When the hospitals ran out of space, they made makeshift wards in the parking lots. Semi-sheltered and multi-tiered, the concrete relics were the last dreary thing one saw before leaving Earth. Not much different from the gray, fractured skies outside, but little remained to be a good memory by that point, anyway.
My job was to wheel the pods up ramps once used by oil-powered cars, weaving through pillars and faded canvas to stack them three high. When the hoverbeams failed, we had to work in pairs. We leaned them upright in rows, then, locking ’em in place. Pod after pod parked in that cramped, lonely space, waiting.
Bill was my partner. He had an all-American smile and smoked constantly. Missed out on the lottery like me; said he’d get as much pleasure out of his life as was remaining, and damn cancer to Hell. He wouldn’t live to worry about it, besides. Neither of us would.
On the last day, Bill and I wheeled a hundred pods into their rows. I watched the faces as we loaded them: old or young or undetermined, brown or white or black, citizenry unknown and unimportant. Frozen in sleep for the long journey ahead. I slapped each one on the translucent shell of their pod as I parked them. A gesture of good luck, a love tap from one unlucky sod to a luckier survivor. Humanity’s future. If there was to be any.
We sat on the roof of an old church the next block over, Bill smoking, me with a whisky, to watch it all end. The cargo planes flew in–their hoverbeams worked just fine–and pods flew out like yolk sucked from an egg. Then just like that, they were gone. Off to another world, while ours crashed down around us.
This story first appeared on Reddit/Writing Prompts/Fifth Friday Challenge – a 24hr competition to write 100-300 words on a constrained writing prompt, voted on by the community. What would you have written about ‘a parking lot and a shell’?
Thanks for reading! 🙂