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So, our flash fiction challenge this week at Terrible Minds was to write something apocalyptic that was not the same old, same old (“We know how the Apocalypse comes, how it all ends. Meteors, tsunamis, earthquakes, plague. It’s been done a thousand times before. Nobody’s really bringing anything new to the apocalyptic table.”). I believe, however, that my book, The Lothgoliar, has brought something new to the table in terms of apocolypse, and if not new, at least not OVERDONE. Therefore, rather than write a story about a topic I have already done extensively, I have offered an excerpt of 1000 words from my book in the desired time frame: in the middle of the apocalypse happening. I chose carefully because I didn’t want to give too much away. Check out more at my website, www.lmawson.com.
Excerpt from The Lothgoliar
May stood in his field of vision and then bent down to his level. “What do you mean there’s a Lothgoliar out there?”
“Just what I said,” Josh exhaled. “Hiding behind those boxes. It was taunting me, turning boxes here and there. Unless my eyes are royally buggered up; can’t really see out of the left.”
May groaned and plopped down beside him. “Brilliant, just brilliant! So now, even if we want to leave, we can’t. Let’s just hope he doesn’t figure out the flaming combination!”
Josh sighed, defeated, and glanced at May. A stream of tears seeped from each of her eyes. She began to sob and leaned into him to cry on his chest. He wrapped his broken arm around her shoulders and struggled to think about nothing.
But it was impossible to ignore the fact that his entire family was dead.
His teammates, they were likely all gone.
All of Bredlam, Southampton, and maybe even all of the United Kingdom; every person he had probably ever known or loved was dead.
All but one person, anyway.
May’s crying grew heavier and Josh felt his own tears begin to slide down his face. He wiped them on his shoulder. Before he realized it, his shirt was drenched with her salty tears. He tried calming her by rubbing her shoulder, tried shushing her, kissed her hair a few times, but it was useless.
He glanced to his left, and for something to do, he tried pulling a drawer open. Locked. He pulled the next one up. Same result. He highly doubted there was anything useful in them, anyway, definitely not food or water.
The room was also stiflingly warm despite their being in a subbasement. He took this to mean that if there were any sort of ventilation system to this vault, it was not currently functioning. How many hours before they died of carbon dioxide poisoning?
He thought back to biology class. The fact that they were learning about suffocation and poisoning by CO2 had intrigued him—it was probably the only interesting thing they had ever learned—and the equation had always stuck in his mind, in case for some odd reason, he ended up in the trunk of a crazed fan’s car or likewise.
Given the dimensions of the vault, he expected that in two hours, they might begin to feel drowsy, at a one percent CO2concentration. By five percent, or in seven hours, they would likely be experiencing shortness of breath, confusion, headaches, reduced hearing, increased heart rate and blood pressure. Seven to ten percent, or in ten to fourteen hours, muscle tremors, sweating, dimmed vision, and unconsciousness.
If they continued to breathe as heavily as they were, crying, panicking, their hours would be reduced by almost half.
“Do you find it hot in here, or is it just me?” he asked.
May sat up and took a deep breath, exhaling deeply. Too deeply. “No, it’s definitely hot in here. Why?”
Josh rubbed tears off his cheeks and for a moment closed his eyes in defeat. “I don’t think there’s any air circulation in this room right now. Otherwise I reckon it’d be the same temperature or cooler than the rest of the building.”
May watched him, her face pallid. She began to breathe heavily. “So what you’re saying is we’re going to suffocate.”
Josh swallowed. “Not so much suffocate as poison ourselves to death with our own carbon dioxide… We can’t stay here… not more than a few hours or the levels will start to affect us. Whoever was here before us—whoever left that statue in the door… they could have been here for a while as well. The door was only open a few inches with little chance of air circulation. There could be more CO2 in the room than we think.”
“How the hell do you know all this?”
Despite the heat, he shivered. “I paid attention in school; otherwise I wouldn’t have received the football scholarship.”
May began to hyperventilate. “What the hell… are we going to do?”
He slapped a hand over her mouth. “Breathe normally for one. The faster you breathe, the faster you produce carbon dioxide.”
She began to tremble behind his hand and turned her head so that she could breathe. Upon his intent stare, she nodded. “O—okay!”
“We have to think of a plan… as quickly as possible.”
She sniffed a few times and then leaned her head back and groaned, “We’re as good as dead! We can’t defeat them no matter what we do! There are too many of them and we can’t outsmart them! How can something so human be so… so savage?”
Josh sniffed and cleared his throat. He took a deep breath and May sat up. How was he to remain confident when she had already given up? If this was the end for them, why waste it crying and dwelling? They should go out in a blaze of glory!
“I––he––I––” May began and then cried into her arms. “He––I—he made me feel so… so loved! How could I have been so fucking stupid?”
“You were… blinded by intrigue,” Josh muttered, trying to forget everything he had seen and heard between May and Gemini. “It could have happened to anyone, I suppose. And what he did to you…”
She rubbed her eyes. “I didn’t want it,” she sobbed. “You have to know that! I didn’t want it but he forced himself on me. He could have killed me like that, Josh! If you had seen the look in his eyes…”
Josh already knew this, for he had heard her desperate pleas. “I know…” he whispered and drew her closer to him. He kissed her hair. “I know.”
May leaned her head on his shoulder and for a moment was silent. “But her scream––” she whispered and then broke into more sobs. “We’re dead, Josh! We can’t stay in here and we can’t leave! Either way, we die!”
Excerpt from The Lothgoliar, ISBN: 978-0-557-51901-9
Copyright © 2010 by Lindsay Mawson
If you want to know more, you’ll just have to buy the book. The eBook is currently on Sale at Smashwords for 50% off until the end of July (click here) and it’s 15% off paperback at Lulu.com right now. Check it out.