short story, story promptTara barely remembers the time before the volcanoes erupted, leaving the world blanketed in ash and poisonous gases. One Engineer thinks he has the answer, but he needs her to do something illegal first…


“Are you sure about that?” Tara asked, dubiously. She eyed the mechanism suspiciously. “You’re telling me that this machine will change the world. I find that hard to believe.”

Finks wiped the soot from his goggles and beamed at her. “Of course it will change the world!” he exclaimed. “This little beauty will let our ships fly!”

“Flying ships? Really?” She shook her head. “The Engineers gave up on that idea years ago. It’s impossible. You need to accept that we are stuck in this city. There is no way out, Finks. The volcanic gases would kill you, not to mention the ash.”

He bounced on the balls of his feet. “Tara, if we could get a ship to fly high enough, the gas wouldn’t be a problem. We could go out and explore, search for other surviving cities! We can’t be the only ones to have survived the Vulcan Fallout.”

Tara bit her lip. What he was saying was ridiculous and impossible, but she also wished it could be true. She barely remembered the time before the fallout. She’d only been four years old when it had happened. Every now and then, she’d get a glimmer of a memory of picking flowers in the forests that used to grow outside the city.

Since then, no one had left and no one had come. The city was cut off from the outside world, still suffering from the noxious fumes that leaked from the volcano several miles away. It was fortunate that their city was protected by a mountain range – it had stopped the lava flow from engulfing them whole, but then, that was part of the reason the city had been built in that spot.

volcano, steampunk

“What if we could find a place that was unaffected by the fallout?” he whispered, eyes shining. “Imagine that, Tara! Imagine being able to see the sun again and feel the wind in your hair! There might even be grass!” He glanced up to the thick metal plates riveted together to form a solid roof over the entire city. The roof had been built at the same time as the city, but it was only meant to be a protective measure. It had never meant to be a permanent fixture. Unfortunately, the ash had never stopped falling and the gases still lingered. “What I wouldn’t give to see the sky again! Trust me, Tara. This time, I’m really on to something. This time, it will work. We will have flying ships!”

His enthusiasm was damnably infectious. She could feel a smile breaking out. With a sigh, she relented. “Okay, Finks. Have it your way. What do you need me to do?”

Flashing her a dazzling smile, he showed her an empty cavity in his machine. “I need you to steal a power source for me,” he said nonchalantly.

She growled at him. “Why can’t you ever ask me for help with something legitimate?”

“Because you’re so good at the illegitimate stuff.” He waved at her. “No time to waste!”

An interesting Steampunk world! The prompt was from Cracked Flash once again. 🙂

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