As if I needed the reminder. Disgusted, I crumpled the letter and hurled it into the corner of my prison cell.
I’d been locked away in Folsom for a good month. In that time, I’d made two friends: a lumpy bed and a streak-stained toilet. They were the only things keeping me company in solitary. My only decorations, cold stone and rusted iron. The food sucked. I’d already lost at least ten pounds. I smelled like something between a wet dog and a fresh cow pie. I looked like an anorexic sasquatch. But, it was my own stupid fault that I was here.
If only I hadn’t been so damn naïve!
I grew up outside Reno, raised by Ben and Miranda — my neighbors. My dad never his left work. My mom never left her drug-induced stupor. I couldn’t go live with extended family: both of my parents’ families had disowned them. I guess they had that in common.
At the end of high school, I was voted “Most Likely to Go to Jail.” The reason wasn’t my neglected upbringing, or my penchant for, ah, innocent misbehavior. Rather, my family’s casino business had a notorious reputation for…how does one put this lightly…heavy-handed negotiating tactics with two of its primary constituents: borrowers and prostitutes. I suppose my classmates figured I’d fall into the family trade.
Well. I’d made good on that yearbook prediction. But, it wasn’t for any of the usual reasons. My neighbors were my family, you see, and they taught me the importance of being hospitable, understanding, and most of all, forgiving. Those were valuable lessons that led my life in a vastly different direction from my biological parents. Those traits are the reason why I became a sympathizer for the remaining E.T.s. And they’re why the Western States Army arrested me.
It had been eleven years, nine months, and ten days since the E.T.s first came. Like every human, I remember the date: September 27, 2011. How could I forget? In the span of five days, the US population dropped from a third of a billion to an estimated fifty million. Major population centers, all flattened. The other fifty million, mostly thrown into human prisoner camps and forced into labor.
Everyone talks about the resilience of mankind. I guess it’s true. We bounced back.
[more available upon request]
This is my response to the prompts offered by agent Courtney Miller-Callihan over at Sanford J. Greenburger. I’ve decided to write one story that incorporates two of the prompts:
This is a 400-word excerpt from a 2,500 word short story. I am happy to supply the remainder of the short story upon request.