She was yellow with fear. Cold Piss ran through her veins instead of hot down her leg. This was no super hero Marvel movie where she could sprout wings and loop the fuck out of there. Though she wished it was. Wished it was. Wishes are fishes. Fishes are wishes.
“Fucking cop on yourself already for feck’s sake,” Jimmy hissed, breath steaming like the train which had just left the station.
“That’s the last train.” Mandy’s voice trembled. They had missed it by seconds. Some fella with a belly of one too many pints and a heart attack waiting to happen had tried to stick his hand in the gap to hold it open, eyes big as his belly. He knew. Oh yes, he knew.
Jimmy ignored the display blinking NOT IN SERVICE. NOT IN SERVICE. “It fucking isn’t.”
But they were alone on the platform.
“It’s like that movie. Warriors. Warriors. Come out and play. Remember, Jimmy. Remember?”
“Yeah, I wish homicidal gangs were our worst problem.”
Mandy wrapped her piss cold arms around herself. “There’s no way out now.”
Jimmy put his arm around her as the red tail lights of the train disappeared around the tunnel bend. “Doesn’t matter. Where the fuck they gonna go, anyway?”
“End of the line. End of the line for everyone,” Mandy giggled.
Jimmy dropped his arm and for the first time looked at her like a liability.
“Don’t you leave me, Jimmy Murphy. Don’t you fucking leave me.” Her voice rose with every syllable. She could see him weighing his options. It only took a second or two. Didn’t matter they’d been together for five years, an abortion, his brother’s suicide and a trial. None of that mattered now. Nothing mattered…”
He grabbed her hand and pulled “Come on. I know a way out.”
“But where we gonna go, Jimmy? Where we gonna go?”
He didn’t answer, just ran. She had no choice but to go with him.
They made it to the surface and darkness. It was quiet as a nightmare before the monster pounces. The alarm clock of Mandy’s pounding heart wouldn’t slow down. They’ll find us now. Find us for sure.
But the streets were empty as a Christmas dawning.
No more Christmases. Not ever. Ever. Can’t go home. There were no homes any way. Only cells. They were gathering them up, slamming the doors and throwing away the key. Mandy felt the window eyes watching. The curtains twitching. Was it better to be locked up waiting for the food to run out? For everyone to turn on each other? For mothers to eat their young?
What would you do, Mandy? Would you eat Jimmy? Would ya? Huh?
“I know where there’s a boat.” Jimmy said as they crouched behind some bins. Where were the rats? Surely, they would inherit the earth along with the cockroaches?
“We’re too far from the water, Jimmy. We’ll never make it.”
“Bullshit,” Jimmy said and they started running.
It was late or early or somewhere in between and the air slap dashed against their faces as they ran through mist that had either fallen from the charcoal sky or risen from the ground like huffing and puffing corpses dragging themselves from hell. It’s a nightmare, right? All just a nightmare. I’m gonna wake up, Jimmy by my side and we’ll have a smoke and laugh about it. He’ll tell me I’m a psycho and better lay off the drugs but I stopped that shit years ago so what the fuck is this now?
“Mandy.” Jimmy panted and heaved but his voice was full of something both had forgotten. Hope.
The pier was empty. Not a sail boat, yacht or cargo ship in sight. Maybe the mist had swallowed them whole.
“Are we dead, Jimmy? Is that it? Are we dead and just don’t know it yet?”
Jimmy laughed. “You edjit. Look.”
She followed his finger to the dinghy lap dancing against the pier. The tide was high and all they had to do was step into it and push off.
Thank Christ. She’d never believed in God but someone or something was looking out for them. Drawn Jimmy through the fog to the pier. Saved a boat, a small boat but big enough for the two of them to hold hands and sail into the sunset. There’s no sun, stupid. Haven’t seen that fucker for ten days, ha ha days, ten whatever the fuck, now.
There was no motor so Mandy lay back while Jimmy did the rowing.
“Is it getting warmer, Jimmy,” she said five minutes or five hours later. Hard to tell in unshifting twilight.
“You fucking joking?” Jimmy said, sweat lashing from his forehead. “You laying there like a princess and me killing myself here.”
“A princess you rescued. I love you, Jimmy.”
It was then Mandy noticed the water. “We got a leak, Jimmy. Oh fuck. The boat’s got a leak.”
Jimmy drew in the oars. “Look for something. Something to bleeding shove in the hole.”
But there was nothing.
“Jesus, Jimmy. It’s like bath water. Like a sauna. Like a lie down after a hard day’s work and someone’s rubbing the job out of your muscles and I’m just going lay back in it for a bit. Float like. Jimmy?”
But Jimmy was already lying next to her. Steam rising from him like a train through the night. If only we’d caught the train. If only…
Mandy started leaking. What harm? Everyone pissed in the sea. As the water turned yellow like spices in a soup, she felt herself fading, eyelids going down like a sinking ship and luxuriating in the warmth.
Christ, Jimmy, I can’t remember the last time I felt this warm. This good. Jimmy?
But Jimmy was a thought. A memory through a sieve as Mandy cooked in the hot water. He was her last thought and it was a good one.
She never even felt the spear pierce her flesh.
BARBARA LOVRIC is originally from America but living in Ireland some 20 years. Recently long listed for the Bare Fiction Short Story Prize, Barbara was also shortlisted for the 2017 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year award. Twitter: @BALovric
Image: StockSnap via Pixabay