Following is an excerpt from one of my various short stories. You can find the entire story here.
The echo of her boots hitting the cracked and crumbling tar filled the empty street. Around her the buildings gazed down with empty windows, like the eyes of a recently dead man whose soul still hovered between worlds. The pressing silence urged her forward as much as she wanted to stop, to mourn, to give up. Her fist tightened around the hilt of her sword and she walked on, her determination the only thing keeping her feet moving.
In the distance she could hear buildings giving in to their fatigue and crumbling. They were all so tired of holding themselves up. No one was left to care if they stood or fell; no one except for her. She sighed, a huff of air that expelled a puff of ash from her lungs, releasing it back into the world. With a frown she turned down another street.
The heat still radiating off from the streets and the buildings was nearly as pushy as the silence. She wondered if, were she to stop, the sounds of the city would fill the silence like a memory from the grave. It was possible for the spirit world to reach into the land of living, she knew. And where she walked was a corpse of a beast that had been throbbing with life. The veins of the beast, once flowing with so many people, now churned dust as they struggled to pump the blood through the system. She walked those veins, looking for…
The soft tick-tack of a disturbed stone skittering across the street filled the silence and dragged her attention to it. She stopped and turned, her boots grinding rocks and gravel into the street under her feet. Her dark eyes scanned the vein she walked along, searching. There was little chance anyone else lived through the destruction that had so recently befallen her beautiful city, but she wouldn’t set aside the hope that she was not the only survivor. Not yet. If it was not a survivor, it could be only one other thing and she hoped she was wrong on that. She adjusted her grip on her sword again, this time preparing to use it rather than making sure it was still there.
Another rock was knocked free, this time skipping across the tar and into her line of sight. She scanned along the edges of the street as she centered her mind, preparing for a fight she didn’t have the energy or strength to win. Her body trembled with a mixed need to run from the potential danger and to fight it. It was a sad day when she pushed aside hope and made room for paranoia. She had always been so full of hope. But that was another story for another day.
Footsteps followed after the rock. She listened closely and was pleased that there seemed to be only one set. She waited as the steps grew closer until it sounded like it was right in front of her. At last a big black boot stepped out of the dusty gloom to her right. Attached to the boot was a man she had hoped had perished with the rest of the city. She sighed and let her guard down, though only enough that she didn’t waste precious energy readying herself for a battle that might not ever happen.
The man looked down the street as he stepped onto it, then turned slowly to face her. He didn’t seem as surprised to see her living as she was to see him. Though she did note that he seemed just as annoyed as she did. With what looked to be a great effort, he rolled into motion, his usually smooth gait stunted by a slight limp. His golden eyes watched her with a mix of fascination and caution, while she watched him with utter disdain.
He came to a stop in front of her, keeping just beyond the reach of her sword. She watched him carefully as he stood there, placing his weight on the uninjured foot. His uniform, a twin to her own, had burns, tears and gashes all through it. She could see soot and blood stains on several parts of his body as well. He held himself in a way that spoke not of the pain he must surely be in. He was alive, yes, but she felt a surge of satisfaction knowing he had not made it out completely unscathed.