"A Minute at Midnight"

A 2016 Flash Fiction Contest Winner: Cowley Student

A rugged farmer waded through ankle deep water, carelessly soaking the legs of his suit pants. He came across a teenage boy sitting on a stump above the water.

“Isn’t it funny?” chortled the man. “Before all this you could barely find the moon on a cloudy day. Now you can’t even cover the entire thing with your hand.” He extended his arm with his palm out, almost as if he were trying to push the moon away.

The boy didn’t react at all, he continued gazing into the water, watching as ripples contorted the monstrous moon’s reflection.

“You know,” the man started, “this used to be my land before the floods. I raised some chickens, some pigs, but I took the most joy in raising my alpacas.”

“Alpacas?” the boy murmured, slightly raising his head. “Aren’t those from South America or something?”

“You’d be right!” the man said in a joyous tone.

“What is an alpaca farmer doing out here wearing a tux?” asked the boy.

The man chuckled and replied “Well that’s a good question. I wanted to spend Earth’s last day in the suit I wore on my wedding. Since I won’t be wearing the thing for much longer I figured it wouldn’t matter if it got dirty. My question is why are you out here? Don’t you have someone to be with?”

“What does it matter?” snapped the boy. “Everything I do is pointless now. It won’t matter in a few hours anyways.”

There was a silence, then the man took a seat by the boy. “My world ended long ago. I felt no reason to care for myself and did nothing for weeks. One day I realized there was no sense being miserable when I didn’t have to be. So I moved out here raise alpacas. They’re what keeps me smiling every day.”

The boy looked up hesitantly and asked, “Do you still have the alpacas?”

The man rose. Cheerily, he said, “They’re just over that hill if you want to see them.”

Grinning the boy stood up and followed the man uphill.