Midlothian

(The costume and photo were both done by horror personality Ozo the Clown. Follow him https://www.instagram.com/ozotheclown/)

Midlothian was a small town, inhabited by only 689 people in all. The houses, barns, and fields formed an oasis in the fields of man-sized grass and impenetrable forests that surrounded the town like a moat. It stood seemingly unmoved by time's ceaseless current. It remained unchanged even as the rest of the world around it dissolved in a maelstrom of chaos and destruction.
Midlothian was situated somewhere in the bowels of a country that had long since disappeared. No one there had been around when the fabled Goliath nation that stretched between two oceans existed. As a consequence, it had faded from Midlothian's collective memory and was relegated to the realm of myth by concurrent generations who couldn't even remember it's name.
Midlothian had survived the death throws of the mighty civilization largely because of how isolated it was the only relic left by the vanquished people were the three concrete cooling towers of a nuclear power plant. The colossal structures stood alone against the Eastern horizon, their stacks steadily belching steam into the sky.
Man's ability to harness the power of electricity had proven temporary. It had been so long since Midlothian had been connected to a grid that any trace of the physical network long since disappeared. Many had their doubts there had ever been a time at all when someone could light up a room by flipping a switch, or cook food by simply pressing a button. These wonders of the past passed down through the stories of long deceased predecessors seemed like impossible fairy tails.
The people in Midlothian paid little mind to what they considered to be simply the fossilized remnant of an age long since passed. They didn't understand that those who had left it there had outfitted it with the means to run indefinitely without its human overseers. The atom what the people of the past understood to be the very fabric of reality but had little importance to the tiny village of farmers was still being split within the confines of the abandoned facility.
The power generated was fed back into itself and used to keep its machinery humming, to keep itself alive. Without the flowing stream to cool the reactor core its systems had to expend extra energy to cool itself, so the core was being depleted at an ever quickening pace. The reactor was essentially feeding on itself. No one in Midlothian suspected that the waters of the dwindling river were like the sands in an hourglass filtering down to the last few grains.
The families in Midlothian were tied together across the generations. They were mostly farmers. Self-sufficient and knowledgeable about living off the land. For them, life had remained relatively unchanged.
The town was kept alive by a mighty river that flowed along its southern edge. Its waters made irrigation on the planes possible, but Midlothian was being choked by drought. The roaring river gradually diminished into a muddy creek.
The sun burnt all day in the vast empty blue of the sky, and its fire tortured the people of Midlothian ceaselessly. Their crops wilted and died in its rays leaving only brown barren fields. The farmers watched helplessly as their soil turned to dust and was carried away by the wind.
As the harvest disappeared, and the last animals were slaughtered the specter of famine settled over Midlothian. Everyone could hear the galloping sound of death's hooves approaching, and they went mad with fear. The village was like a limb that had been cut off from the body's blood supply and was now festering with gangrene and necrosis was not far away.
To the inhabitants of Midlothian, what lay beyond the boundaries of the boundaries of the village was like a whole other world. It was as frightening as it was mysterious. Parents told their children stories about the demented blood soaked hoards that stalked the night casting their long demented shadows over the moonlit landscape.
Few travelers came across Midlothian, and the ones that did were swiftly dealt with. Many bodies were left to ornament trees to warn outsiders. To the people in Midlothian their town was the promised land given to them to weather the rapture. Anyone from the outside was considered the damned. They were the offspring of the hedonistic abominations that had made a world that had been condemned to destruction by God.
With each passing day, death took another step into town. Even though it was clear, the sun was setting on Midlothian. The lives and legacies that built on its ground were destined for oblivion, Midlothian's youth was finding itself under the influence of an intense cocktail of fear and lust. Nothing arouses the demon of desire like doom.
For Midlothian's hormone-crazed youth, even the years of a prudent, strict, and religious upbringing was not enough to counter the growing urges. It was those urges that lead Allison and Luke Keyes the son of Sheldon Keyes, Midlothian's sole religious leader into the dark confines of an empty barn early one morning.
Luke and Allison had met there at day break. The young lovers barely at the cusp of their teenage years spent the better part of an hour tumbling in the hay exploring each others bodies with shaking and inexperienced hands. The wood creaked under their weight, and the singing birds mingled with their lustful breathing.
It was the first sexual experience either one of them had had. Since they knew nothing about it, they had to do their best and improvise all the things they thought they should be doing. They didn't have much time, though. If they didn't want to rouse suspicion. The young couple would have to return to their village less they be discovered. As the sun took its place in the sky, the young couple left their dark little den.
Luke took a moment to admire Allison in the soft light of early morning. Her long blonde hair hung over her shoulders, and her skin was darkened from hours in the fields. Her body was long and slender, but her developing curves still forced themselves against her hand me down dress. Left by her now deceased older sister.
Luke wrapped his arms around Allison and pulled her close, and they watched the sun settle over the distant cooling towers. The long shadow of the concrete leviathan moved slowly across the landscape like a sundial's shadow as the burning yellow orb began its gradual motion through the sky. The steady haze of steam that lazily wafted from the towers was being belched from the stacks with the thickness of clouds that day. Neither Allison or Luke recognized the signs of the brewing eruption.
“I Think it might be on fire,” Allison said unconcernedly.
“Maybe.” answered Luke.
He peered towards the southern sky at the billowing stacks of the reactor. Immediately his mind began racing with prospects. It was a place far removed from their parents prying eyes. They would be alone there.
He leaned in and whispered into Allison's ear “ever been to the tower?” he asked
“No,” She said shaking her head.
“Want to go today? I can show you around.” He offered
“I bet you never bee there either,” she giggled.
“I have.” Luke insisted. "Me and my brother used to sneak in there all the time." He lied.
“Yeah right.” she said rolling her eyes.
“Well, do you Want to see it?” Luke asked again.
Allison was hesitant. “We can't go that far out of Midlothian,” She said
“Don't worry I got a hunting knife,” Luke assured her. “Besides when have you ever heard of anything happening to anybody out there?”
“Ok, but we have to be back before it starts getting dark,” She said.
Luke was elated. “Yeah sure,” He said.
“I better get going,” She said.
“Yeah me too,” He replied.
They shared one last kiss before departing.
The people in Midlothian didn't realize just how small a phenomenon an apocalypse can be. A place is made of people and just like people a place can also die, and Midlothian was terminal. It's dying gasps came in the form of sermons from Reverend Sheldon Keyes. People spent their days near the reverend's church waiting for him to deliver his next sermon.
Often he would lead his followers out of the church and take them to the dusty, cracked banks of the river, and told them it was up to them to beseech God to make the water return. He and his flock fell to their knees and begged God. The futility of prayer was all that was left to them. They tried to atone for sins unknown; they sought forgiveness for transgressions never revealed to them.
While every other family in Midlothian farmed, the Keyes patriarch had been at the helm of the first Baptist church since its founding. It was a position that had stayed within the Keyes family. Sheldon's father had been the Reverend, and his father had been the Reverend, it was a veritable dynasty that stretched back for generations.
Despair wasn't the only thing filling the pews in Keyes church. The reverend had built up a healthy stock of donated food during Midlothian's better times. Worshipers who attended his sermons were rewarded with "blessings of food" or ceremoniously distributed rations. The day after day they piled into the church and salivated during the opening prayer like Pavlov's dogs at the sound of his bell.
Luke sat at the end of the first along with his mother and siblings. He frequently turned to watch the people flooding into the rows behind them. He was watching for Alison. Despite everything, she was the only thing on his mind.
Luke's attention was always caught by the women in the church. The dresses they wore to worship seemed to pronounce certain aspects of the female form he enjoyed most, and despite the stifling heat many people in Midlothian were always wearing their church clothes.
They believed the drought was a sigh from God that their lives in this world were over. Soon they would all ascend into heaven, so there was no point in carrying on with any aspect of this secular life, which was convenient given that drought left them with nothing to left to do.
He saw the bulky frame of Allison's father pass through the doors. He entered the room with a scowl and began scanning the pews. He was followed silently by his family. Allison clung to her mother's side; her left eye blackened. She looked across the room at Luke their eyes locked, and she quickly looked away.
“Luke.” his mother hissed.
Luke looked forward as his father took the stage.
“The Lord teaches us through loss!” Sheldon proclaimed. To the dusty worshipers, his stocky figure donning the dark threads of his brotherhood was a pacing silhouette in the morning sun that flooded in from the church's long windows.
“It is only through the experience of loss can we ever hope to gain an understanding of how merciful and generous his blessings truly are”! His voice boomed as he slammed his fists down on the podium.
The weary audience jumped at the sound.
“The Lord takes so that we may never hold the false belief that we are entitled to have anything. Sheldon paused and looked around the room as if making eye contact with every individual watching him.
The hell around us was once the most prosperous nation that had ever existed! Sheldon's voice echoed, and he looked to the sky.
" but their prosperity made them complacent," He said in a suddenly calm voice
He took a deep and audible breath.
They ceased to be grateful for the wonderful gifts the Lord bestowed upon them, and so they were consumed by greed and lust. Make no mistake we are gods chosen children, but a good father knows when to reward his children...and when to punish them."
As Sheldon was delivering his daily appeal his son Luke was doing what most adolescent boys do when being warned about the wrath of God, he was gazing at a girl.
.Allison was wearing a white floral dress that had been another piece passed down to her when her older sister died two years ago. She had developed well, and it was a bit of a tight fit, but it was still her nicest dress, but it wasn't just her forming curves Luke was focusing on. He kept going back to the pronounced bruise around her eye.
He looked at her father who was staring attentively at Sheldon. Luke clenched his fists. His mind began to race with fantasies of vengeance. He had hurt her, and Luke knew there was no better way to prove his love than to protect her from him.
He clenched his fists and imagined beating the much larger man to the ground until he was no more than a whimpering child. His body began to quiver, and his muscles tensed. He could feel the rage rising until Joe's eyes suddenly shifted and met his. Luke quickly turned away.
“Luke.” his father called from the pulpit.
He looked up all the hungry eyes in the church seemed to be fixed on him. His father grimaced at him from the front of the room and motioned for him to stand up.
Quickly Luke picked up the large wicker basket sitting at his feet. It was filled with biscuits and salted pork. He quickly walked up the aisles distributing it to each filled pew. When he got to Allison's row, he looked down to hide the blush burning in his cheeks. He could feel her father's gaze piercing through him. Luke let them take their rations and rushed away.
The worshipers waited at the edge of their seats for Sheldon to conclude the service. When he said the word "Amen" a feeding frenzy began.
After the service Luke tried to stay out of sight. To his horror, he saw Allison's father talking to his. He felt a rising sense of dread when his father looked his way. Luke realized they knew about the barn. The conversation seemed to conclude, and the two men shook hands.
Luke stood frozen as his father marched over and grabbed him by the arm. He lead Luke out the front door and around the corner of the old church. He fond a shady spot under the slanted roof. He shoved Luke against the wall.
“What's going on?” He demanded
“Where were you this mornin?” Sheldon asked.
Look looked down with the sad eyes of a disobedient dog that was being reprimanded by its master. “sorry” he muttered.
Luke felt the sting of his father's hand striking across his face. Luke yelped and fell against the wall.
His father sighed. “Look I know what you're going through.”
Luke glanced up a bit surprised at what he had just said.
“Me and your mother were married when we were just a little bit older than you and Allison. I know you're getting to that age it's a time when your flesh can confuse you, but you have to do what's right for your immortal soul. Luke's father gripped his shoulders and locked eyes with him.
“We will be judged soon, and if anything happens with Allison. We may not all be allowed to enter the Kingdom, and neither your mother nor myself want to have to go through the gates without you. You can't taint yourself with such sin. There is no time left to repent. You understand me?”
Luke nodded. His father said hugged him tight. Luke silently embraced his father somewhat dumbfounded by the light response.
“You must be punished Luke. The flesh only learns lessons through pain,” said Sheldon.
“Yes, sir.” Answered Luke.
Luke threw on a clean white shirt. The wounds from his father's lesson were still weeping fresh blood that clung to the cotton material. The beating had hurt but what was worse is he was forbidden from seeing Allison. His father told him he was protecting him, but Luke couldn't imagine he had any idea the pain the longing was causing him.
He thought about the barn again. The feel of Allison's body was something unparalleled for him. It was happiness that his relationship with the God that was currently starving everyone knew had never brought him. He wiped the remaining tears from his eyes and headed for the pantry.
Luke's father often made him work in the church's pantry where the Keyes kept all the donated food was simply the cellar dug out underneath their house. It was a cool, dry place and worked well enough for storing food. The flat rectangular doors were opened. Luke could hear Tom's hacking cough echoing through the tight confines.
Luke walked down the wooden stairs. The old wooden planks creaked under his feet.
“Luke is that you?” Tom's raspy voice called out.
“Yes sir.” replied Luke.
The cellar was dimly lit. A few sparsely placed candles were the sole source of illumination. Luke could make out Tom's hunched and lanky frame moving through the shadows.
“I need you to come over here.” He wheezed.
Tom was in his late fifties and had been battling with a chronic illness that no one in Midlothian had any means to treat. He was no longer fit to work on his family's farm, so he made use of his time by working for Sheldon and the church.
Hunger made his frail frame already wracked by sickness to wither even further until it looked like his wrinkled body would simply implode.
His eyes were sunken into deep dark pits, and the flesh around his fingernails and gums had begun to recede making his nails and his few remaining teeth more pronounced. His decay preceded his death, which he expected at any moment.
He was a pious man and to him death was simply an opportunity to find out if he was worthy to enter the kingdom. For Tom, life has become a tedious waiting period.
“What can I do?” Luke asked trying to mask his impatience.
Tom leaned against the wall and put his hand on his chest; every breath grew raspier an raspier eventually erupting into a coughing fit.
“Are you ok?” asked Luke
Tom nodded. “Yeah, don't worry about it.” He stood for a moment and tried to breath normally.
“Alright,” he continued “I need you to start chopping all the cuts of dried meat into thirds. I also need you to start mixing some sawdust into the flour”.
“What for?” Luke asked
Tom gave him a piercing glance. “This food has to last a little bit longer until the rain comes back. Now let's start with the four”.
“Ok, where's the sawdust?” asked Luke.
“You got to make some,” Tom said handing Luke a hand saw.
Luke went out back and began his tedious assignment. The Keyes estate sat in front of a field several acres long and wide that had been plowed at the edge of a heavily wooded area. The pile of wood left for him by Tom proved insufficient so he ventured into the thick of the forests.
The drought had deprived the trees of water for some time, and the branches had become bare and brittle. Luke was easily able to tear the larger branches from the trees. He saw a thick one that hung just a foot or two above his head that had begun to crack at the area where it connected to the trunk. He leaped up and took hold. He could hear the wood cracking as he exerted his weight and after a moment it broke off and he fell to the ground with it.
He picked himself up and brushed himself off. He angled the teeth of the saw into the wood and began the back and forward motion. He watched the dust collect on the ground and looked at it like time slipping through his fingers. He needed to see Allison and soon.
His mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. Some angry, some lustful, and others violent. The emotions mixed in the pit of his stomach like acid There was an overwhelming sense of urgency beyond his comprehension. There was no rationale just desire.
“Luke.” A voice shrieked from behind.
Luke turned his head as if materializing from his thoughts there was Allison. Her hair tussled, and her lip was bleeding. Her other eye blackened and the shoulders on her dress had been torn as if she'd been dragged. There were small scratches and bruises all along her arms. The tears streaming from her eyes ran down here face and mingled with the blood before falling to the dirt. She held out her arms, and Luke ran to her.
They stayed low among the trees so no one would see them. They showed each other the scars given to them by their angry parents. The jagged bloody abrasions were the products of “tough love”. Luke had grown accustomed to the welts left by the snapping leather, but Allison's father used his hands. She recounted the battery and her escape, and the same rage crept up inside Luke.
The anger was compounded by his powerlessness. What recourse did he have?
Luke was tall for his age.  The harsh years of agricultural life had sculpted him into a strong boy, but Allison's father was much larger, and he had many decades of painful experience behind him. The fact was he was a man, and Luke was but a child.
Luke and Allison sat against the trunk of an old tree and engaged in light petting, trying as best they could to sooth their shared pain.
“I want to kill that bastard.” Luke steamed,
Allison stroked his back. “Don't say that,” She whispered.
“Look what he did to you.” Luke hissed.
“ I'll be fine.” Allison sniffled.
They were silent for a moment. Luke leaned in and kissed her. The moment was short lived before another voice echoed through the forest.
“Allison!!” The booming voice was accompanied by slow, heavy footsteps.
“Oh no, it's him,” Allison said in a terrified whisper.
“Allison where are you”! He hollered out.
Luke peeked out from behind the trunk of the tree and saw Joe's heavy frame stumbling through the woods. He looked about as disheveled as she was. His hands were bruised, and the flesh on his knuckles had peeled back.
“Get out here you little tramp!” He shouted.
“Stay quiet,” Luke whispered.
Allison couldn't speak. She nodded her head and tried to stop from hyperventilating.
“I know you're out here with him!” Joe shouted as he picked up a log and threw it against a tree.
Allison clenched her eyes and let out a squeak. Joe perked up.
“I hear you!” He called out.
Luke had no plan he just said the first thing that came to mind.
“Run!” He ordered.
They both darted out from behind the tree in separate directions.
“Get back here!” Joe yelled.
Allison's legs wobbled like a frightened deer. Fear impaired her movements, and her trembling body couldn't carry her fast enough to escape her father's long strides. She felt his hand grab her. He spun her around and stared her down with his bloodshot eyes.
“The whore will be cast into the flames!” he shouted
Allison screamed. “The whore will be cast into flames!” he repeated before shoving her to the ground.
He dropped to his knees and crawled over to Allison. He wrapped his large hands around her neck and squeeze
“Pain is repentance!” he shouted “Pain is forgiveness! Say it!” He commanded.
Allison's face was flushed with blood, and she could only manage to make choking sounds.
“Say it!” He repeated.
He began shaking her. His hands were clasped too tight around her neck for her to call out, but in her mind she was crying out for divine intervention beseeching a god that had long forsaken all of them. It was a long shot, but this time her efforts bore results.
Joe didn't notice Luke racing up behind him, and before he could turn around, Luke drove the hand axe into his back.
Joe let out a howl. Luke's instinctually pulled out the ax and again plunged it into Joe's back.
Joe screamed again. Luke tried to pull the blade out, but Joe's massive body began bucking like an angry bull. He shoved Luke away with one hand, and his other tried to reach around his barrel-shaped body to pull the ax out of his back.
“You're dead boy!” He screamed. “You're going to die!”
Joe finally got hold of the handle and pulled out the ax. He held it up and looked at the bloody blade. The crimson liquid gleamed on the shaped edge. Joe grimaced at Luke.
“You little son of a bitch.” The Goliath growled taking a wobbly step forward before falling forward catching himself in the dirt on his forearms. Luke leaped back as the giant fell, he took a running stance, but he didn't move. He watched Joe look down at his blood-soaked hands and let out a howl that almost sounded like a child's cry.
“You killed me!” Joe wailed. “You killed me..you killed me!” he repeatedly choked on the words. He rolled over onto his back.
“Daddy!” Allison screamed as she ran over to him. She clenched his hand; warm blood ran from their entwined fingers.
“Daddy please be ok!” She cried holding his hand to his heart.
“Sweety....baby doll. I'm..dying.” He stammered.
“No Daddy no daddy your not!” Allison insisted her tear-filled eyes were looking again for hope from the empty sky.
“Baby..baby listen,” Joe whispered to her “I'm leaving to go with God very soon...
"No, no!" She bellowed.
“Baby...honey....”He stopped to take a breath. “That boy there killed me....You understand that right?" he said looking over at Luke. Her eyes followed his.
“Yes...daddy..” She said.
"That boy killed your father." He reminded her.
His hands were suddenly wrapped around her slender wrists, and he pulled her close to him. His fading eyes locked with hers.
“He has violated the most sacred of the commandments he's going to hell forever....”
She answered with a sob
“But you can repe...repent...He said faintly. “But you have to hurry you have to hurry,” He repeated his voice seemed to grow further and further away.
Luke watched as still as stone. His senses overwhelmed terror ceased every nerve in his body he could do little more than watch with unblinking eyes as Allison cried into her father's chest. The rhythm of his breath slowed and began to taper off. “repent...he repeated.
 He seemed to stop mid-breath. His eyelids fluttered, then slowly shut and he fell quiet.
Now Luke felt truly helpless. There was no word he could utter, no comforting gesture he could give nothing could ease the situation. His adrenaline was depleted, and thoughts became clear again.
“Thou shall not kill.” he gasped.
“Lord oh, Jesus please forgive me I'm so sorry.” Luke sobbed as he slowly approached, choking as he tried to hold back his stinging tears.
“Allison please I'm so sorry he sobbed.”
He reached out to her she batted his hand away. Her fingernails scratched into hand.
“Get away from me! I hate you, Luke Keyes!” She screeched. Her brow furrowed and fiery glow on her face turned and an ever deeper darker shade of red.
Luke was stunned. He shook it off and approached her again.
Her hand quickly reached for a stick she jabbed it up towards Luke's face. The pointed wood caught his cheek. His voice cracked, and he let out a cry. She jabbed it again, but this time Luke jumped back
“Stay away from me!” she screamed.
Luke had simply run out of options. “I'm going to get my dad!" he squeaked, as he bolted through the trees like a frightened rodent. The first thing Luke saw when he reached home was the burning glow of a lamp emanating from the open cellar door. By now the sun had become nothing more than a fading glow behind the black horizon.
“Dad?!” He cried out.
Luke almost tripped down the stairs.
“Luke where were you?”
“I....I......”Luke trembled he looked away from his father and burst into hysterical tears. Tom quietly glanced at Sheldon. Sheldon gave him a nod and Tom shuffled away.
“Luke.Luke” Sheldon said gripping the crying boy's shoulders.
'Calm down..calm down boy.” He repeated.
Luke continued to stammer and cry.
“Shhhh!” Sheldon hissed shaking him.
Luke tried to catch his breath. Sheldon let go of him and pulled and old bottle of whiskey from behind one of the boxes.
“Here,” He said as he opened the bottle grabbed Luke by the head and forced the burning liquid to his lips.
“Drink,” Sheldon ordered as he forcing Luke's head back. The stuff coated his insides like napalm. Luke coughed and gagged.
Sheldon forced fed Luke liqueur until his crying subsided, and he recounted every horrific detail for his unsettling stoic father.
Soon his sobbing happened only sporadically. When he was done, his father was silent for a moment.
“Luke.” He finally said. He gasped Luke's shoulders again. “Luke” he repeated.
“Wh-what?” Luke said weakly.
“You have to tell me did you...”
“Keyes get out here now!” a voice echoed around the cinder block walls of the cellar. Luke's father glared at him and proceeded up the stairs.
A cluster of torches glowed in the near absolute darkness of a starless night. Sheldon emerged from the cellar. “What can I do for you, my children,” He asked the crowd.
“We're here to take back our food Keyes we're starving out here while you sit on a mountain of food, our food! Someone at the head of the mob sneered as he stepped forward the flicking glow of his torch cast his long shadow over Sheldon.
“Mr. Ulrich this food has been put in my care not by your hands, but by God's,” Sheldon said sternly as he took a step forward to meet the shadows stare. “Brothers such acts of generosity are only done by the hands of man when actin as an instrument for god's will! It is he who gave me this responsibility not all of you!” Sheldon proclaimed.
“I'm not here to argue with you, Keyes,” Ulrich replied. “Hand the food over or there will be trouble.” The narrow-eyed man warned.
Sheldon took another step forward. In the most theatrical form, he could pull off he reached up to the sky and folded his hands above his head and slowly lowered his collapsed fingers in tandem with his eyelids and began to pray.
“Lord, I beseech thee.” he said as he fell to his knees.
Ulrich began to fume with rage
“Lord before this man acts as an instrument of Satan I want you to know we are still truly sorry Lord!”
Ulrich dropped his torch and charged Sheldon, tackling him to the ground.
“Shut up!” Ulrich shouted as he began raining down blows on Sheldon.
As if it were a cue the mob let out a collective howl and began storming the Keyes home.
Luke had no fight left in him as they descended the stairs and began looting the churches collection. Luke was limp as someone dragged him towards the stairs.
There were several men standing in a circle around his father they danced around him occasionally striking at him with their heavy leather boots.
“Lord please I....Sheldon called out between body blows.
“Midlothian can...stand no more of your wrath.....These people need your forgiveness Lord!”
They had practically painted Keyes with his blood, but he continued his prayer.
“Lord give them salvation now!” He called up to the ebony sky.
A giant fire lit up the sky, and the ground trembled beneath their feet. There was a burst in the air like thunder. The air went still, and everyone looked to the towers in the distance they had collapsed into a pillar of fire and as if heralding a storm a heavy rain began to fall over Midlothian.
The roaring mob had gone silent. They stood in awe and savored the feeling of the cool water on their sun-scorched bodies.
As if overcome by amnesia the crowd became elated and started chanting Sheldon's name. Even Ulrich was soon thanking him. Midlothian had just witnessed Sheldon's "miracle rain". A spontaneous celebration broke out, and no one dancing in the puddles noticed Luke standing on the outside.
Neither Luke nor Midlothian saw Allison, Joe, or even Sheldon ever again. They never had time to miss them. The blown reactor carried by the wind and rain had penetrated their cells and when the sun came up over Midlothian again it was being feasted on by flies.
Like the Titanic that was the civilization that built the reactor outside Midlothian, the reactor had always been doomed it had always been a ticking time bomb. The people who ran it were too frightened to live without the glow of their electrical God had only lengthened the fuse and delayed the inevitable.
In another time, the Midlothian reactor had been heralded as a feat of mankind's mastery over the forces that shape the universe. The builders drunk on self-destructive hubris described it used that were designed to inspire permanency. I was self-sustaining, and its life span was indefinite, but it had only proved to be a bomb on a longer fuse. As soon as the plant came online Midlothian's fate was sealed. Just like everything else too close to the reactor's eternally poisoned core Midlothian was condemned to die

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