An excerpt from a recent piece of flash fiction, Welcome to Breakwater, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi western I’d love to write — but, sadly, probably never will. 


Welcome to Breakwater

 

1.

 

Wheels skittered in a cloud of red dirt and iron screamed in an explosion of sparks as the locomotive came to a crawling stop in front of the dilapidated station. One wall leaned in on itself, giving the whole structure a slanted appearance and even from his seat in the rear of the train, Delray could make out the holes in the roof where the shingles had long since been blown away.

 
The sheriff was waiting for him on the platform, his hands on his hips and his face grim. Wind licked the edges of the faded ten gallon that covered his greying hair and a plume of red dust whipped up around him, giving him an eerie orange aura.

 
Beyond the station, the whole town of Breakwater sprawled out in a grid of lazy lines in the distance. Delray could just make out the steeple of the church and the shadow of the general store. A few familiar faces moved about in the hot sun, kerchiefs pressed against their faces to protect them from the dust. The summer had been hot, too hot, and the entire town had been scorched dry and red. Delray took a sip of water from the forgotten glass and sat it back down on the small table with a slow, determined motion.

 
“Last stop,” the steward said, appearing in the door of the compartment like a spectre.
Delray looked up to see the young man standing over him with a sad look on his face. Unlike his own greying hair, the kid boasted a thick crop of bright copper that curled in clumps beneath the edges of his sharp blue cap.

 
“You’ve gotta get off here. Last stop.”

 
Delray didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to. Gathering the last of his courage, he picked up the faded rucksack and made his way out of the empty compartment.

 
“What a shame,” he heard the kid whisper under his breath as he slipped past him and into the suffocating heat of the carriage corridor.

 
He dodged a woman in mauve linen that was wrestling with an unruly child and acted as if he didn’t notice the man in the black suit that was eyeing him warily. He stopped when he reached the carriage door and winced as a gale of hot wind slapped him across the face.

 
It was time to pay the piper.

 


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