So Close to All This Water

Chris Castle

They say they came from outer space.

She walked into the room, lit the candle. It twitched, rose, and she waited; been weeks since she flinched. She placed the bowl down, stood back and listened to the shackles. It lurched into the weak light, fingers climbing into the bowl, and as it began to feed she lowered, sat and brought out her own plate of food and the two of them sat in the near dark until they were both finished.

She took the bowl and placed them in the sink, wiping them down with the rag as best she could. She turned the dial on the radio, even though she knew it was dead. A force of habit. She tidied up as best she could, flicked the dial off, all the while a piece of paper, sat there, in the corner of her eye. Eventually she finished, sat at the bare table, and pulled it out in front of her.

She re-read the instructions, her voice humming quietly. Struggled to read her own handwriting at points, remembered how horribly she’d scrawled it, listening to the other woman’s voice, uneven, breaking; her own, dried in panic, disbelieving but still writing it all down. And all of it was true in the end. She looked up to the calendar, followed the twenty-seven crosses marked off. The blank dates somehow seemed bigger than any others. She read the last point, fixed on the space as she did. She folded the paper into a small square and put it into her top pocket.

She made her way to the window. Everything was still empty, the bodies turning slowly until eventually they would just be dust. No one walked up to the overturned cars, no dogs running in or out of the smashed shop doors; just the nothingness. She counted the houses, saw she had two left on her side of the street, the jewellers and the bookies; jobs for tomorrow. She turned to her left and saw the flicker of the sea. She wondered if it had started to turn in colour yet, clog with all that had happened. She stared at it for a long while and then she turned and headed back down to the stairwell.

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