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Running Home (2014)

Winner of the “Lucky Escape” category at the November 2014 Let Me Tell You A Story, Jack event.

Summary: It’s hard being a teenager in an apocalypse, and harder still to avoid rabid, radioactive fiends!

Warnings: Dangers, rabid animals. Body parts. Mentions of drug use. Lots of fucking swearing.


I looked both ways before crossing the street. Mum had always made sure I did that when I was a little kid, but back then the main worry had been cars. I was ducked down behind a burned out bus, it stank of piss. The smell had been increasing over the last few weeks so I guess a tramp was living in there, or at the least using it as a piss pot. The tramp was more likely living in one of the trees if they had any sense. It was getting rough in these parts, it paid to keep off the ground at night.

Pausing to think. That was stupid, the sun was already getting low and tonight it had taken longer than usual to get to my neighbourhood - some felled trees were blocking one of the streets. Had they learned to bring down trees? Shit. That’s what Josh was saying the other day, but he always talks shit. He thinks he’s so cool with his slick hair and his stupid clothes. He tried to kiss me behind the sheds once and I gave him a black eye. Is that all teenage boys can think about with all this other shit going on? Even if someone had kept watch for us I’d still have punched him, he’s a dick and his breath smells pretty bad. I sometimes think I should feel bad that I only hang out with him because he has a scooter and gives me a ride part way home. It’s pretty much the only vehicle that can weave through the streets these days. For the record, I don’t feel bad about it.

Damn. Thinking too long. I check the street again, it’s slightly darker now but I can see enough to see it’s clear. I take a breath and leg it. I hate this bit. It’s so open. This whole street completely clear except the bones here and there. The bigger ones were obviously people. Once I saw a slippered foot that was totally Mr Mashood from downstairs. I never did tell Mrs Mashood, but I guess she kind of knows.

Leg it leg it leg it. I keep running and forcing myself on. I’m totally out of puff, even though this has improved my fitness over the months, uh only been smoking a year before it all went to shit. Cut down in my prime! Didn’t even have time for those teenage years of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Well, at least not the drugs. No, also the drugs. Don’t judge me, shit got real and Weird Stan, the sixth form dropout down the street, was giving good deals on coke when it all started. Actually, maybe not drugs, it was probably 90% talcum powder.

Fuck fuck fuck. Starting to hurt. Pain in my legs is a fucker but nothing compared to the pain in my tits. Seriously, they fucking hurt. No one tells you this in biology or sex education. No one says, hey girls if you are concerned that there may be an apocalypse and you might have to do a lot of running, invest in a sports bra now! You won’t regret it.

Bugger. Not thinking. Too busy thinking about my tit-pain. I’m almost at the turn off, my apartment block is almost in sight. Just got to cross the green. Argh, I hate this bit. It’s like they are drawn to this place. Clever bastards. Sometimes I stop and hide and wait for a break, but as I approach I can see it is clear. I’m tired, everything hurts and I can’t help but begin to slow down. But I have to keep going, push through whilst there’s the chance. I jump the high curb and burst through what’s left of the rose bushes but too late I see it.

Fucker! This one is big, he probably ate Mr Mashood, fucker! What did that old dude do to anyone. I can see it coming at me, full speed and it jumps. Instinct kicks in and I drop and roll, it passes over the top of me and lands with a thud, it had expected to drop me. Ha! I’m next to it on the floor so I slam my foot out and give it a sharp kick in the ribs. FUCKER! I scream, in my head - I don’t want to bring any more of them out. It growls at me, a deep rumble.

He raises his head and we’re both glaring at each other. The dark stripes of fur are almost disappearing into the darkness, but his eyes are glowing and evil. Fucking rabid, fucking radioactive, fucking asshole badgers! I’d snog Josh for his scooter right now.

I am seriously so done with this shit. These fucking badgers have taken out most of the neighbourhood now, and the bloody asshole government on the stupid radio are all “just go about your business, everything is fine. And oh, don’t worry about those fucking rabid radioactive fucking badgers that want to eat your fucking face!”.

I think about Mr Mashood’s face. He was an ugly man, old ugly, like when you get really old and it looks like your face is melting. Even so, he didn’t deserve to be eaten and no one is doing shit about it. The bloody government, the businesses, the rich - all they give a shit about is curing the infected cows so they can keep the meat industry going. Yeah good luck with that dicks. I’m totally sure people will be importing British beef again any day now. I hear France is just crying out for our the radioactive strain of TB that is now turning the cows into mush and making the badgers such fucking assholes. Turns out it was the fucking cows and their TB spreading to the badgers this whole time. Know what you shouldn’t do? Create fucking radioactive cures that make the TB worse and spread faster. Do you know what that fucking shit does to badgers? And they say that the genetically modified cows are fine to eat. Like fuck are they.

Shit. Hesitated. Taking too long, the fucker is getting up. He’s going to jump me, got to move. I glance over at the bottom door of the flats, the way is clear but I won’t outrun this fucker. He’s powered by people meat, always makes them stronger. Got to try.

I kick out again, smash my foot into its face and then take off at a run. I can hear it behind me, who knew badgers could run so fast. I’m almost at the door, it’s barricaded but there’s the gap at the top that I can climb through, just need to get up there before the fucker gets too close. I can feel his breath on my heels or some other poetic shit. What I’m saying is he’s about to eat my fucking feet. I’m getting ready to jump and the barricaded door swings open.

I see the garden fork just in time to duck down under it. It all happens pretty quick. I’m on the floor, the badger is leaping up and then it’s on the fork and blood is splashing down on me and all I can hear is “FUCKER!! You leave her you fucker!”.

The badger slumps and I scramble through the door just as it is slammed shut.

“Shit Mrs Mashood, that was fucking awesome.” I grin up at her. She nods and tells me “lucky escape for you this time, girl!” and goes back into her flat. Living on the bottom floor she’s had to get seriously tough. The elderly are pretty fucking tough when they want to be.

Her door clicks and I pick myself up and go up to my flat. Mum is sat at the dining table sharpening the knives.

“Good day love?” she asks in her best caring mum voice.

“Josh was a dick, Lisa’s disappeared, I got a C in Math, English Literature sucked, and my fucking tits hurt. Can’t we move closer to school?”

“No love, and stop your fucking swearing.”

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