Chapter Ten: Martha Gibbs
Rumbling ominously, the house shook as though evil itself was coursing through the veins in the foundations. I was scared stiff, alone in the house. My mother and father hadn’t yet returned from the shopping expedition. They went out every week to get the shopping and see my Grandmother also.
I took a chance and peered out through the window. I immediately regretted it and wished that I hadn't. Skies dripped with red. This wasn’t a red that brought with it an atmosphere of love and happiness, no. This was the type of red that resembled blood and brought with it the atmosphere of fear, hate and death. Clouds rolled across those skies, lining them with a black so dark that it could have matched Lucifer’s black hole for a heart in colour. Lighting flashed across the sky like a horse bolting. Every now and then, it lit up the gloom that the clouds and red sky had cast over the world.
I didn’t like this one bit. For once, rather than being independent and individual, I wanted to be with my mother and father. They would know what to do. I knew that they would have known what to do to keep me safe and happy. Why were they not back?
The atmosphere was grabbed by the throat and practically strangled. All the air seemed to be like inhaling treacle; it was that thick. Tension stretched so tightly across the surface of the world that it felt as though, if even one person moved, the whole thing would collapse. Sickness washed over me. I needed to be able to breathe freely, with no restrictions.
I ran up the stairs, sweating with terror. Rushing into my room, I gathered the few material possessions that were worth anything to me and shoved them in a bag. A few clothes too. When I ran back down the stairs again, the ground shook. The house shook with it, threatening to collapse. Quickly, I headed to the kitchen and wrenched open the fridge. Anything that I could get my hands on that didn’t need to be cooked before being eaten went into my bag. I slammed the door to the fridge and ransacked the cupboards, grabbing anything that would fit into my bag. From a drawer, I slung in a tin opener. Running through a mental checklist of things I’d need to survive on, I leapt madly around the house. Clothes: check. Food: check. A way of opening the tins: check. Thinking that I’d everything I’d need, I ran out of the house as it quaked, sending dust flying everywhere.
As I made it to the end of the garden path, I heard an almighty snapping noise. I turned around to see the house in which I had lived for my whole life crumble to nothing more than dust. Tears escaped my eyes. I was surprised that I was crying. I hadn't cried since I was a small child. Crying wasn’t for the mature. If Jesus didn’t cry when he was crucified, then I shouldn’t be crying when a measly material possession is destroyed. It is simply not justifiable. Not right.
I knew where I should head now, the only place I could head. It was strong and unlikely to break or fall down. It was the place in which I felt the most safe, safer than I ever felt at home. It also wasn’t all that far away. I knew that I must go there straight away, so that is exactly what I did. I set off down the road, not running, simply walking. I’d not usually have run anywhere anyway, even when I was terrified. I knew what this was and I knew why it was happening. I hadn't anything real to fear.
This was the apocalypse. It had come for the sinners. I wasn’t a sinner. Therefore, I was safe.
The church beckoned, inviting me through those huge wooden doors and into the warmth that lay inside. Nothing could hurt me in there. All the things that would come to get the sinners in the apocalypse would come to get only those who had wronged, those who couldn’t be saved. Since I was saved and I’m no sinner, I’m welcomed into the safety of the church and into the loving arms of god.
My feet hit the floor hard, and even though I know I’m safe from the hand of God, I find myself running. I put it down to atmosphere and wanting to be welcomed into open arms quickly. Up ahead, the church is growing larger and closer with each passing step
The gate that leads into the graveyard creaked open eerily. Some of the black paint peeled and flaked off, coming away when I retracted my hand. Weeds littered the path up the hill to the doors of the church, twisting and turning. With each step, it seemed as though some of the weeds were becoming entangled with my foot. It wasn’t just once or twice either, it was every single time. I pushed it to the back of my memory, promising silently that when this was all over, I’d come back here and clear up the weeds, make the place look nicer and more welcoming. Not that it was needed.
My bag was heavy against my back. Although, if as I suspected, there was going to be a bit of a wait before the apocalypse was over and the world was left free of the sinners, letting only those who were loyal live on the God’s wonderful home and gift for us, I was going to need all the food in there.
Eventually, I finished the monumentally hard climb up the huge hill that the church was perched upon. Cracked, moss covered headstones rested on the untidy, unkempt graves sprinkled all over the church’s land in no particular order or sets. The darkness here was lighter here, less dense somehow. The atmosphere was also lighter, making it easier to breathe at this horrible time.
Using all the strength in my arms, I yanked open the door and walked through. Almost immediately, the warm light enveloped me, expelling the ominous feelings that washed over me. One lone candle was lit and set down on the podium the Vicar used to stand at when delivering his sermons. Wait a minute… why am I thinking that the vicar only used to read out the sermons? He still will. He shall be saved by God from this awful apocalypse. He shall be spared, unlike the sinners, who will be sent to hell. Most likely, the reason that he isn’t here will be that he’s busy at a charity, or possibly doing some voluntary work for the community. God will spare him.
It is a shame really. It is a great shame to think of all the wasted lives. I’ll miss my class-mates when they’re slaughtered for being sinners. At least I’ll know that everyone left is true to his or her word. They should repent, and repent quickly. There isn’t much time left. Not much time left for them at least. I’ve the rest of my life to think about really. I mean – I’m a model example of what everyone should be like. I’m a believer. I’m innocent. And I’m most certainly not a sinner. I’m a pure believer – God will keep me safe, I know that. I have faith.
I close the door behind me, basking fully in the light of the candle. There is only one candle and no electricity, but the light expands and fills the whole room. Shadows are cast high and long all around the huge open hall. A solitary fly swept around the room, fazing me for a moment. I don’t know why it fazed me, but I guess I didn’t expect to see the beating wings of a lowly insect to grace the mighty church for the faithful. I suppose it was an action of god, so I went with it and didn’t question it. If this was the way God wished to play his hand, so to speak, then play it he would. Nothing that I could say would make a difference, or even be right if I was disagreeing with god.
I made my way slowly to the middle of the church. My footsteps echoed around the room, bouncing back off the old stonewalls. One of the straps to my bag slipped down my shoulder slightly and I reached to pull it back up. As I got closer and closer to the centre, my eye caught movement out of one of the huge, magnificent stained glass windows.
Turning to look, I saw something that scared me. I didn’t know that God was even capable of things as gruesome and terror–striking as that.
The dead were rising from their graves. Literally. Hands were pushing through the soil, no, thrusting almost. Clawing out grain of dirt by grain of dirt, the dead arose. It was horrible. Flesh hung from their bodies and their bodies were barely even bodies. They were all just skeletons.
It was really easy to tell which ones were the oldest and which were new additions to the graveyard. The older ones skeletons had cracked or chipped bones with long white hair hanging on by a single strip of flesh. The newer ones were more made of flesh, but were even more repulsive than the older ones. Their flesh was still attached to their bodies like usual, but maggots and other creatures of the earth crawled around in their fleshy tissue. Occasionally, I’d see something fall and hit the ground. These were those of the less careful maggots and other soft tissue - eating creatures of the ground falling from their hold.
I closed my eyes and prayed to God. I prayed for him to spare all those that were innocent. I prayed for nobody who was a true believer to be injured in this apocalypse. There was no way that I wanted those who were innocent to be hurt. They were my kind. Human kind was but a generalisation to make sinning, condemned heathen feel better while they lived their pointless, wasted lives here on Earth.
I wished that I could be kept safe and well. Also that my family would be safe and reunited with me as soon as the punishment for the sinners was over. It hadn’t been long, but already I was missing my mother and father.
When I eventually focused back onto the world and the awaking graveyard outside, I could no longer see the flesh rotting zombies. They’d disappeared, most probably to wreck havoc in town. No. All I could see was a figure in the distance. The figure resembled a man, but one of a high standing. His suit was posh and upon his head laid a battered, slightly worn top hat. One of his hands was shoved into his trouser pocket, the other gripping something that was slung across a shoulder. It resembled a broom handle, but the end was different. It hit me – it was a shovel. What was he doing with a shovel? Why was he here? And who was he? I couldn’t see well enough to see who or what it was.
A noise emanated from the front of the church – the door. It was opened and someone walked in. I was too fixated on the body in the graveyard, who was just staring at me. If whoever it was that was entering the church was a zombie, or someone else who might want to hurt or kill me, then I’d have been a sitting duck.
I blinked, concentrating hard on the rough outline of a man in the rising mist. The more I looked, the harder it became to see him clearly. Soon enough, I’d been staring at him for so long that the mysterious mist that the mist had completely filled the view, and no matter how hard I squinted, the man just wasn’t there. As it turned out, the people entering through the front door hadn’t set out to hurt me. They were just seeking shelter.