Author : Rob Francis

Hyenas owned the dry, dead city.

They watched as Abal guided the rover down the empty roads, rolling around and over the scattered debris of civilization. His home was gone now, forever. It seemed absurd. Ridiculous. Perhaps that was why he couldn’t stop laughing.

Static crackled over the speakers, and a wavery voice filled the vehicle.

“Rover 12, Rover 12. You there, Abal? Reached A.A. yet?”

H.Q. He slowed to a stop and pressed the comms switch on the rover’s control panel.

“Not a soul to save, brothers.” No sign of the living. No sign of the dead.

From the roadsides hundreds of black eyes mocked him. Mouths gaped, slick wet tongues dangling. An entire metropolis of scavengers.

That would explain the lack of bodies. Possibly the lack of survivors as well.

Abal bared his teeth right back at them. They grinned together.

As he completed his circuit of the city, Abal tapped the comms switch again. “Sweep confirmed. No clean up needed here. No evidence of survivors, diseased or otherwise. Returning to cordon.”

He turned the rover back towards the broken highway and the long drive to safety. From the rearview camera, he saw that a large cackle had gathered in his wake. Hundreds of the vermin, drawn together by his tour of the deserted streets. Abal put his foot down.

As the engine rattled and died, he found himself laughing harder than ever, tears hot on his dusty face.

He did not laugh alone.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows