- This story has not been previously published.
- Discuss on our forums.
- For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page
- Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter
about the author… Edward Ashton is a clinical research scientist and writer living in Rochester, New York. His short fiction has appeared in dozens of venues both in print and online, ranging from Louisiana Literature to Daily Science Fiction. Three Days in April is his first novel.
about the narrator… Josh Roseman (not the trombonist; the other one) lives in Georgia and makes internets for a living. He has been published in — among others — Asimov’s, Escape Pod, and Evil Girlfriend Media, and has work forthcoming (or already released) in 2016 from Abstract Jam, Stupefying Stories, and The Overcast. In 2015, he released his first collection, The Clockwork Russian and Other Stories. When not writing, he mostly complains that he’s not writing.
By Edward Ashton
Micah steps from the shuttle and onto the tarmac, eyes slitted against the hard north wind that whips across the empty runway. The sky is a flat, leaden gray, with high thin clouds too light for snow, but too thick to let the sun come through as anything more than a vague, diffuse glow near the southern horizon. Micah hunches his shoulders against the bitter cold, ducks his chin to his chest, and pulls his coat tight around him. He hesitates, glances up at the desolate stand of dead trees at the far end of the runway, then walks slowly toward the terminal building.
A sense of uneasiness, which has lurked deep in his belly since he boarded the shuttle, grows steadily as it becomes increasingly clear that he’s alone here. He hadn’t expected an honor guard, but he’d expected… something. As he reaches the terminal entrance, he looks back to see the shuttle wheel around and accelerate back down the runway. He pauses with his hand on the door. He can see through the glass that a half-dozen bodies are sprawled on the floor inside, perfectly preserved. He takes a deep breath in, then lets it out slowly as he enters the building. The scream of the shuttle’s engines fades as the door swings shut behind him.
As he climbs the frozen escalator to the arrivals lounge, Micah remembers the last time he passed through this airport. It was years ago, and he’d been on his way to visit a distant cousin in the North Country. He remembers stopping for a drink before heading to the rental car counter, intending to stay only long enough to take the edge off before a four hour drive, but instead spending most of the afternoon drinking crappy domestic beer and trading double entendres with the bartender. She was tall and lean and blonde, not young, but not yet old either, and her smile caught and held him long after he should have been on the road.
She’s dead now, of course. Lake Ontario was the epicenter. When the strike came, it was twelve thousand miles in any direction from here to safety.