THE LAST BROADCAST – RICHARD

Below is a short story featuring Richard Sankey, a supporter of the Seed & Spark campaign to raise funds for the short film “Have Wine, Will Travel“. Wanna see your name in a tale? Check out the campaign page here: Have Wine, Will Travel S&S Campaign

Enjoy!

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The signals were loud and piercing, and the interval was steady between. Richard stumbled across the trailer, pushed at the door. But it wouldn’t open. He kicked, and kicked again and finally it opened… but no one was outside. The forest was silent, and leaves wafted across the forest ceiling, the sky empty beyond.

Unable to sleep, he set the kettle to boil and poured himself a morning tea. Then came the special ingredient. the honey was thick and a beautiful amber color as it slid out of the bottle into the steaming hot tea. His throat hurt, and he wasn’t about to let the sickness take hold. It could be the last time, or he would miss what was about to happen. “Any day now,” as he told his listeners.

There were three successful signals this morning. That was THE signal.

Richard sipped his tea, set down his mug, and then got to work settling his trailer. Eight years he had run his radio program. Eight years since there had been one last attempt to find hope. Eight years, and now this would be his final broadcast.

Or it might not happen: the antenna had snapped from a fallen tree branch.

In the back of his trailer, under notebooks and smelly socks, Richard dug out his gloves. Using the Aluminum setting, he traced his left hand over the antenna while mirroring the same motion with his right hand. At the end of the careful orchestration, a new antenna had formed under his right hand. It would take ten minutes to dry. Enough time for one more tea.

As he set the kettle to boil, there were three more beeps, in the same pattern as before, but now louder and, after the third beep, Richard’s arm spasmed. He extended his hand and out of the fingertips of the glove there projected an image.

Madeleine.

She waved and then disappeared. Two seconds. It was just two seconds, but after eight years this was the most he had seen of his daughter. Eight years. A lifetime for some unlucky souls, and an eternity for a father.

Richard set up his radio systems. This would be the last broadcast. They were so close. Eight years for him had been, what, eight minutes for them, give or take? He hoped they’d found where to go next.

“Here, here,” Richard said into the microphone. The water was boiling and he poured a half cup of tea, lathered the liquid with honey. “One-two.” His transmitter lit green across the board, so he started the broadcast.

“It’s me, it’s your old pal Richard. You know, I’ve been saying for years now – years – that we all ought to get together. There’s so few of us out there. But in all that time, none of you have come out of the woodwork. Who would wanna be alone at a time like this? End of the world, no air left to breathe, pressure mounting as you try to just make it through the day but you forget what it’s all for. That’s why I’ve always invited you. And you know the coordinates, but I’ll keep sending them anyway.

“This is the last broadcast so, from here on out, all you’ll hear are the coordinates. I don’t know if anyone’s going to come for you there, but at least you can get together and make a new friend, or fight someone because you miss the fight. That’s what I miss. I miss the fights. And the apologies. And the admission that you’re at fault, but the only thing that reminds you about the power of a mistake is your daughter looking you in the eyes and asking why you did what you did.

“And all I’ll tell her is, I wanted to save someone other than myself. And you, listeners, you so very few, have failed to come to the task. My daughter will think I’ve lied because none of you will be there beside me to show her just how many people daddy saved that made him go away for eight years. Or eight minutes. Time is time, or whatever.

“But at least I’ll be able to tell her I’m sorry.”

Outside the trailer, Richard ran to the nearby clearing. The signals were louder here, and coming fast, and out of the sky descended the ship, the triangular pod that had left so many years ago. Richard held the bottle of honey, his daughter’s favorite treat, and waited for the doors to open.

And then they did.

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