Just joined JW, so this would be an ordeal of fire if it got selected for discussion!
This is the prologue for a thriller, The Thirteenth Voice: After nuclear catastrophe, twelve strangers survive in a secret bunker. But as they struggle to adapt, a master manipulator emerges and no one is safe.
She looks at the live feed. Thankfully, all the dead in the lobby are hidden in bundles of clothes, and it looks more like the aftermath of a wild party than the apocalypse.
Outside, the end of Broad Street holds its abandoned vehicles, litter blowing in the breeze. In the corner of the wall of the Sheldonian, under the stern stone faces carved on the columns, some rubbish is stirring. She watches it for a moment, a GAP bag catching a gust and circling up before dropping back to the pavement and starting again. It’s mesmerising. It seems almost alive, dancing in the breeze. She watches as it pulses, enjoying the unpredictability of it. Her mind begins to wander, thinking of the days when plastic bags were in the hands of the shoppers, the days when she wasn’t the only living person in Oxford. She may doze. She has nothing else to worry about right now. The plastic swirls. It’s the only movement on the screen, and something about it stirs a memory, long buried. She frowns, the fuzziness of sleep evaporating. What does this remind her of? It’s giving her the feeling of a strong emotion, as a song might remind you of an old boyfriend or a sad film.
She sits forwards, examining the movement. What is it that this bag reminds her of? She stretches out her mind, digging into the past, and nearly hooks something, but it’s a slippery thing. She closes her eyes, seeing the image now only in her memory. It lifts and dives, and she is hurting. Aching with loss and the ultimate betrayal. She can feel the pain in her chest.
Her eyes fly open just as the bag catches a bigger gust and sails off down the street, gone forever.