R. Allinson: The Last Day on Earth

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R. Allinson The Last Day on Earth
  • Название:
    The Last Day on Earth
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Tembara Publishing
  • Жанр:
    sf_postapocalyptic / story / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2013
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0988159624
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    3 / 5
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The Last Day on Earth: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When she finds out about the asteroid headed for Earth, Lucy knows that her family are some of the lucky ones. They have a farm, away from the chaos of the cities, with abundant food and fuel, and good weather. But finding out you're all probably going to die in two months is a quick way to discover how much everyone takes for granted. A novella of 20,000 words, or approx. 70 pages

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R.M. Allinson

THE LAST DAY ON EARTH

For my mum, Robin.

CHAPTER ONE

Present…


Lucy dreamed that it had all been a big mistake. Relief washed over her for a few blissful moments when she first woke. All too soon she realised she’d been dreaming and today was the day. She wanted to go back to sleep. It felt surreal knowing she’d woken up for the last time. She was kind of surprised that she’d managed to sleep at all. She lay in bed and gazed up at the ceiling, staring at the glow-in-the-dark stickers she’d put up there when she was a kid, and tried not to count them. She didn’t want to be reminded of space right then. She wanted just a few more moments before she had to face reality.

She held up her wrist and looked at her watch out of habit, then dropped it again. It had died a week ago. She had no way of knowing the exact time, but judging by the cacophony of birds welcoming in the dawn, it was probably before 7:00am. Roughly fourteen hours until the asteroid was due to strike.

Lucy kicked off the tangled sheets and got out of bed. She stood still, listening for a moment. Apart from the birds outside, and the excited crowing of the rooster, she couldn’t hear a thing. The house was silent. She wrapped herself in her dressing gown and padded her way out to the kitchen. She wasn’t overly surprised to see her mother huddled over a cup of tea. More times than she could remember, Lucy had started the day by coming out to the kitchen to the reassuring sight of her mother with her cup of tea.

Liz startled as Lucy pecked her on the cheek.

“Sorry, love, off in my own world.”

Lucy reached over and quickly touched the kettle. It was cold.

“How long have you been up?” Lucy struck a match and lit the gas burner.

“Oh a few hours. I couldn’t sleep. What with everything… besides, your father was snoring his head off.”

“Dad always could sleep anywhere, anytime.”

Liz smiled faintly. They sat in silence while they waited for the kettle to boil. Lucy picked idly at the side of the table and could tell Liz was resisting the urge to tell her to stop. The kettle started to whistle. Lucy got up and pulled it off the heat, and rummaged through the pantry, looking for her favourite green tea leaves that her sister Claire had sent during her last visit to Japan. She had been rationing the leaves but figured there was no point anymore. Today was the day.

Liz watched her. “I wish Claire and the boys were here,” she said for what Lucy felt was the thousandth time.

“Me too, Mum.” Lucy wondered where her older sister was at the moment. Claire had been living in Toronto with her Canadian husband Tom and their two little boys for the past five years. The last time they’d been able to speak to her, she’d told them they were going to try to get out of the city and go to Tom’s uncle’s farm a few hours north of Toronto. They hadn’t heard anything from her or Tom since. Lucy had watched her mother cart around the old satellite phone for weeks now, not wanting to miss it if Claire called, but the phone remained stubbornly silent.

“Do you think they’re okay?”

“I don’t know, Mum. I hope so. But…” Lucy stopped and sighed.

“What?”

“Nothing.” There wasn’t any point in saying that even if her sister and nephews were okay now, they wouldn’t be tomorrow. None of them would.

Lucy scooped a couple of teaspoons of the fragrant green tea leaves into the pot and poured in the hot water. She carried the pot over to the table, and let it steep while she found her favourite cup and saucer. Her great-grandmother had given them to her for her ninth birthday. She’d always left it at her parents house for safekeeping. She’d never quite trusted any of her housemates enough not to accidentally break it. Now she was glad she’d left it here. Most of her worldly belongings were still in her flat in Melbourne. That is if it hadn’t been looted or squatted in. Lucy had no idea if her flat was even still there. Some pretty crazy stories had been trickling out of the city.

Lucy looked up as her father walked into the kitchen, blearily rubbing his eyes. He was already dressed, in old jeans and his favourite work shirt. He walked over to her mother, kissed the top of her bowed head and gently squeezed her shoulder. She smiled grimly up at him.

“Good morning, Bill,” Liz said as she reached up and gripped his hand.

“Well, I don’t know much about the good part, love,” he said as he plonked himself down into the rickety kitchen chair. “Really should get around to fixing that,” he muttered. Bill looked up to see both his daughter and wife staring at him. “Uh, right… never mind.”

“Would you two like some breakfast?” Liz stood up, clutching her green cardigan to her as if it would protect her somehow.

“May as well,” Bill said. Lucy just shrugged. She wasn’t very hungry. She supposed the impending destruction of your world was a great appetite killer. She wondered how people on Death Row in America could stomach eating those lavish last meals that they ordered.

Lucy watched her mother busy herself making scrambled eggs. They were lucky, luckier than most. Her parents lived on a farm, and they still had power from the old diesel generator Bill had kept for the rather frequent times the power went out even before everything went to hell. They had running water from the bore, and plenty of fresh food; more than enough eggs from the chickens and ducks, milk from Mildred and Daisy the goats, fruit from the orchard, veggies from Liz’s vegetable garden and thanks to the generator, the freezer full of meat was still good. Lucy reflected that they were lucky the asteroid wasn’t coming in winter, and that they were in the southern hemisphere. Luck was relative, she supposed. Then she felt guilty, because her sister was in the northern hemisphere and probably dealing with snowstorms. There would be no fruit trees or overflowing vegetable gardens for Claire and her family.

Liz dished up the scrambled eggs. Bill dove into his with enthusiasm, while Lucy just pushed hers around her plate. She watched her parents eating, and the thought that this was the last breakfast she would ever share with these two wonderful people brought a lump to her throat.

Bill finished his eggs and cleared his throat.

“Now, Liz, Lucy,” he paused to wipe his mouth. “I know you don’t think there’s any point, but I’ve reinforced the old bomb shelter and stocked it—”

“Oh, Bill…” Liz sighed. “This one’s going to be bigger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. We’re not going to survive it.”

“We might, we might not.”

“We won’t,” Lucy chimed in.

“Well we definitely won’t if we’re not prepared. They don’t know how bad it’s going to be. Jim Schmidt said—”

“Jim Schmidt! That old crackpot! He also told me the moon landing never happened, and thinks Elvis is still alive!”

“Well, no denying he’s got a few screws loose, but he was a science teacher for forty years. He’s not deluded about everything. He does knows a thing or two. He said it depends where the damn thing hits. If we get lucky and survive the initial hit, and the fires, and earthquakes, and the tsunamis, and whatever else the damn planet throws at us, there’ll probably be one of those nuclear winter type things. We won’t be able to grow bugger all for years. If any people or animals do survive, most of ’em will starve.”

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