After Babylon

by , under Flash Fiction, Friday Fictioneers

“If it was a war,” Susan argues, “Then where are the bodies?”

“Perhaps they were eaten. Maybe they rotted. I don’t know.”

Dr. Thrang stays out of it, busying himself taking samples and looking at them through his spectrometer.

“I think it was something else,” she says, folding her arms. “Nuclear war would have destroyed everything.”

Dr.Thrang put shis instrument away, picks his way across the rubble.

“Well?” Susan asks.

“I found traces of an unknown biological agent,” he says.


“I can’t tell until we get back to the lab. One thing’s sure. We’ve all been exposed to it.”


Friday Fictioneers

Thanks to Rochelle for using my photo this week. My daughter and I took a trip to the ruined Searsboro Consolidated School in central Iowa, built in the 1920s to allow children from surrounding farm communities to attend high school. It’s hard to remember now, but the one-room schoolhouse was still common in much of America until after World War Two.

The wholesale collapse of family farming that began during the Reagan administration stripped rural people of a way to make a living, all but destroying the small towns in the midwest. The rise of corporations such as Walmart finished the job by killing the local businesses that supported them. It wasn’t a war, exactly, but the effect was much the same in the end.

  1. Iain Kelly

    A real ‘uh-oh’ moment for them. I’m glad the photo wasn’t as sinister as your fictional account, but a tragedy nonetheless.

  2. Claire Fuller

    Thanks so much for the picture this week – very inspiring. And a great story. I love that you don’t document their reaction – we can imagine it. (A couple of tiny typos: Dr, Thrang should be Dr. Thrang, and 5th line is in the past tense – neither of which spoiled my enjoyment!)

  3. rochellewisoff

    Dear Josh,

    You’ve fired the imagination with this one and left me wanting to know more. Apt title. Excellent story, great photo… thank you for sending it along.



  4. Rowena

    Great story and thanks for sending in your photo. I’ve enjoyed writing to it.
    xx Rowena

  5. trentpmcd

    Not good to discover being exposed after the fact…

    In ways the real story was about a war – the haves versus the have-nots. The haves always win….

  6. k rawson

    Great story with a hold-your-breath ending.

    My dad attended one of those very same one-room school houses in Iowa, and made his living inventing and developing tools to make the lives of family farmers easier. Until Reagan.

  7. Joy Pixley

    Hm, now I’m really wondering about what happened to the bodies. And why these idiots don’t have hazmat suits on. Fatal mistake!

  8. Lynn Love

    A great story, Josh and an interesting snapshot of the recent past in the story behind the photo. Times change and leave communities destroyed in their wake. Great dystopic story and wonderfully told

  9. Liz Young

    I wondered if your atmospheric photo was a deliberate choice after Monday’s horror – yours is the first story I’ve read that isn’t about Manchester. Excellent take on your own prompt!

  10. Sarah Potter Writes

    The big question is, will they even make it back to the Lab? Thanks for the photo prompt this week and a story that leads me to want to know more.

  11. Michael B. Fishman

    Nice little story and thank you for the picture prompt!

  12. Dale

    Great take on your photo – which was timely though Rochelle didn’t plan for it to be so!

  13. patriciaruthsusan

    I don’t remember the name of it, but there was a chemical that was supposed to get rid of people and leave buildings. That would be nasty. It’s a shame family farming collapsed. Thanks for the picture this week that led to so many good stories , J. Hardy. :) — Suzanne


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