They sat by the dismal fire. It was snowing and he was cold. It was only page one but this would set the precedent for the entire novel, he could just tell. The boy slept by his side as he thought about tomorrow. They were almost out of food and he knew they were going to die. He didn't want to die and he was sure the boy didn't want to die and dying was therefore something they would not do. He shivered. It was still cold. He noticed their fire was dying. He was sure the fire didn't want to die either. There was not more fire wood in their car so he got up and wrapped himself in a blanket and walked into the forest to find some wood. Time passed.
The boy was awake. He should get back. But dear God it was a long walk.
I'm here its okay.
I was scared papa.
I could tell.
You spoke with an exclamation mark.
What scared you?
Are we going to die?
Wait whose speaking. I'm confused. I don't like not having speech marks.
Since when do you speak with more than once sentence?
Are you mad?
No I'm not mad.
They left the camp fire and went to find the road again. The cart was getting heavy. More time passed. They found a supermarket. How fitting.
Can we go in? the boy said.
But I'm hungry.
I'm hungry too.
Then let's go in.
But why not?
It could be dangerous and filled with cannibals who want to eat your brain and then put your head on a spike to scare off little children.
There are no little children remember.
The snow turned to rain and continued to fall as they plodded along the ash covered road. It was getting dark. But then it was always dark. And cold. Always dark and cold. The writer obviously had no imagination. The man's stomach growled. They were still nearly out of food. They should have stopped at the supermarket. The rain still fell. It was like God was crying for them. But God didn't cry because he wasn't sure God existed and so it was just rain. How depressing.
The man was still hungry so they put the cart on the side of the road as the boy refused to help with it and walked ahead and came to a crossroad where skeletons lay draped in skin melted to the tarmac. Neither was sure if they were once people or not. Probably not. The man stopped.
I don't want you to see this, he said.
I've seen worse on COD.
Take my hand.
People will think I'm gay.
There are no people.
They could be watching me from heaven.
There is no heaven.
I don't want this to upset you so just take my hand.
I'm not upset though.
You should be.
But I'm not.
You're the one wanting to hold my hand.
Just take it.
Stop being an idiot and hold my hand.
But I don't want the ghosts thinking I'm gay.
They walked hand in hand in silence. The sunken sockets of the almost-people stared blankly at them as they passed. He stepped in something gooey. The liquid oozed between his toes. He forgot he wasn't wearing shoes. He looked at the boy's feet. He wasn't wearing shoes either. They needed shoes. No one ever survived without shoes. It was a fact.
We need to find some shoes.
We'll die without shoes.
Now you sound like a woman.
I'm not a woman.
If you say so.
Woman or not. It doesn't detract from the fact we need shoes.
We could take their shoes. The boy gestured lightly towards the blackened ruins on the tarmac.
No I'll fashion some out of plastic bags and wrappers because that is a far better idea than stealing some dead guy's shoes.
Papa I'm scared.
He found some old clothing from one of the skeletons and wrapped it tightly around their feet and then covered it with a plastic bag from the mysterious cart that had appeared with them out of nowhere. He knew it would not last for long but it was all they had. Apparently. He took the boys hand again and continued to walk along the road. He stroked the boys hand as they walked. He had not noticed how thin he had become. Every vain was prominent in the child's hand and the fingers were dead twigs, turned blue from the cold. How did this happen in just 48 pages? Depressing.
It began to grow dark as the secular sun fell beneath the landscape. Shadows crawled across the ground towards them. The snow was still falling. The man laid the blankets he had secretively pulled from his parka out on the ground and lay down with the boy and pulled the tarp over their heads so they were safe from the wind and snow. Soon it was completely dark. And still cold.
What is it?
How did you know I wanted something?
A question mark this time.
So what was it?
Can you tell me a story?
What kind of story.
A happy one.
Because happy stories mean you have given up. I must tell you horrible stories that will stop you from sleeping or nostalgic stories of the past that you will have no understanding of.
So what type of story would you like?
You're weird. I'm going to bed.
The boy was asleep in moments. Probably dreaming of rainbows and unicorns even though he had no idea what those things were or what they meant. The man could not sleep. He got up and wrapped himself in a blanket and walked out into the snow. His almost-shoes were not working. He probably should have stolen some. His feet were now cold. He began to cough and he collapsed to the ground from the force of it. Okay now he was sure he was going to die. It was page 189 and that was never a good sign.
Merciless God have you not taken enough from us? Will you now take me as well and leave my precious boy alone in this world? Then he remembered. God doesn't exist. So he was talking to himself. Now that really was depressing.
He didn't know how much time had passed this time. He waited for the coughing to pass and slumped back to the boy who was still sleeping soundly in the snow.
Are you awake?
Are you awake?
Well I am now.
Sorry did I wake you.
What does it look like?
Are you mad?
What did you want?
To see if you were awake.
Well I am now. Happy?
I'm never happy.
It's who I am.