The Middle of Nowhere – Short Story

Noelle Buehrer, Author

It was raining. It was always raining here. Zoe didn’t care, though. She didn’t even have an umbrella. She walked on down the sidewalk, earbuds in, hood up. She couldn’t tell what she was listening to, but she enjoyed it. All she could see when she looked up was buildings. Glass skyscrapers disappearing into the clouds. Zoe thought they were vastly uninteresting. She reached a bus stop where a bus was waiting patiently for her. She climbed aboard and made her way to the back, choosing an empty double seat. It wasn’t hard, as all the seats were empty. Thinking back, Zoe didn’t even see a driver. The song playing in her earbuds might have changed. She wasn’t sure. The bus pulled away from the stop, accelerating rapidly. If there were stop signs, they were ignored. Zoe closed her eyes for a moment, and when she opened them, the bus was stopped.

It wasn’t just stopped, it wasn’t there at all. Zoe was sitting in the middle of a dirt road between a couple of small farmhouses and spaced out trees. Her earbuds were gone as well. That was the danger of what she did. She saw children playing on rusty swings and a woman hanging laundry on a clothesline. She saw them but they didn’t see her. She stood up and started walking down the road. Her hood fell down but she didn’t bother to put it back up; it made it easier to view her new surroundings. In the distance was a town, if one could call it that. When Zoe reached it, she found it consisted of a post office, a bar, a sheriff’s office, a bank, and a general store. She was amazed that people could survive with so few amenities. A dated newspaper told her it was August 12th, 1895. Suddenly, a gunshot went off. Moments later, the bar doors slammed open and out came the sheriff putting handcuffs on a man, clearly intoxicated. Zoe had seen enough of this place.

Farther down the road sat a hooded wagon attached to a horse. Nobody was inside. Zoe climbed in and took a seat. The second she sat down, the horse began to trot, pulling her away from the town she had just visited. The steed picked up speed, reaching a gallop in a few paces. Her eyes drifted shut but snapped open when she heard the crackling of fire.

All around her was the ruins of New York City. She was standing in the middle of Times Square, where chaos is normal, but not like this. Glass was shattered everywhere and fires burned in cars and abandoned stores. A screen that still worked and kept the date informed her it was December 4th, 3049. She knew she would come upon a situation like this someday but hoped it wouldn’t be this soon. She walked down the streets, searching for someone or something that could get her away from here. An intact car, a bicycle, even a scooter she could get up to speed.

She rounded a corner and came upon her saving grace: a motorcycle that still looked functional. She hopped on it and turned on the engine. It worked. Zoe could have cried, but she didn’t have time to lose. She didn’t know what would happen if she stayed in these apocalyptic conditions much longer and she didn’t want to find out. She revved the engine and took off, accelerating as fast as the machine would let her. She closed her eyes and felt the disaster she had witnessed disappear. Her new surroundings were pitch black with nothing for miles. Not because she had landed in oblivion, but because she was scared to open her eyes.