The Hermit: A short story by Mike Cole

He could still remember the day the bombs fell. The heat washing over him and the radiation mutating his body till who he was before held little importance. He could not remember why they went to war and cared little to remember the world as it was before. It was a mess before the war and for better or worse, at least everyone was an equal footing in this brave new world. How many years had it been? 50 years? 100 years? Perhaps 200? In truth, it didn’t really matter. Time stops for no one. What was once a precious commodity in the 21st century held no sway after society collapsed.

Mother Nature had reclaimed what was once hers, although what was left was not as we once remembered. The radiation twisted animals into brutish creatures and those who survived the initial blasts were in for a surprise some 50 years later as the radiation turned cute little woodland creatures into giants with a taste for blood. The Oceans were no better. The Hermit had heard stories of sailors going out and having half their crew torn apart by 100 foot sharks and whole ships dragged to the Ocean depths by giant eels who could bring about thunder storms just from breaching the surface; and these are only the creatures that have been sighted, God only knows what lurks in the darkest reaches of the ocean…

And the weather? Where once people worried about the planet burning us alive (the bombs did that well enough), now a frozen wasteland, the atmosphere a radioactive blanket where light dare not tread. Truth be told, it’s amazing anything survived at all, let alone adapt to this new world; yet adapt it did. The Hermit’s skin was thick from the radiation (it having accelerated his growth) and over the course of about a century and a half, the 5 foot ten lad now stood at 10 feet tall. It is said he could lift 10 men with ease although no one can truly say for certain. For some reason, his body didn’t decay from the radiation; it thrived. Others were not so lucky. Those looking directly at the blast when the bombs fell were blinded instantly and while some survived, most perished.¬† ¬†Those living on the coasts (both West and East) were all but disintegrated, and those who did survive were turned into monsters. Their skin started peeling off, rotting as their body’s couldn’t adapt quickly enough to the rampant mutations. Over time their brains began to rot and their fingers grew into claws as their bones pierced through their skin. Half zombie, half alive, their blood-curdling screams as they found their prey sent chills down even the toughest of men; it didn’t help that the radiation made them much, much faster than any ordinary man.

In order to survive, humanity began to build underground. Those who heard the sirens and made it to the safety of long forgotten bomb shelters were all but spared from the horrors above. Nowhere else to go but down, they dug deep into the Earth and never stopped. They built intricate tunnels which turned into underground Mega Cities powered by the still beating heart of the Earth’s core. Those who were on the surface tried to rebuild cities once lost, however, between the cold and the mutated fiends, quickly learned that the surface world was no longer made for man and thus began their descent. And there remained The Hermit; a man with nothing left to fear and nothing left to lose, a wanderer out of place and out of time. Some called him a Guardian while others couldn’t distinguish him from those forsaken souls who now roamed the Earth; in the end, who can really say what was true?


Hi all, hope you enjoyed this piece of content! I’ve been super busy the last month having started work and all, so I’m glad I was finally able to put the finishing touches on this story. I’m still playing around with writing styles and working on creating vivid Imagery so hopefully you saw some improvement over the last piece of fiction I wrote. I’m also excited to announce that the blog is expanding! Expect a redesign coming soon and more photo focused entries (I can finally afford a camera, yay!) All in all, lots of good things to come. Cheers to the future and thanks for reading!

 

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