short stories

October 26, 2021

Blood in the Water

Her skin was sticky with sweat and blood. The afternoon heat mixed with the smell of the salty sea beyond the treeline didn’t cover the smell of her sweat or the blood on her arms. At least there is rain, she thought as she slipped down the trail. You could see her footprints making long grooves in the mud as she tried to keep her balance. She was tired of covering her tracks. There was no one left to find them anymore anyway. Damn them if they did.

That’s the thing about an apocalypse–you learn how to survive, or you don’t. And she did.

She was born a dark-haired girl with dark brown skin under a tangerine sunset between the half moon and the full moon at the end of summer. But that was thirty-five years ago and the world ended, or whatever, about three or so.

Imagine, one day the world is just like, “nah, I’m finished living”. No one turned into zombies, there wasn’t some wild epidemic that wiped half of us out, the earth just got tired of our bullshit.

At some point, all mothers do. And she let us fight it out. We did it to ourselves.

Time doesn’t make sense anymore. Neither does the weather.

Now that dark-haired girl with dark brown skin who was born under a tangerine sunset was a woman that stood at five foot two. Her breasts were tired daisies and she had thighs made of thunder and they could kill a man. Like, literally. She did it all the time. Men are easy to kill. Not so easy to keep, but if you get them between your knees, well…like I said, men are easy.

Anyway, between those tired daisy breasts was a golden, heart-shaped locket. I remember the day she found it. It was another hot, sticky summer day like today, but without the rain and without the blood.

Why was there always so much blood?

“I found her in the river!” she cried as she held it up to the sky. Yes, she immediately assigned personhood to this locket. The light shining through the pines made it look like the sun.

She pulled up the strap from her dirty yellow sundress onto her shoulder again. It kept slipping down. She’d cut the dress off just a couple of inches above the knee with a knife to use it to stop the bleeding on her leg one day about six months ago. But at least the dress had pockets and she had this old, leather tool belt with old, leather suspenders and between that, the pockets, and the brown, reincarnated 90s boots she hardly wore, she had everything she needed right at her fingertips.

Apocalypse, but make it fashion.

Of course she was the one to find a shiny golden locket in a river in the mountains in the middle of nowhere.

The locket was open when she pulled it out of the river and inscribed with “blood in the water”. What a weird thing to put on something shaped like a heart, right? Like, who made this? Is there another locket somewhere that says, “death becomes her?” Whatever.

She shook out the water from the locket, shined it up on her dirty yellow dress, blew in a kiss where the photos should be, closed that locket and put it on. Despite the ominous inscription, it worked out pretty well. Because that heart fit perfectly on her chest between her tiny daisy breasts and the men couldn’t resist it.

You see, “blood in the water” makes them think you’re easy prey and when they come to take what isn’t theirs…

They get what’s coming to them.

Blood in the water is right.

Their blood. Washing off her skin right down the river to the sea.

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

I originally published this on Vocal as part of their “Doomsday Diary” challenge.