Authors: Edwin Page
‘And what do you propose we do next?’ asked the suited man.
‘First, I’ll lead a group on a food run. That’s the priority. There’ll be
a lot of people out there sitting in their homes as they adjust to what’s
happened and so the stores will still be stocked, but once their food starts
running low and realisation dawns it won’t take long for the stores to become
battle grounds. After that we’ll search office buildings for extra water.’
‘Office buildings?’ asked a woman near the front on the right.
‘Water coolers,’ I stated simply. ‘Most people won’t think to look in
office blocks and so we’re unlikely to run into any trouble. While we’re there
we can take the canteen supplies and empty the dispensing machines of all the
‘Then we’ll search for medication. Painkillers will be top of the list.
We’ll also find bedding,’ I finished, seeing the nods of agreement amongst the
crowd and noting a growing confidence in the expressions of those gathered
‘So, who’s coming with me on the food run?’
‘Bob,’ I called
from the hall. I’d been checking our food supplies, grateful that I’d bought
extra for the Women’s Group meeting that was supposed to take place that
evening, something that meant we had a few more days in hand before needing to
leave the shelter of our home.
‘In here.’ His response was subdued.
I walked down the hall and entered the lounge to find him standing before
the shelving at the far side of the room. It took up the entire wall and was
filled with his DVD collection.
‘Is the power back on?’ I asked as I walked up to him and slipped my arm
about his waist.
He shook his head. ‘And I could have really gone for watching
right now,’ he said, turning to me with a forced smile.
I snorted with mild amusement.
His expression fell as he became thoughtful. ‘It makes me wonder what the
point of all this stuff really was,’ he stated, glancing around the room. ‘All
those hours we spent working, earning money to buy it and maintain the illusion
that it could make us happy. All those hours we spent apart. All that time we
could have shared.’ His voice started to waver with emotion and he swallowed,
shaking his head. ‘We thought we’d gained so much when we’d actually lost it.’
I moved to stand in front of him. ‘We didn’t lose it. See all those
family photos on the wall?’ I pointed at the selection of framed shots above
the fireplace, which we fondly called the Family Zone. ‘Each one of those shots
was taken on a timer.’
‘So, we didn’t go to some photography studio and have posed shots taken,
we used our money to go on day trips and holidays, to spend time with each
other. All the money we earned went into creating those smiles.’
‘Besides, I’ve never seen you so happy as when you’re reclining in the
Lazy-Dad, a can of beer in one hand, one of my homemade burgers in the other
and a good film playing,’ I said, using the nickname Chrissie used for his
I drew him close and kissed him tenderly, holding his teary gaze. ‘Anyway,
maybe this is our chance to make up for the time you think we’ve lost, our time
to rediscover each other.’ I ran my right hand across his chest, fingertips
tempting his casual shirt open as they passed over the front.
‘Where’s Chrissie?’ he asked, seeing the unmistakable look of desire in
my eyes, a desire which had awakened within me both suddenly and expectedly.
‘She’s up in her room sorting through her things,’ I replied, hearing the
faint sounds of her activities, my hand cupping him through his jeans.
Bob glanced over his shoulder at the door to the lounge, which was wide
open. ‘Not in here.’ He took hold of my hand and drew it away from his crotch.
‘I want you.’ I could feel my heat rising and my need was greater than it
had been for a long time.
I raised a finger to his lips momentarily, silencing his protest. ‘I thought
you wanted to make the most of the time we have,’ I said, seeing the struggle
in his eyes. ‘Come on, Max, where’s your va-va-vroom,’ I grinned.
Bob couldn’t help but chuckle. ‘Do you know how much I love you?’ he
asked, shaking his head in amusement.
‘Prove it,’ I replied, raising my right eyebrow and glancing down at the
bulge in his jeans.
He laughed again, the glitter of tears having vacated his eyes. ‘The
downstairs washroom,’ he stated, ‘but we’d better make it a quickie.’
I didn’t hesitate in leading him from the lounge and straight into the
washroom across the hall. I shut the door and drew the bolt across. Grinning, I
went to Bob and kissed him.
I pulled back, noticing that he was distracted and finding him looking
down at the bath. ‘What is it?’
‘We should fill it with water, and any containers we have lying around.
It probably won’t be long until the supply stops.’
I glanced at the bath on my left and then turned back to him. ‘That’s one
way to kill the mood,’ I stated, seeing his total lack of interest as his thoughts
turned to survival.
‘Sorry, it’s just…’ He took a deep breath, ‘…I want to keep you and
Chrissie safe, to get us through this.’
I nodded. ‘I know.’ I raised a hand to his face and brushed his cheek
with my thumb. ‘We’ll be fine.’
‘I’m not sure how long we can last out here.’
‘We’ve got enough food for a couple of weeks,’ I replied, ‘thanks to the extra
I bought for the Women’s Group.’
‘Can’t it last longer?’ He held my gaze and the concern was apparent in
‘We could probably stretch it.’
I shrugged and my hand fell away from his face. ‘I don’t know. Maybe
another week, two at the most.’
Bob shook his head. ‘We’ve got to leave,’ he stated after a moment.
‘Soon. Once people start to realise the importance of food there’s going
to be chaos.’
‘There’s already chaos.’
‘Worse,’ he stated, his tone grave. ‘People will do anything to survive.’
A chill arose in response to the gravity of his words. ‘You think it
could get bad?’
He nodded. ‘Very. We need to go somewhere safe.’
He looked down thoughtfully and then returned his gaze to mine. ‘The
‘The Adirondacks? How will we survive?’
‘I don’t have all the answers, I just know we need to go somewhere safe,
or at least safer than we are here.’
‘Do you think there’ll be another attack?’
Bob shook his head. ‘It’s doubtful, but what we have here is a shell, a
relic of what we had before. It won’t be long before we have to leave it
behind. Better now than when everyone else comes to the same realisation.’
‘Surely there’s some way to stay. We could plant fruit and vegetables,
collect rainwater. The yard’s big enough to grow plenty.’
‘And what do we do in the months between planting and any yield? What do
we do when the rain doesn’t come or if it’s radioactive and we start to become
ill.’ He shook his head again. ‘No, we have to leave, and the sooner the
‘There’s got to be a way we can make it work,’ I responded. I’d already thought
about the need to leave, but it was hypothetical, a what if? Now I was
confronted with the direct reality and fear arose in response.
‘There isn’t,’ said Bob fatalistically.
‘How’s it going to be any better in the mountains? At least we know Burlington
and have friends here. If we help each other out we can make it through.’
‘Through to what?’ he asked pointedly.
‘To…’ My mouth hung open as I found myself without an answer. ‘To after
‘After all this?’
‘Surely the government will be working to get things back to normal? The
army will be called in to keep order and the infrastructure will be rebuilt.’
He looked at me soulfully. ‘Leah,’ he said softly, ‘this wasn’t some
localised catastrophe or terrorist attack, this was nuclear war. There may be
no government, no army, no one left to hold things together when they start to
‘Go bad?’ I said fearfully. ‘What do you mean “go bad”?’
‘You’ve watched enough movies with me to know what happens when
everything falls apart. When society collapses order collapses with it and
people become a law unto themselves.’
‘You really think it’s that bad?’
‘I think it will be.’
I stared at him, my heart pounding as the truth of what he’d said sank
in. I already knew it in truth, but just needed someone else to say it to me in
order to confirm my fears.
‘We could make this place secure,’ I suggested weakly, feeling nauseous
as my stomach churned.
‘From fallout as well as from people?’
‘How do you know we’ll be safe from fallout in the mountains?’
I looked into his eyes and wished he’d lied to me, wished he’d told me
that we’d be fine in the mountains, would find shelter and a way to survive. I
needed Bob to tell me he was in control and we would be safe. ‘So why leave?’ I
asked, swallowing back against the rising urge to vomit.
‘It’s inevitable,’ he stated. ‘Better to face it now and leave while
things out there are still relatively quiet.’
‘Not if last night was anything to go by.’
‘It’s quiet now. I’ll take the Falcon and go to the dealership tonight,
pick us up an RV.’
‘You’re going to steal one?’ I responded in surprise.
‘There’s not enough room in the Falcon for everything we need to take
with us. We can live in an RV.’
‘But you’re going to steal it.’
Bob nodded. ‘Yes.’ He tried to hold my gaze, but turned away, looking to
the bath. ‘We should fill it now.’
I stood in silence. We were law abiding citizens and now, less than
twenty-four hours after the bombs had dropped, Bob was already suggesting grand
He moved past me to the taps, turning both to full flow after putting in
the plug. The sound of pouring water filled the small room.
‘Doesn’t that mean we’re part of the collapse, that we’re helping it
‘It’s reality, Leah. We need something bigger if we’re going to survive.
The RV dealership is just down the road a ways. I’ll be in and out. I’ll bring
it back and we can pack it up and be gone by morning. We can spend the day
today getting everything together that we’re going to need.’
‘I don’t know,’ I replied with a shake of my head.
‘I do. This is the only way.’
‘Mommy? Daddy?’ Chrissie’s voice came from the other side of the door.
‘What are you doing in there?’
‘Just filling the bath so that we have water if the supply stops,’ stated
Bob, reaching forward and quietly sliding the bolt back before opening the
Chrissie regarded us both curiously and glanced to the steadily filling
bath. ‘Do you want me to fill the upstairs sink?’
‘Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,’ nodded Bob.
She regarded me for a moment. ‘Are you okay, Mommy?’
I blinked and took a wavering breath, my stomach still churning. ‘Fine,’
I replied with a nod.
‘We should find all the containers we can and fill them in the kitchen,’
said Bob as he stepped from the room and Chrissie moved back.
A thoughtful expression dawned upon her pale face. ‘If the water stops
does that mean we won’t be able to visit the little room?’
Bob glanced at me and then turned to her. ‘We’ll cross that bright if and
when we come to it,’ he said, neatly sidestepping the issue.
She looked at him and I expected another question to pass her lips, but
she eventually gave a vague nod and then turned to head back upstairs and fill
‘What will we do?’ I asked in a whisper.
‘We could flush it down with some of the saved water? Hopefully the
supply will keep running while we’re still here.’
‘And on the road?’
‘We’ll be fine,’ he said, reaching out and touching my arm in a brief
gesture of reassurance, one that fell short of the mark thanks to the doubt
evident in his tone and his eyes.
A convoy of five
vehicles moved along the street, a Cherokee bringing up the rear with me riding
shotgun in the black Ford Raptor at the front, three glorified shopping carts
between. One of three handguns we’d rounded up from the congregation rested on
my lap, the fingers of my right hand gripping it tightly as we headed to the
nearest store, a few people wandering aimless, only a couple of other cars on
the road, both heading north in the other direction and packed with belongings
as people began to flee, but you can’t run from your fate.
‘Expecting trouble?’ asked Dodge, glancing at the gun and seeing the
whites of my knuckles.
‘Just ready for it, is all,’ I replied, looking out of the pickup as we
passed a police patrol vehicle that was abandoned on the sidewalk outside a row
of stores, the windshield shot out and bullet holes riddling the bodywork, the
front of a nearby jewellers lying in shards on the tarmac.
‘Think we’ll run into some?’ asked the twenty year old as he glanced in
the rear-view, the shadow of stubble highlighting his square jaw.
‘How many people have realised that the food they have at home won’t last
Dodge nodded to himself, seemingly unfazed by the possibility of a
confrontation as he idly scratched the John Travolta cleft in his chin.
‘Most people will be a state of shock or denial, hunkering down in their
homes and hoping this is some bad dream. It’s when they wake up and smell the
espresso that things will get manic.’
Dodge sat for a while as we stared out at the vacant streets. It was like
a fucking ghost town, the cars that sometimes sped by only serving to increase
the feeling that we were heading in the wrong direction as thick cloud blocked
out the sun and the southern horizon was stained with the darkness of smoke
rising from distant fires that continued to rage in the wreckage of New York.
‘Were you really in a band?’ he asked, wanting to distract his mind from
growing feelings of discomfort.
I nodded. ‘Yeah. A stadium rock band.’
‘What were you called?’
‘Atlanta,’ I replied as memories of crowded stadiums stirred in my mind,
hands waving in the air, lighters raised to ballads, the screams and shouts,
the pulsing audience when we rocked out the night.
‘Did you have any hits?’
Warriors of Rock
was the biggest. It got to number three. We were
around at the same time as Kiss, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, The Cult, Guns and
Roses.’ I shook my head. ‘Glory days.’
‘That’s a bit before my time, but I guess Springsteen would have been in
his prime back then.’
‘I met him once, backstage at a gig.’
Dodge turned to me with a look of interest. ‘Really?’
‘Yeah, the Boss dropped by one of our shows.’
‘What was he like?’ he asked before turning his attention back to the
‘When it came to cool, the Fonz just wasn’t in the game.’
‘The Fonz?’ He glance over in confusion.
‘Probably a bit before your time too,’ I responded as we drew close to
We pulled into the emptiness of the parking lot. A beaten-up old Chevy in
cherry red was idling in front of the store, a kid with the bottom half of his
face covered by a black bandana sitting behind the wheel.
He turned as we drove in and sounded the car horn a couple of times. The
store front beyond the car was smashed out, a dark mouth that led into the
‘Pull up in front of him,’ I instructed as we made our way across.
Dodge gunned the Raptor and we skidded to a halt before the old auto, the
youth raising a handgun into view and looking agitated as he kept glancing at
the broken store window. I jumped out, gun pointed at the windshield as the
rest of the convoy came to a stop and people climbed out.
I moved around to the passenger side, the window wound down and the kid
aiming his handgun at me as I stood on the sidewalk in front of the store.
Hearing the crunch of shattered glass, I turned to find three teens walking
out. Two were carrying a huge TV between them and the third had a sound system
cradled in his arms. I stared at the fruits of their looting and shook my head.
‘We got a problem?’ asked the kid at the far end of the TV, his beady eyes
narrowed as he regarded me.
‘I was just wondering what you gonna do with it, watch the blank screen?’
I asked sarcastically. ‘There isn’t a single brain cell between you.’
He lowered his end, his companion following suit. Reaching behind him, he
withdrew a pistol that had been tucked into the back of his jeans. ‘What did
you say?’ he growled, glaring at me as the rest of my group gathered to the
right, those with weapons adjusting their grips with nervous anticipation.
‘You heard me well enough,’ I replied, my gaze unblinking as I stared
straight back at him.
He raised his gun and pointed at me gangster style, holding it sideways.
‘Yeah, but I bet you haven’t got the balls to say it again.’
‘Do you believe in God?’ I asked.
Confusion registered in his expression. ‘What the fuck are you talking
‘It’s a simple question.’
‘What are you, some crazy Jesus crusaders out here to save our souls?’
‘You could say that,’ I replied. ‘You still haven’t answered my
‘No, I don’t believe in no God.’
The gunshot ripped through the stillness of the parking lot. Blood trickled
from the wound in his forehead, his eyes crossing as he looked upwards.
He crumpled to the ground with a dull thud and I pointed the smoking
barrel at the two other teens standing before the broken window.
‘How about you? Do you believe in God?’
‘You killed Kenny,’ stated the Asian kid with the sound system in his
arms, looking at his buddy’s body.
‘I’m surprised no one’s done it before,’ I replied coldly. ‘Now, answer
the fucking question.’
The teen who’d been helping to carry the television nodded, his white
blonde hair crew cut and a peach fuzz moustache on his youthful face. ‘Yeah, I
believe,’ he replied, shifting on his feet and looking as if his blue jacket
was making him itch.
I looked back to the kid with the sound system, pointing my gun at him
and my brow furrowing slightly as I noticed the distinct similarity between him
and the teen in the car. ‘And you?’
He glanced down at the body before him and then nodded.
‘You in the car,’ I said over my shoulder without turning my gaze from
the pair before me. ‘Do you believe in God?’
‘Yeah,’ he replied simply, his voice subdued.
I stood in thought for a moment, an idea coming to me as I regarded the
disenchanted and misguided youths. ‘How would you like to be God’s Enforcers?’
‘God’s Enforcers?’ asked peach fuzz with nervous confusion.
I nodded. ‘I am the Voice of God. You’d be His hands. I know how to get
through this.’ I glanced at the choking horizon to the south. ‘And if you’re
not afraid of getting your hands dirty, I could sure use your help.’
‘What are you talking about, Clark?’ asked Dodge.
I turned to those who’d accompanied me from the church, lowering my gun
as I did so. They were all looking at me in agitated concern after witnessing
me gunning down the youth.
‘Listen to me, all of you,’ I said loudly, briefly looking at the two
youths before turning my attention back to the group. ‘This isn’t a fucking
church picnic. This is the end of days. The world you knew is over. “I looked and
there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death and Hades was
following close behind him”,’ I quoted.
‘Death is coming to us all. Can’t you hear the sound of the pale horse
approaching? If you leave your fate to Reverend Peters you’ll soon find Death’s
painful shadow upon you. If you follow me, I will take away your pain and your
passing will be made easier.’
‘There’s no chance of surviving?’ asked Clive, a man in his early sixties
with close-set eyes flanking a long nose.
‘This world’s time has come. Humanity’s time has come. For those who have
lived righteous lives awaits everlasting life by the Lord’s side. For those who
haven’t only eternal damnation awaits.’
The small group exchanged glances.
‘The Reverend’s been ordained. He’s the one chosen to be the voice of
God,’ stated Claire, who was standing to the right of the group, in her
mid-forties and rotund, her large calves visible below the knee-line of her
‘The Reverend is a fool,’ I responded sharply. ‘Follow me and I will ease
your passing and it may be that God’s grace shines upon you and you are
forgiven your sins for hearing His voice in mine, for He uses my voice by which
‘This is blasphemy,’ stated Claire with a shake of her head. ‘Your voice
is false and your words are twisted by the Devil himself.’
I shook my head. ‘Long have I endured your stares and derision, but I did
not falter for I felt God’s presence in my heart and mind. He showed me this vision
of the future almost thirty years ago and I’ve waited for it to become a
reality ever since. Now it has. The time has come when the pale horse rides
across this land and I am here to ease its passing.’
‘A vision?’ asked Dodge.
I gave a nod. ‘A vision so clear and true that it shook me to my very
foundations. It changed my life. From that day on I became God’s vessel,
letting Him work through me, use me, guide every footstep and every word. And I
tell you, I
the Voice of God,’ I stated with firm assurance.
‘You don’t speak for God, you only speak for yourself,’ said Claire with
a sneer of disapproval.
I stared at her a moment and then turned to the peach fuzz youth standing
by the TV. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Shane,’ I repeated with a nod. ‘You ready to act as a Hand of God, to be
one of His Enforcers?’ I asked, raising my eyebrows and looking back towards
He glanced at her. ‘You want I should kill her.’
I nodded and raised my pistol once again, pointing it at him. ‘It’s you
or her. Your choice.’
He struggled with the decision for a few moments, breathing heavily and a
sheen of perspiration building on his forehead. Stepping to where Kenny’s body
lie on the broken glass, he picked up his companion’s gun.
‘You can’t let him do this,’ protested Claire, backing away and looking
to the others that had come from the church.
They stood in shock, trying to take in what was happening and kept pinned
by their inability to adjust.
‘Someone do something,’ she pleaded as Shane began to move towards her
and I watched with my gun still pointed at the teen.
The shot rang out, a slight echo following across the parking lot. I
watched with satisfaction as Claire looked to her chest in horror, a blood
stain spreading upon her baby pink blouse.
‘Finish it,’ I stated, lowering the gun to my side.
Another shot sounded. Claire was jolted by the impact, falling backwards.
She fell to the ground where a disability parking sign was painted on the
asphalt, the aptness causing me to smile thinly. Her body twitched, the last
residue of life fighting to remain but soon fading out as a pool of blood
spread about her body.
‘Anyone else have a problem with me taking charge?’ I asked, turning my
attention to the stunned spectators.
They all turned to me, fear in their eyes.
He shook his head. ‘No,’ he replied weakly.
‘Then you’ll all follow me?’ I asked, adjusting my grip on the pistol.
He nodded, the others following suit.
‘Good.’ My smile grew. ‘The fear is only temporary,’ I reassured. ‘When you
feel the touch of God in everything I ask you to do, that fear will go and you’ll
know I act on His behalf.’
I looked at Shane as he lowered his weapon, hands trembling and face
pale. ‘You’ve done God’s work,’ I stated. ‘She was an unbeliever and had no
place among us. You gave her a quick and merciful death.’
The kid doubled over and vomited in front of the doors to the store, the
sound of bile splattering on the ground rising in the hush. I looked to the
others and could see it in their eyes. They thought I was unhinged, but I knew
it wouldn’t be long until they too felt the touch of God, until they knew I was
speaking the truth and had truly been chosen to host the end times.
‘We should start collecting up the food,’ I stated. ‘Get some carts and
we’ll get stocked up. Then it’s on to the hospital for painkillers and anything
else that may help ease our passing.’
‘So we’re really all going to die?’ asked Dodge in a whisper.
‘Yes,’ I stated with authority. ‘It’s God’s Will. He’s brought our time
to an end and none shall be left standing. His judgement won’t be complete
until we’ve all passed through the doors of death.’
‘What if some survive?’
I shook my head and smiled knowingly. ‘He’ll not allow that to happen.
We’re all called before Him now. It’s time. Those who didn’t die in the strikes
will fade away like ghosts due to the radiation poisoning. There’s nowhere to
hide from it and nowhere to run.’
‘What about those who made it to bunkers, members of the government or
the military?’ asked Clive.
‘They can’t stay in them forever. For a time they’ll huddle in the confines,
wondering at the world outside, wondering at the fate of those they loved. Then
they’ll be forced to venture out when their food and water dwindles to nothing.
They’ll be faced with the destruction and devastation wrought by God, by a
world in the throes of death. They’ll see his power and know that theirs’ is as
nothing in comparison, finally seeing the foolishness of their arrogance and
contempt, but it’ll be too fucking late.
‘Everything they held dear will have passed away; their power, wealth,
possessions, those they loved. They’ll be the ones left to mourn as they starve
and the radiation sickness slowly takes hold. They are going to suffer.’ The
final statement was said with relish.