Tag: apocalypse

Unexpected

Photo by Fauzan Aulia on Pexels.com

Everything is beautiful, she says under her breath. Everything is beautiful. I’m in love with Connor, and Connor’s in love with me. I’m going places. I’m going to the top. And nobody is going to get me down or take me down with them.

At the junction where Bank Street meets the Whitstone Corridor, the traffic lights change to red. Suzanne takes an audible breath, looks in the mirror, fusses with her hair and make-up, then glances in the rearview mirror at the vehicles queuing behind her. Suzanne’s assistant, Jenna, seems to be singing along to the radio, and Suzanne determines to speak to her about her laxity. After all, they were driving to a meeting of grave importance. Surely such a situation would call for meditation?

Suzanne notices the van that’s slipped in behind Jenna. A deep red Peugeot that’s battered and bashed around the edges. She could hear it chugging from inside her car, even contending with the white noise of the faulty aircon. Wasn’t that Pascal Babcock in the driving seat? He looked more like a homeless man than any ex-director had a right to. Suzanne’s neck twitched and shivered in disgust.

Come on lights, she thought, and practically sped into the back of Connor’s car, so keen was she to arrive at her location.  Thankfully, the plaza was only a few streets away, and it wasn’t long before she pulled up in the car park with a relieved smile. She was thankful that Connor had chosen to travel alone and had selected a parking spot with only one free adjoining space.

‘Connor,’ she purred as she stepped from the car. ‘Hi. Are we in a good place for this now? I’m sure that Artie and Donald from CPC would love to see us fail, but I think I’m going to make it work.’

He smiled at her, but not as freely as he usually might.

‘Something’s happened, Suzanne,’ he whispered, and it was evident to her that the look on his face was no act.  He seemed… What was it? Worried? Unsure?

‘Any doubts?’ she continued, ignoring his melodrama.

‘Suzanne, listen. Something terrible has happened. I don’t even know where to start. I can’t do this meeting. I can’t do anything. I have to go home.’

That was when a shot rang out. Connor’s forehead a bloody spot. And another shot splattered straight into Suzanne’s heart.

‘Right in the heart,’ came a shout. ‘She can’t have a heart anyway, not after what she did to me.’ Suzanne’s assistant’s words were victorious.

From behind a car park pillar came Jenna, her eyes blazing and her musical happiness caused by a few celebratory cocaine lines in the company loos. Never again would her boss take Jenna’s work as her own. Never again would a sweet, caring boss as Pascal had been, would be made to be a fall guy for Suzanne’s nastiness.  And never again would Connor look at Suzanne in that way.

‘Gotcha’ Pascal shouted. Hie red van was parked nearby, and in it were the specialist paintball guns his new (and very successful) business was providing.

Suzanne wiped her blouse with a condemnatory pout.

‘Hey, Genna. Calm yourself down. Some of us are more accomplished actors than others. You just have to learn when to start the role-play, and outside the venue is not the right place. I need this blouse for a meeting later. Come on, you lot, this is pathetic. What kind of zombie team building event is this anyway?’

Connor wiped his forehead in an attempt to remove the stain.

‘Too right, Suzanne. We’re not even in the place yet, Jenna. Come on. And no face shots. That hurt!’

Pascal smiled and patted Suzanne on the shoulder.

‘Great role-playing,’ he said, walking over to his intentionally shabby van. How he loved that van. He read its logo for what must have been the hundredth time: ‘Can you survive the Zombie Apocalypse? Team Building Days. Multiple Locations. Mobile Service’.

Pascal had his role to play, as did the rest of his team. So, the apparent shabby down and out who lived in his van took out the large box and handed everyone other than Jenna one of the pretend zombie weapons. He admonished her. ‘No getting them out of the box, love. That’s my job.’

That was when Pascal directed the small group of secondary school teachers to site 1 of the zombie apocalypse experience.

‘For those of you who got into your characters earlier, that’s wonderful,’ said Pascal, with voice-projection skills borne from years in a board room.

‘But from this point onwards, no breaking character, no aiming at the face or groin, and no befriending the zombies. Are you all ready?’

The small group nodded in unison.

‘OK then, you lot, enjoy your apocalypse!’

Pascal swung open the double warehouse doors, triggering a flurry of activity from inside the cavernous stage set he’d spend months creating. From the interior’s urban soundscape came the clamour of an orchestra of moans and screams.

These three teachers from Broad Gate High were to be a quarter of the team that was to fight against twenty-four assorted zombies and a surprise vampire thrown in for good measure. It was all wonderful.

Pascal may have looked like a derelict, but he was anything but. Giving up the pains of the private school boardroom had been done without a single regret. He was raking it in.

#zombie #apocalypse #teambuilding #shortstory #meredithschumann

Survival Devastation

This story was inspired by a trip to London’s Natural History Museum, and their display about the devastation caused by a herd of elephants. These animals are simply searching for food and trying to survive, but end up causing ‘Elephant Devastation’.
I put humans in the same position for this story and have called it ‘Survival Devastation’.
Two men. Four women. Seven children, only one biologically related to any of the adults.
‘I’m tired,’ someone said.
‘Nearly there,’ said another.
Darkness.
Silence but for the crackling of twigs in the undergrowth.
‘What about this?’
‘What is it?’
‘Apples.’
One word was enough to stop everyone. Apples hadn’t been part of their diet for three or four years. Some of the younger children hadn’t ever seen one.
‘Really? Apples? You sure?’
The smallest of the men rushed to the tree and looked upwards. The others gradually gathered.
Whatever it was wasn’t obvious, but the tallest man reached up to pull one of the fruits from the branch.
There was silence while he loosened the fruit and removed it from the branch.
‘Looks right.’
‘Smell it.’
‘Smells right.’
‘Taste it.’
‘No, I’m scared.’
‘I will,’ said the thinnest of the group, a scrawny girl with lank and dry yellow-brown hair, as she grabbed the fruit.
‘It might not be and apple,’ came another voice.
‘I don’t care.’
The girl held the apple between her hands and pushed her loose and breaking teeth into the fruit. She chewed then slowed, then chewed, the fruit’s juice seeping from her mouth and down her chin. She wiped it with her hand and hair.
‘Is it apple?’ asked the child who wore a filthy sweatshirt, sporting its faded iron-on motif of a cartoon mouse.
The girl’s mouth bulged and she nodded. ‘I remember,’ she said, and the rest of her sentence was sunk into the melee as the remaining 12 people she moved round with climbed the tree, shook the branches and caused dozens of fruit to fall onto the woodland floor.
Once the fruit was loosened, the group of 13 began scrabbling round for their semi-shapes.
Two men reached for the same apple.
‘Hey,’ said the one wearing a black woolen hat. There was aggression in the tone.
‘I got it first,’ said the other.
‘You already have six.’
‘First come…’ said the smaller man, grasping still further onto his prize, and in the process further crushing his other fruits into the mud.
The taller man in the black hat reached out to grab his hair. Already frazzled from malnutrition, a handful came out in his hand.
He brandished it in front of his regular opponent and sparring partner.
The red headed woman said ‘Put two men in the same place and you can be sure there’s going to be a fight’.
The taller man stared at her, the aggression seemingly transferred to his voice now. ‘Know it all,’ the wooly-hatted man said.
‘It is men like you who made this whole crappy situation happen,’ the woman continued. It wasn’t the first time she’d said it. The man reached out to grab her hand.
‘Shut up,’ he said.
Tension. Silence you could snap. The sounds of munching and the occasional cough.
Then, a loud cry. A choking sound. A moaning. A sighing. The youngest child seemed to be choking on her fruit.
The red headed matriarch was quick to assist.
‘Help her, for God’s sake, help her.’
‘God has nothing to do with it.’
‘God is connected to everyone and everything, if you’d just give him the chance,’ she gasped between attempts to dislodge the offending piece of apple.
The little girl was beginning to recover, her face red and sweaty, and her eyes water-filled.
‘I want to go home,’ she croaked.
‘We all do,’ said the woman.
Meanwhile, relieved at the end of the drama, the three other women were scrabbling on the ground, filling their pockets and bags with the sweet and crispy fallen apples.
One of the quietest of the group, a woman who seemed to have only recently left her teens, was pocketless, and was gathering apples using her tattered jacket as a basket. But she shivered.
‘I feel sick,’ she said, suddenly grasping her upper abdomen. She vomited into her apple stash, mainly liquid and occasional apple chunks, part-chewed in haste to fill her empty and pained belly.
‘Oh my God,’ moaned the smaller man as he fell to his knees, retching in agony. The young girl who had seemingly choked with violent contractions watched as those around her, the adults and children, crumpled to the floor of the woodland their apples discarded along with their bags, their coats and their shoes.
The girl, Eve, collected the best of these not even bothering to check whether the remainder of the group might still be living, or recoverable.
‘Do your worst,’ she said to the apples.
But it wasn’t the apples that had caused the collapse of some of the only remaining people in this ravaged land. Part of this ravaged world. It was a young girl, barely out of her teens.
Eve was her name, and she was finally, magically and absolutely alone. It wasn’t a problem. She’d been working up to this moment since the second of her conception. And as she was born and grew, her innate skills for destruction erupted and she evolved into a true force of nature. A force of destruction. And Eve, the last human (of sorts) would become the first, by a regenerative process caused when her rib, her spare rib, was ripped out of her body and lay surrounded by apple trees to later be covered with rotting leaves, disintegrating fruit and the remains of persons who once were.
Devastation and regeneration.
They were her forces and friends. They were how she passed time. They were how she enjoyed and how she survived. Warrior mother. Earth goddess. Devil woman. Crone of Wisdom. Force of nature.
‘My dears, my dears…’ she crooned to the humans. ‘Time for goodnight.’
It was one stage. One rung on the ladder. One day where she knew it was all finished.
And she was excited to begin again. Yet again.