So, here's my unedited bit of writing from this week's prompt. Thanks, again, to Kat for putting together TIC TOCC!
From a distance it looked normal. Beautiful, even. The cliffs, the beach, the water. A spectacular view from here. But Lorelei had heard the sirens last night. It seemed that they were sounding more and more often, despite the governor's clean-up strategies. Sewage, toxic waste and other deadliness followed the currents and made its way to the shore unhindered by the underwater nets and filtration buoys.
Lorelei picked her way through the rockiness at the edge of the woods, stepping carefully to avoid turning an ankle. No one came out here much anymore and she didn't want to be stranded. She cradled her camera with her left hand and used her right for balance or to steady herself on a rock or a thin, struggling sapling. The trees were growing. Not well and not beautifully, but they did grow.
Orange warning tape barred her way. Beach closed, the signs proclaimed, but Lorelei slipped beneath the tape. Unless she swam in or drank the water, her risk of contamination wasn't much higher at the beach than it was in town. The air they breathed, the food they ate, the water that flowed from the tap. They were contaminated, all of them. The water treatment plant made the water less deadly and household air filtration made it easier to sleep, and food, well, was eating an apple rinsed with bleach solution healthier than eating an apple straight from a tree? If you could find a tree. What soil was it growing in? What rain fell on it? An apple a day? Were factory produced proteins and vitamins a better option? In the end everyone dies.
From this distance the beach no longer looked beautiful. Even if the chain gangs were to spend each day here on clean-up duty, there would still be trash washing up, blowing in, materializing as if by magic. Trash, dead animals, sometimes even a person.
A crab scuttled across a pink flip flop. Lorelei crouched down and carefully focused her camera. The crab stopped, as if watching her.
"You're a beauty, aren't you?" she murmured.
It was rare to see an animal that hadn't mutated and wasn't injured or ill. This crab was perfect. Like something you'd see in a photo on the net. A photo from before. If the governor were to see her photograph he'd use it as evidence that his clean-up schemes were working.
"You're just tough."
The crab scuttled away and disappeared down a hole in the sand.