by Sondra Harris

They are all dead; all, save me, and there is nothing left but for me to finish what was begun. Hard going, particularly in the desert, where the baking sun and the nearly-spicelike odor of corpses mummifying is no less nauseating than the meatier, wetter, reek of the putrifying corpses in town, yet I press on, traveling by night as much as possible to avoid becoming a victim of the scorching sun and the oven of the sand, barely sipping what water I have remaining, knowing that I cannot possibly succeed, knowing I nevertheless must not give up. On the twenty-first night (or the twenty-second, perhaps, for I have forgotten my accounting), I believe I see it on the horizon, and convince myself it is a mirage, or that I am hallucinating due to dehydration — but it is still visible the next night, and the night after that, it is still visible, and larger... closer; I gain ground. I revise my accounting some few nights later, when the moon rises full, and call myself having traveled for twenty-nine days, near enough to be correct; the gates loom before me but they are locked for the night and I must wait till morn, so I drink my droplet of water and sleep. At sunup, I am blasted awake by the trumpets and the creaky gates scraping across the sand; I am relieved because after these many weeks of no contact with living beings, I have come to imagine that all in the city might also be lost. I summon my energy and dash past the gatekeepers into the city; the tree stands in the center green: tall, lush, limbs bowed in remembrance of their former burdens, but now utterly stripped of fruit; a townsperson tells me if I wait three days there will be more, and I am so beset with exhaustion and disappointment she suggests I visit the marketplace; there, indeed, through much wheedling, bribery, and shady commerce, my quest is over... I have no coins left, and I still must trek back across the desert, but the apple... the apple is in my possession.


Sondra Harris is the author of Caffeine Fantasy and the book Getting My Think On. More of her work may be found at her website. Sondra does not yet have an iPhone and claims to be waiting until all the bugs are worked out and the next generation is released. That is her story and she is sticking to it.