Authors: Page, Edwin
By the same author
Away with the Fairies
The Black Rose
The Darkness Inside
Into the Depths
The Liquid Room
Song of the Sea
Where Seagulls Fly (2013 Edition)
Enlightenment: One Man’s Search for the Truth of
Gothic Fantasy: The Films of Tim Burton
Handbook for the Living Dead (under the name R.I.Peace)
Mad Max: Movies of Apocalyptic Mayhem
Ordinary Heroes: The Film of Danny Boyle
By Edwin Page
First published to Kindle & paperback
by Curved Brick, 2015
Copyright © Edwin Page 2015
All rights reserved
I would ask that American readers
please make allowances when reading this book. Though I have endeavoured to use
American English terminology, there may be instances where an ‘Englishism’ has
slipped through the editorial net, and my apologies if this is the case. I am a
British author and have tried to stay true to your speech, though I have used
the English spellings of words.
I hope that
whatever your nationality, you are swept along by the story and caught in the
current of its tide of blood.
After finding my work being
offered by a number of sites online, I would also like to take this opportunity
to say that the only place the electronic versions of my books are available
legally is Amazon. No matter what other sites may say, if they are offering my
work then they are doing so illegally.
of professional authors have to have another source of income to supplement
their income and many are struggling. This is at least in part to piracy.
Contrary to popular belief, piracy is not a victimless crime. If you would not
accept a stolen TV or car, why accept stolen books?
If you haven’t
got a Kindle, most of my books are also available as paperbacks at prices that
are cheaper than a couple of drinks at a bar. So please don’t download illegal
copies of my work. Support creativity, not piracy.
My name is Leah Williams
and I may be the last person alive. I’m from Burlington, a small town on the eastern
shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont. Upstate New York and the Adirondack
Mountains lie to the west on the far side of the lake and the Canadian border
isn’t far to the north.
I’m thirty-five, petite and have dark silky hair that flows to my
shoulders. My skin is olive thanks to some Sicilian blood a couple of
generations back. My eyes are warm mahogany and my lips have a gentle curve
that my husband, Bob, once told me makes them intensely kissable, though that
was on our first date and could have just been a line. I used to be a part-time
legal secretary and was a founder member of the local women’s group.
The most important thing about me is that I’m dying, and not just in some
poetic existential sense. I mean literally. Once I would have described death
as passing into memory, but there may be no one left to remember me. That’s why
I want to leave these words behind. It’s possible that there’s no one left to
read them, but I can hope.
I always thought that when humanity’s time came it would be because of
something natural. I thought nature would cleanse the planet and the world as
we knew it would be brought to ruin by the Yellowstone super-volcano erupting
or a new Ice Age. We beat nature to it.
As you already know, they pressed the button on the 21
May 2021 at 11.45am EST. It was four years to the day since my parents had died
in a car wreck. Bob was at work and my six year old daughter, Chrissie, was at
school. The sun was shining.
World War III lasted less than four hours. Nothing much was left when it
It all began after North Korea’s first short range nuclear strike on South
Korea two years before. They’d claimed it was an accident, a test misfire or
something along those lines. It caused nervousness amongst the global
community, something aided and abetted by rumours that they were developing
long range capabilities.
The economies of the wealthiest countries suffered a sudden and sharp
downturn, apart from in the survivalist sector, which saw an unprecedented boom
in demand for anything that could help people stay alive if the worst came to
the worst. Even sales of bug spray rocketed after a number of documentaries
stated that cockroaches would survive a nuclear strike. The recession struck
hard as people held on to what they had and the three year drought in the Midwest
started to have an impact on food prices.
Then came the terrorist attack on Washington. Five commuter trains were high-jacked
on their way into the city and accelerated to full speed as they drew into crowded
stations. Hundreds were killed, thousands wounded. The right-wing president
that was voted in on the back of these events used the slogan, ‘keeping the
dream alive.’ He didn’t keep it alive for long.
I don’t know what finally caused the button to be pressed or who was the
first to launch. It doesn’t matter now. Nothing much does anymore.
The TV stations based west of Vermont carried the news of the strike,
though not for long. It was my day off. My hair was tied back, as it always was
when I did the household chores, and I was wearing a pale summer dress, the day
pleasantly warm. I had a cookery show on for company while ironing and looked
up when breaking news interrupted the programme. I listened, my expression
falling as the words of the male newscaster sank in, the iron hovering over a
white shirt on the board.
The set went dead three minutes later. I stared at the blank screen,
mouth running dry. I don’t know how long I stood there, it could have been seconds,
minutes or even hours. I was immobilized, dazed and confused by the impact of
A sudden surge of tears streamed forth and I trembled violently in
response to the thought that I hadn’t told Bob I loved him before he left for
work. The first thing I did when the crying abated was ring the school. The
line was engaged or down, I don’t know which.
There was a screech of rubber from next door’s drive and I saw Lacy
backing out at speed, the rear tyres smoking. An RV came out of nowhere,
gunning down the residential street almost out of control. It crashed into the
side of her blue Fiesta to the blare of horns and rending of metal. The two
vehicles continued along the road beyond Lacy’s house, the Fiesta pushed out of
sight like so much snow before a plough.
My heart was pounding and nausea churned my stomach as I stood staring
out of the lounge window with eyes widened by fear. Sirens were rising into the
air from every direction. The rhythmic thud of a helicopter’s rotor blades
pulsed through the house like sub-bass at one of the dance parties I used to
attend before Chrissie was born. It passed low and fast, heading for the centre
I noticed the pain in my left hand and looked down to find I was still
gripping the phone receiver, holding it so tight that my knuckles ached. I
stared at it, trying to recall what it was I had been doing, trying to think
what it was I should do. My mind was in shocked confusion.
My gaze was attracted by movement and I looked back to the view out of
the window. Bob sped into the drive in his classic 1970s Ford Falcon, the black
paintwork gleaming as always. He was a film nut and huge
saving up in order to buy the V8, which he affectionately called the
‘Interceptor.’ We’d made a deal; if he quit smoking and saved what he’d have otherwise
spent on tobacco, then he could treat himself to the car. I don’t know whether
it was my encouragement or the thought of becoming The Road Warrior that
motivated him, but he managed it.
He leapt out and immediately spied me in the window, a look of relief
passing fleetingly across his smoothly shaven face as he rushed towards the
front door. ‘Leah,’ he called as he barrelled in, ‘is Chrissie home?’
I turned as he appeared in the doorway to my left. ‘I tried the school,’
I said, raising the phone, ‘but couldn’t get a reply.’
‘Should I go and get her?’ he asked, his grey eyes filled with concern.
‘Lacy, she was backing out and…’ I dropped the receiver and went to him
as my eyes welled with tears. Flinging my arms around him, I held Bob with
needy tightness, clinging to him as if to let go would risk my life.
‘I saw her car, what’s left of it at least,’ he stated regretfully,
stroking my hair in distracted reassurance as he glanced out of the window.
He took hold of my shoulders and gently pushed me back. ‘Let’s go and get
our daughter,’ he said, looking into my eyes and wiping a stray tear from my
The wail of sirens grew louder and a fire crew roared by, both of us
turning to watch them pass.
‘They finally did it,’ I whispered. ‘They finally dropped the bomb.’
Bob didn’t reply, but continued to stare out of the window.
Chrissie came skipping into the driveway, waving at Rachel as the two
friends parted. ‘See you tomorrow,’ I heard her call as she briefly looked down
the road before making her way past the Falcon.
‘Mommy?’ she called down the front hall as she entered. ‘They’ve closed
the school. What happened to Lacy’s car?’
We both turned as she came into the room, bag over her right shoulder and
shoes already scuffed after I’d only just polished them that morning. She had a
habit of kicking stones, her and Rachel playing a simple game everyday on the
way into school that involved trying to get the most down the street-side
Seeing our expressions, Chrissie went still and a look of concern
replaced her smile. ‘They really did close the school. I’m not skipping
classes, honest,’ she said worriedly.
‘Honey, I…’ I couldn’t find the right words and had to fight for self
control, covering my mouth as I tried not to cry.
‘What’s wrong?’ Her tone contained an edge of panic and she shifted
uneasily, looking from me to her father.
Bob stepped over to crouch before her. He forced a smile and gently
brushed back strands of dark hair that had become caught beneath the strap of
her bag. ‘We believe you, Honey,’ he stated calmly.
‘Then what’s wrong?’
He glanced at me over his shoulder and I shook my head, at a loss as to
how we were going to explain that the world she had known was gone. No warning,
no countdown, just gone.
Peterson, master of all I survey. It’s just me and the Lord now. This is my
sacrament. This is my gospel. With God as my witness, this is the revelation of
his divine judgement and the action I undertook in order to bring about its
I saw the fall of humanity, though in truth it had fallen a long time
ago, giving itself over to sin. Greed and gluttony of every kind were rampant,
greed and gluttony that I used to my advantage, along with selfishness and no
love for thy neighbour. It was God’s Will. The blood was the last sacrifice
made for our redemption. Now I will be welcomed into Heaven, in glory to abide
there liberated of this dying body that succumbs to the rot and decay we
unleashed upon ourselves.
Manhattan Island was vaporised in seconds. All that was left were a few
pieces of rubble. The Statue of Liberty? She was liberated. Apparently there’s
nothing left but her plinth. Maybe she was blown back to France. Queens was
raised to the ground by the fireball and blast wave, which was probably the
best thing for it. Staten Island, Newark and most of the Bronx all suffered the
same fate. The others cities along the eastern seaboard fared no better, Washington,
Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston all reduced to radioactive wastelands. But
you know the biggest thing that struck me? The government didn’t sound the
alarm. That’s right, we had no warning. Why? My guess is they couldn’t see the fucking
point. I mean, what were we going to do, put on hard hats and pray? God had
already made His judgement and it was a big thumbs down.
I’d been saying it was the end times for nearly thirty years. You know
those guys wearing ‘the end is nigh’ boards? Yeah, well, that was me, and I was
right. People smirked or shook their heads. Now who’s fucking smirking?
In the early years after the Lord had first spoken to me on stage and
after having countless insults, slushies, and fast-food wrappers thrown at me,
I’d thought about actively trying to help bring about the end. I’d downsized
from my riverside penthouse apartment to a grubby little place downtown, the
money coming in from the music royalties diminishing as time went on. It was
there that I’d learnt how to make pipe bombs, nail bombs and incendiary
devices, all using household items. It was also there that I’d researched the
effects of various end of the world scenarios, certain that the time was at
On that blessed day when the Lord made His final judgement, I’d just
walked into the Church of Archangel Saint Michael wearing my sandwich board
with sandals, board shorts and a sweat-stained white t-shirt beneath. There was
no sound, at least, not at first. There was a bright flash which made the
scenes of the saints in the stained glass windows look electrifying. That’s
when I knew without a doubt that it was a sign from God. It was His way of
showing me that this was His divine and cleansing light.
A few minutes later the explosion boomed along the streets, birds crying
out before the blast struck. The windows along the south side burst inwards.
What a powerful sight that was. It filled my heart with His glory. I was
humbled by the sight of the immense power, knowing that He had good cause to
unleash it upon us.
Until that glorious day the church had been barely a third full on
Sundays, but it wasn’t long until it was packed. They all wanted shelter. They
all wanted forgiveness. It was too damn late for that. I knew it. They didn’t.
I knew what was coming. I’d done my research. We were fucked.
Reverend Peters came rushing out from the vestry door behind the pulpit,
the similarity of our last names being one of the reasons he let me help out around
the place, that and the fact he thought I looked like his favourite film star,
Nicolas Cage. He moved to the main aisle and stared fretfully at the brightly
coloured shards lying about the pews on the south side. He began to fuss like
an old lady, worrying about what had happened and the need to clean up the
mess, running his hands through the white hair that crowned his head.
‘Is it a terrorist attack?’ he asked in his aged voice, one that reminded
me of the creaking of willows beside the stream where I’d grown up before
moving to Yonkers in my early teens.
I shook my head. ‘I don’t think so. That was a nuclear blast.’
‘I nuclear blast?’ He looked at me fearfully, ‘but there were no sirens.’
‘What would you have done with half an hour?’
He looked at me in puzzlement, his thin brows drawing together as the
furrows deepened in the centre of his forehead. I wouldn’t have believed it
until then, but his face had managed to become even paler than usual, even the
slight redness that was usually apparent at the end of his hawkish nose having
‘If this is a nuclear strike than we’d have had around thirty minutes
from detection to detonation,’ I clarified. ‘Not much time to do anything but
Peters looked to the vacant windows and then his gaze settled on the
broken glass once again. ‘That wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.’
‘It would have been pointless.’
He turned to me in surprise. ‘I thought you were a man of God.’
I nodded. ‘I am and this is His doing.’
His surprise increased. ‘This is the work of man.’
‘No, this is divine. This is intervention. This is His judgement and His
Peters shook his head. ‘You are wrong, Clark. The God whom I kneel before
is not one who would bring about such terrible destruction. He is a God of love
and these are actions of hatred,’ he said, glancing to the windows.
‘They are actions of cleansing,’ I replied, my mind being electrified by
the words, each statement I made confirmed with a gut feeling, with a sense of
truth that I knew was from God Himself. I felt elated, powerful. I felt chosen
and I knew that my time had come.
Peters looked at me with fatherly disappointment and shook his head. ‘We
have some cleansing of our own to do,’ he stated, deciding not to continue with
the discussion, as was often the case when we talked, regarding me as extreme
and unmovable, a mountain of faith that would never be shaken.
‘I’ll go and get the broom and dustpan. We must get this glass collected up
before people begin arriving, as I’m sure they will.’ He turned and made his
way back to the vestry door, his black robes hanging loose and fluttering a
little behind his wiry frame, our builds very similar.
‘That’s one thing we can agree on,’ I stated as he vanished from sight.
There’s nothing like the end of the world to bring people begging and
pleading to God, people who, until those times of desperate need, had lived
lives overflowing with sin. It wasn’t ten minutes before the first arrived, me
and Peters still busy with cleaning up the broken glass, the old man making his
way fastidiously along each pew in turn with the dustpan and brush, making sure
to collect up every single little shard. I’d have let the people sit on it, the
possible pain part of their penance.
The first arrivals were regulars, an old couple called John and Fran Pengrum
who I called ‘The Penguins’ due to the fact they walked with a waddle thanks to
the size of their thighs. Their weight had expanded with their age and spoke of
their gluttony, their vulgar fat bulging from their clothes in unsightly rolls.
They were red cheeked and puffed out from the effort of walking from their car
to the doors, driving even though they lived less than a block away.
With them were unfamiliar faces. A couple in their late twenties with two
young kids in tow followed them in, along with a man in his mid-thirties who
was clutching his baseball cap in his hands and wringing it with nervous
‘Welcome, welcome,’ said the Reverend, donning a thin smile and
straightening, the shards he’d collected up scraping to the back of the dustpan
as he did so.
The group were all staring at my sandwich board as I stood between the
pews with the broom in my hands. The man with the cap stared at the words a
moment and then vomited into his headgear.
‘The end isn’t nigh, it’s here,’ commented John darkly.
‘And now,’ added Fran with a sigh.
‘Do you know what’s happened?’ asked Peters.
The couple nodded, the gesture limited by their chins.
‘Nuclear war,’ stated John.
Peters stared at him in shock. ‘Nuclear war,’ he repeated in a whispered
‘The TV carried a report.’
‘Before the electricity went out,’ said Fran.
‘The electricity is down?’ asked Peters, adopting his common habit of
repeating what others said.
She gave a nod of confirmation. ‘There’s nothing on the radio either,
apart from static, that is.’
The smell of bile wafted to me from the baseball cap as I stood watching.
I was filled with a growing sense of power. For years I’d wandered the streets,
looked down upon by everyone, seen as unhinged and avoided where possible. I
knew the Reverend had only taken me under his wing out of pity, but now my time
had come. The words on my sign had borne fruit, as I always knew they would.
‘Why are you smiling?’ asked the little girl who was clinging onto her
mother’s hand as she studied me.
‘God is speaking to me,’ I said.
Her brow furrowed and she glanced around the interior of the church. ‘I
can’t hear Him.’
‘No, but you can see what He’s done,’ I replied, glancing to the empty
window frames to my left.
‘That was the bomb,’ stated the girl’s brother, a few years older and in his
‘And who do you think is responsible for sending it?’
‘The Russians or the Chinese,’ he replied.
I shook my head. ‘No, it’s God.’
Peters frown at me before looking back to the group. ‘Don’t worry, son,’
he said, the boy looking fearful and confused, ‘God had no hand in this. It’s
all our own doing.’
‘It could have been the North Koreans,’ said John.
‘They’ve have itchy button fingers for a while now,’ added Fran.
‘Didn’t the news report say anything?’ asked the Reverend.
‘Just that we were under attack,’ said the father of the children, his
face angular and clean shaven.
‘Someone must have started it.’
A silence drew in and a few glances were exchanged.
The church door opened and Old Bud Turney limped in, his bunions acting
up again. He scratched at his grizzled beard as he wandered up behind the
others, wincing and inhaling between his teeth sharply every time he put weight
on his left foot.
‘Where are your crutches, Bud?’ asked John.
‘I don’t need them things. I’m perfectly capable of walking without
them,’ he said defensively as he came to a halt. ‘I see the windows blew out
Peters nodded. ‘But you’re all still very welcome.’
The doors opened again and a group of around ten people entered, not a
face amongst them that I recognised. My smile grew. I knew that no matter how
hard they prayed, their pleas would go unanswered. The end had truly come at
Within an hour the sun was gone, choked by an expanding cloud of fumes
and dust that churned in the sky above Yonkers. Within two hours the church was
packed with people, all the space on the pews taken and many reduced to sitting
along the edge of the aisle or at the back. There were plenty of bowed heads
and the whispers of numerous prayers were woven into the background murmur of
chatter as people conversed with each other and looked with fear at the
darkness beyond the windows, a darkness which had engulfed us all and which I
relished. Humanity’s time had come and I would do everything within my power to
hasten it to the very end so that I could be raised on high to dwell at His
side forever and ever, amen.