Hawksridge

The grass at the end of the street call to me like a beacon. I know if I can only reach it I will be fine, I will be alive in nature. Surrounded by their comforting presence that will transport me along to the next leg of my journey. I can see a bird box swinging in the breeze at the end of the lane. It briefly reminds me of the book that I read a little while ago, one of the same name. It stuck with me for months afterwards, I began to be afraid of the light whenever it would shine brightly through the blinds in the morning. Afterwards I would chastise myself, saying to myself, why are you being so silly its just a book, a fictional book that something like that is never going to happen here. Well, that was a nice theory to believe in but even as I told myself I knew at the time I was only half convinced of the words I was saying. I don’t have time for this, I need to get moving, but still I take the brief opportunity to look up at the sky, glad that I am able to venture this wilderness with my eyes wide open, unlike Mallory, who was forced to walk about outside blind, with just her ears as guides. The sky is so natural looking, blue with whispy puffs of clouds streaked through it. Completely opposite to the turmoil that is going on around me in this street that was once so familiar to me. I used to ride my bike up and down this street, but not daring to go any further than the sign at the end of the road. This stretch of road was as familiar to me as the inside of my house was. Now it looks unrecognisable, I wouldn’t even know where I was if it wasn’t for the bent, half-burned sign that said Hawksridge Road. How appropriate that the only thing remaining is the sign I could never force myself to travel beyond. An invisible barrier that held me inside this corner of the world that is now forcing me to leave.

 

I still haven’t introduced myself have I, Jessica Stone. Where are my manners, my mother would be ashamed, actually I probably lost them a month ago when this whole thing started. There was no-one else left for me to keep up my good manner with so they sort of fell by the wayside. Jessica is supposed to mean, rich or god seeing. Ha! If there is a god, and I’m not convinced either way anymore after whats happened to me this past month, he is definitely not seeing me over here in Hawksridge Road. I’m still walking down this blasted road, literally and figuratively blasted and it’s much longer than I remember. On my bike I could get from the edge of the grassy curb to the sign in less than 30 seconds flat, but now the debris on the road is making a lot of the sections impassable. A metaphor for my life now honestly, I realise how easy and accessible things were before, and I also know that I never truly appreciated them then. I suppose that the big irony of life, you never appreciate things enough in your life until they are gone, and once they are you can never get them back again. Ever single little thing I try to do takes twice as long as before to accomplish, and most of the time I get frustrated and want to give up for a while, but I am not frustrated enough to forget that if I do give up, even this little task, then I will surely become just another one of the dead bodies that litter the streets around my old childhood home.

 

The hardest part of this whole experience is that I have no clue what on earth happened. One day was completely normal, I was getting ready to go to work, okay yes I was running late but the alarm seemed to be extra loud that morning and it was annoying me so much that I turned it off completely instead of snoozing it. That annoying alarm clock probably saved my life, if I had been on time and made it work by around 8am like usual I would surely be flat on the gravel like the rest of the people that worked at the gallery. I was too terrified to look out the window properly for days after I first realised something had happened but when I finally worked up the courage I wish I hadn’t. It must have been some sort of pulse or earthquake, thats the best way I could describe it. Like in the Fifth Wave when the aliens send out a pulse to wipe out all the technology and engines made by people. Fiction. I have to remind myself that they are fiction, a story made up for someone else’s enjoyment or entertainment. This is real life and those sorts of things can’t actual happen, but something did happen and the worst part is not knowing what.

 

The succulent is still there in the window of number 45. I have no idea how it is still alive, don’t they need water like other plants, maybe they are related to cacti plants, the desert ones that never need to be watered expect one a year. I refuse to believe that anyone is living there and watering that plant. I know the lady that lived there by sight and I’m sure it was her body I passed a little while back, I didn't want to look too closely but I recognised the flowery dressing gown she would wear to take the bins out in. I saw that plant for the first time about two months ago, from my desk in the bedroom I converted to use as an office and studio space. It caught my attention because at the time I was frustrated by the layout I was trying to plan for the upcoming exhibition at the gallery. It was by a local artist about the ever-increasing presence of technology. How its creeping up on nature in a way that one would have to overtake the other eventually. In these pieces of work it looked like the technology was winning. Maybe that's what happened, maybe nature fought back and decided it wasn’t going to be drowned out by technology, but in the process it decided to obliterate most of itself as well. All the theories I have seem good at the time, but when I try and convince myself that that must be what happened I come up with reasons why they don’t really make sense anymore. If I am going to be honest with myself and I’m not sure I could handle that right now but I guess I must, I may never really know what happened here. If I start thinking about that fact I may never find out I would give up and I do not want to do that. I don’t know what I believe in regards to having a destined purpose or a fate to do something but I am here, alive when no-one else is. That’s a fact I do know, so why am I alive if nobody else made it. I ask myself that question about 25 times a day.

 

I have been too deep in my own head for a while I realise, I have gotten closer to the grass than I thought. I can just about see the lines of the basketball court from where I stand. I have stopped. I am not sure why but my instinct has told me to pause. My instincts are all I can really count on at the moment, my gut seems to be pretty solid when it comes to decision-making, always has been. It is truly hard not to second guess yourself but in this last month I have learnt that the first instinct you get is usually the right one so you have to trust it and my instinct now is telling me that something is approaching. I have nowhere to go, I am out in the open on this street, the only thing I can think to do is lie down with my back to the dusty, street and pretend to be like one of the dead bodies that surround me. I can hear the strange hum getting more intense, it is not like an electrical noise or the noise of a vehicle, I’m not sure what it is but it terrifies me every time I hear it. I keep trying to tell myself that maybe its friendly, maybe it is some part of an army that is looking for survivors but this instinct in my gut tells me it’s not.

 

The noise continues for a while, and I try to stay stock still with my eyes closed. I see slight alterations in the light behind my eyes but they never seem to get any closer. Eventually the hum begins to fade, either I was convincing enough as a dead person or they are falling back to regroup. I keep thinking that maybe they saw a slight twitch in my eyelids and are doubling back for weapons. I don’t know if it even is a ‘they’ but the thought freaks me out enough that I try and think of anything else until the hum has completely gone. It takes a while for it to go and even when it’s gone I still keep think that I can her a slight hum from somewhere, the noise is probably just the blood in my ears but I still don’t move just in case. I am starting to get a pain in my lower back from laying here, I must be on a hard bit of stone or something, something that I didn’t see when I laid down quickly to avoid detection.

 

I need to get moving. I need to get to the grass, it’s not too far away now but as silly as it sounds, I feel safe here. I know I’m not and anything could come along and see me but laying in the street with my eyes closed I could imagine I was anywhere. The thing that does get me up and moving is this stupid rock that is digging in my back. I open one eye first and scan the sky for anything. I don’t know what I’m looking for. There’s no birds, no black dots of planes far away, not even any distribution in the clouds, no streaks where a plane could have gone through. It was a fragment of brick that was digging in my back, it’s probably one from the house to my left where a hole is blown out of the living room wall. I stand up and dust myself off, it won’t make a different as I am covered in dust anyway but it makes me feel a bit better to have done it. I can see the grass verge again. Walking towards something and having a purpose helps to calm my overactive mind. I always used to be at my best when I was busy having things to do and work towards instead of letting my overthinking mind run away will all sorts of scenarios of things going wrong. Sometimes the scenarios were so silly I couldn’t even believe them myself on reflection but at the time they feel imminent and I ca’t help but convince myself that they could happen at any moment. I speed up when I get nearer to the grass, almost twisting my ankle over a pile of rubble because of my hurry. I know when I reach it I will be safe, or at least safer than I am out here on the street. I will have a cover of trees and bushes that will shield me from the watching eyes of whatever the strange humming noise is. The excitement I feel when I am within 10 feet of the grass is indescribable. I have walked this route plenty of times before, it is a direct route to the local corner shop but this time the journey felt a million times greater. My destination this time wasn’t the shop for a packet of PG Tips tea and a small carton of milk but for the safety that would come from the untouched grass square at the end of the road. I don’t know how it survived when the rest of the street got ripped up, perhaps the theory of nature wiping out the man-made aspects wasn’t quite so far off, or maybe it was a…

 

‘Jessica’

I freeze. Actually it feels more like an explosion happened inside of me which prevented me from moving a muscle even if I had wanted to. I never got to finish the rambling thought about what else could have left this square of grass alone because my whole body felt like it was shutting down. I had one foot on the grass and one about to join it when I heard the voice. The natural thing would be to turn and face whoever just said my name but for some reason I can’t force myself to do that. I know I can’t run, I see no-one else but the crazy reasons that are forming in my head about men in black outfits grabbing me as I run away or hitting me with some kind of tranquillising dart as I try to flee fill my head and I am rooted to the spot. I can’t do anything. I can’t turn around because I am terrified of who might have said my name, I didn’t recognise the voice but I haven’t heard anyone’s voice in so long that I decide I can’t really count that. I don’t know what would be worse, it being someone I know standing there or some stranger that wants to kill me for surviving whatever this thing was.

 

I am so far down the street it should be impossible for me to see into the window of the lady with the flowery dressing gown but I can, clearly. The succulent is gone.