Steal Tomorrow Extra: Words on Paper


AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Magpie Tales. It is not part of the novel and it contains new characters that have not been mentioned in the novel or previous short stories. Be sure to drop by Magpie Tales for more fun!
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Petra saw it first, sitting on a desk in the corner with a piece of paper stuck in it as if its owner had stepped away for a snack instead of gone away to die like the other victims of the pandemic. The little machine was so like a computer, yet so different! She touched a key and jumped back when something inside moved with a sharp clack.










Jamail came running, gun drawn. "What was that?"

"It's all right." Petra suppressed a smile. How like him to think he still needed to protect her, after all they had been through. "Look what I found."

"So what?" Jamail put his gun away. "We need food and water filters, not another useless invention."

"But it's not useless. Petra approached the typewriter again and examined the piece of paper. Her random keystroke had resulted in a neat letter q. "Since it doesn't need electricity, we can use it to type things."

"We don't need to type anything. Come on." He gestured toward the door. "The others found some boxes that look like they might contain something useful."

Petra followed him, but her thoughts were elsewhere. Of course the typewriter was useful. People had once used them to write books, conduct business, and... "I've got it!"

"Food?"

"No, silly. A newspaper."

Jamail glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. "Are you finally losing it? We've all been under a lot of stress since the die-off, but—"

Petra stopped in the musty hallway. "We can start a city newspaper. We'll take subscriptions and ads, and make people give us food in exchange." She clasped her hands in excitement. "There's news everywhere, with all the gang wars, so we've got plenty of material. We'll become journalists and we won't have to forage every day. It'll be just like civilization!"

With an exasperated shake of his head, Jamail grabbed Petra by the sleeve of her coat. "Quit dreaming. There might be MREs in those boxes the other guys found, and survival is all that matters."

Petra allowed herself to be pulled down the hall, but no power on earth could drag her away from her fantasies. They couldn't live like beasts forever and civilization had to start somewhere. Why not begin with words on paper?

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16 comments:

Roy Schulze said...

Excellent story of end times and one woman's hope for a new beginning. I hope we never again get to the point where "survival is all that matters." My Magpie this week is Poet.

Martin said...

Getting words on paper is always a good start.

jabblog said...

I often wonder how we would start again and with what. Neat tale:-)

Alice Audrey said...

Better start with a way to not only reproduce, but live long enough to raise the children born.

martine said...

Lovely tale, you created a whole world very quickly and effectively.
thanks for sharing
martine

Kathy Bischoping said...

I like the little gestures they use to convey their thoughts, the glances and clasped hands, the pulling down the hall.

Kathy Bischoping said...

Grr, I mistyped my url. But, happy to see your blog again! This comment lead to my correct url.

Kay said...

yes, you completely captivated me..i love end of the world type things...so good to be prepared ;) kay

Sioux said...

Occasionally I DO moan about Smartboards and computers. Chalkboards and dry-erase boards never go on the blitz, and manual typewriters didn't need no network, right?

Tumblewords: said...

Oh, yes! A perfect way to build the new world - words on paper! Love this Magpie.

chiccoreal said...

Well written end-times scenario. Could be a screenplay! The action, the dialogue are very professionally executed! Hope they will survive the "MRE's" and what does this story say about journalists and free speech. Mind expanding!

Arnab Majumdar said...

Why not, indeed...? It's the best place to start, after all...

Loved this story. :)

Cheers,
Arnab Majumdar on SribbleFest.com

Brian Miller said...

ooo i like this...and i think words on paper is just the way for a new beginning after that time....

miss pie said...

ohh the absurdity of history... excellent magpie!!

Emily said...

Wow, I loved this. I was hooked by the first words... didn't expect to see the phrase "pandemic," so then I had to keep reading. I felt connected to the characters, and you made me believe the apocalyptic setting.

Came late to this Magpie, but I'm glad I got to read yours.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Petra is my kind of chick.