UPDATE: Now with audio.
As I said in this post, publishers aren’t interested in republishing. But I don’t mind it.
This story was first published in the Tele-Friends Podcast episode “Truck Nuts On A Trampoline”. (Like so much with this project, that was something I never imagined I’d type.)
They challenged me to write a story loosely inspired by an apocalypse (not a new concept) and an Everclear song (definitely a new concept).
UPDATE: Read the written word version below, or hear the audio version with all the effects and all the music all the way at the bottom.
The peach of the sunset found the traveler looking at black clouds and fingering his trunk’s brass clasps with a rhythm even he couldn’t identify. “I just want to feel some sunshine, Goblin” he said quietly. “Is that too much?”
“Who you talking to?”
Heaving the trunk to his chest with an “Ah — aheh… Nobody,” he recognized the speaker. She had introduced herself as Patience, and he – wearied of explaining the meaning, origin, and spelling of his name – had introduced himself as what he wanted to be.
“Meeting on the main deck, Art,” Patience said.
The traveler smiled pleasantly, following some dozen steps behind and letting the clunk of his black boots muffle his whisper. “I just want to find someplace to be alone, Goblin.”
A mottled assembly waited. “Okay, everybody,” Patience announced. “That last wave knocked out just about everything. Ship’s barely working enough to get us to the big island. Food’s pretty much gone, and we’ll have to get ourselves a genuine campfire to cook and keep warm. Who’s got something to contribute?”
Various volunteers offered such useful items as granola and cookies. The traveler couldn’t help thinking that people kept the strangest things close as Patience turned to him. “What you got in that thing, Art?”
“No, not — this isn’t,” he began as she stepped nearer.
“Thing’s heavy,” one passenger remarked, and another observed, “Might be hoarding cans.”
“I seen you talking to it,” Patience said. “There a cat in there? Little dog?”
A susurrus of consensus surged. “Give it to us.”
“Wait! Goblin…” he choked, as they pried the trunk from his fingers.
“Can’t wait,” Patience said. Clasps pried from their hinges, not a yowl but a flutter escaped. Delicate pages filled with fine print spilled out by the thousands.
“Phonebooks?” she snarled. “You’re carrying around phonebooks?”
“It’s all we have left of them,” the traveler whispered.
She humphed. “Something to start the fire.”
“No!” he screamed, hysterical chest heaving as the sheaves lit. He was hollow. “All the things you took away.”
The fading sun gave to the surging fire the burden of illuminating the polaroid bookmarking a single, underlined entry: Gobieski-comma-Lin.
“All the things you took away…”