Saturday 27 June 2015

'After the Apocalypse' by Patricia M Osborne

My eyes flicker but reveal no light. The stench makes me gag. I stretch my legs and kick Michael at the foot of me. He’s in his thirties, straggly hair, matching beard.
            ‘Do you think it’s safe to go outside?’ I whisper, clasping my mouth. ‘I have to get out.’
            Michael coughs, strikes a match and moves his hands to the engraved markings on the wall. ‘It’s been twelve weeks and we’re running out of cans.’
There are six of us counting me and Michael, three male and two other females including a ten-year-old girl, poor little wretch. Strangers huddled in a shelter when the siren screamed. No idea whether our families are dead or alive, probably better off dead than endure a smelly hell hole like this, starved of sunlight.   
Anthony bangs his head as he stands up and bashes his elbow on the wall. ‘Well, I’m for outside, anyone else?’
Everyone clambers up, pushing against each other to get towards the iron door, desperate to get out. 
‘Give us a hand Michael.’ Antony struggles with the door.
            Between them they heave the door open, creaking as it reveals daylight.
            The temperature drops. I’m knocked to the floor by short fat legs as Sam escapes to the settled white sheet outside, still blowing a blizzard.
Sam screams and bolts back trying to outrun the ferocious snow beast close behind. He pushes into the tomb, twelve hands lean on the door, darkness returns.  A small stock of matches and candles lay on the floor but must be conserved.
            ‘What are we going to do now?’ The girl’s tears fall on her cold cheeks. ‘Michael? Anthony? What are we going to do?
            ‘Just give me a minute to think.’ Anthony spat.
            I took control.  ‘Where did you put the guns?’
            ‘Over here.’ Michael digs down into the wooden box. ‘No idea how to shoot.’
            ‘Well lucky for you I had rifle classes. How many in there?
            ‘Six.’ Anthony pulls out a box of ammunition. ‘Ammo too.’ He tilts his head. ‘Can anyone else shoot?’
            ‘Me, me,’ came the chorus of baritones.
            ‘Anthony and I will go first, shut the door behind,’ I order, ‘if we kill the boar we eat. You ready Anthony?
            ‘Ouch. Wouldn’t you be better with another shooter?’ Anthony holds his head.
            ‘Stop being a wimp and get out. No one leave the shelter until we get back. Understand?
            I crouch on the ground, hold the rifle in position and aim. We drag the four-legged albino, blanched in red, across the ice.
Anthony bangs on the shelter. ‘Open up.’
Everyone scrambles out. Wimpy William, once a butcher, dresses the beast ready to roast. Two hours later we huddle around the fire and tear the meat like savages. Hot succulent food replaces our daily diet of cold baked beans.
            Tomorrow, the real journey begins but for now we enjoy our prize.

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