The Day The World Stopped

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Amon Tobin The Lighthouse

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Goddamn that was a stormy night. I tossed and turned for most of it; writhing around, desperate for some well-earned shut-eye. Normally I go down like a breeze block in a cowpat but, for some unexplained reason, insomnia has played its callous hand the past few nights. Sleep deprivation is a son of a bitch and right now I’ve got it down to pat. If I don’t catch up soon it will start to affect my mental well-being and that hasn’t exactly been stable of late anyhoots. I extend my arms in the obligatory stretch, check both eggs are still in their basket, and drag my weary legs from beneath the cozy divan. We have touchdown, I’m ready to see what today brings to the table.

That pesky mutt next door must’ve slept in. Either that or I missed his wake-up call. That never happens, he’s like clockwork with his howls, my very own furry Bobby McFerrin. Because of his slackness I have overslept by a full forty-five minutes. Looks like I shall have to acquire myself a conventional alarm clock. Come to think of it, there’s no sound whatsoever emanating from outside which is somewhat strange. Maybe the entire street has embarked on a simultaneous siesta. I’m finding it all a little disconcerting, after all, I like solitude as much as the next man but this is taking it to excess. I think I shall have to investigate further.

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I pour myself a coffee and make my way out to the garden. I can barely function until I get my first caffeine fix of the day, a little something to take the edge off my morning migraine. As I sit and consume my maiden beverage, there isn’t so much as a careless whisper to be discerned from anywhere. Just an eerie silence. I’m finding this all a little disconcerting to be frank, it’s as though regular life has simply ceased, leaving me in an unwelcome paradox. Once I have got my head in the game I shall scout around for signs of life as I’m kind of accustomed to the audio. Maybe I’ve lost track of the days and there’s some kind of minute’s silence going down. Although it has been a full five with not so much as a pin drop to make me feel less alone.

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This is most bizarre; the whole street is devoid of life, not a single soul in sight. Looking around me it appears as though everybody has simply vanished into thin air. Perhaps most disparaging is the fact that everything appears dropped where it stands. Unmanned automobiles have been left with doors wide open and the garbage men haven’t come to take away everyone’s surplus. I’m beginning to feel a little freaked by this protracted silence. I keep expecting that normal life will resume at any given moment but it doesn’t, something is clearly amiss here. Traditionally I’m unwaveringly upbeat so the first thought in the chamber is to how I can take advantage of this solitude.

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I think maybe a naked stroll through town would be beneficial right now. I’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist if truth be told. My sister’s friends used to babysit me when I was still knee-high to a grasshopper and even then, before the hormones ran amok, I still had a tendency to whip down my pajama bottoms and cry “cop a load of this beauty”. I think it would be invigorating to let it all hang free and take a walk on the wild side. Of course, there would be things to take into consideration.

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The day is admittedly overcast so perhaps a neck scarf would be a wise idea and, should I come across any elderly folk in the vicinity, then a wide berth would be advisable. Nobody wants to be responsible for Ethel suffering a stroke after knocking against your junk with her shopping basket. I’d probably get myself incarcerated but it would be worth it just to feel the fresh summer breeze against my beanbag. It is actions such as these that I would partake in gladly if it wasn’t for the prospect of being frowned upon but it appears there is nobody around to cast a disapproving eye over such pursuits.

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In addition maybe I could take that dump in a government building I’ve been pondering. Two birds with one stone methinks. Shortly after my naked mile I could stop off at the local council offices and squeeze out my silage in their front lobby. I’d leave one in the elevator too, set it alight, and then press every floor button. There’s no love lost between Keeper and those responsible for “running our fine country”. When you think about it I’m just giving something back. However, it becomes far less appealing when the challenge is removed and evidently I shall meet no resistance whatsoever as the whole free world appears to have simply stalled during my slumber.

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A brisk stroll down to the local mall confirms that all is not well. All stores are open for business but nobody is manning the tills. I could fill my basket to brimming and leave without making payment if that was my inclination to do so. Nevertheless I leave my coinage like a model citizen and stroll back outside into the deathly quiet. Damn being a pillar of the community, I would really rather be the rogue but my upbringing has bitten me on the ass on this occasion. I blame karma, multiple warnings about what goes around, coming back my way, have left me mindful of doing the right thing. Stupid fucking conscience.

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Ironically, considering the streets are empty, I feel more than a little paranoid. It feels like an elaborate ruse in my honor and I half expect a surprise party when I arrive back at my homestead. Maybe the whole town’s population are in on the act and watching me from their unseen vantage as I speak. I think I shall leave any exhibitionism on hold until I find out what’s really going on. I know, I’ll call Silent Shadow, that dude is never far from his phone and perhaps he can shed some light. I grew up watching old Twilight Zone re-runs so I’m fully aware of alternative reality. Perhaps I have uncovered a wormhole.

Nothing. It just rang off. What do I do if it’s not just here that things have ground to a halt? Maybe it’s a worldwide epidemic and I’m the only man left standing. Despite me scurrying away into solace on occasion, I like to consider myself a people person. Right now I’m more of a person person and that could get old real quick. Conversing with oneself is often regarded as the primary indicator of madness setting in but, at this juncture, it is all I have. I’m terrified if truth be known, an eternity like this is not what I had been intending but it increasingly appears as though that is exactly what I shall have to get used to.

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I’m back at my homestead now and not a thing has changed in my absence. I have had another lightbulb moment and that comes with the consideration that it is all just an elaborate phantasm. Maybe if I return to my bed chamber and get my head down for a few hours, things will return to exactly how they were. The first thing I shall do is hug the very first person I come into contact with, kiss the ground and thank my lucky stars for this ordeal being over. The concept of sharing some lone-time with myself is no longer quite the prize it was previously. Never again will I look that gift horse in the eye, I’m fully focused on socializing more, making that extra dash of effort and sharing my stories with anyone who desires to listen from hereon in.

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As I open my bedroom door and head towards my sleeping quarters a sight meets my bulging peepers which has me careering headlong into downright discombobulation. I am exactly where I left myself, that is, I am stone cold dead on the mattress. There is absolutely no mistaking, evidently I must have choked on my own bile during the night as I appear to have suffocated within my own throat. Nothing in life can ever prepare you for the sight of your own death, especially when it has occurred without your involvement. Yet I am still here, standing just a few feet away from my lifeless cadaver.

Like that, everything returns to normal and regular service resumes all around me. The mangy mutt next door is once again engaging in its customary growl and I can discern dialogue from outside my bedroom window. I draw back the curtain to reveal that the population has indeed shown its face and breathe a sigh of palpable relief once visual confirmation is attained. It seems it was all a waking nightmare but that doesn’t explain the expired carcass to my side. I open the window wide and attempt to suck in that fresh morning air but nothing is forthcoming. Soundly baffled, I call out to my neighbor who is within earshot and there is absolutely no response.

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I can feel myself fading, slowly ebbing away into perpetual limbo and there’s not a damned thing I can do to stop the rot. It is I who has ceased this day and in the cruelest manner imaginable. The world, it still turns, life continues as normal for the entire populace except for me. I am trapped here, between two mirrors and my reflection is for me alone. Despite everything there is only one thought swirling about my mind, that being, If I could go back just one day I would do so much different. Hindsight, as it turns out, is the sickest joke.

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