In the Christmas mood?
Our Creative Writing 1 students were tasked at writing some unusual Christmas stories, and this one was chosen as the best. Justine, Liliana, Lena, and Amanda were tasked with writing a "post-apocalyptic Christmas story" - and here it is!
The second she opened her eyes, she knew that she was screwed. A soaring pain was overtaking her body while she tried to navigate in the dark. It felt like thousands of stones kept falling on her. Ultimately, the pain became unbearable and she burst into tears. "Help! Can anyone hear me? I cannot take the pain anymore," she wailed. She noticed her stomach hurting particularly and immediately reached down to touch her belly. "Everything is fine, my angel, everything will be alright," she whispered. How did she end up here in the first place? The last thing she remembered was going to bed early.
In the middle of the night, she had shot up in bed, awakened by a deafening crack. Then, a blinding light lit up her bedroom. It took her a few moments before she came to her senses and realized what had happened. She heard another deafening crack of thunder that sounded even more powerful. Her whole house trembled under the force of it. Frightened by the violent storm, which was getting stronger by the minute, she crawled under her bed. Eventually, when her eyelids became so heavy that the struggle to keep them open outweighed her fear of the storm, she fell asleep again.
The second time she was awoken, she found herself laying in the rain, her clothes soaking wet. In the distance, she could hear people screaming and crying. Despite the severe storm, she decided that she had to get up. After taking a step, however, everything went black.
Again, she woke up, having no clue where she was. No longer being able to endure her hunger, she stood up on shaky legs. She decided that following those distant noises would be the fastest way out. Seeing the outside world again, however, only led to further devastation. The world lay in ruins – houses were destroyed, the streets were cracked open and littered with rubble. "What happened?", she asked frantically. "Everything is destroyed," she screamed, falling to her knees. "All that is left is rubble and ashes. I have nowhere to go, nothing to eat." Touching her stomach made her suddenly realize that she had to be strong for herself and her unborn baby. With newly found determination, she stood up and wiped her tears away. She had to stay strong if she wanted to survive, after all. Hoping that she would meet someone on her way, she began walking around in search for food. She had to find something soon, as she got weaker by the second, her stomach rumbling relentlessly.
The ravenous growling was no way inferior to the gaping emptiness in her stomach. The pain of the void, unparalleled by anything she had experienced in her life before, banished any attempt at escaping into daydreaming, let alone entertaining a plan. Goaded by the pain, she combed through any pile that could possibly harbor something to eat. This area must have been raided and emptied while she had been trapped underground. Anytime she attempted to move heavier bricks or rocks, she urgently prayed not to come across crushed body parts or a corpse.
She had been rummaging through what seemed to be the remains of a kitchen or pantry. Concerned about falling or twisting her ankle, she had remained at the foot of the pile. All of a sudden, debris collapsed like an avalanche at the side of the pile. She just managed to jump aside and immediately looked up to make out the cause of this incident. She couldn't identify anything suspicious. As she was about to turn away, a light reflection on a shiny metallic surface in the middle of the pile caught her attention. On hands and knees, she carefully crawled towards the shiny object. The sunbeams restlessly danced around it, rendering its identification impossible. She groveled forward, squinting her eyes protectively. Within arm's reach, she finally identified the glittering trophy of her exertion: it was a candy wrapper. She could not believe her eyes – it was untouched, it was sealed. Her eyes opened wide in incredulous anticipation, she extended her hand and grabbed for the candy. Without a moment's hesitation, she placed her hands on each side to rip open the packaging. At the very same instant, the wrapped candy disappeared before her eyes and with it, her last hope dissolved into silver dust, and she into tears.
The sinking sun extracted the little warmth that was left in her body. She grasped at the bits of fabric that were left of her coat and wrapped them tightly around her belly. Violent shivers streamed through her body as her head heated up and her limps started to grow numb from the cold. She followed the cast of her shadow that had been gradually outgrowing her. She had to find shelter before nightfall, she had to keep moving, to be on her guard, else – a movement to her right let her freeze in midmotion. Narrowing her eyes, she tried to penetrate the half-light. The silhouette of a man in a stooping posture slowly emerged from the shadows of a crushed bus. She held her breath. The dragging of his foot on the ground echoed between the ruins. As he approached, a scarcely audible humming freed itself sinuously from the scratching sound of his dragging foot. The melody that emerged was ever so familiar. Had not her father sung it to her whenever she had been unwell as a little girl? You need to focus. Unsettled by the familiar tune, her eyes censored in on the frame and structure of his face. As he drew a little closer, the melody enclosed her further. A last remaining arm of the setting sun reached for the man's face, and for a moment, her father's eyes met hers. A wave of unspeakable relief freed her from her immovability, and as she leaped towards her father, an excruciating pain wrenched the inside of her abdomen and forced her to her knees. Rivers of cold sweat poured down her face. While convulsively holding the lower part of her belly with one hand, she raised her head. Blurred by the dripping veil of sweat before her eyes, she raised her other hand and grasped helplessly into the darkness. The old man was gone.
Hopelessness was the only fitting word to describe those next few minutes. She would have given up if it were not for the light she glimpsed in the distance. It was an absurd thought really, but it reminded her of candlelight. Maybe she could reach it. She had nothing to lose, after all. There was nothing else she could do to escape her miserable situation. While stumbling towards the light, memories of candlelight, carols and festive meals suddenly flashed before her eyes. And she was reminded of what she missed the most - her husband, her friends and her family.
She was so close to reaching the light. It all seemed like a wonderous dream, a last invitation she had to follow, and so she forged ahead. This light was her last hope. Although she was on the verge of losing consciousness, she summoned what was left of her strength and focused on reaching the light. She had lost all sense of time - it could have been minutes, hours, days. When she finally reached the spot, she discovered that a tree-like pillar seemed to be the source of the light she had been following. It was surrounded by dancing shadows that spread across the back wall. Slowly, her eyes became accustomed to the flickering lights. Seeing the image that was unfurling before her eyes, made her stop dead in her tracks. There were people. Standing together. Talking, laughing, holding hands. The growing pounding of her heart urged her to take one more step forward, to join this wonderous image. As she staggered forward, her vision started to blur. It was sheer impossible to refrain from crying while witnessing this illusive painting she was about to reach.
A cry of horror kept her somewhat present, and shortly after, strong arms carried her into a warmer place. Mumbling surrounded her. The next few hours passed in a hazy daze. Due to the unbearable pain, she woke up several times. Sometimes, it even felt as if she was not able to breathe. It was only when a screaming baby awoke her that she realized what was happening. Seconds later, she could feel a little human being on her chest. Another person covered both of them with a blanket. Blissfully, she closed her eyes with distant voices lulling her in: “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright”.