And without further ado the Winner is…
1st Place – Ilana Leeds “The Last Letter“
2nd Place – Carrie Zylka “Memories Best Forgotten”
3rd Place – Alice Nelson “The Confession of Maggie Fisher”
4th Place – Christopher Smith “The Letter”
5th Place – Phil Town “Love Simon”
6th Place – Ken Allen “Forgotten”
Story with the Favorite Character: Ilana Leeds “Irene”
Story with the Best Pacing: Alice
Story with the Best Use of Dialogue: Phil
Anyone who would like to get their vote totals may send an email to liflashfiction(at)gmail(dot)com to request details.
To read all of the stories entered and find out how you can participate in our weekly/bi-weekly/monthly short story contests please go to: http://fiction.wwocz.net/blog/august-24-september-06-2017-flash-fiction-contest-the-letter/.
Per the new process, Phil Town has three days to choose the next prompt/theme. Visit http://fiction.wwocz.net/blog/why-and-how-to-participate/writing-prompt-roster/ to view the Writing Prompt Roster.
The Last Letter by Ilana Leeds
Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved
Irene stood at the gate of the old school house. Cobwebs had collected on the splintered veranda that encircled the main building. Two portable classrooms fallen into disrepair, with cracked windows and a ruined staircase stood over to one side of the main building. The ghosts of past students and teachers whispered and sang to her. The shades of parents now long passed, congregated and chatted in the courtyard near the basketball court and the paddock that was once a football oval. Now all conquered by weeds and strange grasses not sown by human hands, it remained defiant and alone.
She remembered her first day there as a graduate teacher. She was twenty-two years old then. Now her arthritic hands fumbled the rusted latch on the gate, but she finally got it open and walked slowly up the path overgrown with blackberries and willows. Her homemade walking stick helped her navigate the gravel and uneven ground up to the ramp besides the broken steps.
“Careful, carefully does it.” She cautioned herself and held the rail with one hand, as she slowly maneuvered up the ramp to the door of the main office building. She pushed the door and it slide open with groan of hinges and scrape of wood on old rotted floor coverings.
She had been walking for a long time to arrive here today. Her shoes were threadbare and she had stuffed scraps of plastic and rubber into them to cover the holes. The tattered track suit that folded itself around her shrunken body, she had found in an abandoned homestead a few weeks or was it months back, on her journey down to the old school house. It would be her last journey because she wanted to know. She wanted to know what had happened.
Dust, dust everywhere. Layers of it, coated the filing cabinets, the reception desk which had rotted away in places. She walked over to the door labelled Principal. She pushed it hard. It held fast.
So she decided to walk around the reception desk into the side door. That door was ajar.
It jolted her to see the skeleton sitting in the chair at the principal’s desk. A rotted blazer that had once stated Yarragon Primary School with Staff under the school badge hung on shoulders and a chest cage of bony ribs.
Bill Rogers was still recognisable because of his thatch of red hair which was perched in scraps of weathered skin on top of his grinning skull. Tears furrowed her wrinkled cheeks and flowed even more, because sitting with their backs against the door were also the skeletons of four other adults and six children.
She groaned and dropped her walking stick. As she bent to pick it up from the dust covered floor, she saw a envelope perched on the keyboard of the computer on the desk in front of Tom. She almost did not see it because of the thick film of dust and dirt covering everything in the building.
Weeping she walked slowly over to take it in trembling hands. It was addressed “To Those Who Find Us” in a scrawling childish script. She took the envelope and went carefully out to the receptionist’s chair and sat to take out two folded sheets of paper and commenced to read. The letter was printed on lined paper
11th Nov, 2018
To those who find us
Mrster Rogers dyed last night. Me Mum is very sick. She bin vomited all ova the floor. We not allow outsyd to buree him or no one else that dyed. My nam is Alyce. I am in grad 5. I do not rite so good, but I want somone to know. My littl brother Tom in grad 1 also dying.
My teacher Mrs Marks is trying to look afta us all, but she is crying all the time.
The kids playing outside dyed first, and then Mrster Rogers and Robin’s Mum – she were sitting by the playground textin’ on her fone, she dyed next day – yestaday. The Beach kids Henry, Oliver and Hannah with their nanna dyed the day after, when the cloud of green dust had passed. They was the first lotta people to go.
I were in that toilet. Me mum were wid Tom on tha veranda outise the ofise. Mrs Marks were making copies of stuff for next day. The doors were closed and the air con were on. Mrs Marks says that what saved us.
We sawed the cloud of stuff. It were green and thick like smoke. From a bush fire cept it were not. After it blowed away. Mrs marks and me, we went to help everyone one. They was laying on the floor and coughing and coughing.
We took the kids first and helped Myster Rogers to his office. We washed them with water in the shower near the toilets. It helped for a little while. They started to hav water coming from their mouths and noses and later lotsa bleeding. Even bleeding from them ears and eyes.
We is lucky that there is food in the kitchen. When everyone dye I cry and cry. Mrs marks don’t want us to go outside. All the birds they dye. All the hens and the rooster and the ducks and the guinea pigs they dy two. All dead. I snuck outside to the fish pond and all the fish floating on the top of the water. Mrs Marks very upset, she said no. NO good to go outside for some time. We wait for someone to come to help us. I did not tell ‘er but I ate some of the strawberry from our garden. Washed them but very funny taste. After my tummee not so good. I get sick and need to go to the toilet a lot and there is blood too. Mrs Marks put a raincoat on, her gumboots, a hat and gloves, she look so funnee. Like a big bear. She said it so nothing touch her skin. She is going to get help.
I am going to ly next to Mum. With Tom. Hope someone find us soon.
Irene folded the letter and put it inside her coat pocket.
Her beeper chirped.
Where are you? The text read. Quickly she typed back.
Found the school. No one survived.
Irene Marks you are nuts. It’s been fifty years. Even now it’s not safe.
I am being careful. Will wash off everything when I get back.
We are sending in a copter to air lift you out, you stubborn old woman. You are crazy you know.
I just wanted to see what had happened to them. I hoped Alyce might…
Crazy old bat. You walked sixty kms in a contaminated zone to find out what happened?
I know, I know but it has been on my mind for years, the children and they way they all died.
15 mins. We are leaving now.
Irene walked slowly outside the building and looked up at the sky. Clouds formed and chased each other in the wind that was whipping up on this chill autumn evening.