Welcome to Hot Potato!
6 writers over 12 weeks, writing 1 short story
Today’s second fortnightly instalment, features writer Michael Schmidt who is taking off where Steve left off! You can find the first section here if you missed it..
Of course no one could have known what would happen next.
Sitting on top of a rock outcropping just above the hole in the ground he now called home, he looked out on the skyline of a wasted L.A. and fumbled through this and other memories as the sun didn’t so much as set, but withdrew into a grey night. Sara’s green eyes sometimes appeared when he closed his. But just like all the other faces he used to know– the nuances in her expressions, the exact impression of the freckles that spread across her cheeks and nose, have slowly faded away over time with every night, with every cigarette, with every jar of moonshine.
He remembers nights outside playing with Sara, he remembers sprinting home for supper after the street lights had come on. He also remembers the suspicion he felt after viewing the U.N.-approved orientation video at his town’s drive-in movie theatre, which briefly explained how the moon had been hit by a meteor and how there was nothing to worry about as only the tides would be slightly affected. He remembers as nations slowly stopped fighting and focused inward on themselves as if bracing for something. He remembers the intangible panic he felt during those last years of unnatural peace. He remembers waking up one night to shrieks of desperation and the roar of space shuttles full of doctors, scientists, and engineers stealing away from earth in the night. He remembers words like Europa, Titan, Mars—and then of course, he remembers standing outside of the same drive-in movie theatre watching a television feed of those same shuttles colliding, one after another, into the blanket of debris which had been left by the destruction of the moon. They must have known it was a suicide mission, but what did they know that would force their hand in such a gamble? What piece of knowledge had they kept from us that made their suicide mission seem like a safer alternative to staying on Earth? He looked up at the night and gritted his yellow teeth at whatever leviathan antithesis lay lurking between the stars/ He never believed in God, but he believed in this.
He remembers the last lines of a poem and falls asleep out on the rocks as the words ring back in forth in his head—what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Earth to be born?
Michael’s text has been passed to the third potato Shannon Pardoe. Shannon is now writing the third section which takes us further into the ‘middle’ of the story. Each potato is free to take the narrative wherever they like.
The next instalment of the short story will be on Monday 7th April. Do come back and see where Shannon takes us next! The writers are collectively and progressively taking up the structure of beginning, middle and end.
You can see more of Michael’s work here: