You dig out a fraying scarf and use it to wipe the sweat from your eyes. The day is mild but you are dressed for the artificial chill of the bunker. The natural light of the sun burns your retinas. A dull throb in your temples warns of an impending headache. You curse the loss of your last pair of sunglasses in the most recent skirmish. You perch on the side of an overturned Coles truck, carefully scanning the crumbling homes and weed-choked footpaths for any sign of movement. The air is oppressively still, the silence palpable. Almost painful. Your ears strain for any hint of life. You desire movement and you dread it. Your Smith & Wesson is glued to your moistened palm. You resist the temptation to rest your finger on the trigger. You remember the first time you held a gun. You remember the chill in your blood matching the cold indifference of the steel in your hand, the unexpected weight almost dragging the weapon from your loosened grip. That was after the bombs. After the raids. After guns and blood and death ceased being a Hollywood construct and became your daily bread. You swing your arm to the right, pointing your weapon in the direction of a harsh crack, straining to penetrate the shadows through narrowed eyes. Just a piece of falling debris, you decide several minutes later, allowing trembling arms to return to your side. You are relieved and disappointed. You should be savouring the momentary peace, but you are acutely aware that you reside within the storm’s eye. A small, unacknowledged, part of your heart despises the serenity, welcomes its transience, eagerly awaits the coming chaos. Before the war, in the world-that-was, you despised the sensation of adrenaline flooding your veins. Now you crave the exhilaration and terror of combat, the struggle to eke out one more moment of existence. It is as necessary to you as food and water. A sharp whistle warns of an incoming patrol. You count bodies as they pass your position, relieved to find none missing. You exchange banalities and bawdy jokes before signalling the all-clear to the other sentries. One of the younger recruits tosses up a bag of Minties she managed to scavenge in an attempt to curry favour. You give her a wink and a wave as she disappears into the bunker. The suffocating silence returns and you resume your scrutiny of the surrounding ruins. You savour the long-missed freshness of mint and contemplate rewarding the recruit for her initiative. Your concentration wavers as you anticipate sharing your bed for the first time since the bombs detonated.
I took a course at uni entitled Writing Apocalypse: Histories and Speculation. Our seond assignment was to write a 500 word piece with the theme of ‘apocalypse’ inspired by, or in response to, our course readings and tutorial discussions. We were allowed to interpret the word ‘apocalypse’ rather broadly. This is my piece as it was submitted. Next week, I will re-post this piece incorporating the changes that were suggested by my marker. I recieved 82% for this assessment. This is my first attempt at writing in second person and it was extremely difficult!
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Categories: Fiction Friday