Here's my #whimword entry for this week. You might have guessed I'm feeling a little apocalyptic what with one thing and another. While you're here, mosey on over to my Unbound page, where you can pledge and make yourself feel a bit better about life by doing something positive.
James looked over at the rows and rows of burning buildings on the horizon. It was almost pretty, glowing red and amber against the starless sky. Small consolation. He drew nearer to their little campfire and turned to look at Samira.
“You ready for this?” he asked. She smiled, sadly, but didn’t meet his eye.
“No,” she whispered. “I don’t think anybody’s ever ready to die.” Samira pushed her hands through her tangled dark hair, leaving a streak of grime on her forehead. She stared into the fire and James could see tears glinting in her eyes. He sighed.
“D’you… d’you think we did enough?” he murmured, more to himself than to her. She shook her head.
“What would’ve been enough? We fought as hard as we could. We… we killed people, Jimmy. I don’t see what else we could’ve done. It’s over now. We might as well dull the pain a little.” She took a swig from the whiskey bottle, which was almost empty. “Hey. We got any pills left?”
They’d swiped the liquor from one of the stores back in the city before the burning started and they’d been toting it around for days, hoping they wouldn’t need it. Its sole purpose was to allow them to be unconscious when it finally happened, and now it was coming. Unstoppable. Inescapable. They were maybe a dozen miles outside the city centre, but it wasn’t far enough. They hadn’t cleared the blast radius and they both knew it. Come daybreak, they’d be dead – and they were the lucky ones. The blast would destroy the last of them. Everyone else had already burned to death, or they were still burning.
“Yeah, a couple, I think. But Sami… we gotta be close to OD’in’ by now. They’ll kill us.” Samira laughed and handed him the bottle.
“With any luck,” she said, grimly. “You don’t wanna feel it, do you?” James didn’t say anything for a long moment, and turned to look back at the city again.
“Man,” he said at last. “I didn’t think it’d be this fast. I mean, I thought… I don’t know, I guess I thought I’d at least live to see twenty-one. Didn’t you?” Samira shook her head again.
“I never thought I’d get as far as I did, even before… well, you know,” she replied. “People like me, we don’t get to get old. We get as far as we can and we thank God for every day we make it through. But… I guess I didn’t think it’d end up like...” She broke off. Her shoulders were shaking and James realised she was crying. He scooted closer, and put an arm around her.
“Hey,” he whispered. “At least we’ve got each other, right? We don’t have to be alone.” He dug into his pocket, handed her one of the last of the little white pills, and swallowed one himself. She lay down in the dirt.
“Here’s to the end,” she whispered, and closed her eyes.