Extractions

Extractions, D. Avery

After straining the rust, he combined their gleanings. His children had become experts at extraction, at syphoning gas and oil from the abandoned and decaying automobiles. Their specialty was in finding smaller machines that others overlooked, lawnmowers, leaf-blowers. Today they found almost five gallons of gas, three of oil. It was good, but what was the current rate?

“I’ll be back.” His voice was husky and raw. Trading was dangerous. And necessary. His children watched him go.

He hoped for a good rate. The last time they were only giving a quart of water for each gallon of fuel.

 

Written for Carrot RanchApril 27, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes oil. It can be an oil refinery, the raw product or used as a commodity. How does oil fit into a plot or a genre? Go where the prompt leads.

15 thoughts on “Extractions

  1. I do not like the scene where the prompt led either. I responded to three prompts Friday, all darkly. Don’t worry, I’m all write. I am writerly relieved that you “got” this and that it was clear. The flash restrictions kept me from describing the children, which I at first had wanted to do and probably would have messed up anyway, so I had to trust that they, simply being children, and their actions alone would paint the grim picture.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Okay, you convinced me. Here are five more installments, each 99 words, no more, no less, because I find that an amusing criteria. You might recognize two characters.

      Extractions, D. Avery

      After straining the rust, he combined their gleanings. His children had become experts at extraction, at syphoning gas and oil from the abandoned and decaying automobiles. Their specialty was in finding smaller machines that others overlooked, lawnmowers, leaf-blowers. Today they found almost five gallons of gas, three of oil. It was good, but what was the current rate?

      “I’ll be back.” His voice was husky and raw. Trading was dangerous. And necessary. His children watched him go.

      He hoped for a good rate. The last time they were only giving a quart of water for each gallon of fuel.

      In Tow

      Heavily laden trailer in tow, he pedaled more strongly than he felt, until sure that he was out of sight of his children. Then he slowed, wavered on the inclines. Finally he allowed himself a rest and a conservative sip of water.
      “Drink it all, I’ve got water for you.”
      His heart leapt. Thirst and hunger were making him careless.
      “Are you with the Water Boss?”
      “No. But I have good water and we’ll give you a better deal. 1 to 1.”
      He licked his dry cracked lips. “Okay.”
      “Follow me.”
      Lumbering behind, he hoped this wasn’t a trap.

      Flare

      Along narrowing trails he labored behind the other man, load jostling. Dismounting, they pushed their bikes. Finally they stopped and waited. Other men arrived, emptying the trailer and carrying the jugs of fuel through the undergrowth. He followed behind, carrying his empty water jugs.
      Finally they came to an encampment in a clearing.
      “Ever wonder why Water Boss trades for fuel?”
      “Nope. I need water. He wants fuel.” He watched as the man poured the fuel into an open metal barrel then lit a match. The barrel flared and was empty.
      “I trade for it so that he doesn’t.”

      Trade Off

      “You still don’t trust us,” observed the tall man as the water jugs were taken away.
      He said nothing.
      “We have far more reason to be wary of you.”
      “Hmmph.”
      “You have children? Yeah, trailering that amount of water. They find the fuel? Do they ever have it stolen from them? It’s a dangerous thing, extraction.”
      “What’s it to ya? Gimme my water.”
      “Ah, here it is. Fresh. 8 gallons. But that’s heavy. Leave some, come back with your children for the rest.”
      “Why are you so interested in my kids?”
      “Because here kids don’t have to extract gasoline.”

      Heading Out

      His youngest was asleep, curled up in a blanket in the corner of the shed while his girl kept watch. Her eyes grew wide at the amount of water on the trailer. It was more containers than he had left with.
      “I met a new dealer.”
      The two oldest returned just then from extracting. They didn’t have much.
      “Dad, we may need to move on. There’s nothing left around here.”
      Moving to a new territory was very risky, with everyone competing for the same things; water, food, shelter, and trade fuel.
      “Drink up and pack up. We’re heading out.”

      The Phoenix

      “We’re going to the water trader? Isn’t it dangerous?”
      “I don’t think so. They were generous. And they didn’t point guns.”
      “We barely have anything to trade.”
      “It’s okay. You won’t be extracting anymore.”
      “What’ll we do?”
      “Adam says you can learn to garden.”
      “Wow.”
      “And read. And write.”
      His eldest son stopped, a look of apprehension on his face. “Dad, that is dangerous. That’s never been allowed!”
      “Not in your lifetime. Yet.”
      When they arrived, Adam was pulling on a fresh shirt. They all glimpsed his scarred torso.
      “It’s a phoenix”, laughed a young woman. “Welcome. I’m Marlie.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I appreciate your comment, as you saw what I was trying to paint; but I was just playing with paint. And a prompt. I am not sure that that picture is one I wish to complete. I’m not sure I want to know about the people doling out what’s left of the water and hoarding the gas powered machines. Post-Apocalyptic stories and movies freak me out. As is, it’s a cautionary tale in 99 words. Of course, you never know where a prompt might lead… and I could save these children…
    Thanks again for dropping by.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Oil Slicks « Carrot Ranch Communications

    • Thinking about what could be more precious than oil. I’m reading today, and poking at unsettled thoughts of the great big world and it’s fixation on oil and bad information. Deep thoughts, taking paths to stories where light shines though.

      Like

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