This story was written with inspiration from a Flash Fiction Challenge on:
The picture was of a message in a bottle, washed up on a beach.
...My four year old granddaughter held my hand as we walked slowly along the beach. She skipped and jumped, splashing in the water's edge and pausing every now and then to inspect a shell or rock in the sand. The sun had just risen only an hour ago and the whole world was still new. There was a slight chill in the air, mostly due to the wind coming in over the water, but it was refreshing just the same. The warmth of the sun on my face and the weight of the child's hand in mine, warmed my heart. It seems to me that the older I get, the more reflective I become. Not a dweller mind you, dwelling on the past can't change anything. No, not a dweller... a reflector. Lately I'd taken to looking back at my life and seeing both the error and blundering luck that saw me through. Mostly what I feel these days is simple gratitude. I am extremely grateful for my time here on this planet and for the experiences that I've had. Sure, there've been rough times. Difficult times. Times that felt as though the whole world bore down upon my head and threatened to break me. But then there are times like these, this moment right here; the angelic chubby face looking up at me, with a sweet and innocent smile. The light that plays through her soft, blonde-brown hair as it's swept away from her face by the salt-kissed breeze. The eyes that have only known tenderness and kindness, untainted by the pain in this world. These moments are what it's all about. These moments make it all seem worth while.
"Spin me!" she says.
I grab both of her hands and we twirl together under the newly born morning.
This is the moment I want to cherish and remember for as long as I have left. If they catch me, this will be my final thought and I will die a peaceful man.
To whomever finds this, know that of all the defining moments in this journal, this moment with my granddaughter, before the plague, is the greatest memory of who I was. I was a Grandpa, a Father, a Husband, a Friend. I know that it won't be much longer now. In fact, James just told us that our escape route is now blocked. Turns out that our traps have turned against us. Fire is a fickle beast and cannot be expected to follow where you want it to go. Point in fact, that's what I told James when he schemed up the idea. But youthful arrogance has seen us through the past few weeks. I never would have taken the risks on my own, but it has allowed me to live a little longer and chronicle our last days together.
2:30AM - Going to Make a Break For It
This is it, James has a bold plan (again) and we've all talked it out. Sounds like they got the strongbox they found in the office opened. It contained some brick-a-brack, a couple of sex magazines, some Polaroid pictures and a set of keys to the "Dawn Treader", a boat out there on the dock. James took Dale up to the roof and they found it with Dale's binoculars. James says its about 500 feet away. But we'll need a distraction to get the dead away from the building. They hover out there, making those horrible noises, like idiot children that can't talk, but instead drool bloody spittle out of their mouths as they pull and grasp to get to us. The sight of them makes me want to be ill.
I remembered to check my shotgun, its fully loaded now. I guess I hadn't filled it after yesterday's 'exercise'.
I found an old wide mouthed milk bottle. Lord knows what is is doing in here, but the rubber gasket still works (I put some water in it to make sure). And guess what? The journal fits in it just so! So that'll be my storage container for now as we head for the boat. In case something happens to me, hopefully this will survive. I'd been looking for something to keep it in and by golly, if I didn't stumble upon it!
The 'distraction' is ready to go, everyone's gathered at the door.
Wish us luck...
Excerpt from the 'The Gambler's Journal'