The Last One Out

Apparently some study once showed that nicotine is ten times as addictive as heroin. It’s harder to quit smoking than it is to quit “crack.” Friday Fictioneers must be somewhere in the middle — it’s pretty hard to quit, too.

Every Wednesday, in the wee hours, the Blue Frog express chugs out of the station over at Word-shy Wisoff-Fields’ blog. This Inlinkz engine carries the precious prompt photo to some terrific, but ever-so-terse, writers. One by one they hitch their links to the express and off it goes around the globe collecting tales. To see all the links, go to Rochelle’s blog and click the blue frog under the prompt photo — which, by the way, belongs to Douglas MacIlroy and you may not use it without his permission.

I thought I had nothing to share this time around, and no time, either. But a few days ago I was reading about Compassion International worker Dan Woolley, who had the misfortune to spend three days trapped in his hotel lobby after Haiti was hit by a big earthquake. (The title of his book is UNSHAKEN.) Then yesterday thoughts started coming together, this story emerged, and I felt I should post it. Initially a longer and more detailed account but I managed to pare it down.

(Note: “Wings of a Dove” was a country-gospel song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958.)

Photo prompt Douglas M MacIlroy

The Last One Out

Ashton regained consciousness, remembered the hotel floor shaking, walls cracking. His head throbbed; dust gagged him. He shifted some, found one leg was pinned. He tried calling, only managed a squeak.

The ground trembled again. Aftershocks. Plaster crumbled; he prayed the ceiling a metre above him wouldn’t fall. His throat was a chalkpit.

Hours later he heard rustling. Rats? No. Somebody’s bird!

“M’aidez,” the myna squawked.

He grabbed it. Keep singing, sailor.

“M’aidez! M’aidez!” it screamed.

Two hours later help reached him. “We thought no one here survived. Haitian workers heard you calling.”

“On wings of a dove,” Ashton whispered.

31 thoughts on “The Last One Out

    1. Thank you for your comment. I like doing “hopeful.” 🙂
      Ashton’s last words indicate he sees the bird as divinely sent. Of course I couldn’t fit it all in, but the song’s chorus goes:
      “On the wings of a snow white dove,
      God sends his pure sweet love,
      A sign from above…on the wings of a dove.”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It seemed plausible to me that a mynah in Haiti would be able to say what a Yank would take for “Mayday.” (Though I hadn’t enough words to say he was an American. Could we petition Rochelle for just 25 more words? 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words. 🙂 I can’t explain how the story came together like this — I certainly didn’t plan it out. Divine inspiration? But once it wrote itself in my head I knew I should post it — in spite of my resolve to give up blogging for awhile. I’m glad readers are enjoying it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 I just wish my NanoWrimo novel would come together this easily. But slowly it’s taking shape. Need to read more kids books; want to do a story about an 11 yr-old girl and her 14 yr-old brother spending the summer with their aunt. But need more CONFLICT issues. Have you ever done NanoWrimo?

        Hope you’re doing okay — and your mom-in-law? By the way, I read a review of that story I send you the opening bit of. The reviewer had about the same overall opinion as me. It so much needed help. Live on Amazon now. (Where’s my emoji for a head shaking?)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m signed up for my third attempt. No make that… this time I’ll succeed!!!
        Mom-in-law, I found out today, has been placed in a home – not sure if it’s temporary or not. I was not able to take the call so I’m waiting for more news tomorrow. She will NOT be happy… sigh…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. As a side note, I had a boss who kicked heroin … but was a heavy smoker. He said it’s pretty easy to quite using heroin. You can’t wander into the office and ask “Hey, anyone want to go shoot up?” But you can ask if anyone wants to go out and have smoke. He said “Mostly, you have to change friends.”

    Just interesting.

    The barking of a dog and the calling of a bird …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment.
      I had a friend who tried to quit smoking — she said she was so used to “cigarette as prop” that she didn’t know what to do with her hands. 🙂 And when my sister tried to quit, she got so grouchy her family begged her to start smoking again. My other sister wouldn’t quit because she’s afraid of gaining weight. And when all your friends smoke… Yeah. New friends —but they can be hard to find.

      I’m curious about your last sentence. Is that a line from some book? It almost sounds familiar.


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