So here's my first, which I feel a little weird about posting, given that I scrawled it down in my Home Economicon notebook at the kitchen table this evening over pizza and cider and have just now spent an hour embroidering it. Have a post-apocalyptic radioactive Silent Hill Toronto? Or something?
The clock above her head was gray too, its hands motionless at 11:24 and 22 seconds. Was that when it happened, she wondered, or had a battery kept it going on its own? How long had it taken to wind down?
She should check the dosimeter again, but the thought of sending its hail of chattering pops and snarls echoing into the empty city kept her hand hesitant on the dial. In the endless, breathless tomb of the subway, she'd held the promise of seeing the sky again out before her, brighter than her flashlight. Why was she still afraid? The snow sifted over the glass high above and her breath hung smoking in the air. Nothing else moved.
I won't go, she thought. I'll try the radio again. Jules has to be here somewhere. He wouldn't go far from the equipment. He can't have just vanished.
He would laugh at her if he saw her panicking. Not out loud, of course; he'd just give her that look over the rims of his glasses and smirk. She should never have left. But it would be getting dark soon. She touched the pocket of the parka, feeling for the paper crinkling inside. In old-fashioned type, the letters bruising the paper.
Reading her name had been like a charm. That was when the fear had broken over her. And then the realization that Jules was suddenly no longer crouched over the computer.
GET OUT BEFORE DARK
THEY WON'T COME NEAR THE TRACKS
HEAD EASTBOUND TO
To where? Who were "they"? How long had she spent stumbling through the subterranean dark? How much longer did she have?
She glanced at her watch, then stared at it, scrubbing its well-worn face with her mitten.
It read 11:24. The reset button didn't change it. It didn't blink.
She was not going to panic.
The tracks ran out before her, arrowing between the broken-glass shells of the skyscrapers. She hoisted her pack and the dosimeter and followed them.