Steal Tomrrow Extra: Priorities

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece about Doc and Mundo in the early days of the Regents precedes the action of the novel and contains no spoilers.

Shivering in the drizzle, waiting for the pyre to ignite, the teenage gang leader turned to the fifteen-year-old who served as doctor to his group of survivors. “We can’t do any more after this one. Not unless it’s urgent.”

“They’re all urgent.” Johnny squinted at him through glasses misted with rain. “Leaving them to rot is a health hazard. And it’s disrespectful.”

“Hey, I respected my elders as much as the next guy,” Mundo said. “But there’s too many. First all the grownups, and now all the kids who can’t make it without them.” He shook his head. “Dearly departed or not, we have to look out for ourselves.”

“Rotting corpses spread disease.”

“And so does rotten food, which is why we need to focus on laying in supplies for winter, before some other gang gets all the good stuff.”

Johnny turned away without answering. The kids who had been delegated to set the bodies on fire were still struggling to light the pyre in the bad weather.

“You gave me quite a lecture about vitamins and nutrition the other day, Doc. Were you bullshitting me or not?”

“Of course not,” Johnny said. “It’s just…”

Mundo slicked his wet hair out of his eyes. “Priorities. We don’t have enough people to forage for food and collect dead bodies, too.”

“I know.”

“Good, so quit getting sentimental on me. No more funerals after today, unless they’re our own people.”

“Food and vitamins, top priorities,” Johnny agreed. He took off his glasses and tried to wipe them clean on his shirt. “But they’re all our people,” he said softly.

When he put the glasses back on, he made a surreptitious swipe at a few drops on his cheeks that weren’t from the rain. If Mundo noticed, he said nothing. Someone had succeeded in lighting the fire, and the flames roared up, orange and greasy, burning the drizzle to a fine mist, and then into nothing at all.

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Thomma Lyn said...

Your young characters tug at my heart -- you do such a good job portraying them, in their difficult choices in decision-making and prioritization in a post-telo world.

Tammy Brierly said...

Written well and moving Ann.

Crystal Phares said...

Like Thomma Lyn, your characters tug at my heart. It's so hard to grow up well before your years and make those really touch decisions.

Jay R. Thurston said...

Nothing quite like survival choices to force the hand of maturity.

This post-cataclysmic world is very well painted through your words.

Andy Sewina said...

Yeah, I like the way you use your characters. And you know them so well! Cool Flash!!

Alice Audrey said...

Excellent. You sure know how to end a scene.

Dee Martin said...

Doc is one of my favorite characters. He tries so hard with so little. Brave little guy.

Timothy P. Remp said...

Your dark world is very well done.


Julia Phillips Smith said...

Very poignant piece today, Ann. I also admire Mundo's willingness to look at the big picture. An impossible job for most adults.

one more believer said...

survival... excellent ongoing story... we are human afterall hopefully this will not deter us from remembering... shine

Thom Gabrukiewicz said...

there was a sentimentality in this that came as a shock. Almost as if the tears came to us as well. Nice.

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Very well written. I will have to put this one on my list of favorites. Nice world building, clean dialogue, the picture is vivid without a lot of contrived words.

Great job.

Belinda Kroll, YA Victorian Romance said...

I really liked this piece. I hope you're posting these flash fiction pieces on Scribd, so more people can enjoy your work!

When (not if, haha), you put them up on Scribd, look me up. I'd love to link with you.