poet. writer. imposter.
The impossible has happened!
THE IMPOSSIBLE HAS HAPPENED!!
I am no longer alone! I HAVE A GUEST!!
I HAVE A FUCKING GUEST!!
This is INCREDIBLE!!!
Last night, I went to bed quite early. It’s been a busy few days. Not long after I settled in with a book and the cats, I heard a knock. I assumed that one of the other cats had knocked something over, so I ignored it. The knocking persisted and for a horrible moment I thought that They had become very bold and were trying to break into the building. I assumed one of the UVs had failed and They were taking advantage.
I left my room, picked up a shotgun from the store cupboard, loaded it and crept towards the door. The knocking became more and more frantic and holy god, the knocks were accompanied by desperate screaming. I peeked through the slot in the door and there was a man. An actual person! A Human Being. He saw me peering at him, looked behind him, turned back terrified. Tear stained and frantic he clawed at the door screaming,
“For God’s Sake let me in!”
I complied. I could feel they were close. I grabbed his shoulder, hauled him in, slammed and bolted the door. From outside, there was the faintest of alien whispers.
When I turned around he was on the floor, wracked with sobbing, tears leaving clean tracks on a face caked in dirt. He couldn’t speak; he just lay there and cried. I tried soothing him but I think he was too scared to understand that I wasn’t going to hurt him and pulled away, hurling himself into a corner, cowering, foetal and weeping.
I went to the kitchen and made a hot drink for both of us. On the way back, I pulled a bottle of Jura from the cabinet along with two glasses. I set them down on the small table close to where he had fallen and went to the shower room. I got a couple of towels, the first aid kit and a wet flannel and went back to sit with him.
His sobs had subsided and he began to show some awareness of his surroundings.
“Whiskey or cocoa,” I said, “your choice”.
He looked at me and whispered,
I poured two glasses, probably about three or four shots in his which he smashed in one gulp. I sipped on mine.
“Thank you,” he said.
I said nothing, waiting for him to lead the conversation. After a few minutes, he managed,
“Where . . . ?”
“You’re safe,” I said, “It used to be a school but it’s been fortified. They’ll not get in.”
For a moment, his face cracked as if he was about to cry again. He stopped himself, swallowed hard a couple of times and asked,
“I meant where are we? Not the school, just . . . here. Where is here?”
“We’re in Kent. What’s left of it.”
He looked puzzled.
“How did I get here?”
I had to say I didn’t know. I don’t even know how I got here. I only know it’s Kent because I went to this school when I was a kid. The rest of the immediate area was flattened by . . . whatever flattened it. No one seemed to know.
“The name’s Keats,” I said, extending a welcome.
He looked at my hand, took hold of it and said,
“Steven Piggot. My friends call me Spiggy.”
I asked Spiggy what he remembered. He started shaking, tears welling up again, as he told me about how he arrived.
“It was sunny. We were in the park having lunch, just messing around and it got dark. Really dark. Really fast. The wind came from nowhere and we couldn’t breathe; couldn’t stand. We couldn’t even see where we were. I grabbed Mook and pulled him to the floor to try and get some cover”.
“You said ‘we’?”
“Shit. I forgot about Mook!”
“Who is Mook?” I asked.
“My friend. He’s ill. We have to help him!”
I said that we couldn’t do anything until morning and he became angry. I pointed out that They were active at night and going out would be suicide. He looked a bit bewildered and as if trying to blot out the memory of them, nodded and carried on with a very familiar story.
“When the wind stopped it was night time and everywhere was broken. There were no hills, no mountains. This wasn’t where we should be. Mook had been knocked out and had fallen badly. His leg was broken and he couldn’t walk. Then were heard . . . there’s was . . . something and I had to drag him to a shelter. In the morning has delirious. He was burning up. I got him to a better shelter. Safer from . . . from . . . Then I left him.”
I just checked that.
“You left him?”
“I had too!”, he pleaded, “I had to find help; drugs. I saw the lights on the roof here last night and thought there must be someone. I’ve been walking since lunchtime. I thought it would be closer. We heard those noises last night and knew that there was something outside. I made sure he was safe – I did – and came to look for help.”
This was unbelievable. Two people.
“We have to wait until morning,” I reiterated, “You know we can’t go back while it’s dark, right.”
His frantic demeanour gave way to a soft, resigned realisation.
“We can start out at sun up. Do you think he’ll still be okay?”
He looked at me, his face struggling to understand the conventions of expression, and began to cry again. He allowed me to put my arm around his shoulders to comfort him. I held him until his tears died down and when they stopped, I suggested that he go for a shower, clean up and sleep.
“Do you have food?” he asked, “I haven’t eaten since we got here.”
“No problem. Get clean and I’ll make something for you.”
He mumbled something that I think was some sort of embarrassed thank you. I pointed him towards the shower and then made my way to the kitchen. By the time I got to the kitchen, I had started shaking, myself. A visitor! The prospect of another! I hoped against hope the this was the beginning of a new family but checked myself, knowing I was probably making way too much of this unexpected situation.
He came out of the shower and apologised for using my bath robe. I didn’t mind. Being on my own, I rarely used it. It’s not like I had to hide anything from anyone. Under the mud and filth was a fairly handsome bloke. Shoulder length hair, almost black; soulful, slate grey eyes; high cheekbones; late twenties? Maybe a bit younger? He looked at me like he was looking over a pair of glasses; this demeanour, shy and vulnerable and strangely offset with by a confident swagger.
Looking a bit lost, he walked over to the table and sat down. I apologised for the food. There was nothing wrong with it exactly, it was all good clean stuff. Mostly fresh. It just wasn’t as imaginative as it would have been if I’d known I was having guests. I don’t think he cared. He was hungry.
He thanked me and asked me what had happened to the world. I couldn’t really answer. I don’t remember. I told him that I had a similar tale. I was living my life and suddenly I was here and everything was different. I told him about the others and the life we had lead together. I told him about the people who left or died and talked to him about what we had built. He was impressed and I found myself feeling something akin to pride. Weird.
It’s so long since I felt anything other than nothing or crushing ennui. He asked how long it had taken to build up and I explained that when I got here, it was little more than a shelter with the inhabitants scavenging from the remnants of local shops. It took about three years to build it up to a working and sustainable colony and during that time, some of the people left simply because they didn’t want to do the hard work. They wanted everything now and thought the could find a shop or something with a lot of food and just hole up there. I think they just didn’t want to think long term. I think they thought they’d be rescued.
A couple of the family groups decided that they want to move on to somewhere green. Maybe find a farm building and use what I had taught them to develop something more idyllic. We kept in touch by radio and a year or so after, the transmissions stopped. One or two went a little crazy and did the Captain Oates thing, going out at night. And some died; accident or illness.
We had illnesses and occasionally things that required surgery. At one point, well, from the beginning, we had a doctor, Erik. I learned a few skills from him, but I wouldn’t call myself a medic. A bit more than a first aider, but a lot less than a GP. Less than a paramedic, even. I helped with some surgery, but it’s not something I’d want to do on my own.
Anyway, luckily for Mook, we’d raided a lot of chemists and hospitals so I had a fair about of medical supplies. I promised that first thing in the morning, we would find him and bring him back here.
Spiggy was satisfied and began to look very tired.
“Come on,” I said, “you need some sleep.”
I took him to one of the spare rooms. I always kept a couple of rooms ready just in case. I changed and aired the sheets when I remembered. It’s comfortable there. He’ll be fine.
He’d left his clothes on the floor in the shower room, so I picked them up and threw them in the washer. They’d be clean and dry for the morning.
I was far too wired to sleep, so I busied myself by collecting up splints, a stretcher, syringes, saline, morphine, antibiotics and bandages ready for the morning. I sat down for a moment and the cats looked at me; quizical and frowning. I skritched their heads. That seemed to placate them. It was just after 2:00am when I finally went to bed.