This one was inspired by the horrible heatwave we've been experiencing here in Australia.
The skies are shotgun blue, without a cloud in sight, and the heat is pressing and exhausting. No birds have sung in the past few weeks and I haven’t heard any children run around the place lately either.
This is strange. But seeing how hot it’s been, I’m not surprised.
People would have been worshipping at the temple of the shopping complex, to get away from the heat and into the cool air-conditioning. And with school starting soon, it’ll be something to look forward to. However with the heat still pressing down on this country, it’s got me thinking: is it really Summer? Or is it something else?
I mean, America is in the grips of one of the worst Winters they’ve experienced in years. Coyotes are roaming into the cities searching, hunting for food; and that’s because there’s none walking around.
And yet, there’s snakes and Dingoes doing the same thing here in Australia because there’s nothing to eat for them here.
This morning, I walked out to the papershop and found that at around 7am, the normally busy main road outside my place was empty and quiet. Now, I’m not a God-fearing person, nor will I ever be one. But, I didn’t hear any birds singing either – just the cicadas ever-lasting long note of ‘damn it’s hot! Damn it’s hot!’ And adding that to my tinnitus is enough to send normal people off the edge – but then, I’m not normal. I’m used to that mind-boggling ringing in my ears. It’s difficult to ignore it, but it’s been there for years, constantly getting louder over time.
As I walked down the road in the blinding sunlight, my footsteps echoing around the street, I felt as though I was in ‘The Omega Man’... yep, I felt as though I was the last person on the planet wandering around. Then, I spotted a few people, braving the heat to get the paper and some milk from across the road. Okay, I now felt as though I was in ‘The Day of the Triffids’, where the world was invaded by plants which ate humans.
Creepy... but a great book and movie.
It’s been hours since I ate breakfast and decided to take off to photograph some landscape stuff to paint. But driving around, I couldn’t find a place populated enough by people to paint. I tried the local shopping centres, then drove further afield, taking the toll way and found there was nobody on the roads – not even trucks.
I pulled off the road, finding my way to a church, where I thought I’d find people of faith hiding away there, to pray, in search of guidance to their God. But that car park was empty.
Exactly what was going on? I tried the doors and found them locked... on a Sunday? This wasn’t right. I had a feeling there was somebody behind me, and spun! There wasn’t anyone. I could see my camper van in the lot and that was it.
“What the hell is going on?” I muttered taking a few deep breaths, leaning against the cool glass doors of the church. Then, I realised, to find my answer, I had to get inside. I picked dislodged a rock from the garden and threw it through the large glass panel next to the main doors. It shattered – but no alarm went off as I expected. As the glass fell to the floor, I carefully stepped through and looked around.
The air-con was on.
Music was coming from the speakers in the ceiling – but it was just the radio.
I went up to the doors of the church itself and tried them. Locked! I went back outside and walked around the side of the building to look in and found the main building was empty.
“Who are you looking for?” a voice asked to my left.
I turned to find the Pastor standing there, “Where are the people?”
He frowned, pulling at his collar, his eyes wandering to glaring hot day, “It’s hot isn’t it?”
Nodding, I agreed with him, “But where are the people?”
Sighing, he sat in the pew put outside for people to rest in, “I don’t know. I heard you break in before, and I couldn’t get into the church either; not even with my key.” Tears brimmed his eyes as he looked to the ground, “I do believe it’s the End of Times.”
“Hey, Pastor, we would have had warnings.”
“We did!” he snapped a look at me, “Wars, disease, famine, extinction... that joke of a President was another... they were all warnings. And what did we do? We all sat on our phones, hypnotised by them.”
I didn’t know what do to, “Have you been out there today?” I looked out to the steaming heat of the day.
“No. I came here in the hopes people would come here.”
I shook my head, “Don’t. There’s nobody around. The streets are empty, the highways... the internet isn’t .... um... the radio is static. I thought it was a screw up until it was like that for an hour.”
He scrubbed his tears away with the flat of his hands, “So, now what?”
Looking at him, stunned, I shrugged, “Well, I came here to ask you that. You’re one of ... or are you? Seeing it’s the End of Days, what do we do now?”
“For what redemption – a bit late.”
He spotted my camper van out in the lot, “Do you think there’s others?”
“If there are, they’re hiding.” Or dead I thought but I didn’t want to scare him more than he already was, “I don’t know.”
He stood, “Well, I’m going to get into the church the same way you did... and I’ll stand by my post. It’s what I was taught to do.”
“No. God will show me the way. Where are you going?”
“On my road trip, I guess; better late than never.” I walked out to the lot, unlocked my camper van and got into the driver’s side. I knew what the pastor was going to do, but I didn’t want to be there when he...
As I pulled out of the driveway and onto the street, I heard a gunshot echo from the church; causing me to slam on the brakes and my stomach to lurch. I’ll be not only going on the road trip to paint, but to also search out others.
I did have a question though: was a left here as a bad guy or a good guy? I guess I’ll never know.