Lucy sat down on the edge of the pool. She took off her boots and dipped her feet into the water. It felt nice on her feet. It didn’t look particularly clean though it was probably just honest to goodness rain water.

Lucy smiled to herself. Charlie used to always give out when she said things like that. ‘Nobody talks like that in real life’ he’d say. Her smile wilted. She missed Charlie. That was the nature of things now. One day you’d have someone, the next day you wouldn’t. She looked around her. Like these nice folks, she thought. It was probably a real nice house back in the day.

She imagined that the people who lived there were probably some real happy family. The dad was probably called something like Chuck or Harvey. He’d go off to work each day in his five hundred dollar suit. He had a nice sports car still in the garage. Lucy liked the look of those old fashioned cars. Particularly the stylish Triumph Spitfire under the cover in Chuck’s garage. Lucy smiled to herself again. She had sat in the Spitfire for a little bit. It was nice to do something for herself for a change. She had turned the motor over but the battery was as dead as everything else.

Chuck probably had a nice pretty wife. She’d get up nice and early each morning for a jog with some of the other neighbourhood wives. She’d probably come back and have some kind of weird ass smoothie designed to detoxify your nostrils or something. Then she’d go get their only child out of bed and ready for school.

They’d all sit down and have breakfast together each morning. Chuck would have bacon and eggs because he liked to think of himself as full blooded man. Though Missus Chuck would eventually convince him to switch to kelp wrapped porridge after his third heart attack on the golf course.

Then Chuck junior would run out of the house without so much as a thank you or goodbye to Mummy dearest. He’d grab one of those cliché little yellow buses all the way to school. Back at home Chuck would give Mrs Chuck a passionless “peck on the cheek” before climbing into the real love of his life, that Spitfire. Mrs Chuck would then get all dolled up before climbing into her own car, probably some sort of tank-like sport utility vehicle. The ones that are as comfortable doing the school run as they are going over landmines in downtown Baghdad. She’d climb into that big S.O.B. and head off to work at some charity company.

Lucy stared up at the clear blue sky. She was glad to be off her feet after walking for so long. She hadn’t found a working car in more than two hundred miles. The last one she had seen was a pickup truck with a couple of ‘good ol’ boys’ riding on the back. Though being a nineteen year old girl walking the roads at the end of the world, and them having a couple of hunting rifles, Lucy decided not to catch a ride.

She wiggled her toes in the water. Walking wasn’t so bad. It sucked but at least you got to appreciate the scenery. It was also good for looking for supplies. You didn’t have worry that someone would take your vehicle. You could also sneak up on folks, or more likely sneak around them. Lucy had a knack for getting well out of the way of things before they ever became an issue. The road was lonely though. She had Charlie for quite a while. For all his moaning and complaining, he was good to have around. He was mostly useless, but it was nice to have someone to talk to. Lucy could feel herself getting upset again. It happened every time she thought about Charlie.

There was a dull thump from the house that took her back to the present.

‘I guess Chuck’s home after all’, she said to herself. She took her feet out of the water and dried off. She knew she’d have a few minutes before she’d need to run. She put her boots back on and shouldered her pack. Lastly she picked up her baseball bat. It had a couple of nails through the head of it just to be sure.

There was another thump, it was closer now. She had left the sliding door of the patio wide open. Sure enough, there was Chuck or whatever his name might have been. He shambled slowly through the doorway.

‘Urrg’ said Chuck staring at her vacantly.

‘I know buddy’, Lucy said.

It was quite sad really. Lucy stood looking at Chuck. He had probably come home when it all happened. He had watched the news with Mrs Chuck and Chuck Junior and held them close. They’d probably done what the news had told them. They’d hidden, then they had run out of food. Then when help didn’t show up, manly man Chuck would have gone foraging. He’d have come back with a couple of scratches but nothing serious. He’d have started to get sicker and sicker until one day he just stopped breathing. Chuck would have died beside he’s weeping, starving, wife and child. Then Chuck would have come back and torn them limb from limb.

Lucy had found what was left of Mrs Chuck and Chuck Junior upstairs. She hadn’t been able to find Chuck though. He must have gotten stuck somewhere. It happened sometimes. They had a funny way of ending up in strange  places.

‘Urrg’ Chuck said again, more forcefully this time. He was moving towards Lucy.

‘I know buddy’, Lucy said softly before swinging her bat down on Chuck’s head. It shattered like a melon. Lucy sat down beside the pool again.

She sighed, ‘Just another day in paradise’.


Cillian Fearon  |  Author