Over at Terrible Minds, there's a flash challenge called The Epic Game of Aspects. We were to obtain one Sub-Genre, Conflict/Problem, and Element to Include from the lists provided, and write a flash fiction short story of no more than 1,000 words. We could manually choose from each of the categories, but it was much more fun to use the Random Number Generator. Fate handed me a 3/14/5 combination, which turned out to be a Sub-Genre of Post-Apocalyptic, a Conflict/Problem of Revenge, and my Element to Include was A Dead Body. Cool, yes? I offer you A Matter of Honor.
A MATTER OF HONOR
I have never been permitted to touch my father. My mother’s persistent despair led me to believe she wasn’t either; that is, unless he initiated contact with her for sexual release. Not being privy to my parents’ intimate activities, nor desiring such, watching her withdraw into herself more each passing day, strengthened my suspicion she was his repository and nothing more. Despite our less than conventional familial state, we lived well in terms of material matters--until the Great War.
This war to end all wars had been expected, even though mankind knew the potential consequences. Unfortunately, power does corrupt, and the thirst for it is where the path to destruction begins. All had fallen, and even those still on high were at their most vulnerable. That was when they came.
They, who had watched and waited from afar until we were on our knees, descended upon us like the forces of Hell. The Council of the Wise, who never missed an opportunity to remind us of our subservience, and their military element, who never missed an opportunity to administer immediate justice for any, and all, transgressions. The Guards of the Realm had what we here on Planet Earth used to call bang-sticks, but their sticks delivered quite the bite with their bang. Each contact left deep, bloody and painful ruts, and if the object of their wrath managed to survive such a confrontation, the infection that resulted from the wounds left them incapacitated. It was at that point, the time when they had lost their ability to work on the lines in one of the Council’s weapon manufacturing plants, that they were exiled to the North.
The excessive nuclear fall-out from the Great War we had inflicted on ourselves had left the entire Northern Hemisphere desolate and dangerous. Without shelter or sustenance, and with no means to curb the influx of deadly bacteria that ravaged their bodies, they were doomed to a slow and torturous demise. We humans, with our desperate greed and foolish delusion of immortality, had engineered our own extinction; however, our coyotes came not from the desert, but from the cosmos, to pick our bones clean, and that is where my father enters the picture.
He was a scientist--an expert in the field of death, whether it be chemical or biological, and thus became quite valuable to the members of the Council. His living quarters were located in one of the government sectors, and his days were spent utilizing technology far beyond that which any of this planet’s scientific elite could conceive of. At his insistence, however, his wife and son were confined to the ranks of the factory workers, and my mother and I resided in one of the warehouses designed to house those on the lines. Fed and hydrated once per day, we worked 18 hour shifts, assembling complex weaponry that would be used to overcome another unsuspecting world when ours no longer offered any resources.
I had always despised his inability to display any genuine emotion, but today, his true colors were at last revealed. I hadn’t seen my mother for several hours, and while consuming my ration of water, I overheard a couple of the Guards discussing a dead body that had required removal from one of the laboratories. They spoke of how one of the female humans had been selected for experimentation by Core Technician A. Randers, and the materials that had been introduced into her blood stream had caused her to literally implode. The Guards found it quite laughable that this particular woman had, in death, resembled a squashed insect. I knew then that revenge was now a moral imperative. Core Technician A. Randers and his decimated specimen were my parents.
After dark, I crossed the compound, and entered the building where my mother’s remains were being held prior to disposal in one of the factory‘s furnaces, along with any and all possessions she had retained from the pre-invasion era. I risked punishment in order to obtain some object she had treasured and kept hidden from those who had enslaved us. When I entered the chamber that served as a mortuary, I saw her lying there, a pitiful and tragic testament to my father’s legacy, and made my decision.
I quickly searched through her meager belongings and found a tiny locket her mother had given to her as a child. I don’t know how she had managed to conceal it from those barbarians, but during her brief lifetime filled with pain and isolation, she had still managed to maintain a link with a time of happiness and security. I quickly exited the area and made my way to one of the outlying bunkers to retrieve one last item. It was on my return to the dormitory when I was taken into custody. I already knew my fate, but asked the unthinkable. I volunteered to serve as host for my father’s next bio-weapon trial.
In spite of my violation of the Curfew Act, the Council praised my dedication to the development of more effective bio-hazardous serums. I was anxious to be brought before my father since I had only heard his name mentioned over the years. He looked older, but still possessed the same hard and unfeeling demeanor.
“Hello, father,” I said quietly.
He looked through me, and regarded me with the same interest as one would a laboratory rat.
“Place it into one of the cages at the back,” he told the Guards.
It. That’s what I was now. It was time. I broke free of the Guards’ grip, reached down and retrieved the vial of the virus I had taken from the lab and hidden in my shoe. I poured the lethal fluid into my mouth, grabbed my father by his shoulders and planted a great big sloppy kiss on his lips, sharing my toxic cargo.
“For mom,” I whispered, as the bang sticks were deployed while the skin on my face began to melt. “For mom…”