Chuck Wendig has another writing challenge. This time it is to use “There is No Exit” in the story. Here is my try.

“There is no exit, no way out, enjoy what time you have left,” I whispered to Emma as the baby slept in my arms. Em was blissfully unaware of what this day would bring, sleeping peacefully, her little hands and feet moving in her sleep. I looked up at the sun slowly creeping above the horizon, banishing the dark shadows from the farmhouse we had taken refuge in last night. We were standing in a hay field.

I braced myself for what should happen in the next few minutes, and placed Em in her car seat, tying a mattress foam pad around her. My hands shook with the stress and it was hard to tie the strings. Em was waking up and would be hungry soon. I quickly wrapped another mattress pad around myself. I heard a loud whistling sound and looked up as several fireballs raced across the sky. The show had started.

“Hang on Em, ” I said and grabbed her car seat wrapped in the foam. The wind was knocked out of me as I heard a loud rumble and the ground suddenly wrenched us both into the air. As quick as it came, the shocks were gone. But they would be back. Em was crying and sitting upside down wrapped in the foam. I got up and found my ankle was wrenched badly. I limped over to Em and righted her car seat and unwrapped her.

“Shhh, little one,” I said. Em was unhurt and quickly stopped crying when I started nursing her. She was hungry and latched onto my breast quickly. Feeding her quieted my anxiety and hers. The shaking slowly stopped in my hands.

“There is no exit, no way out, enjoy what time you have left,” the government announcer had said on the television six months ago. They told us that all life more advanced than bacteria would die when the asteroid smashed into the Indian Ocean. Two weeks ago my mother had killed herself with the pills the government had provided. Many others had done the same. That was when we left the city.

The towns and cities were filled with bodies, and no one to bury them. Cities were uninhabitable as there was no food and the smell of death was everywhere. We had left the city and stayed in whatever empty house we could find. We left each house when the food ran out. We had come across very few people in the last week, but plenty of bodies. No need to hide anymore. I wished my mother had not killed herself, but I understood her decision.

But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill Em. I wanted every day with her and now today was our last day. I sat down and continued to nurse her. Em fed contently, unaware and happy. I wanted this moment to last as long as possible. I looked past the field and saw the old farmhouse we slept in last night. Or rather, what remained of it. The house was completely torn apart and collapsed.

The birds were settling down, but soon we were all startled by loud cracking sounds. I looked up to see many small fireballs dart across the sky. There were so many I could almost feel their heat. Some people had talked about taking shelter underground, but it would only prolong their agony. The asteroid was over three hundred miles wide and would melt the surface of the planet when it was done. It would take nearly twelve hours for the fire to go across the world. That’s what they said on the TV.

I held Em as she finished nursing and I closed my shirt. “Hey girl,” I said. I held out her favorite toy, a small panda bear that she loved. She grabbed it from my hand and laughed.

“Ya ya ma ma,” Em squirmed happily waving her hands and feet. I felt tears run down my cheeks as Em said MaMa for the first time. I held her close. A day of firsts and a day of lasts.

The ground shook slightly from distant impacts as the fireballs crashed to the ground somewhere over the horizon. Em looked up at the increasing number of fireballs flashing across the sky. Her eyes were filled with wonder. We would be one of the few left to see the end of the world. The ground rumbled again and I placed Em on a mattress pad and laid down on the other one myself. The shaking was much less this time. Em laughed and was not afraid.

We passed the next few hours like this, with the tremors getting weaker and weaker. The fireballs in the sky lessoned as well, but the winds had started to increase and were starting to warm up slightly. It would be nothing compared with what was coming.

After a quick lunch, we played on the mattress pads. Em played with her stacking rings and her little stuffed panda. “Ma ma,” she said excitedly as she placed her stacking rings on top of each other.

“Good job Em,” I said as I picked her up and spun her around. “My baby is the best daughter in the whole world.” She giggled and pulled my hair.

It was hard not to break down and cry in front of Em. She would never grow up and go to school, or to have friends or children. Never to fall in love, to hold her grandchildren. I had to be strong for her. The sky was filled with dust and was turning a strange brownish color. The wind started blowing strongly. I sat down with Em in my lap.

I heard the distant roar and the ground started to vibrate. This shaking was different than what had come before. More tears fell from my face onto Em as she felt my fear and started to cry. I held her close and let out my breath. There is no exit, no way out, enjoy what time you have left.

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