CW Prompt: Ghost Town

Rennick slowly pushed through the knee-high grass, the smell of dirt and untouched earth in his nostrils. A plain of foliage lay out before him, expanding in all directions until on three sides it reached the forest and one side, directly ahead of him, was the tragically abandoned city. In the distance, he saw the skyline of the old buildings under the shining sun and cloudless sky, inhabited only by souls for decades. He’d been fascinated with the lore of this place for years and was now finally experiencing it firsthand.

 
He stepped through the untamed green stalks. They tickled his hands as they brushed over the blades. Tiny insects flew near him, roused by his movements and curious as to his presence, but never touched his skin. Rennick drew closer to the historic city, once a magnificent example of energy and power and efficiency. It once boomed with scientific knowledge, human voices careening and echoing from each and every wall, children playing in the massive pool and riding the gargantuan Ferris Wheel. Now, it’s a ghost town filled only with rubble and whispers.

 
Rennick’s feet crunched the stalks underneath them. He approached the edge of the city and could see all the buildings that made up the city blocks. The green expanse and foliage behind him, what he saw now was a grayscale city with crumbling walls and shattered windows. The plants were growing through the sidewalks and consuming the city, mother nature taking back its territory. A once glorious city was in ruins, being pulled into oblivion.

 
The air he breathed smelled and tasted of iron. He entered the city limits and saw the once bright cloudless sky turn to thick gray clouds hovering above, watching as he entered their realm. The concrete streets had jagged cracks and weeds grew up from underneath, reaching out at Rennick’s ankles. He walked along a worn apartment complex and ran his soft fingers along with rough edges. The concrete eroded into sand.

 
Rennick stepped into a courtyard, the middle of a U-shaped apartment complex. In the middle was a statue of the country’s once-great leader turned dictator. It was greenish-blue from oxygenation. The leader in the statue stood straight; he had a powerful jaw and penetrating eyes. In one hand he held up a bronze atomic structure, symbolizing the city’s dedication to science. In the other was a palette and brush which he was throwing away. He wanted to rid the country of art and literature, anything that pulled his strong people away from the pursuit of science and engineering. STEM was strong. Art was weak. STEM progressed all of humankind. Art held it back.

 

The leader was missing fingers. His long jacket had bits and pieces chipped off, creating jagged edges at the bottom with the shards on the ground under him. Rennick had read about his dictatorship. He campaigned for the progression of his people, to take them into the future. At first, he simply wanted to make art and literature secondary to science and engineering but before long declared all-out war against anything creative or inventive. He didn’t want his people thinking for themselves. He wanted soldiers and followers, not individuals and thinkers.

 

Eventually, the city was devastated by disaster and the people revolted. A civil war was waged and after heavy losses, the people took their lives back and the leader was imprisoned. Like his statue, he once stood tall and proud but eventually disintegrated from time and sickness. He perished in a damp dark cell, his captors hardened from years of cruelty and had not known empathy. His body was burned and the ash was forgotten, like the once strong city he’d built.

 

The prompt for this piece was to describe a setting in great detail and to imagine walking through it. It was not meant to be a full story but a beginning. Let me know what you think!

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