The Perfect Apple. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good weekend, mine was fine. I’m pretty tired at the moment and I’m definitely looking forward to bed tonight.

On with the show!

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The apple sat in the middle of the table, its skin a dark red. It shined in the weak afternoon sun, it looked so ripe, so crunchy, so juicy. Her stomach rumbled slightly. She was so hungry, it had been ages since her last meal, but she knew she couldn’t eat the apple. She knew that it was not safe, it couldn’t be. The room itself was filled with dust and dirt, the window panes were grimy, the table filled with clutter, old rags and books and on top of all this, sat the perfect apple. So clean and pure and new. One of the first things she had learned was not to eat the fruit. But it looked so good. She could smell it, only faintly, beneath the must of the old room, that slight appley smell. She breathed it in, enjoying it, then coughed as the scent of the room became over powering. It wouldn’t be that bad would it? Just one bite? That would be safe enough. She moved towards it. No. That would be ridiculous. She couldn’t eat it. She took a step closer. That didn’t mean she couldn’t just touch it or smell it. She carefully gripped the apple, its skin surprisingly cool. She brought it to her nose and inhaled deeply, her mouth instantly flooded with saliva. God, it would be so good. Her lips parted slightly, mouth moving towards the apple, moving under its own power. An image flashed through her mind, quick, sudden, shocking. She hurled the apple away, across the room. It hit the wall with a bang, and fell in a shower of dust and dirt. No. She couldn’t. It lay on the ground, looking benign and delicious, but she knew how deadly it could be. She turned away, her stomach crying out. There was a harsh smell, bitter and strong. It was coming from the apple. She knew that. That was the way to test, usually it was better to cook it first, it was safer. If the fruit smelled wrong you would know not to eat it. She left the room and the apple, not bothering to check the cupboards. She rubbed her hands together vigorously, her skin feeling dirty. It was stupid, that’s what it was. She shouldn’t have even picked it up. That was far too dangerous, what if she had bitten it? What if some of the juice got on her hand? She knew better. She had to know better. Anyone who didn’t died.

The streets would be empty still, she considered going to another house, one away from the apple, but she would be fine, as long as she wasn’t in the same room as it. No one would come out until later, they’d hide in their rooms, looking out old windows at the day going by. It didn’t matter what time you went out at, but people still felt safer at night. It made it harder to see yes, but it also made it harder to be seen. She thought it had stopped, but there were still stories, stories of the creatures that came out of their dark hidey holes, looking for a quick snack. She hadn’t seen any, not since the first day, but that was more than enough. She still travelled in the day, she thought it was safer. All the legends said that evil creatures ruled the night. Sure they came out in the day, but they would be weakened or in small numbers. She was fast, lithe. There wouldn’t be good eating on her, she could get away, even now in her weakened condition. There was a door, to what she thought was the basement. She didn’t like basements. Ignoring it she went upstairs, looking through the rest of the house.

The rooms were small and in disrepair, but they would suit her for the night at least. It was dry and warm enough, there was some extra cloth that could be used as blankets. She thought that there could be food in the kitchen. The apples were hard to resist, so were the other fruits, but that apple hadn’t been disturbed. Maybe that meant no one else had been inside this house since it started. That would mean there could be food and food was good. Once she was done with her surveillance she went back downstairs, her mind set on the kitchen. The harsh smell had mellowed, beneath it the air held the tinge of sickly sweetness. She didn’t look at it. She opened a cupboard, inside was a jungle of mushrooms, different shapes, sizes and colours, all crowding one another, vying for space. She closed it again. Her face falling. The other cupboards had some evidence of mushrooms, there were some cans of food, their labels faded, but they couldn’t be trusted. She looked around the house, it wasn’t safe here. The mushrooms wouldn’t spore until night, so she had time. She had seen it before, at a distance, it had been so pretty, thousands of them, all drifting on the wind, looking like gentle snow but far deadlier. It was just pure luck that they didn’t survive very well, an infestation was rare enough. She didn’t like this place but it was empty, that made it safe. She could just block off the doorway, the door had disappeared at some point. Hang some cloth across it to block some of the spores, go as far away as she could and cover as many doors as possible. She left the kitchen, in the sitting room she looked at the basement door. She was sure that’s what it was. She had seen the windows outside the house, there was no door in the kitchen to it, so this must be it. She wanted to go downstairs, have a look around, but it wouldn’t be safe. Not with so much activity in the house. The apple was worrying enough, but added to the mushrooms it became downright terrifying. She noticed some gouges in the wood, long deep groves that might have been created by claws. No, it wasn’t safe here.

She stepped outside, blinking slightly in the bright light. She would find another place to rest, that would be the best idea, certainly it was the safest. The grass was long and bright green, it looked almost fake. Throughout grew tufts of grass that were coloured differently, all the colours of the rainbow, in garishly bright neon. Groupings of red and purple, blue and yellow, orange and violet. At least the world was prettier now. If you were into that kind of thing. As she reached the side walk she saw a frog. It hopped closer, then looked at her for a second, as it opened its mouth she stepped forward and punted it. It flew through the air, legs splayed out, before it landed with a heavy thud, it twitched slightly then lay still. Nasty things, she shivered, glad it didn’t have a chance to speak. They were insidious, poisonous little things. She started to walk. The world had changed and she had changed with it. You had to if you wanted to survive.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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