Lockdown 75

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Paul Ambrose was really struggling with the whole lockdown of 2020. It was just the worst thing ever. Cooped up in the house all day. It was like being in prison.

Paul Ambrose was so fed up with the lockdown. He understood about the virus and staying home but being cooped up in the house every day was just torture. There was just nothing to do. It was the worst thing ever. He was drinking every evening and snapping at his wife. Laura’s positive outlook was infuriating. He would moan and complain and she would constantly undermine his pessimism with ridiculously sunny comments.

He was forty years old and yet the Government had grounded him like a naughty child. It was, he grumbled to Laura, like being in prison. It had been seventy five days. Seventy five days of being more or less house-bound. Through the warmest days of the year so far, he had been able to do little more than sit in his small garden. No family barbecue, no beer garden, no beach trips. They should be able to go somewhere, do something. It was their lives. The Government should be advising them, warning them, not dictating. If people were worried they could stay home. If they decided to go out, they would know the risk they were taking.

After being furloughed from his office job at the start of lockdown, the novelty of the break from work had quickly worn off. The days since had been like one boring Sunday after another. I hate this house, he would grumble under his breath. He would stare out the window at the empty street. This was just unbearable. He was just sick of his home and everything in it. Even the word depressed him. Home. This house.

One morning he crossed his small lawn to the recycling bins at the bottom of the garden. As usual he clutched his empty cans from the night before. He tossed them in the bin with a clatter. As he was heading back across the grass to the house he lost his footing. He tumbled forward, arms flailing.

Paul landed hard on cobbles. His hands stung, felt like they were on fire. A loud crack-crack-cracking sound rang out. Hands grabbed him and yanked him to his feet. Paul stared in shock at the men standing around him. They were soldiers, dressed in green uniform. They had tired, dirty faces and eyes that said they’d seen and done horrific things. The thousand-yard stare of the war-scarred. Paul looked around. He was no longer in his small Manchester garden.

The street was like no street he’d ever walked down. The buildings were small and quaint, but most were in ruins. Through shop windows he could see rubble and destruction. Most of the houses were just empty shells, roofs and some walls missing. An expression came to mind, war-torn. Yes, this street had clearly been bombed blasted and shot to pieces by whatever was going on. He noticed a sign over a shop front window. Boulangerie. His school boy French told him that it had been a bakery before all this chaos. Was he in France? Belgium?

One of the soldiers gave him a nudge. The guy was in his mid-twenties but he had the air of a much older, more experienced person. Maybe whatever war they were fighting had aged him.

‘Keep with us, and keep your head down. You’ll kop it from Jerry otherwise.’

Paul nodded and followed the group as they made their way carefully along the street. Each man watched their surroundings, rifle raised in a practised sweeping motion. Paul kept alongside, walking at a crouch. What was going on? This was like something from a War film. Suddenly it clicked. He wasn’t sure how or why it had happened but this was a scene from the Second World War. The lads he was with were British soldiers in occupied Europe, fighting Jerry, or Nazi Germany. Unsure if he was asleep or if the lockdown had finally caused him to lose his grip on reality completely, he tagged along with the soldiers.

They turned a corner and stepped out into a wider avenue. The cracking sound of gunfire rang out. As they dropped back to the cover of doorways and sheltered orners one of the soldiers fell under the gunfire. His body jerked and twisted as enemy machine-gun fire tore into it. His hands clawed, pleading  at the heavens, before he slumped lifelessly to the floor.

The men returned fire in the direction of the enemy guns. One man tossed a hand-grenade out along the street. A second later a deep boom rocked the ground beneath them. The air was thick with dust as the troops stormed down the road, aiming and firing. Paul stumbled and staggered along behind them, his heart pounding.

Having cleared the street of enemy soldiers the men moved on, again, carefully, slowly, ready for the attack.

Later, as darkness was falling, the sergeant turned to his men.

‘We’ll stop and bunk down for the night.’

The men nodded, yes serge, and slowed their pace. They found an abandoned house. They made themselves comfortable, lighting one lamp in the middle of the boxish living room. The troops flopped on sofas and arm chairs or lounged on the luxury of the rug-covered floor. Long shadows danced over the room and the men’s tired features. They lit cigarettes and tried to relax. Paul picked a spot on the floor against the sofa. The guy next to him offered him a cigarette. Paul shook his head. It seemed he was the only person in the group not smoking. In the lamp-glow the smoke hung thick in the air.

‘I’m Ged.’ The guys said.

Paul introduced himself.

‘Where’s your uniform?’ he asked.

‘I’m not in the army.’ Paul said.

‘We’re at war. Everyone is in the army these days.’

‘Not where I am from.’ Paul replied.

‘Where’s that?’ another man asked.

‘I’m from 2020.’

‘Never heard of it. Is it round here, in France?’

‘Erm, no, not really.’

‘And what’s going on in Twenty-twenty?’

‘It’s not good. There’s a virus, a global pandemic. My life is just awful. Everyone is miserable.’

‘How’s that?’

‘Everyone has to stay at home. We can’t go out or do anything. It’s really bad.’

The men erupted into laughter, guffawing and wiping their eyes at the hilarity of the comment.

‘Very good,’ one lad pointed. ‘you nearly had me there.’

‘Stuck at home,’ said a guy with a scar on his cheek. ‘the chance would be a fine thing. I’ve not been home for three years.’

‘Really?’

‘Aye, and Dennis here has a kid that he’s never set eyes on.’

The men drifted off to sleep. Paul felt his eyelids growing heavy. He quickly joined the men and fell asleep.

He heard someone call his name a moment later. Was it time for the men to be on the move? Had Jerry found them?

His wife was standing above him. He was back in his garden.

‘Are you okay, love?’ she asked.

‘Had a bit of a funny turn.’ Paul replied, getting to his feet.

‘Can I get you anything?’

‘I could murder a cup of tea.’ He smiled.

As they headed for the kitchen his wife could have sworn she could smell cigarette smoke.


Submitted: May 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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hullabaloo22

That was a clever bit of interweaving, CT. Every day is just like a Sunday to those that are not essential workers. They've sure managed to make a different societal divide.

Tue, May 5th, 2020 7:18pm

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