Yesterday, after a fleeting reference to camels, I was challenged to write a post in which camels became our only means of travel and communication. Always a girl up for a challenge, I decided to push it a step further and try my hand at fiction. So this morning I have written what is surely to become an extract from the most critically acclaimed post-apocolypse-self-discovery-tragi-comedy of our generation. Enjoy…
For a long time afterwards everything was quiet.
The water subsided and the ground was still, save for the occasional groan as the new landscape settled itself. Trees that had previously marked out the horizon were reformed as bridges between islands of debris.
The woman lay on her back, partly covered by the shell of what had once been a car. She did not move. Only the barely perceptible rise and fall of her chest marked her out as different from the other bodies. The sun moved slowly across the sky above her, as though ritually scanning for some form of live. As it moved round and shone through the broken car window onto her face, she stirred.
Her eyes flickered open and in one breath she registered the devastation and a sinking feeling of acceptance. “Well,” she thought to herself, “that’s that then.”
They had known it was coming of course, it wasn’t a surprise, and yet life had carried on virtually as normal until the end, no one wanting to admit that they had let things get this far.
The woman had often wondered what she might do when the worst came. Would she be the kind of person to battle on regardless, fighting fate at every corner just to stay alive, to be alive, whatever that might mean. Or would she simply close her eyes again and wait to die, unable to find meaning or purpose in this new life.
As it happened, she didn’t immediately need to wrestle with any ‘meaning of life’ questions. Her basic survival instincts took over and, without pausing to consider the alternatives, she began to ease herself out from under the rubble, driven purely by a desire to find something to quench her thirst.
She stood up. Her body felt twisted and foreign, yet somehow more her own than ever before. In her previous life, her physical being had seemed to shrink, made redundant by the swarming, swirling virtual world that had overtaken their lives, stealthily making itself indispensable until real life was helpless against it. Her body had become just another possession, another piece of technology, old parts being traded for new parts when they became unfashionable or out dated. Faced with this new reality, her body took on a new significance – it had become her whole world, both her reason for living and her means of survival.
She was startled by a noise behind her to her right and she spun round to find herself staring at a camel. She blinked, but didn’t move. For a moment she panicked. Amongst all the strangeness, she had not expected to see a camel, and she wondered if she might be more seriously injured than she had first thought. And then she relaxed – she hadn’t sustained any brain damage, she was only minutes from what had once been the city zoo. At least it wasn’t a lion, she thought.
Not surprisingly, the woman didn’t have a lot of experience with camels. She had a vague feeling that you could make them sit down if you made a certain noise or gesture, but had no idea what that might be. She thought she remembered too that camels could be dangerous. Could they break your arm? Or was that swans?
A little way in the distance behind the camel her eye was drawn by the reflection of the sun on the surface of water. She looked up, trying to use the sun to judge the time of day. In contrast to the broken, twisted earth, the sky was completely flat and blue, unnerving somehow in its ability to remain seemingly unmoved by what was happening beneath it.
She was still thirsty, and decided that heading for the water was as good a plan as any. She looked back at the camel, who was staring expectantly at her. She was pretty sure a camel would make a sensible travelling companion, and the camel seemed to feel the same way about her. She made what she hoped where encouraging camel noises and began to pick her way gingerly across the mounds of buildings and broken lives.
The camel followed.
Hope you enjoyed it Brian :-)