I must admit, I had absolutely no ideas for this week’s ‘weird words’. Normally, I’m overflowing with ridiculous ideas, so ridiculous that they really shouldn’t be written down at all, in fact. Then when I need them… POOF! They’re gone. Fortunately, this week I was inspired by a very rainy drive to work today and a writing competition by Margaret Atwood.
A Year Of Armageddon
Hester drove through conditions that felt like a combination of being on board the sinking Titanic and witnessing the beginning of Armageddon. She rode a motorbike that was clearly near death, and she wore an outfit reminiscent of the Invisible Man in disguise; an industrial, plastic jumpsuit zipped up to the bridge of her nose, thick black scuba goggles and a yellow workman’s helmet. Rain, hail and other matter thrashed her intermittently, as if the sky were having a sneezing fit.
Things had got pretty weird when the news had come in that it was the ‘end of the world’, but not in the way you would have expected it to. The seas dried up, every bit of them. No one really understood how, they just went, only indefinite craters of crisp, dead sea animals remained. The skies turned a strange haze of purple, the kind of colour that looks beautiful but is probably deadly poisonous. And, daytime and nighttime started arriving at all sorts of random times. People had to carry torches with them everywhere just incase night hit unexpectedly.
The real shock was that it was still going on though. Everyone had expected the end of the world to last just one day, two at the most. It had continued for months though, until finally, it reached a year.
“A year, one whole year of the world ending.” Hester said “365 days of being whacked in the face with seaweed and jellyfish on the way to work.”
“They don’t sting when they’re dead though, do they!?” Replied Amanda, innocently.
“No, but it still bloody hurts!”
Hester and Amanda worked on a conveyor belt of an inflatables factory. When businesses realised that the end of the world was going to take a little while, they invested in making millions of inflatable items for when the floods came. A flood usually hit once or twice a week, not quite enough to kill you, but just enough to wish you were dead. The factory had inflatable dining tables, sofas, fireplaces, cots, bowls, ovens, fridges and even, inflatable attachments to make your car float. This was the extent people were willing to go to deny that the world was ending, entire inflatable houses.
“You should be happy.” Said Amanda, cheerfully “You’re alive, at least!”
“There’s no point living like your dead.”
“Oh, give over!” Said Amanda “We have fun!”
At that moment, a tidal wave of rain crashed on to the roof of the factory, leaving a dent the size of a bus. Hester massaged her temples, irritably. She waited a few moments to see if the alarm would go off. It didn’t, she carried on folding a pair of inflatable knee-high boots.
There it was, as she’d expected. Wonderful.
“Everybody out!” Shouted the factory supervisor “Pronto people, this is not a drill.”
The factory workers slowly began to move, some finishing folding and packaging their items. This was not the first time they’d heard this warning. Amanda jumped up enthusiastically and started heading towards the exit.
“Come on!” She shouted back “If it’s not the end of the world, we can have a tea break!”
Hester smirked. They did have some fun. She stood up slowly and started to pull on her waterproof jumpsuit.
“Hester! What have I told you about belongings!?” Snapped the supervisor “Leave everything behind!”
“But it’s chucking it down outside!”
“You’re not taking this seriously.” Replied her stern supervisor “This could be the end. The end end.”
“In which case, we’re all dead anyway! At least let me be dead and dry.” She replied, grumpily.
The supervisor gave her a look that Hester had seen one too many times in her performance evaluations. She dropped the jumpsuit and skulked outside into the rain. Normally everyone was jogging on the spot, trying to keep warm or sharing various techniques of how best to stay dry. This time, though, not one person was moving. Hester walked into the rain hesitantly and stood next to Amanda.
“What’s happening?” She asked.
“It’s happening.” Said Amanda, nodding towards the sky.
In the distance was a rumbling cloud of purple and black smoke rolling across the sky. Rain and hail hurtled from every direction from it like a bomb. Green lightening catapulted into the earth and explosions could be heard hitting the ground. Suddenly, a haze of glimmering blue light hit Hester’s face. She turned to her right to see waves the size of skyscrapers towering in the air. They seemed to be moving in slow motion towards them, filled with miniature wailing people and crumbling houses. Some of the factory workers ran into the building to grab inflatables but it was obvious that no amount of floating goods could save them from this.
“I-I-I’m not ready!” Stuttered Hester.
“You said it was about time it happened.” Said Amanda, calmly.
“But… But… I don’t know who I am yet, or what I am, or what I’m leaving behind, I haven’t even said goodbye…”
Amanda put her arm around Hester comfortingly.
“You’re Hester Hayton, you’re my best friend, you’re leaving a planet earth and you’re going to say bye to me.”
Hester nodded, tears welling up in her eyes. She knew she would never have been ready for the end, no matter how many years it took, but it still felt too soon.
“Shame about the tea break.” Said Amanda.
Hester laughed and with that, waves, thunder and handful of jellyfish swept them away.