Sunday, May 17, 2009

Daily Story 32: The Flipside of Decay

After trying for nearly half an hour, the wind finally succeeded in pulling Jenny's hood loose and running its fingers through her long golden hair. The sounds of swearing were muffled by Jenny's mask as she grabbed at her head before realizing the damage was done - the orange dust was all over in an instant, and would take forever to wash out. She sighed, but continued walking - one way or another her hair was always orange and red by the time she left New Strausburg.

Apparently happy with this achievement, the wind died down and the storm of orange flakes became a light drizzle. To Jenny they looked like spores, as if the giant abandoned buildings they flowed from might be strange boxy fungi that would grow another city eventually, expanding out towards Jensentown. Under her mask Jenny smiled at this thought, as she did every time she had it. Her imagination wandered down that path as her feet stepped over the carpet of bodies, with the promise that as long as she thought of fanciful live-in mushrooms her mind would steer clear of the corpses, not wondering about who they had been or what had happened in their final moments.

Jenny lifted herself out of this self-imposed daydream after a moment to look around. The buildings had been nearly identical even before the attack, all iron plates and rivets in the style of the time. With the sealant dissolved they had lost whatever small differences they had previously displayed, all becoming rusted monstrosities that were slowly dissolving from exposure. This thought along with the orange color of the buildings made her picture the hazmat suits of the first responders dissolving just like the sealant, exposing the newcomers to the chemicals. The wind picked up again, pushing her and derailing this morbid thought.

Another block down, Jenny found what she was looking for and crouched by a tangle of rotted bodies. She reached out delicately with a gloved hand and pulled a rust-stained shelf free, examining it before sealing the new species in a sample jar. The flash from her camera lit up the dark recesses of the pile as she photographed the remaining specimens, growing on rotting arms and legs. They reminded her of the Laetiporus Parmesan she had eaten for lunch, and she found herself strangely tempted to pull down her mask and take a bite of the mushroom, but of course she didn't. Jenny stood, briefly seeing the parts of the pile as the humans they used to be before turning her thoughts and body back towards the outskirts of the city where her car waited to take her somewhere warm and dry.