The short story below was inspired by Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories. He presented a challenge last week and unwittingly I took it up. I allowed myself a couple of hours to write on the topic and what you read below is the result with a bit of editing afterward.
Only the Good
Tania woke one morning and found everything bad in the world gone. Someones or something had wiped it all away.
The morning it happened, people stepped outside to clean air, cars that no longer worked and abusive spouses absent. Water from the tap that morning tasted especially sweet.
Though most people retained memories of people who committed crimes against them, they bore no ill-will toward them. Murderers, rapists and con men were gone. No one knew where.
The news commentary that morning was sunny and confusing. Israel and Palestine had come to an understanding. There was no war in the middle-east. People of third world countries were celebrating their good fortune in the streets.
Food and clean running water were plentiful.
In Tania’s neighborhood, people nodded to each other, waved and gathered on the sidewalk speculating about what could have happened. Some religious believers thought it may be the sign of the coming of a new messiah. Others thought aliens had taken over the Earth.
Everyone was concerned, but enjoyed the peace and lack of worry for the moment, because they had no idea how long it would last.
When she woke, the first thing she noticed was the feeling of peace and quiet. She had no headache. She felt good. The sun shined through slats in the window blind. She could hear birds singing outside. She smiled for the first time in a very long while.
When she stepped into the kitchen, she knew something had changed. There was nothing physically different, but in some peripheral sense she felt something amiss. She made coffee, looked out the window and saw neighbors gathered on the sidewalks in clusters. They were chatting, smiling, but with confused, lost looks on their faces.
No cars passed. The hum of traffic from the freeway was absent. She waited for the coffee to brew and then poured a cup and stepped out on to the stoop. A neighbor who noticed her, waved.
“Here’s another one,” someone said.
She stayed where she was, but asked one of the people standing on the sidewalk, “What’s going on? Is it a holiday?”
People were smiling at her. “No holiday,” someone said. A stooped old man with a long nose spoke. He still donned pajamas and wore brown slippers with faux fur poking out the edges on his feet. “We should be celebrating though.”
“What’s going on?”
“All the bad is gone,” someone said.
“There’s no war on the news,” another someone said.
“It’s a new world. Blue skies above and only the good remains,” said another someone.
“Only the good,” repeated another.
Tania sipped her coffee and sat on the stoop listening to what people said about the change. “But how?” she asked.
She had not meant to ask it aloud. Speaking more to herself than to another, but an older woman who heard sat next to her. “Some people think it’s an alien thing. Politicians missing, planes grounded and the oil drills all over the world have stopped. Cars no longer work. Everything that was bad with the world has either been stripped away or stopped working entirely. It’s a good thing.”
Tania smiled at the woman despite a brief apprehension. “Well, I don’t see space ships dotting the sky. Little green men are not wandering the streets. Maybe it is something from another world, but I guess if it benefits us we can’t see it as bad.”
The woman shook her head. “No we can’t. It’s only the good we live with now. I hope this lasts. I think it can be no other way.”
No other way?
Tania wondered what that meant considering when she went to bed the hum and throb of the never ending evening traffic still existed. Planes still flew overhead. Of course there was another way, but it had all changed.
“Maybe I’m dead. This could be some form of after life.”
The woman next to her smiled. “That would mean I am also dead and I refuse to believe that. I feel very much alive.”
She nodded understanding, looked down at her coffee and realized she felt the same way. Alive. Very much alive.
“Only the good remains,” she said, repeating what someone else had said. She felt it was too true.
“Yes,” said the woman next to her. Softly. “Only the good remains.”