The photo above was a recent prompt offering from the Angry Hourglass which inspired the flash fiction below:
‘You reap what you sow.’
Archie looked out beyond the wire fence of the viewing platform to the dead city that surrounded them. The icy chill of the polar vortex, that had once been dismissed as an anomaly but now was ever-present, made being outside almost unbearable. The icy wind biting deep through the blankets they had wrapped around themselves. Dawn was rising, cloaking the icy cityscape in an illusion of warmth.
As if birds disturbed from their roosting by daybreak, the song of the choir filled the world. It wouldn’t be long now. Archie leaned over, looking down at the two steel crosses set into the centre of Wall Street far below. Someone was moving to and fro, adding more wood to the pyre.
‘You hear them?’ Annabel said.
Archie nodded, taking her hand in his. His finger tracing the red dollar tattooed on her cheek, matching the one etched onto his. The Mark of Judas the Preacher had told them, as resolute hands held them down, allowing the tattooist’s needle to sear judgment into their flesh.
They were meant to have been safe in the zone. Secure behind soldiers and walls. Yet the power failed, money became worthless, their guardians deserted. The promise of a safe haven proving as false as the capitalist dream he had once sold too gullible fools.
The Preacher, a man of brimstone and Old Testament beliefs had recognised what Archie once was. As his gang returned Archie and his peers back to Manhattan the Preacher scolded them for their wickedness. Telling them that Yahweh demanded restitution, that only then would the coldness pass.
The door shook, the metal strut he had scavenged from the penthouse suites holding firm. Angry voices cursing.
Annabel let go of his hand, scaling the wire fence that surrounded the viewing platform. Archie knew that he should follow, that the choice was the flip of a coin with two heads. Yet his feet refused to move. He slumped down, Annabel pleading.
Finally she blew him a kiss, then leapt out into the silence.
He closed his eyes, muttering a prayer as the door finally gave way.