Heat waves – short dystopian fiction (400 words)

(Short scene written for a Writing Genre Fiction Unit)

The road ahead of us seemed interminable as the searing heat made it hard to ascertain whether I was losing my mind or not. Kind of hard not to, considering the biological disaster we had been trying to survive. The way sunlight caught the hint of gold in your curls as they twirled around in the wind caught my eye, and everything felt right for a moment. A bump on the road brought me back to the task at hand and I envied your ability to shut down whenever you felt like it. One of us had to. An anxious glance at the fuel gauge for the hundredth time, combined with the sweat starting to rise from my sun-worn forehead, told my tired brain there might be reason to panic. The non-vaxxers had been on our track for days, and I knew diesel would be hard to find.

I turned the volume for Cash’s Ring of Fire down so I could think and you woke up instantly.

‘What’s wrong?’ You said in a broken voice.

‘Third and second tank have gone dry. Down to the last few drops on the main one here.’

You broke the monotonous engine sound that acted as background to my frantic thoughts by cocking the lever on the M16.

‘Never thought I’d see you holding a gun, let alone shooting one,’ I noted.

‘Never thought I’d be chased down by rabid conspiracy theorists trying to acquire a serum from our vaccinated bloodstreams either.’ A pensive silence. ‘Yet here we are.’

A faded blue sign on the left-hand side of the road for an old petrol station fuelled our hopes for the next five kilometres.

‘You don’t really think they believe that, right? I mean, is it even scientifically feasible?’ I asked.

‘All I know is that is before they didn’t believe in much, now they are desperate to be safe…’

‘Whatever government they thought was fucking them over is gone now.’

A green Commodore ute burned in the middle of the road just before the old roadhouse. A cloud of black smoke rose and the sun reflected on its gloss-candy green paint job.

‘I have a bad feeling about this…’

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