Main image
2nd September
2011
posted by amber

Burning

We camped at the edge of a lake long gone dry, its toxic dust blowing in the ceaseless wind.  We were between here and there, without a true destination or itinerary. We weren’t lost.

In the thin air, our campfire stuttered meagre flame and lacklustre heat.  Our clothing kept us warm and our food did not require cooking. We burned the campfire for reasons of nostalgia, but it only served to intensify our silence.

Late the next day we observed a distant object, like a huge uneven tower. After traveling toward it for an hour, we came upon a monumental effigy constructed of the detritus of a vanished world, useful things and useless things all cobbled together – old electronics, food containers, tools, books. We wanted none of these things beyond the documenting of them, which was quickly accomplished.

Yet we made our camp there, still on the shore of the vanished lake. And our campfire that night engendered talk, hesitant at first, then with burgeoning excitement, speaking of things we had heard, things we had learned and, finally, things we had imagined.

We grew careless, and heaped dead branches and scrap lumber upon our fire, building it to a fierce frenzy whipped by the wind. And still we fed it, gathering the undecipherable shreds of paper blown into every depression of the landscape, and the rubber tires of the metal carcasses along the ruined road, and the rags still clinging to the huddled bones we’d found around the effigy.

Last of all, we burned the effigy itself.

It was still burning the next morning when we resumed our trek, but not one of us turned back for a final glance.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This is another story inspired by Ray Bradbury, and also by a mention I heard today about the Burning Man festival.

Leave a Reply