The new year is beginning as this particular piece of blog fiction is ending.
by John L. Harmon
Ben, leading the way, does not look back as the explosions rock the air. He only focuses on the destination ahead, while alternating sun and shade strobe-lights across his determined face.
An incline begins, gradual at first but then steepening. Trees thin out a bit about halfway up but several claim the top of Stickler Hill. Ben now stands among them, catching his breath and seeing what he needs to see.
He does not notice the birds flying gracefully in the light blue sky. He does not register the squirrels playfully darting here and there in the trees. He does not perceive the discarded bananas and prophylactics of a Sunday morning picnic scattered a few feet away.
This once quaint, charming, even beautiful town now resembles a war zone. The massive amounts of trees in the residential areas are gone. What homes and buildings remain are half-destroyed, jutting out of the earth like jagged gravestones. And covering the ground like a blanket of dark snow is Stickler’s presumably dead collection. This is the result Ben was aiming for when he shot up the laboratory, but he sees that Stickler was right. They were too late.
Clyde, nearly out of breath, steps up beside his superior. Before a word is spoken, he takes in the destruction below. The sight of his hometown, ravaged beyond comprehension and at the hands of his childhood boogeyman, nearly defeats him. He wants to scream until his throat is riddled with blood, but instead he begins to whisper a grim question.
“Do you think Leslie and Joe…?”
“I don’t know.”
The oppressive feeling of having lost everything threatens to morph into utter despondency when Sam and Christine reach the top of Stickler Hill. Flanking either side of the law enforcement duo, they absorb the ruins below. While there is no longtime connection to Sturgeons, they feel a nearly overwhelming sadness for the men between them.
Believing it may add a smidge of comfort, Samuel gently offers Ben the item he grabbed from the entryway, “You forgot this.”
He accepts the item with a whispered thank you, noticing the lack of labcoat on Samuel Dwyer. This causes Ben to look down at his own ragged, dirty uniform and then out upon the vestiges of his hometown. So much loss. So much devastation, but now it’s over. With this realization he passes the beige hat of Lawrence to Clyde.
“Ben, I can’t…”
“Sturgeons needs to be rebuilt, Clyde, and with it a new Sheriff.”
Clyde Woodhouse hesitates for a second before accepting the beige but still feels doubtful, “What about you?”
“I’ll be around,” Ben answers, momentarily thinking about his dream of writing a novel in shorthand, “but right now…” He turns to the complex man who has been in his thoughts since last night. “Samuel Dwyer, I am going to kiss you.”
Samuel nudges up his black frames and flashes a smile more becoming than any smile he has flashed before, “It’s about time, Benjamin Straker.” Time slows as two souls unite with a first kiss born out of mutual respect and attraction.
Clyde nods his head approvingly, pleased that Ben will have no need for an online dating service. He turns, putting on the beige hat of Straker, and faces his sizzlin’ Saturday night date. “I don’t know if I trust you, Dr. Abernathy.”
“That is fine,” Christine smiles at the sweet man standing before her, “because I trust you, Sheriff Woodhouse.” Their kiss, while not their first, joins them in a way they did not fully anticipate.
As the new duos kiss like there is no tomorrow, on one side of them the Stickler family home continues to burn with unrestrained fury and on the other side, beyond the collection-covered stillness of an annihilated Sturgeons, Lake Pontoon shimmers peacefully in the brilliant afternoon sun.
A huge thank you to all those who have taken the time to read my wayward, voice-activated internet search inspired blog fiction.
Please keep in mind that while Darkening Sturgeons has ended, my blog has not.
Until whatever comes next...
...be it fiction, non-fiction or criminally bad poetry...
...be well, Readers, and Freak Out,
P.S. If you enjoyed "Darkening Sturgeons" please check out my e-books available from Amazon.