Friday, 12 December 2014

The routine

Bernard Hardy stared into the darkness, stared at the curtain-less window. A faint, barely perceptible tinge of light was evident, dawn was on the way.

The dining chair felt like concrete beneath his buttocks. The hours of immobility had taken their toll on his muscles and joints. He ached like a bitch, but still he remained motionless. They would hear any movement.

Hardy sat without moving, without blinking, and strove to sit without even thinking, as the light grew, crept to grey, crawled to full daylight. Then, and only then, did he feel safe to move.

They couldn't see movement in full light. Couldn't hear movement in full light. The day brought them deafness and blindness. They shut down until the fading day came around again, renewing, revigorating.

Hardy stuck to his routine. He had survived where most had not. His routine gave him life, continued existence.

He ate, bathed, then slept. His alarm would wake him before dusk. He would replace everything back exactly where it had been. Nothing must change. A place for everything and everything in its place. They would notice the difference, would investigate, would discover him.

Hardy had no idea how much of the town's population still survived, he hadn't been out of the house in a while, not since his last supermarket scavenge, but he suspected it would not be many. If the initial TV reports were to be believed the situation was global, so Hardy supposed that the world population had dwindled somewhat too.

The TV reports were no more, of course. TV was no more. Radio was no more. Traffic was no more. Electricity was no more. Muchly most of everything was no more.

Except them. They were more. They were everywhere. Watching, listening, snuffling... eating.

Creatures of the shadows.

When they first came they were like foxes in the chicken coops. Glutting out on the abundant flesh.

Now most of the chickens were gone they searched for change, for sounds, for anything that signified food presence.

The smallest things warranted attention. A fuller trash can, a recently closed blind, a fresh footprint.

Hardy awoke to the ringing of the clockwork alarm, the sound jarring his senses.

He forced himself to a sitting position, his brain struggling to become fully aware, to take In his surroundings. His almost constant depression made his first hour of consciousness the worst of the day, the hardest to deal with.

He sometimes wondered if he should just end his routine. Just give himself to them, but his fear always won out, and every evening saw him walking the walk, checking that everything was just where it should be. Just where it was when they first came.

As the light began to fade again, Hardy placed the chair back into its exact spot, sat in it in the exact same position, and tried to think of not moving.

Winter is coming, and the nights are getting longer.

Hardy stared unblinkingly at the window, watching the darkness creep back in, and did wonder to himself how much longer he could carry on doing this.

©2014 Stephen. J. Green.