The Un-Invention of Me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
One man and his dog at the end of the world.

Submitted: December 29, 2011

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Submitted: December 29, 2011



The Un-invention of Me My dream began on the ocean, where our bodies fell from ships like bait, and bobbed on the water like steaks wrapped in cotton. Sharks fed on the flakes of our skin like pets in a tank; their hunger mechanical, their snapping jaws empty of malice. Blood seeped and seeped like an unending oil slick, until the entire ocean looked like some red and ancient sea of Mars. Seagulls wailed and cawed above the frenzy, while their landward cousins – the whole world now their landfill – tugged at our sleeping flesh. Rodents scurried in the burnt-out carcasses of a hundred-thousand downed planes, nipping and ripping at our tanned remains. Swarms of flies as high as tower blocks tornadoed over our cities, dizzy from a panorama of a million million rotting hosts to choose from. We were the road-kill now. The animal kingdom, upon whose throne we had sat for millennia, was ours no more; its members, with tooth and claw, had returned us to the food chain. We, the masters, were now the meat. * I woke up hungry. The curtains were drawn tightly; my room a thick tomb of darkness whose warmth I never wanted to leave. My shaggy alsatian, Zak, lay at the bottom of the bed, chin resting on the fluffy pillow of his paws. He looked up at me, his bushy eyebrows arched in a facsimile of concern. Or expectation. Who knows? It becomes harder to read a dog's mind the further you venture from its basic needs. Perhaps he was just hungry. I slipped on my dressing gown and shuffled up the hallway to the kitchen. From the cupboards and drawers I gathered the things I'd need to prepare Zak's meal. These I assembled in a neat line on the counter-top – tin opener, can, bowl, dried food carton, scissors. I applied the same approach to my tea and toast – cup, milk, tea-bags, kettle, spoon, sugar, plate, bread, knife, butter. My kitchen looked like a surgical theatre. I drew the procedure out. How long had I taken these rituals for granted? I suppose I'd taken a lot of things for granted. 'You take this relationship for granted,' my girlfriend had told me as we'd argued in the park in-front of curious swarms of bystanders. 'Do you think I want to live like this? Don't you have any ambition? Don't you want to do something important with your life?' Zak gobbled his food down like there was no tomorrow, his bowl rattling off the floor-tiles like a dropped penny. I finished my toast in slow nibbles and gulps, tracing my finger around the plate to catch the fallen crumbs, and eating them, too. I walked through the living room and out onto the balcony. Zak followed me, his tail swishing like a fencer's sword. I ruffled the thick fur of his head and took a sip of tea. 'You're so self absorbed!' she'd screamed, the people in the park all turning to stare at me. 'You never do anything for anybody but yourself!' I sipped some more tea. Beneath the cherry blossoms at the foot of my flat - where bees buzzed and blades of grass swayed in the gentle summer breeze – lay clumps and clusters of bodies. My former neighbours were now mulch dressed in denim; all equalised in their deadness. A pram had been tipped like a wheelbarrow, a spider of tiny fingers dangling from the cot. I poured the tea over the balcony and went to fetch a crate of beer from the fridge. 'It's over,' she'd told me. 'It's over.' After a break-up, it sinks in that your partner's life will continue in your absence until death arrives to make a final stranger of you both; what I hadn't expected was that the gap between those two events would be measured in milliseconds. She fell to the grass. I hoped she'd just fainted;.her body shutting down in self-defence to prevent her from making the foolish mistake of finishing with me. Alas, nothing so remarkable had taken place: the world had ended. People folded like discarded marionettes; they buckled onto the grass to become 3-D chalk-outlines. All the while birds trilled and tweeted from the trees. A faint breeze licked at my T-shirt. I stood like a gazelle frozen by a lion's stare, waiting for my own body to drop like a bowling ball. It never happened. A squirrel rustled in the leaves of a nearby tree before leaping joyfully to a lower branch. It took two hours to walk home; hopskotching over bodies on my way through the unfinished cemetery the town had become. Shop alarms shrieked, and flames crackled from crashed cars. Lovers lay crumpled like drunks; children lay broken like old toys. The landscape looked like the aftermath of a bloodless war. I felt nothing but the dead weight of my legs as I dragged them along like two granite pillars. Once home I wrapped my arms around Zak's warm, pulsing neck and sat paralysed on the bed with him for what seemed like hours. I slammed the curtains shut on the collapsed civilisation outside my bedroom window and fell into my dream. My first beer made a hiss as its cap snapped off. And the second, and third, and tenth. The TV hissed, too, static pouring from every channel. The internet was silent. No updates, no chatter. I logged on to Facebook and left offensive messages on the pages of those I'd secretly hated. I put music on my hi-fi that was so loud it could've woken the dead, and then wished with all my heart that it would. Somewhere around midnight I almost drowned in pity. I fanned photographs across the floor, and arranged them like evidence in a murder inquiry. Zak kept sniffing them and occasionally standing on them as he padded over for a clap. 'It's over,' I told him, smelling the hot, sickly sweetness of his breath. When Alexander Graham Bell finished his prototype there were no other phones in existence with which to connect: now there were a billion phones, but no one to answer them. The telephone had been un-invented. I shook my cordless. Waved it, prodded its buttons, punched it, cradled it. Joked with it. 'Hello, is that Kelly Brook? I thought you might be up for it now that I’m the last man in the universe?' Ring again, I thought. Just once. Please... It didn't. I ripped it from the wall and hurled it off the balcony. It arced through the sky's street-lit murk, before smashing into the windscreen of my least-favourite neighbour's car; leaving a large, spider-web crack in the glass that made me want to do cartwheels. 'Walkies,' I told Zak. He gave me his best flop-tongued grin. * Zak sniffed at the bodies, their scent causing his eyes to narrow and his ears to flatten to the back of his head. I'd become used to the dead already. What had I really lost? This was probably the most time I'd spent in the company of my neighbours; this street jubilee in celebration of their putrescence. I happily frisbeed a frying-pan through a ground-floor kitchen window. The pane shattered with a series of splinter-tinkles, spraying shards and crumbs of glass into the darkened room beyond. It seemed somehow louder than a police siren, because I knew that was a sound I'd never again here. Zak barked, perhaps in triumph, perhaps because that's what dogs do. He seemed startled by the echo of his own bark. I was, too, until I realised that his echo was a reply. Within seconds it sounded like an orchestra of dogs was performing in the street. Barks exploded from every window, high and low, which sent Zak off in excited circles. I imagined the frenzied scratching of claws on a hundred-thousand front-doors; the collective howls of a million dogs rising to the sky like whale song; a billion Zaks wasting to bone in basements and back-rooms the country's length and breadth. All those times I'd stared blankly at the television, ingesting adverts about animal rescue with a shrug. Now it seemed I had a destiny; a place in this worldless New World Order. 'Don't you want to do something important with your life?' my girlfriend had asked me. I looked at Zak. He looked at me, his ears pinned up, head cocked to the side: a look of expectation. 'Feel like saving the world, boy?' I asked him. Christ of the Canines. What would my girlfriend have said about that?

© Copyright 2018 Jamie Andrew. All rights reserved.

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