Hometown Heartbreak (SHORT STORY)

New short-fiction folks! This one is a REALLY short piece, under 600 words – so maybe qualifies as flash-fiction? Anyway, I wrote it on a picture prompt that was posted up in a writers group I’m a part of and I figured I’d share it here, the aforementioned picture is also here at the start of the story.

I hope you all enjoy it!

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Divya’s head was still ringing as she stood up and dusted herself off.

All around her she could see people start to rise from where they had fallen, staggering and stumbling as she was to regain their equilibrium.

There was dust everywhere, slowly dissipating and all moving together, like a rolling cloud.

As she wobbled and steadied herself, Divya reflexively dusted off her cheerleaders uniform, small clouds billowing from her body, only to be replaced by more of the same from the very air around her.

Some people had started to run, heading for their cars, others were desperately trying to use their phones and several of those who seemed to have themselves mostly stable, were trying to help some of the elderly and injured or concussed.

What had happened? What was that?

One moment they had been absorbed in the game being played on the field, the small-town crowd roaring with enthusiams, Divya and her team-mates whipping them into a frenzy of team-spirit. But the next, as she had stood on the shoulders of two of her fellow cheerleaders, there was a terrible rumble in the air, like the loudest thunderstorm she had ever heard – and then an invisible wall of… something… knocked her several feet forward, just narrowly missing the nearby table and benches and she couldn’t see or hear properly and maybe even lost consciousness for a time. She didn’t know how long she had been disoriented on the ground, but now was starting to get some coherence to her thoughts.

Reaching under her shirt, she grabbed her phone from her brassiere and blinked hard to try and get past the ringing that still muffled her hearing and clear thought. The phone was dead.

Divya felt her legs buckle a little, her body still in shock and badly shaken, so she weakly stepped forward and managed to drop down onto a nearby audience bench without hurting herself.

For the first time she turned around and surveyed the entire field before her. There were people walking and running to get away and except for a few, most had cleared out and carried the injured with them – but it was then when she looked up that a sick feeling crawled its way into her stomach.

In the distance, over the treeline she saw a fiery glow on the horizon. The sun had set over an hour ago, so that wasn’t it. That was where the dust cloud had come from and the wind that had blown it onto the field and blown her down.

But some part of her mind started to click that it was not just wind, it had been a shockwave. She remembered things from science classes and documentary shows and pieces came together, eliciting a sudden surge of tears from her eyes and made her gasp such that she sank her face into her hands – but her eyes never left the glowing horizon.

The shockwave, the dead phones, the rolling thunder she had heard just a moment before being thrown. It had been an explosion, a monstrously large one to do all that – the glow was the flaming aftermath of it.

And it had come from the centre of town.

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