On Friday evening, the Facebook page Writer’s Relief posted this image and asked readers to tell the story of the place. I was going to save this for this week’s Snippet Sunday but decided I didn’t want to wait with this one
So this is what my warped mind came up with:
We thought it would be alien invasion, a giant fireball, a supervolcano, rising sea levels, nuclear attack by religious fanatics of some description – hell, even zombies or some other disaster fiction cliché that would destroy us.
But we were wrong.
How can you correctly say what happened and not describe it as a natural disaster? It was the one thing we least expected, something we never made special plans for. You could fortify your house against zombies or live on an island, you can hide from aliens, go underground to escape the toxic atmosphere of a supervolcano or a fireball but this… there was no getting away from it.
Even now I can barely bring myself to write it because I can’t quite come to terms with what finally did destroy us. We may even argue that we destroyed ourselves in the end.
It started – or so we were told – simultaneously in China and in the USA. Nobody would link the two events and so it took a while for anybody to realise what was happening. A young girl in rural Ohio drowned in a lake and an elderly man in Beijing died by strangulation. Those two events did not alert the world to what was happening but then somebody posted a video to a popular video site and everything changed.
It appeared to show a group of teenagers somewhere in England being attacked by a tree – yes attacked – when playing football in a park; one of the boys was badly injured. Most of the comments stated “hoax” but the Police must have taken it seriously enough to close the park to the public. The BBC World News said that the investigation had only just started when reports began to pour in that people were being attacked by plants and trees. People laughed.
Millions died in the first few days and we stopped laughing at the thought of killer plants very quickly.
Here in Cambodia most people I knew were dead in the first week; months later, I am the only one left in this city. I live on the roof of this tenement eating what little food I have left: dried rice, tinned meat and fruit, dried biscuits… and little much else. Yet just three floors beneath me is a sea of torment… trees full of inviting fruits and seeds that I must not eat, even if I could get close enough to pick without being attacked. We used to eat those fruits and seeds too, we all did, but what was once part of our daily nutrition is now poisonous. I said that millions died in those first days, I did not say that they were attacked like those boys in England.
The trees know I am here, they have surrounded the building and every day I move to find somewhere untainted by greenery, I wake up the following morning to see the forest of vines, plants, flowers and trees around me again. Sometimes I think I hear them whispering to each other. They are winning the war and I imagine them mocking me, knowing that there is no escape when Mother Nature fights back.
I have two days of food left. After that I will starve to death unless I can find more. There cannot be much left and now the lower floors of the buildings are closed to me. over-run with vines and other creeping plants. This morning I made my way downstairs and saw some vines creeping up to the second floor – they are coming for me. I could burn out one of the buildings to clear it of them but I have only three matches left – the only weapon I have against the creeping greenery – and I should not waste them.
Time is running out but first I must sleep. Perhaps tomorrow I will find some shelter?