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Broken World

Hello one and all – I hope you all had a wonderful holiday time! However, the holidays can’t hold back Friday Fictioneers which, as always, is hosted by Rochelle. Today’s striking photo was supplied by fellow Fictioneerer Douglas M MacIlroy.

If you would like to join in, click above for Rochelle’s site. You can also view all the entries (updated during the week) here.


Copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

The high-intensity beams shone out like the eyes of some fantastical creature. The tower’s atomic cells had powered the lights for centuries, as they would for centuries more.

The beams cast eerie shadows across the endless miles of desolation, legacy of the mismanagement of the latter decades of the twenty-first century. The light glinted off rivers running thick with toxins, flowing through empty miles dotted with the petrified remains of vegetation. The sun’s rays, no longer attenuated by ozone, had bleached the skeletons white.

Above it all the tower stood guardian over a poisoned world, mute testimony to the folly of Man.

  1. December 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Excellent piece, I love the futurist take on the prompt I can well imagine this happening.


    • December 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      I can too – that worries me a bit! Fortunately governments and so on are beginning to realise the danger.


      • December 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

        Scary idea isn’t it, our grandchildren are in for some interesting times.


        • December 26, 2013 at 8:42 pm

          Hopefully not “interesting times” as in the (supposed) Chinese proverb “may you live in…” 🙂
          It would be nice to be able to stick around long enough to see how it all turns out.


  2. December 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    This reminds me of a series that used to be on The History Channel (it may still be, I’m not sure) called “Life After People”… looking at what certain places would look like minutes, hours, days, years, and even centuries later if all people suddenly disappeared. My favorite episode looked at what would happen to a supermarket without people around to care for it. Apparently the honey will still be good a million years from now!


    • December 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      That sounds like a cool series. What you’re describing sounds like the landscape in the computer game Fallout 3.
      Million year old honey, huh? Presumably Twinkies will still be edible after a million years as well 🙂


      • December 27, 2013 at 12:16 am

        That’s true… they should be! Maybe the supermarket had run out of them before all of the people disappeared….


        • December 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm

          Twinkies smeared with honey – instant death by sugar 🙂 . That’s probably what happened to the last survivors.


    • December 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      I watched a few episodes of “Life After People” I thought it was interesting how quickly nature (without toxic pollution) took back highways. After 100 years, you’d never know there had been a road there.


  3. December 26, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    So descriptive in so few words. The folly of Man is well underway. Maybe it isn’t too late to change our course yet, or maybe we’re on a bullet train to your story being truth.


    • December 26, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      I’m hoping that with the changes that are (slowly) being made we’ll be OK. At least people are aware of the problem now.


  4. December 26, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Dear Alistair,

    Your story paints a bleak picture of the future that gave me shivers. Good one.




    • December 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Dear Rochelle,
      It gave me the shivers too! Hopefully it will never come to pass.


  5. December 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Is it still dystopia if the people are all gone? grim and graphic, but I like it! 🙂


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      One dictionary definition mentions the “condition of life is extremely bad”. It doesn’t get much worse than extinct 🙂


  6. December 26, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Darkly scary, lets hope fiction & non-fiction never meet 😉


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      I’m definitely with you on that one!


  7. December 27, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Great interpretation. I’ve certain felt like this under the shadow of Blackpool tower.


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      I guess on a dark and stormy day Blackpool Tower would look somewhat dark and forbidding, looming over everything.


  8. December 27, 2013 at 1:24 am

    We seem to have come to very similar subjects through entirely different pathways. Hm. Interesting, eh?


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      At least your “New Eden” story had some survivors.
      Sounds like we’re equally optimistic about the future 😉


  9. December 27, 2013 at 5:40 am

    One of my favorite genres — the cautionary tale, the dystopian future. Your story conveys this with a dark and eerie feel. Very well done!


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      I’m also a fan of this type of story. I’m glad I managed to convey the right feeling!


  10. December 27, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Yummy read. In only a 100. Words you do tell a good story.
    If our planet becomes inhabitable I think it will be from natural causes. A large Icelandic volcano would be devastating or a large meteorite. So many other choices.


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      You could be right – look at the trouble the last Icelandic eruption caused. And as for a large meteor – game over.


  11. December 27, 2013 at 7:14 am

    A different take on the prompt; the first post apocalyptic one I’ve read and I thought there might be more. Well done.


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks – that great photo made it look to me like the tower was pretty much the last thing left anywhere.


  12. kz
    December 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

    i like your dark take… it’s very descriptive and i had a good mental picture of the horrifying future as i read along


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it – the picture built up in my mind as I wrote the words.


  13. December 27, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Dear Draliman,

    Good use of the prompt and the lights especially. Last bastion on the river. Loved it.




    • December 27, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Dear Doug,
      I’m glad you enjoyed it! Your great photo gave an amazing impression of the tower being the only thing left in the world.


  14. December 27, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Ah, somber and creepy to think of our technology outliving us. The bleached skeletons gave me the heebie jeebies.


    • December 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      I did think that technology still chugging away long after its creators had died was even creepier than everything being dead.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the bleached skeletons 😉


  15. December 27, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Hopefully we’ll never let it get this bad. You painted quite the eerie, desolate scene here. I half expected drones to be flying overhead. I liked the bleached skeleton’s part.


    • December 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      We’ve identified the problem and are taking steps to alleviate the damage, but are we in time (dum dum DUM)?
      No scene of desolation would be complete without bleached skeletons 🙂


      • December 27, 2013 at 8:04 pm

        Well, it’s a start, at least. Let us hope it is soon enough!
        Haha, so true! They just finish the scene off so perfectly. 😀


  16. December 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Oh I love a tale of dark future to come.. really very good.


    • December 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks – however I hope it’s a dark future which never comes! I guess we’ll probably never know.


  17. December 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    What a depressing picture you paint! you do it well, mind you, but it’s depressing!


    • December 28, 2013 at 5:02 am

      I’m afraid I find “depressing” a lot easier to write than “happy happy joy joy”.
      I especially like doing cautionary tales of future disaster 🙂


  18. December 28, 2013 at 5:34 am

    I almost went futuristic with this one. You paint a very bleak, broken world indeed. Nice job!


    • December 28, 2013 at 5:48 am

      I have quite the image of it in my mind. Hopefully not prophetic!


  19. December 28, 2013 at 8:49 am

    This is so bloody depressing. Probably because this is what we’re doing to the planet as we write. A powerful piece of writing.


    • December 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      I’m very much hoping things don’t get that far.


  20. December 28, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    I really like the futuristic approach you took here… this photo really calls it out, and you have captured it so well. “Above it all the tower stood guardian over a poisoned world, mute testimony to the folly of Man.” Beautiful! I also love the ozone free sun bleaching the bones. Great!


    • December 29, 2013 at 7:16 am

      I’m so glad you liked it! The tower just seemed to be floating and completely alone in the photo and I thought, what if it were the only thing left?
      I’ve done a couple of “environment” poems and thought it was time for a little flash fiction along the same lines.


  21. December 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    A wonderful take on the prompt. Everything so well summed up in that powerful last line.


    • December 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks! I had to chop a few words out of the rest to get that last sentence in but I felt it rounded it off nicely.


  22. December 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    We humans sure have a way of screwing up paradise, don’t we?


  23. July 30, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Sounds like fun.


    • July 30, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      If you like that sort of thing 🙂


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