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Monday, 21 March 2011


After months of sleeping peacefully in the secluded farmhouse, I'd forgotten just how bad nights could in the city. I barely sleep. Every time I come anywhere close to dozing off there comes the croaking bellow of a Creature to jerk me back awake. The cries range near and far. The first time I hear the scrape and thud of a Creature moving outside the shop it's all I can do not to panic.

At one point I hear a flurry of gunshots and screams, the noises tearing brutally through the night, so close that they must surely come from within one of the houses I passed on my way here. The gunshots stop before the screams. It sounds like a couple of voices, male. The sound is hideous, like nails on a blackboard. It sets off something in my brain, some age-old herd instinct. Makes me want to get out, to run, to do anything to get away from that awful noise.

It's not you, I tell myself. This time, it's not you. Be thankful.

I cover my ears and count to five hundred. When I uncover them again the screaming has stopped too. All in all the event has lasted no longer than a couple of minutes, and yet it feels somehow terribly drawn-out. I can't help but imagine what it must be to die like that, at the hands of an impassive alien. Being carried off like so much meat for the feasting. What it must be like to really, truly face that fate.

Wouldn't it have been so easy if that very first meteor had hit my building, I think. Wouldn't it have been so simple, so quick, so without fear.

I wonder who I've just heard die. Who they were, or who they might have been before the meteors came. And then I wonder if I'm the only one who heard their screams, or if there are others out there, lonely and cowering in the alien night.

And that thought leads to Lisa. And it's Lisa who I'm thinking of as I sleep.

For the rest of the night I drift between nightmares and the waking world. The Creature-calls are so frequent and so close that I'm barely unconscious before one jerks me back to reality. And then I find myself back in the restaurant, watching the monsters tear the place apart, and then I'm watching Sharon die again, and then I'm awake in the backroom of a convenience store after the end of the world. I sleep. I wake. I sleep. I wake, almost screaming.

After an eternity, the sound of the Creatures ceases and is replaced by birdsong. Morning. Finally.

I want nothing more than to get back to Lisa and the farmhouse--back home--and so as soon as I'm sure it's safe to venture outside, I set about loading the trailer with supplies. I empty the store of tins, and pack boxes of sugar and flour and rice, and all manner of dried food into the bed of the cart. Biscuits and chocolate and sweets go in as well, along with a few bottles of water for the journey back. I locate some blankets, cooking oil, some firelighters, a few useful bits and pieces. Within two hours the cart is loaded down with food and supplies. I have most of the things off the list I made with Lisa--in fact there's only one item missing: the book to tell us how to deliver a baby.

I contemplate searching some of the houses, but it's too remote a chance to waste the time on. I'm desperate to get back to Lisa and I don't want to hang around a moment longer than is necessary. It's still quite early in the morning when I grab the last few items from the counter of the shop, step outside and drop them into the cart.

Only once I've done that do I look up and see the man standing on the other side of the road, gun in hand.

1 comment:

ChristyACB said...

Oi! I thought he was going to be able to finally get a break. Guy with gun in hand doesn't sound good when you think that it might have been his companions who got used for late-night munchies the night before.