Weird New World. Short Story.

Ella walked down the street slowly, the sound of her high heels echoing off the buildings. The city was so quiet now, she had never noticed how much noise everything created. Now there was nothing but the sounds of nature, the breeze, the call of birds. There was a distant, high pitched shriek, Ella shivered, of course there was that too. She was safe, she didn’t know why or how, but she knew that much, yet still she felt the need to run and hide. She had chosen the dress she was wearing, long and red, because it looked elegant, but now she was regretting that decision. Playing dress up was fun when she was inside somewhere, where it was safe, but not out here, in the open. She hadn’t seen anyone else, at least no one like her, but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. She had been stupid, so goddamned stupid, what if she needed to run? She wouldn’t get very far in these high heels. And sure the diamond bracelets, necklace and jewel studded tiara looked great, but they were pointless extra weight, clinking and clacking, even the flashing of the gems in the light could give her away if she needed to hide. It didn’t matter that all this was worthless junk now, people got funny about things. Like the man she had seen half running down the road, clutching a small TV to his chest. She didn’t know what he was running from or to, but there was no electricity for that TV and nothing was being broadcast. Not anymore. Ella stopped walking and took a slow, deep breath. She had felt it the last few days, the blanket of fog that was falling over her, the numbness. She had welcomed it, but if she wanted to survive she needed to get it together.

Ella stripped out of the dress quickly, the high heels had been discarded as soon as she was safe to walk barefoot. The ground was littered with broken glass these days, it looked pretty, glittering in the light, but there was no one around to clean it up. It was almost mesmerising, moving through them, like walking on water. The image came to her, flooding her mind and pushing everything else to the side. She shook her head, she needed to focus, she couldn’t go into daydreams and fancies. She dressed quickly in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, the light coming in the windows was just enough to make the store gloomy rather than dark, but the sun would be setting soon and she didn’t want to get trapped in here when that happened.

Ella left the store with a bag of clothes, in the distance she could hear rhythmic banging, the metallic sound seeming to fill the world, just above it she could hear something else, what sounded like hooting. The damned things were just getting weirder and weirder as time went on. She picked up the pace, her stomach was grumbling sullenly and she wanted to be home before dark.

Picking the penthouse suite had been glamorous at first, a huge place with a balcony and a great view, but it was times like this, when she was struggling on the twentieth floor, that she regretted her choice. Ella sat for a moment to catch her breath, tomorrow she’d start moving to one of the lower floors. Maybe even leave the city itself, she could steal a bicycle and go out to the suburbs. Find a nice, sunny suburban dream home with a pool and a big back yard.

Back in her apartment, Ella dumped the bags and grabbed an energy bar, wolfing it down in two bites, she had two more before the hunger started to subside. She grabbed another and walked over to the balcony while chewing it slowly. Outside she could see a bit of the city, see where they had set up camp. They were a good distance away, but the original owner of the penthouse, either a perv or a stargazer, had a telescope that had been set up and ready for her to use. She looked through the eye piece and tried to figure out what they were doing. When Ella had first started looking at them it felt kind of fun, like she was on safari and had discovered a new species, but now the reality was sinking in. It was only her, her and those things. She didn’t even know what to call them, after all they weren’t even people any more. No one had a chance to figure out what was happening before it was all over. If she was being honest, the mass suicides did make things easier, there were no rotting corpses to deal with. Most people fled the cities, though no one seemed to know where exactly they were running to. The suicides were done in groups, people seemingly compelled to gather together in the middle of nowhere to end it all.

Ella entered the apartment and looked around, the place was a mess, food wrappers littering every free surface, piles of clothes heaped in the corners. She sighed, it wasn’t like she really needed to clean up after herself, after all she could move into a new place every day for years to come if she wanted to. She grabbed a bottle of water, twisted off the cap and took a drink. It was time to get serious, this whole end of the world thing had been easier to deal with than she would have thought before, but then that was a benefit of not having any real family or friends. No one to miss when they were gone. The thrill of walking into a shop and taking anything she wanted had begun to wear off. Once or twice she even found herself hoping that someone would call out to her as she left, ask her what she thought she was doing. That it would turn out to be some weird fucked up hallucination. She took another sip of water. There was no chance of that happening, if there was she’d already be in the loony bin by now. She looked out the window at the setting sun, it really was quite beautiful. She looked back at the dirty apartment, tomorrow. She’d find a better base tomorrow. Once she had a good nights sleep she’d wake up and be ready to take on this weird, fucked up new world.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 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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