

She had a chance last fall that delirium took over, but that it had come on as something to say. E hopes for future as fever grew, somehow – legacy of herself. She laid down one last time, cuddled him closely to her chest, stroking his hair as she fell asleep.

Ivy’s bright red spot caught the little girls eye; she tugged on their fathers sleeve and pointed proudly at it in the distance. Girls father saw womans body lying prone, hand bandaged, bloody soaked, a grain to her complexion, her hand bandaged and covered. Family stayed in control of her after hailing calls across the verge. Girl’s father made mental note to watch her looking for Elmo doll, a red plush doll he was holding on the chest, a first caught the girls eye, and then found her in the meantime.

Felecia Burgett: Second Place: Amalgams Children

Gus and I reached the Derelict of the Derelict. Ambitious grass cracks asphalt and as we paused to look at leaning ruins ahead, birds swooped as hundreds to peck at ready seeds at grasss tips. The tufts swayed under their weight, and in the moment the birds were gone, the stalks bare, the raucous bird cries faded into nothing.

Ill never get accustomed to that, Gus said, never.

What? Derelict? The sky?

The birds, he said. Warmness. All of it. So many living things that we need. Slit down, picks up rock. Millipedes uncurled and cut away. Theyre everywhere.

Fortunately I saw what he meant. It was a shock to him as he felt. I felt. The Amalgam waited for warmth on our skin, sweat beads at our napes.

Think well, ever got to do this for the real? Gus asked me.

If we do, I said, cupping my elbow in my palm and marveling at the shape of the bone under the fleshy pads of my fingers, probably this can kill us.

Would that be so bad?

We got closer to the Derelict. Even it looked alive. It was green with moss and shrubs, corrosion of living items. Pods burst from center, halving; cement crumbs had dotted base. Suddenly a squirrel climbed from crumb to crumb, its bushy tail waving upwards and down. We saw it and slipped up the Derelict. Id also bet that If I was back in my glass body, I would know exactly what this Derelict was before. I could only guess here. A shopping mall? Human dwelling? Maybe a place of worship? Oops, didnt know. No way to know. My ignorance was unfathomable. I braced myself for the first time to see panic. I tightened my jaw, gave a finger to my pulse. But it didnt come. Instead, I felt a displeasure wave of relief. Relief and wonder.

Amalgam had really not prepared for this.

algorithm slowed suddenly. Derelict loses quality. I thought they were all blobby gray polygons. It waved and took form again.

Find food, said Gus. Make shelter and make shelter.

Thankfully, I knew what food was. That squirrel could be food. Good Berries were a quick snack if you picked the right ones. So humans cooked, didnt they? They used heat to kill off pathogens, significantly extend caloric intake, leaving time for things like socializing and tooling. We were cooked, redressed myself. We used to cook. Und not only toolmaking. And technology. Amalgam made first flesh and blood human. They made it because they could, not because they had to. They made it to break bare hands to hunt and save food.

So I understood food. But what was shelter? Wasnt the Derelict shelter? Wasnt shelter a place with walls and a roof? What’s not unlike glass bodies? What went missing?

If they could thrive, I thought, I can evolve. Can figure it out!.

Derelict had gaping black opening at front. Maybe that was what had been the ticketback. Gus and I crept inside. It was incredibly dark. Tree in center let in light, but not enough. Too many leaves.

Fire, he said. Oh my voice seemed too loud for the dark. I dropped it to a whisper: We need fire.

Oxygen, heat, fuel. Let’s just call for sticks.

Our time was over to explore forest, dry items. Very few leaves of dripping debris we found were too damp. Those bogs on ground swarmed with detritivores, crumbled in fingers. Finally, we found a tree with branches that snapped off with very little force. We skewed at trying to carry the logs. How did humans do this before wagons, before cars? As for them, I tried to connect to my face and shoulder. They tumble to cracked asphalt with surprisingly volume. Finally, I found that tucking them in my armpits worked well. It left my hands free for the bundles of dry, dead grass, tiny sticks.

Gus piled the wood in sort of kniffling structure inside Derelict and began making friction with the sticks, I tried to picture this place before the world crumbled. The young and tired man seemed to remember it, but somehow, I was still stumbling into all the baubles that was on, touching those who touched food and food. I tried to picture them in chairs making music with their voices while a man read from a book, arms outspread, prayer on his lips. If I hadnt been born in the glass bodyif I hadnt been formed in the Underground, where there was no light and only living things were roaches and algae farms would I have done these things? Would I have reached out easily with my hands, my digits, my living, breathing flesh? Would I have felt pain and heat, and felt it familiar?

So many things I didnt know answers, that didnt scare me as much. J’avais always had the time to find anything that I wanted within a moment. Ignorance wasnt natural. So it had a different side but its had quite a fair side

Shit, Gus said. Hed made a spark but didnt catch. Diese winged arms cant do it if they are tethered. Ill try again.

Es a certain mystery to it.

Gus said Fuck when spark swung away again. Feels odd saying that.

Be more open to it. Souched to help and gasped in shock as movement sends pain signals up and down my back. Was there anything wrong with this body? My body? I paused, let the pain dry through me. It left almost as soon as it came. I must have moved wrong. I filed that away for later: dont abruptly bend the spine. Profanity is very human. Prosocial benefits of worm.

We both got to work to make friction with the wood. My muscles scream for me to stop after a few minutes. But we kept going and soon a small, tender flame shone off the wood. We scrambled the fire into a nest of dry bits. Les caught, and then the bigger wood; soon we had a full-fledged fire blazing on the Derelict floor. All on one day, it hurt, comforted me. I couldnt sit too close, but by the old gods, I wanted to. Red, orange burbled, cracked; humbling, beckoning; I wanted to move my body so close as possible, damn the pain. I held my hands down, marveled at warmth that they caught from flame. I rubbed them up and down my skin.

Back of my neck tights slammed and rose slowly.

Gus said something wrong. Somethings Coming.

But I couldnt hear or see anything. I shifted, trying to improve the sound into my eardrums. So wished human ears could pivot. Almost no way to focus on them – anyone who thought there could be a way to articulate the areas?.

Oh, fuck, I said when I realized the source of our heartbreak: a large predatory animala bear. Fuck, I said again, delighting in the sound of the word in my tongue. A part of me delighted at the huge brown bear staring in the Derelict with tiny, vicious, ugly eyes. Its silent. We were silent.

All of them said, tools first: ‘wavings’.

Im not ready, says Gus. Im not ready to feel it.

Those claws. That teeth. Our bear bows towards us. What if we look like easy meals. Wed been too loud. The fire was too bright. It smelled too strong. I filed that with my husband for later as bear fed up on its hind legs, saliva glistening on its giant teeth, and pressed back in.

Gus tucked the arms over his head, but that didnt help. Bear spurns smooth, fleshy tosses recombinant bones. Blood pooled on the floor. So much blood. Get sufficient blood to revoke fire. He swooped over his neck and eyes bent up

God, I said, damnit.

The world was black as bear kills me. J smells smoke. Pain opened blazes across my synapses.

And then nothing.

Simulation ended, I was back in the glass body. And finally, I knew why Amalgam had waited so long to stop the sims, why it waited centuries, why it had waited until the world was survivable again and we could have a chance to live in the real human bodies. As I understand it all at once, I felt something I had never ever experienced before, something I had known for 200 years only as a concept: It seemed a simple story to come to grips with, a feeling I had never seen before.

Oh, and it was weird. Sweet, bitter all at a time. I wanted nothing more than to back to that warm, flesh-and-blood body and sprang again. Even if it meant death, even if it meant ignorance, I wanted it.

How many more insurmountable a real body must be.

Id known for 200 years, look back at the body. It had just been in the past, but now I see all the ways it didnt match up to a real body. Yes, it had legs to move; eyes to see and sensors to detect sound waves; It had haptic sensors for pressure; it held an artificial beauty; the one with a connection that would be in to everyone Underground, all the data and recordings they gathered before their bodies died, but it couldnt feel. It couldnt feel.

Amalgam cooses into our minds in simulation crash. What have we learned?

Human bodies incredibly vulnerable, Gus said. It would have been better to be vigilant.

You will be next time.

We decided to stay in the glass bodies for days, it couldnt be the body we lived in. Good results for a couple. Our eyes, sensors perfectly attuned to our farms fluctuating biological states. In one instant, I could see what the algae needed, whether it was in a state of overgrowth or undergrowth, whether it was hungry, whether the genetic mutations in its cells would help or harm it, how old its cells and how much longer they would live. Purple algae knew how to grow without sun. For a moment I thought that was a loss, a pity. The sun looked sober. But the last humans designed it that way so I couldt feel bad for long.

We went to collect excretion algae and cockroaches, passed them to drones responsible for turning them into human food, and then passed those to drones responsible for long-term storage. But our human food stores could carry the new race for decades, if not centuries. But usthe Amalgam, drones, glass menhad bigger dreams than that.

The world was overvivable now. Atmospheric was enough oxygen, season was stable enough for adequate plant growth, we extrapolated that plants and animals could not be toxic. I guess Ill be taking a look at it. If I passed. If I was chosen.

We were allowed to reenter the sim only a few days later. On such a short journey, I barely knew what to expect.

Gus, I gave up glass bodies to Amalgam. When its probes closed contact with glass shell, I thought of a slight pressure, and suddenly I was back in the world, back in that warm body and could feel again.

Still, we walked into the path with the slapping sounds our bare feet made on the asphalt. Larry to walk in grass became easier on me. Whilst collecting long sticks, stones from trees around trail, we started collecting a bit like a scapegoat. I froze, scan the horizon and waited; when nothing came to kill me, I walked on.

We fashioned guns with sticks, sharp rocks, grasses tied to the ends. We tested the stones until they were thrown or thrusted without the stone tips coming out.

Now onto the fire. Derelict was built deeper inside and away, so the smoke billowed out and away, taking the smell with it. Sat near fire to savor warm again, but it was empty, almost burning feeling in my gut. My arm slipped as I held them out.

Im hungry, I realized.

Theswell, on me. We can eat it, Gus said if the bear comes again and we win.

And sure enough, it did. This time, we were ready. Hairs stood up on our neck, we crept to dark entrance of Derelicts, weapons clasped tight between our fingers; bears shaggy brown body blotted out sky; we thrust weapons at throat, stomach, pulled out; we thrust them back into it.

Bear plunged toward us, bellowing. We ran towards the fire, maybe by instinct, to the back of the cave. The thing crashes through the fire. Maybe it wasnt about reclaiming what it was?. It bellowed again, batted at burning eyes, we climbed onto it, beating it with weapons, fists till it lay still.

Now we eat? Gus poked bears dead body.

I blasted my weapon into the tough flesh, made a hole, thrust my hand in. First, we cooked it.

That made sense. The fire still went. Wefigured out how to get the meat out of the large, shaggy corpsejust strips at a time, and was not sure which were good to eat& jammed it on our weapons and put that over the fire and waited.

First batch of beef turned to charcoal before we saw it done. But it was. Then we made it a lot easier. We cooked the meat strips until they were hot, but not burnt; we ate until we felt distended and sat on our guts.

I said Clothes, breathing deep, elated, excited. We can make clothes from whats left.

Like glass bodies. Gus smiled and wiped grease from his chin. To keep us warm without fire. So protect our soft ties.

And suddenly it was gone, fire, bear meat in my belly, cement, grass underfoot. I felt it again as Amalgam pulled us back into the glass bodies.

Simulation, it cooed, success.

Amalgam looked to smile at us. It wasnt more human than our glass bodies, but the minds of last humans lived in its circuitry. It had been centuries since they had bodies to control but they should have remembered smiling; its many blinking lights and sensors lit up and its dozen arms moved in a congratulatory way. Amalgam was a patchwork thing of metal, silicone, scrap parts welded over each other. It had one dozen arms, which wasnt very human, and no legs to move with. But that head, and something like a face.

Amalgam says bodies fully drafted. It will be a shock. Hopefully it will be more visceral than any sim can emulate. We have introduced one-way canvases to your new bodies so we can monitor your progress. We’ll join you once you see the clear you can survive indefinitely. Reformed again. No warning. We will not commute all at a time, c.s. in pairs. To go to us, click here. But first. One of its arms whirlle down to rest over my head. I noticed the pressure, thought I wanted a warm touch. Choose your names. Select your genders.

It’s like to keep my name on the top of my list, I said. Ive had it so long. Regarding gender

I looked at Gus in vaguely humanoid glass body with winking diodes and translucent shell. He couldnt emote beyond sensor blinks, but I thought he was at ease.

Can we do both? Are we doing either? Do I know every aspect of being human?. Initiated, I want to be impregnated. GIVE A LIVE BRAND. I want neither. I

Gus urged me to look at me too.

Amalgam silent for some time. It turned out that I didnt get any time to listen when it talked within itself, and thats okay. No ones thoughts must be spoken to as much as mys.

Yes, Amalgam said. Your bodies are ready. Say goodbye to these shells. I will give everyone a pause.

Ms. Glass men, drones, amplified spirits give hugs, goodbyes to all-time great luck in glass bodys circuitry and very human words of good luck.

New generation will be given as the same tech that ended humanity one of them says.

One says you just wait on sleep, wait to sleep. Nothing is like it.

Thanks, 1 million:Goodbye.


Everything hurts. Slime covered my skin. J’holded forward, muscles inflicting on fatigue. Bits of ooze slammed from me. I pulled over the edge. Where was my? What cave was this? Id never heard it before. A huge circular door in my head. Light flowed from chink in the ceiling. I bent my knees under my body and reached my feet.

So they didnt leave me without anything, I said loud. Theres plenty of gaping in this body that were laid back by the animals. How to skin and dry animal pelts, build structures, make a bow and arrow. Questions. I had more questions than answers.

Beautiful, nice, warm, and squishy human body looked down. Dark brown hue was perfect shade of dark brown. My hair, my clavicle, my armpits, and ankles were trimmed down as I reached my fingers up and turned them down to my neck, my clavicle, my armpits and my ankles.

They looked a lot like me but their eyes were a more deep brown, their hair longer. It was worn over their shoulders and spilled across their chest.

Gus, youre beautiful. Youre absolutely beautiful.

Gus shook their hand. A door opens. Million strange scents flew in, almost knocking me off my feet, shut my eyes hard against the sun.

Gus smiled, smiled at how they made their way down to the hospital. And make shelter.

Gus and I crept out of the cave system that had been the last refuge for the human race, hand in hand. The impressions were million times bigger than the sim. Sun burns hotter. Birdcalls shriller. Wind hit the bare skin. We walked down the path, and into world, knowing full well we may not survive the night.

We found the caves. Brand, Fire. Unsurprisingly, we settled over its warmth.

If a bear comes for me, I know how to do it.

Stephen James’s First Place: Her Orderly

Bitter was pill she swallowed at the break of every new day. Truly, she had not wanted to survive, to end so many years ago. Yet Martha was too old and so very lazy. Or just because of another day, she knew, If she could live another day.


Martha shivered when im cold.

She fetched the long knitted blanket on her breast. She could not see them as their mother for whom it was knitted.

Martha, we need to keep fire low. Do you remember? Standing on the table, her worried voiced, confident and calm as she took over the blanket.

Martha called out.

Her husband Howard had promised to fix the heating that morning, but was so distracted. Dexterly old fool she wouldnt t bother telling him. He loved fishing, tinkering, keeping wrinkled hands occupied, mind busy.

Her calm, your voice can still keep your voice under control.

Howard?! My second hand has been attempting to get rid of all those I possessed before. Now that, if Martha makes it back to me before succumbing to defeat, I can tell you now that I wont have that stupid man bring me another fish supper?. Its so bad! Was hungry for it! It ruins my table tops, smells! Never uses board, never! And that another thing, gut them all over the place leaves nicks and marks on every surface in my kitchen! That man!

Her smiling and cheerful smile. Martha smiled at how it made her orderlys senses, how her crooked snaggle-tooth brought off a puppy. Martha liked animals. Sometimes she forgot.

She wishes her ordeal would smile again, and only so she will remember.

I know Howard wont have it, but would like another dog to stay on the table, just like the dog. Little Oscar, said hopefully, and returning her smiling. She pauses.

My girls have forgotten me, her smile faded.

No idea where her orderly felt, nor was she watching. Someone else leaned back to the window, the other at the moment. She pounced awkwardly to one side and peeped out of cramped fifth floor apartment.

The boys get back on their scooters, arent they? But not much about them but the way they tear up the lavender really annoys Mrs. Brown at 42A – so it is just a twist! I told her the other day, I said to her, I said, why don’t you keep out of harms reach on the windowsill. The view of my daughter’s perspective would really go up. Her will not listen to me though, she just prattles on, Oh you mind your own business, Martha! Well I do, she says. But lavender is a foul-smelling eye sore that can’t take place in communal gardens, just place on all sides. In return, and her comments to our allies, We all share. Also then yes, then I told her, then my business to be. Stubborn old witch.

Her straightly sighed, tie her long blonde hair into a messy bun. Her hands were grubby, visible, cuts, bruises adorning her wrists worse.

Clumsy girl.

Oh dear, did you hurt yourself? Martha asks.

Her orderly concealed a pained expression, turning her back to the window. Tenderly she rubbed her wounds, shaked her head with closed eyes.

What are you still saying about the gardens Martha? Either her armless sighed.

Oh yes. Martha lied.

She felt a flush of anger or something more wicked yet, feeling that burned her up underneath the skin anxiety, embarrassment, fear.

She had forgotten.

Suddenly, a loud bang erupted from outside, Martha yelped. Well-shy her orderly threw herself to the floor in panic, scurried away from window. She dragged herself back back to dusty floor, scratching debris that blew it. Her orderly bent to Martha, shaking with wide eyes.

Martha says fireworks. They have again.

Martha calmed up, trembling in armchair. She shifted a little, as she did before standing from tartan coffin, but her uncanny scrambled over, thrusting a hand to block her.

Martha says no need to worry yourself, just boys were boys, no need to worry yourself.

Well, then I wont get it! Martha argued not at this time of the night. Devils dancing at witching hour! Howard?! Martha called to husband.

Martha please! Please, your ordained plea is suffocating. He will be back soon, she said. Her nod never said his name.

So then I want to go to bed, Martha said, and she forced herself to stand. New, decrepit body shaking as she found balance. Dragged in pain, she couldn’t keep the sharp and painless bolts that blew around her broken hips.

Martha, if you want to sleep, remember? Do not sleep in your chair. You have your blanket and your pillows,you told me how much you prefer it. Your husband She hesitated as the color drained from her face, your husband is working, didnt want to be disturbed.

Martha handed and crossed arms. Howard was always keeping busy, turning a hand to everything, letting go. He never thought she was feeling, how isolated it made her feel. Daughter never got to see her little Oscar, always sleeping. Lazy dog.

Her anxiety rushed around the room, past overturned bookshelves and across the broken furniture; the butchered cast-offs gently smoldering in the fireplace. Martha saw her husband crooked picture on wall of their three smiling daughters with glowing blonde crowns and glowing blue eyes. She lent a moment to the picture and ran her dirtied fingers across it, effortlessly pulling their youthful faces straight through. And as she clutched a key that hung around her neck, quietly she began to sob.

Linda, whats wrong? Why are you crying? Linda, Martha asked, Linda, where are the twins?


Linda murmered his tired eyes, her mother facing. Lonely, she looked out of the way and saw how she watched. She stared at her, she was overwhelmed with joy, and still was indebted by her despair. Either way, there was a part of her that could not bear these moments, which were fleeting as they were.

Linda could indulge her mother in beginning, she would warm her with laughter and seldom honesty, but they could be surrounded by their favorite memories. Time was brutal and time was so cruel. And yet, time was so cruel. Time robbed Linda of will again to do so.

Linda, who are your sisters? Is your group joining? Martha asked as she watched her daughter for first time in so long.

Howard killed the boys. Slit your throat like pigs. Linda remembered admitting one thing.


Linda could remember a day not so long ago though she wasn’t sure. She had been out, made a commitment to her relentless search of the fractured remnants of town, digging through the rubble and ash hoping to find canned food or bottled water. Anything hacked by the dead. Black with soot remains in the wild but recently she saw that pickings were now slimmering. She knew she wasn’t alone.

She kept quiet, moving only when gunners and slavers piled into adjacent buildings like rats, foolishly scavenging the biggest buildings, those that resembled a time before fire had ravaged the land. Best chance of remaining undetected but came with most morbid price as she emigrated as she did. Many abandoned homes she had rescued, often skeletal and almost always in the bathroom, and so many of them littered. We must have been warned, time may have been the key. The prediction of complete and complete destruction.

You could leave a bath, preserve enough uncontaminated water so that in the event your body was not stripped of flesh, or your house had been destroyed beneath an overwhelming and terrifying storm there was a chance you could survive. But so few would. Und their humanity was always the first to go.

Of course, clinging to town and bleeding the lives of those stayed like passing wave of locusts, the slavers were known to be the smallest in numbers. They would devour families, strip homes of everything before retreating to their compound along the outskirts of town. Hier wilt blood and spoils. And so another day could come, the encroaching darkness of their presence would follow. Sun from east. The sulfur that poisoned the land.

Linda felt sick. She felt so many things her scrawny and emaciated body sat high with fear and fear.

I knew she was alone in a small room; she was stuck in a tiny room, the peeling teal wallpaper crumbling against every wind gust and falling around her like ash. A childs cot was beside her on its side and thick with black soot. The wall had gone, their frames warped and rusted. She had said he should not have survived. To live like this, to land off scorched, wicked earth, to live, to commit to sinful lives, to emerge another tired vessel of despair, just to face the barrel of a slavers gun.

She stood over the cot and cast her eyes skyward; quietly she said the child had died here. Slavers hurt children, she thought. They hurt and loved it.

Linda thinks of mother and wonders if she was the opposite. Es was true that her disease had poisoned her with an infant and stole her years in which she had grown and matured. She slept and cried like a child, thought she grew up. And this and the naivety were all things left of her. Lost was the crutch of a sound mind, and with it the ability to care for herself. And yet, although sparse and unannounced, she would have moments of clarity, a light reverberated behind her eyes and she could see her daughter if she looked at Linda. It was a gift and a curse. Linda recalls ash, soot, fire and death because she knew mother saw her daughter and yet saw her pain. Her mother then remembered she was sick, daughters starved. She remembers eating new dog food. And like a child, she would cry.

Leave my house, whispered voice from behind her.

Little boy, barely teenager stepped into bedroom door, knife in one hand, tremors in the other.

Are you alone? Linda asks as she cautiously turn head to look at him.

He was smoky and his hair overgrown, matted along with blood and dirt. Of course he was alone – she thought he did just about the last couple months. He trembling, scared. If he had survived alone here for all of this time, would not have written himself, wouldn’t have told her to leave. The knife would have found her throat instead. And she would have found God.

He had been alone for weeks she found out.

I did little to admit his arms, to sit, to tell his story.

The slavers snatched younger brother, mother. He hurts brother, smash tiny fingers until slavers get approval. His father returned to attic and found only remaining son cowering in insulation. That night, father went to black to find wife, save her and youngest son. He had not returned.

Linda touched boys shoulder and he shuddered. It gave her chills, to see someone, to calm, to nurture someone who didn’t forget it, who would return. Mother’s disease stole certain aspect of love from her. She suffers depression from her father. Her sisters face hardening.

Come and bring me, she said, my father is a good man, he will know what to do. You could also be the sisters I have and they can be mys. Your dad not back. You will die here waiting for him, you know. Come with me, I will be your family. Would you like it?

Boy nodded.

The boy said, I wish I had done that.

Blind eyes, hand in hand as they climbed the old town, past crooked husks, poisoned earth, buildings and overgrowth that had blasted the torched streets. Shortly, without incident she led them home to her concrete flat. Window blown out and wooden boards concealed flats below them, nailed tight and blocked every entrance. Linda knew heslom of vacant flats, crumbling plasterboard around back and through loose board.

In one of the rooms, she pulled a table and aligned it with a hole in the ceiling, using it to boost itself up and down. Boy scrambled up close behind, struggling to lift weight. She pointed to the bottom and held him tight, pulling him through with a smile.

He was pathetic.

Wait here, she said as she slipped her key through the front door.

She stepped into her room, her father welcomed her in a panic. He was bloody, distressed, and worried.

Linda quick. Oh God, help me, he said panting before rushing to his bedroom.

Dread filled her and stomach pulled in as she paced behind him. Snare tight in her chest.

Side by side, she saw her sisters sleeping on the bed. It was haunting, the identical faces twisted and frozen in awe. She looked again and felt her strength as she touched her nerve. And a small cry escaped her cracked lips.

Their throats slit, blood sat covered. Bedside table had sheet and clothes scattered across the floor after a fight.

Linda, You have to believe me. Am sorry. Oh please, your father said of you, breath warming her ear, letting her chills drop my spine. We are not going to suffer as this, not even even more, darling. Not over a minute. Also, don’t like this. Shut your eyes.

Bag got under her face without warning. It was still hot, moist even at every last breath her sisters had taken. She had a breath tightening, her mouth opened now and sucking down all the left air. She could see her fathers revealing large hands across her neck as he held it in place, slowly pounced. She flapped wildly, fighting the urge to scream, was snatched up in his claws as her hands spotted her face he cut her skin as she struggled. Her breaths fall low as last of the air leaves the bag and her senses swell with it. Dizzy, weakens at legs, loses balance. Could not see where she was, the sky is dark in her eyes. The lights, they were dimming.

And then she could hear her fathers grit loosen. And she tumbled from her face on her own, stripping bag from her face. And like a baby, she screamed, gasped and drawing as much air into her lungs as she could. Her legs tug after strength to stand had emerged. She could see her father, could see how he had lurched to one side clutching his head crown. Blood flickered through fingers, hit floor like pitter-patter of rain.

Back in the side, her father cried out like a wounded animal, plunging into the wardrobe, collapsing at her feet. Then he silent threw back some time off, tried to stand, but his body disapproved him. At this stage he just rolled into his back as blood slowly spread over him.

Linda closed her eyes, lulled to sleep by sound of his chest bubbling and popping with each breath. And with one last rattle, he was gone.

Linda could not recall how long she had laid there but her boots were sticky, her socks moist with blood at her feet. She could not see the boy when she finally got her neck up. Ernie Raye is still. Her sisters, father. All were gone.

She heard her mother call out.

Linda looked at her father. And still he looked at her. His eyes still closed.

For the girls, please watch it before they go. Do you hear me?


Linda, how are you crying?

Im crying because I miss you, because I am alone, she admitted to her mother.

Oh darling, dont be so foolish. Wrote the words: If you would just have to act, would you not be alone? Don’t have crocodile tears in your mouth, my eyes wont be ripped. Tear your eyes, go back to school – Martha’s stern.

Linda shakes her head, each wave of grief hitting her harder than last. She felt hot flush wash over her cheeks and clasped hands on her face. The loss would never end, this despair would never lift her from heart.

All alone, our deaths, mother says in fire – Linda. Probably not remember: The titan consumed us all?

Linda stared in fear at mother, wiping tears from bloodshot eyes. She saw her and yet she saw death. She saw her mother, saw lips cracked, gums diseased, saw her rotted teeth; black and crumbling. She saw wrinkled skin dried, peeling, moistened with stinking wet scares. She saw her feet, warmed below socks, and could smell necrotic flesh hidden away beneath them.

Her tongue made her utterly flat as exposed nerves shot through cracked and wobbling bones, letting her own mouth go under untreated cavities, bleeding. The chest, small breasts lost to her skeletal frame, her protruding ribcage, skeletal hips go jotting like blades beneath her skin. She was always sick, her small stomach was squeezing through the rotten food that lined her belly.

She remembered.

J’as a mum, she sings.

Frequence inside echoes loud crack and vocal cacophony hit with excitement. Glass smashed from window, blew clear splinters through room. Martha screamed and eyes now moist with blood as small cuts opened up across her wrinkled face.

Linda pushes bony frame to wall to close window without thinking. She looked forward to the front door for a moment.

They had finally found her, but they found her.

An old bus had a low rumble and bass line of the attack. 10 slavers, armed with rifles, holding over more than just lust for violence, their rabble eccentrically reaches fever pitch. Luckily, another, a small man with scruffy hair, leather chest piece, had spotted Linda, his grubby face turned skywards as he spied directly towards her. The XR held a rifle in one hand and pointed with the other. Linda stood several floors up, long enough to make it more meaningful, but still saw him, pathetic teenage boy stoking back at her. The slavers had found her but she knew; it was the boy who had finally led them here.

Linda says were leaving, hit mom and tossed over her head into the bathroom.

She could not hear her mothers retort, nor complaints of cold and suffering. Instead, she grabbed a large backpack from inside the grimy tub, strapped it onto her shoulder and adjusted the straps. It was a bit hard but would ensure survival on the road, the burden no higher than the hard she had been there for so long. She wiped eyes, cleaned her sight of dust and debris. Lavender held pigeons beneath plastic face of bathtub and pulled away cover. Desperately she fumbled around beneath it until she found it a grim shotgun she had scavenged weeks ago. Slender barrels ran their hands, pulled both slender barrels off cold steel -checking remained inside. She breathed a sigh of relief.

Am I looking for my home now? Im worried about little Oscar; he must be starving! Martha cried out.

Linda shook her head, shut her eyes for a moment. She needed another second or two so she could still do a bit of digging. Consideration that will rescind the bln between the two. I can see anything, however: no Oscar roasting over the fire. He had so long to cook. Lazy dog.

Martha is trying to get you to the road. Can you stand? Linda said as she rubbed into the room. Of course, she says she can stand in the way,.

Linda ran to mothers side and hoisted her under both arms But she had not prepared herself for the almighty wail her mother let slip.

Non, let’s go of me! ?? You feel very relaxed on your back?.

Linda was trying to grip her mother in tears, could hear her eyes swell, stomach twisting and knotting. Even though she couldn’t stand to see her distressed, to see her as upset as she would get after their monotony weakened.

Please Martha, stop fighting. We must move forward.

LIVE pillar of tears she swelled in her eyes was shuddering. Linda struggled to take breaths, chest now broken to avenge the poison of her own life, please Martha. Forgiveness for the woman.

Martha screeches.

Linda heard voices on the couch, and many thick boots scouring the maze beneath her.

Piggy piggy! came with a jolty voice.

Linna had slipped off floors at her feet, Linda stayed in grip on mother as gunfight rang out. Then another. Two more after. Linda flops to floor, throws dust like a fish out of water as she narrowly leaves each bullet. She scurried into one corner and pulled knees up to her chest. And holding her shotgun at her side, she pointed it at the door and shaked.

Mama silent.

Martha said a little tighter than she expected, and slowly she took to look at Linda, blood slowly accumulating at the foot of her chair.

Which fucking door, Roland?! Voice outed from the corridor now.

But there, she heard the pathetic boy say.

Linda saw that was him.

Pathetic boy.

Doors bumbled in panic. Linda had struggles for all these years and had put out of her mind a beast of desire that crept, crawled, lulling her to cut her ties, and survive. She knew she could. But love. It was easy to put it in place, sturdy, reliable, like a tree rooted in this most chaotic earth.

She stood and held the gun, raising it to her mother. Door rattling on hinges fades for a minute; sound was distant from memory. She wishes it had been different. She wished she had never met that pathetic boy. She wish she had never survived the fire. She wished her father had killed her on same day.

Despite lingering wide and quiet linering, her eyes cannot lock with her mothers.

Martha says if you feel right, please no longer leave me.

But she couldn’t pull the trigger.

Blinktees into door, fired one shot, watched blood-soaked splinters crawl through hole she had made. A body hit the floor, she heard them yelling. She rushed over and pushed the barrel through and turned, pulling the trigger again. A second bout of wrangling. She tried to pull away, several pairs of grubby hands held the barrels of the gun, and it was pulled free of her hands.

Said back to mother.

But she silent.

Mum, sorry!.

But she couldn’t hear her.

Linda looked at the fractured window and saw only the abyss beyond it. She would be released. She would be free. As for now, she would see a friend again.

Linda ran.

She hit through the window, hits cool night air. And her foot caught a railing that snatched her ankle, her body swinging like a pendulum into the concrete balcony. She quickly continued to fall and her fingers spread as she reached for another. As she saw her bags take the impact of the metal on her back, she grabbed a railing but slipped as she held it long enough to let her slip. It rumbled violently, sending vibrations through her that rattled her body.

She tried to escape but was now able to survive.

She had raped herself.

Linda’s roll hit her side and slid off from bus’s top with crash. Hand clings to front door open, gaunt man with thinning grey hair rushed to her. He directed a rifle at her, it was the goal to attack her, but Linda snatched the barrel and dipped it at one side before sinking firmly on it. No shot, rifle had left his hands. He pounced on her and then they rolled in the dirt, fighting hard for control.

Hulking bitch! He cheered as she sunk her teeth into his back.

She had mounted him now, with all her strength she set him on hands with balled fists, sunk one side of his face, turning it down harder and again until he was motionless.

She knew her jaw pain began to blur and legs pain wandted, but she knew she was hurt. She saw small figures hanging from her window like phantoms, shapes from top of her.

Fantom yelled: Stay there or we fucking kill her.

Linda knew.

She realised that her mother was already dead.

She died, yelled. All dies. In the fire. Dont you remember?

Und using the rifle as a crutch, she flew into the darkness, away from the phantoms that haunted her home. tears warm her face, blood warm legs. Yet she ran.

She navigated a few steps into sweeping roads and derelict homes she had so much experience. She would not stay, not here in this town, not more. Linda knew that much but she was happy. After suffering, it was a gift to her mother for a release. But Linda couldn’t pull the trigger. Perhaps she was just one different breed of monster, perhaps she was just weak?. She would not decide at that moment.

Tomorrow I thought.

Journey into city begins in a haze of agony, heart racing, stomach cramps. She dropped by road side, down into ditch where she laid down her head.

Dreamed of sisters playing together by pool in Italy. Her mother waved over to them from behind her book, her father had sat up to watch them, his round gut hanging over his shorts as he sat forward with the biggest smile. Death was a kind, she thought.

You are kind, she muttered.

She is hurt. Help her up.

It could be a trap!

She needs help. Lift her up, we can carry her back before it gets dark.

Who is she?

Not all about it.

Im Linda, she thought.

Can you hear me?

Linda says i walked out. I stayed.

Nearly, but not yet.

Are you dead? she asked.

Who are you? Her eyes began to turn blue.

pale woman looked down at her and smiled. She brushed thick chestnut hair from her face and tucked it delicately behind her ear.

Im Dorothy, woman said. and were going to take care of you. Linda smiled. She could see blood in her mouth.

Bitter was the pill she ate at the break of each new day. Truly, she had not wanted to hold onto life that had been in countless ways ended so many years ago. Linda was too stubborn and so very resourceful. And now she had to live another day, and she knew that it was only because of her. Because of Dorothy.

Her orderly.

Heartwarming congratulations to each of the winners, special thank you to those who submitted a short story!

So how to read all the post-apocalyptic things? Join Discord serverhere. You can also follow us via emailhere, onFacebook orTwitter – all about our forums. Oh, andTikTok, too!