The Key to the End of the World

This silly little story was written at my writers’ group where we had a 20 minute time limit and a prompt of ‘The Key’. It isn’t my best work but it is quite fun. Hope it brings a smile to your face, even just a little one.

Tom was worried, and with good reason. The call had come from Australia, a very large asteroid had suddenly appeared from what appeared to be a right angle to the plane of the solar system. Scientists all over the world were meeting over the internet, trying to decide where the asteroid could have come from. There wasn’t supposed to be anything out there, apart from the Ort cloud and that only gave birth to large, easy to spot for months ahead, comets. This was a very large, very dark mass that they’d only found 12 hours ago and that they couldn’t be sure wouldn’t hit the Earth.
Tom’s job was to align the telescope to take over the tracking of the object when the Australians could no longer hold it. That was why he was so worried. Here he was, in sole charge of the most sophisticated multi-imaging telescope in the northern hemisphere, the entire scientific community, in fact the whole global community, counting on him to feed them up to date information and he couldn’t find the keys to the control room.
He glanced at the clock. 10 minutes! He had 10 minutes to find the keys, program the controls and realign the telescope. Where could they be?!
He fought to swallow his rising panic – that wouldn’t help at all. They couldn’t have gone that far. He’d had them last night when he locked up and that was only four hours ago. He’d already retraced his steps to the dorm, the tiny room provided for on duty astronomers, so he was pretty sure he hadn’t dropped them. He’d emptied his pockets in both his trousers and his coat, he’d delved into the bin and tipped out the contents of his lap top bag. He’d even been out to his car, though he’d known they weren’t there. He simply didn’t know where else to look. He looked back at the clock. Nine minutes! He ran to the control room, grabbing a fire extinguisher as he went. Only one thing for it, he’d have to break the door down. He arrived at the control room a breathless three minutes later, raised the extinguisher high above and turned his face away from the carnage he was about to cause.
Glass cascaded from the broken door glass, covering his trousers but, mercifully, mostly falling inside the door. He wrapped his hand carefully in his jumper sleeve and reached through to turn the lock, barely waiting for the door to open before he rushed through. The jerk that stopped him surprised him more than the pain in his leg and tore his attention to his leg, more in annoyance at the delay than anything else. His trousers were caught on the door. He reached out to free himself and discovered the thing that had stopped him were his keys, blithely sticking out from the lock where he’d left them the night before.

Hellen Riebold’s Author Page



The Drums

I hope you enjoyed the longer story, John Who?, thanks to the wonderful feedback I received I am now planning to use it as the starting point to a novel, which I will work on over Nanowrimo, called Ryz. Will keep you informed of my progress. In the meantime, I thought I’d go back to sharing some of my shorter stories with you. The following tale came from a prompt during one of the writing groups I go to, the prompt was to write a story on the personification of hope vibrates. I’m not sure the work meets the criteria but I’d like to share it nevertheless.

Louise could feel the blackness coming to claim her. Only days ago the world had seemed shiny, crisp, bright and blue. Then the fog had started and she watched as the world began to hide behind a mist which dulled the edges and washed out some of the colours.
She fooled herself, that first day, as she always did, that she was tired. She’d tried to fit too much in, that all she needed was a good night’s sleep. But, of course, her demon kept the sleep at bay, waking her, screaming death threats and hate. She snatched a few fitful hours, glad to see the pale light breaking through the bars of the bed. Grateful to get up, hopeful she could drown out the demon with noise of the day, but her cloudy head kept looking his way as the colour ran out of the sky and the joy became a distant word.
A cold! That’s it, she told herself, it’s just a cold, a virus invading her body and bringing her low. She put on the armour of Lemsip but the arrows of despair slipped easily through.
Another battle-strewn night saw the day break in grayscale. Lifeless and distant, and Louise saw the black edging touch the whole world as the demon prepared his chains and danced round her, ridiculing the light she’d seen a few short days ago.
A mirage, he yelled. He held the truth. The world was black.
She sighed as a feeble, disbelieving “no” slipped from her lips and she struggled forlornly to give lie to his words then sank inevitably into his truth.
The world was black; children died; bombs exploded; the world burned. Even the clowns drowned in despair. The colours were gone and she was lost.
She moved, mechanically, from one place to another, seeing nothing; feeling little. Her barriers raised. A safe black bubble hope couldn’t hurt.
Then the drums started.
A wild, free dance of rhythm.
A joining of souls in a celebration of sound.
Strangers making music, beating back the darkness under starry skies as the fire dance before them.
The demon screamed as she sat down and laid her hands on the cool skin of the drum, the vibrations of the circle rumbling through her soul, catching her heart and blocking her ears to his lies. Her lungs soaked in the freedom of the tempo and its pulse broke the chains of her prison.
Louise closed her eyes as her hands joined the dance and the colours exploded into her mind.
F: Hellen Riebold’s Author Page

John Who? – Chapter Eight

“People in a small town in the south east of England, which was the site of army action against a suspected terrorist cell, have begun to exhibit symptoms of an unknown illness which, some are claiming, is proving deadly in up to 80% of cases…”
The Washington Chronicle 9/6

“Epidemiologists have admitted they are perplexed by the lethal, as yet, unidentified, virus which is sweeping through the United Kingdom. They have, as yet, been unable to either identify it or determine its source. One problem appears to be that the infection does not appear to conform to any known epidemiological pattern…”
The Washington Chronicle 9/9

“Experts are baffled to explain exactly what is happening to the people of the United Kingdom, who appear to be in the grip of a deadly epidemic. The British Prime Minister Philip Rutherford today assured this reporter that the health service was up to the challenge of the current crisis but private sources revealed this was only because most of those infected were dying before they could make it to the hospital, and one scientist even claimed the virus had a 100% mortality rate. The President dismissed such claims but has today offered Prime Minister Rutherford the help of the CDC and a team of specialists is preparing to leave for the UK later today.”
The Washington Chronicle 9/12

“With scientists unable to control, or even identify the mystery infection which has, to date, killed over one million people in the UK, the United Nations today declared mainland Britain a Controlled Area. All military and civilian air ports and ports have been closed and the Channel Tunnel has been sealed at both ends and a civilian air and sea exclusion zone has been put in place. The President has asked people not to panic as there is no reported case of the disease outside of mainland Britain. As a preventative measure, however, he has ordered all British nationals, and those who have had contact with them, as well as US citizens who have visited the UK in the last month to report to isolation centres to be placed in preventative quarantine. The National Guard is helping to escort these people to isolation centres, as we go to press…”
The Washington Chronicle 9/16

“It has now been over 48 hours since any official word has been heard from the United Kingdom government and sources at the Pentagon today suggested the reason could simply be that the virus devastating that country has now claimed over 80% of the population…”
The Washington Chronicle 9/19

Our search is complete. There are no LWCs left on this landmass. We failed to locate John. We must extend our search. We are billions strong. We will separate into groups. We will search the other land masses. We will use the feathers warm collections. We must find John.


F: Hellen Riebold’s Author Page