This is another story from the old blog
He missed the sunshine, that difference between day and night. There was not a sound beyond his footsteps and the occasional harmonica music which he played when the silence became too terrible.
If he were to guess, he’d say it had been three weeks since he woke in a world of perpetual evening. The sky was dark, with sparkly clouds. This seemed to go along with no modern technology working. There was the trees, devoid of leaves, reaching out as if in fear of something as yet unseen. The streets of this town were empty and nothing was working, so he picked up some supplies from an abandoned shop and walked towards the next town of village to see what had happened. He’d been doing that since he stumbled onto that first town a fortnight ago. There was no one there, no one at all. He could wind up his watch, but 12am, looked very much like 12pm if you saw the sky.
As he hit the motorway, full of abandoned and stationary cars, his thoughts were cold and melancholic. What if this was it? What if there’s no one else? What if he was alone in the world? He laughed a morose laugh, wasn’t too long ago that it would be a good thing.
He name was Steve, not that many called him by name. He was a commercial pilot, when he needed work at least. He ferried post to more remote areas, some charter flights for photographers over hills and mounts. It was a job that required almost the bare minimum dealing with people. He’d work six months out of the year and the rest of the time he’d hide out in his cabin, far from anyone. He’d been delivering something by air when the sky turned black. There must have been a crash, but he didn’t remember it, he woke next to his plane three weeks ago and the sun hadn’t risen since.
On one of his raiding trips, he picked up a wind up touch, a mirror and some shaving stuff. Next to the the motorway was a stream, so Steve stopped to shaved. It had seemed a ridiculous idea at first, but that bit of routine and ritual, reminded him that even in this twilight limbo, he was still a man. He caught his reflection in the torchlight, his hair was more unkempt than usual, a mess of light brown hair with touches of silver, he looked at least ten years older than his 35 years and his grey-blue eyes looked colder than ever. He’d not read a book, listened to music, or even met a single person for three weeks, no sign of any people at all. Steve was a terrible misanthrope, but now even he missed people.
Even here along the motorway heading north, the trees were cold and twisted charactures of themselves, like gnarled hands reaching for a sun that no longer shined.
He found a bus, turned on its side, windows broken, the doors torn, there even seemed to be blood splattered on the steats. Steve looked at the door, it looked like it was torn, like with an axe, or something clawed. He walked on, unsure of what to do.
Hours passed and in the distance was a large building, looked somewhat like a pub. It had been a long time since he’d had any alcohol and it’s not like he didn’t enjoy that. When he got there, he found the door had been forced, more signs of axes or claws and parts of the doors were splintered. Steve walked in, the footsteps of his boots echoed through the place. The whole place had been ransacked quite comprehensively. He looked around to see if there was any booze left. After a fruitless look around, he turned to leave, then he heard a creak. He looked behind what was left of the bar and found a trap door to the cellar. He wound up the torch some more and made his way down. The steps creaked under his feet and when he was at the bottom of the stars, he felt what turned out to be a cricket bat, smashed into the back of his head.
He wasn’t out long, certainly not long enough to ease the headache he had. He was sat up, with his hands bound. In the perpetual gloom, he saw the light from his torch and heard the first words from someone else in 22 days. “If I have to kill you, I will.”
“And why would you have to?”
“Are you kidding me? After everything that’s happened?” It was a young woman’s voice, northern accent, a frightened tone.
“I have no idea what has happened, you’re the first living creature I have seen in three weeks, since the sky turned black.”
“Three weeks, what are you talking about? That happened six months ago.
“Six months?” Steve couldn’t believe it, for a second and least. Then it made a degree of sense, the lack of people, the unearthly quiet, the appearance of neglect. “Six months.”
“Sorry, figured you knew.”
Steve’s heart sank, the woman placed the torch on top of something and Steve saw her. She was young, early 20s, blonde hair, bound in a ponytail, he clothes were grubby and worn and her eyes were haunted.
“I’m Steve, from Richmond originally, but live in the Welsh mountains normally. Funny, never expected to introduce myself again. Been walking her from Conwy, you’re the first I’ve seen. What happened?”
She took a long breath and began talking, holding back tears repeatedly.
“I was working a shift, just wondering whether to quit or not, when the sky started getting dark. I saw some of it on telly, like black holes appearing in the sky. More and more until the whole sky was black. There was panicking and then looting and all sorts. I were terrified myself and everyone left to be with their loved ones, not really having loved ones, I stayed here. I hid. A day or two later, there was a flash and then everything sort of stopped working, phones telly, lights, even ….. other stuff. Few days or so later the creatures came.”
“I call them Darklings, you ever watch Lord of the Rings?”
“Read the books.”
“Kind of like the monsters and that in there. They were riding some other things, I can’t even describe.”
“The army and other locals went after them. I can’t even…… they were all killed. I grabbed whatever I could put my hands on and came back in and hid. Then they went door to door and went after everyone they missed. Men, women, children, dogs, all of them. The sounds, I can still hear all those sounds. They even broke in here, maybe looking for me, but I hid here. I’ve run out of food, but I can’t leave, after what I know is out there, I just can’t do it.”
“No one out there now, I haven’t seen any of this. The only sign that matches what you saw was an overturned bus.” Steve looked at her, shaking, but not just from fear. “I had a bag with me when you wellied me in the head, there’s some cereal bars in there, some drink too, willing to share if you cut me free after.”
“Why not before?”
“Then what’s in it for you? This way, you know I am not lying.”
After she ate and cut him free, Maria just started sobbing, a little at first, then uncontrollably. Steve was uncomfortable, but knew the thing to do was hold her. Though he was no more a fan of people then before, this was the first person he had seen in a long time and he would not abandon her to despair. He held her and the two feel into the sleep of the exhausted. The recent revelations spun Steve’s mind as sleep claimed him. Six months lost, black holes, monsters, where were all the dead bodies. Maybe some thoughts didn’t need to be finished. He thought that waking up in a world without people was harrowing, but worse was knowing why.