I awoke to the sound of heavy rain on the tin roof above my head, a familiar and pleasant sound. I blinked, then squeezed my eyes closed again, focusing on that sweet noise. It brought back images of summers spent on the beach and winters with family close by. It rained all year round in New Zealand, and the end of human civilization did not change our climate at all.
I often wondered if it had in other countries. We were lucky, down here in little Aotearoa. We possessed no nuclear reactors, no major military installations. Nothing that could break down and poison what was left of our tiny little island nation beyond all repair. Our power stations were either fossil fuel, hydroelectric or thermal, all relatively clean energy sources compared to nuclear.
I wondered what it was like in Europe and America. Had their nuclear reactors failed and spewed toxic poisons into their skies, now that the people who kept them running were all dead? Did their few survivors live under the perpetual cloud of nuclear winter?
Was there even anyone left alive over there? I had no way to know. Communications were basically gone. There were only a few limited ways for survivors to communicate with one another and they were spotty at best. The mobile phone networks still functioned in some places, but they were useless without knowing the number of the person you were trying to reach. Radio was the only way left to bridge the oceans that separated us from our nearest neighbours, and I had never gained access to one of those. In some ways, that kind of isolation kept us safe.
If only it had been enough to keep us safe from the plague itself.
Skylar leaned against me as we sat in the kitchen, drinking milk and eating the cookies Grandma baked for us that morning. We had been banished to the kitchen while the adults huddled around the television in the next room, watching the news. Mum made me promise to keep Skylar away so she wouldn’t see what was happening in the world outside. She was just a little girl, but she was bright for her age and knew that something was going on.
“What’re you drawing, Skye?” I asked, trying to keep her attention focused on happy thoughts. She glanced up from her colouring with a mouth full of cookies, and gave me a bright smile.
“Zombies,” she answered cheerfully, spraying me with crumbs.
“Zombies?” I blinked like an owl caught in sudden light. That was the last thing I had expected her to say.
“Yup.” She nodded and went back to her colouring like it was the most normal thing in the world.
“Why are you drawing zombies? Zombies are yucky,” I asked her, curiosity overwhelming my caution.
“Cause they’re coming,” she answered simply. With delicate little fingers, she selected a bright red crayon from the box. I watched as she applied the red crayon to her artwork, scribbling over the figures that looked like members of our family. The sheer volume of crimson that she used bothered me immensely; I was suddenly overwhelmed by the need to talk to my mother.
I stood carefully, so as not to disrupt my sister’s artistic endeavours, but she barely noticed. She was thoroughly engrossed in destroying her own creation.
Now I was really bothered.
Genre - Post-Apocalyptic Survival
Rating - PG-13