Although his eyes are shut, he can see a mild illumination reflecting on his eyelids-the type of light that filters through cheap blinds. He knows the sun is shining in all its marvel outside-the world, these days, is like the garden of Eden. He slowly wakes up: first he becomes mentally cognisant of his surroundings-yes, I was asleep and now it’s time to wake up by opening my eyes, he thinks to himself-and then he is physically awake.
He shelters his eyes from the sunlight darting in from his window.
As per his usual routine, he stands up and stretches. He can hear a couple of air pockets in his joints popping. Ahhh, he says out loud. He walks to his window to look outside, to see what the day has in store for him. The grass in his front lawn has grown out to an unacceptable height, he thinks to himself. It needs to be mowed! God knows what type rodents have made themselves comfortable in it. Dried leaves and dust cover his father’s car in the driveway. Well that needs to be washed.
And I will do that today! Chores are what weekends are for.
From his vantage point he observes butterflies and ladybirds, trees fully developed showing their magnificence, flowers in full bloom and the main street-on whose both sides are houses of the neighborhood-completely empty, devoid of humanity and humanness. Nature is winning, he thinks to himself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
He tiptoes downstairs. It’s a weekend and his father likes to sleep in late; he also has one nightcap too many on the weekends and wakes up already irked. Like maybe the hangover was my fault, he laughs at the irony. He goes to the T.V. lounge that consists of an old television, one three-seater sofa, one recliner sofa, old family pictures nailed to the chipped wooden walls, hiding the crackling wallpaper-an old peach floral pattern-and a table with a pot of dead flowers. He sits on the sofa recliner and switches on the television.
There is only one headline displayed in the center of the screen that reads:
Due to the spread of COVID-20, all transmission has been ceased. Please stay inside your houses until further notice.
He flicks through the channels a few times, searching for something new, although he knows it’s useless. He stops after going back and forth a few channels, ending on the exact same news bulletin. I love this show, he says out loud and starts laughing hysterically. Hahahaha, Jimmy stop! Please, you’re killing me! Oh wow. That was great. Jimmy’s always been the funny one of the group, he thinks to himself as he goes into the kitchen to prepare his breakfast.
He bypasses the cockroach infested sink, where dirty plates are being fed on by insects whose names he doesn’t even know. The ecosystem truly is reviving itself, he thinks to himself, and the thought of his benevolence in letting these living things prosper in his kitchen fills him with glee. The water trickles from the tap onto the dirty dishes in the sink, which creates a small pool of drowning insects. He walks by this mess, humming an old song he had heard on the radio when he was a child, that stuck to him like the leftovers on his dirty cutlery:
Oh He’s gone,
And ain’t never coming back
Oh oh oh,
He opens various cabinets in the small kitchen, looking for a plate. Today he wants to eat some jam and toast. He looks over the pile of dirty dishes, oblivious-or ignorant-to its existence. He spots a single plate in one of the cabinets above the sink and wipes the dust off with the back of his elbow. This will do nicely, he thinks to himself.
Next, he opens the fridge to look for the jam. The stench from the rotting meat inside the fridge doesn’t bother him; he is adamant on eating his jam and toast, even if it means eating the mouldy jam-a green coating now covering the otherwise blood red strawberry jam. He takes out the jam, which to a normal person would have smelled off-like something you wouldn’t even need to read the expiry date off of.
Next, the toast. Where was the toast now, he thinks to himself.
He forages the kitchen for a piece of bread. He can’t find any. He should go tell his dad, he thinks to himself, so he doesn’t forget it when he goes grocery shopping. He climbs up the stairs now, stomping his feet. It’s about time his parents wake up; ever since the constant news bulletin on the television, his parents have slept in separate rooms. He would go wake up his dad first because telling him to bring bread when he left for the supermarket was of more importance.
He gets to his father’s room-the first left after you climb the twelve stairs, two of which are quite imbalanced. A health hazard, he thinks to himself. He knocks on the weathered door. Two knocks separated by a second in between. An awkward knock by all means.
“Hey, dad… is yu up?” he says mildly.
He puts in the key to the room in the lock and turns it sideways. The mechanism gives way, and the door loosens up from its bolts. He opens the door and peeks inside. The body has moved from the upper left corner to the center of the room, the blood trailing the exact route his father had taken in his final moments. The corpse lays lifeless, at least a few weeks old.
“Hey, dad… do ya think yu could get us sum bred when you go out. Wes is out,” he whispers so as not to disturb the motionless corpse.
Suddenly, he stiffens up. His shoulders arch back, and he stands upright.
“Boy I’d rather beat yo ass like I did when you was a kid. How yu gonna stand here and ask me to get ya sum fucking bread after you left me to die in this shit hole. You fuckin stuck me you sunovabitch.”
“I’m sorry, dad. But you started coughin an you know what they was sayin on the T.V. I took extra precautions for me nd ma.” he hears himself say to the empty room. He has scampered to the upper right side of the room, where the trail of blood shows no signs of visiting.
Once again he stiffens up:
“Whers that bitch nyways? Whos she to tell me what I can nd can’t drink tell tha bitch to come here right now before I whip my belt out and teach both of yous a lesson”.
“Yes, dad. ‘course dad” he scurries off. His father’s motionless body lay in the middle. A sad ending for a sad man, he smiles, overcome with joy-euphoric.
He goes to the room at the end of the hallway; his mother was going to be in there. He knocks on the door with confidence “Hey ma, you up or na?” he says. Again, he puts the key inside the door and turns it sideways.
His mother is hanging from the ceiling fan with a makeshift noose. Her pupils are bloodshot and there is a trail of saliva forming from the corner of her lips to the floor. Like a spider’s web, he thinks to himself. The small stool has tipped over. Probably because of the struggle-maybe she regretted her decision, he thinks to himself.
“Ey ma… D’you know where tha bread is I asked pa to get sum he’s pretty pissed off that I stuck him. I only did it cuz u aksed me to” he says into thin air.
He straightens up again. A feminine gait comes about him and he starts strolling around the room.
“Did you check th fridge? I seen it there las time. And iss good ur fathers dead. That sunovabitch been beatin us since I can remember. Wherd ya stick him” she said.
“Right in da heart ma. Jus like ya told me” he says while he repeatedly pokes his heart and chuckles. “Is been a good boys and is did as u said”.
“Yes you’ve been a gud one. Gud boy.”
“You dint hav ta kill yurself ma. I locked u in tha room. Yous coulda healed ma. Nd then it’d just be me nd you like we always wanted.”
“Yu know how the tv said it’d spread ta everyone. I dint wanna infect you sonny boy. I did it fr yew not ur sonovabitch father,” she says as a matter of fact.
“Ma just cuz he hit us one or two times doesn’t mean he’s bad. I just want sum bred ma.”
“I kno boy ya don’t need ta tell me, I still luv dat man. Well boy yu better get ur ass and go out nd get sum. Jus dont get the disease. Everyones dead nyways. When u planning on comin’?”
“Just aftah this jam toast ma.”
The dialogue between him and his mother ends. He goes up to her and kisses the corpse and leaves the room.
He walks down the steps and goes to the front door. He is going to scour for bread and have his jam and toast.
He has been looking forward to it; he can’t help but smile.
He opens the door and sees the abundance of nature in its eminence.
“The garden ov Eden” he says to himself. “Jus like in da Bible. Can’t wait to eat my sammich and be with ma and pa.”‘COVID-19 and the End of the World’ is a work of fiction by WuDoo. Read more from the author here. Feature image illustration by Sebastien Thibault/ The Walrus.