It had been three weeks since the first plague hit our town. That’s what everybody called them. Every sink and shower in the area had begun to spurt out a viscous brown liquid. The authorities couldn‘t make any sense of it. The whole town was advised to drink bottled water from then. The frogs arrived a few days later. Preachers from every street corner had started to waive their bibles, calling out for the end of days.
“It is as it was in the times of Moses! Repent and be saved!”
Be steadfast and pray my mother had said. She was just trying to comfort me. Nobody had said it out loud but they knew how this ended. “And the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maid servant that us behind the mill.”
They couldn’t look at me. I wasn’t gone yet I tried to tell them but the words clung to my throat.
The Darkness came after the locust. Families everywhere rushed to dedicate their eldest to whatever god they believed in. It was chaos. The time was near.
Sleep came hard to me. I refused to accept this fate. Global warming, pollution, something had to explain this madness. Slowly I drifted into a dreamless slumber….
It was twelve when a sharp chill woke me up. I jerked up from my bed, heart racing. The tv was still on. I could hear the static, humming softly as if calling out to me. I just laid back down, willing myself to sleep. The sound was unbearable. I peeled myself off my sheets. My feet hit the ground. At least I thought they did. I floated to the stairs, my nails grazing the bannister. I needed an anchor. Not for the darkness. No, this was my home, I drifted through obstacles as if it were day. The anchor was to remind me that I was still here, to remind me that all this was real.
The house was quiet. Too quiet. No snores. No tapping of keyboards. Just the humming. I got to the basement. Aku had fallen asleep there again. The pulsating glow of the tv bathed my brother in a soft light. He almost looks ethereal. I turned off the tv. Still the humming persisted. It must be the generator. Nothing to be done.
I walked back up to the kitchen. My stomach grumbled loudly. I was raiding the cupboards when I heard shuffled steps behind me.
I turned around.
Two blank eyes met my stare. Aku. I tried to call out his name but couldn’t make a sound. My hand surfed the counter top, searching…. I could hear the floor board creaking from upstairs. Mum, Dad- the words barely escaped my mouth. No answer. Aku walked slowly towards me. As he approached the same chill that had woken me up enveloped me. Was he still there? I tried to find my brother, the brother who cried when I had accidentally given him his first scars pushing him down the driveway in his walker. The brother who clung to me for hours after our dog had chased him around the yard. The brother who doubled down up with laughter the first time I wiped out with my skates on our daily treks around the neighbourhood. Two other figures appeared behind him. I didn’t want to see their faces. My back was up against the kitchen island. The cold had begun to sear my skin. I hadn’t found my brother. I killed that hope the instant my fingers grazed a knife handle.