Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today Is Not Going To Be A Normal Day: Day 1

Jack was not exactly sure on what gave away the fact that today would not be like any normal day. Maybe it was the lack of the sound made by the trains as they passed by his house. Maybe it was the pungent smell of smoke hanging in the air, reminding him of the haze problem a few months ago. But as he woke up, somehow everything just felt different that how it usually was.

Still he went around with his usual routine amidst the grogginess that usually accompanies you when you wake up after a night of restless sleep. For some reason he just felt that he did not sleep enough, though already sleeping for more than eight hours straight.

He went for his early morning bath as part of his ritual to wake himself up, going through the steps as he had gone through several thousand times. Brush the teeth followed by washing the hair, then the face and the entire body. After which he will dry off, change into working clothes, style his hair to avoid complaints of how he is not portraying the best image of his company and last but not least taking three fifty cents coins to buy a piece of bread as breakfast while on the way.

Only when he opened the door did he realized the true extent of how different today is going to be. Not different in a sense where you're going to be late to work because an accident occurred somewhere or because the train is delayed again, but different in the "OMG the world is ending kind" of way. Because far from the usual crowd of people waiting at the bus stop and the others who are walking towards the train station opposite of his house, the sight that greeted his eyes seemed to be plucked straight out from the Hollywood movies that he is so used to watching. The only problem is that he never expected to be caught in a Hollywood movie type of situation himself.

His immediate reaction was to bolt back straight into his house and to lock every imaginable door and window possible. There was nothing much to lock anyway, considering that he is living on the seventh floor of an apartment building, with only one wooden door and three windows facing the corridor. After ensuring that all of them are firmly bolted or latched together, he pulled the curtains over the windows and quietly sat on his bed, staring emptily unto the floor still dazed and confused from what he saw just now.

There were cars, some overturned, some far off from the road where they are supposed to be, others with their windows smashed and their doors opened but all of them were empty, save from the red liquid on some of them that Jack hoped is not what he thinks it is. There were columns of smoke billowing all around, some far off, some nearer, which Jack guessed was the reason behind the pungent smell of the air around him.

However, it was the third image he saw that sent him instinctively back into his own house, blocking every single exit in fear that something unwanted would climb in. Something like zombies.

Instead of the usual sight of people dressed in office wear waiting for the bus or heading to the train station that greeted him that morning, what he saw reminded him of scenes from The Walking Dead or World War Z instead. There were people, or what used to be people, he guessed, shambling around aimlessly in the field. Most of their clothes were torn, which normally would have amused Jack, save for the fact that just directly beneath the torn clothes, you could see some of the goriest sight imaginable. Where the clothing used to be, you can now find some pieces of intestine hanging out or the exposed part of the bone or some weird looking organs that you would not know what it is unless you happened to be a doctor.

Jack knew it would be stupid for him to try and find out what was happening out there by stepping away from the relative safety of his house, hours of watching horror movies taught him so, which was why before deciding whether what he saw was in fact some sort of major Halloween cosplay party or rather a real attack of the undead, he would first ensure that nothing could launch a surprise attack on him first.

He peeked out from the curtains of his room to confirm again that what he saw was indeed real and not his eyes playing tricks on him and finding out that it was the former, he sat down again and begin to finally think. He used to imagine how he would react when an apocalypse scenario did play out in his real life, as a past time to fill the dull train rides rather than something serious, but he cannot help but find himself going back to all those end day scenarios that he used to playfully imagine to fill up his time.

The first thing that he did was to power up his laptop. The battery was spoilt a long time ago, meaning that his laptop could only be powered using direct current, so he was naturally relieved when he saw the blue LED light flicker on. At least there's still electricity supply for now. Next he took out his phone from his jeans pocket to see what he could get while waiting for his laptop to load. He launched the Twitter app, it is the first place where he will usually go to catch the latest news.

"Chaos across major cities around the world."

"Movie doomsday predictions came true?"

"Millions feared dead as viral outbreak of zombie like disease simultaneously explode across the globe."

"Scientists and authorities still struggle to come up with a definite cause for humanity's largest crisis since the black plague."

Along with the headlines from official news accounts came the firsthand tweets from personal Twitter accounts from people who are either caught in the event itself or those who seemed to have a better grasp of what's going on than him. There were informative tweets that is aimed at helping survivors who maybe looking at Twitter for answers and there were those who were downright hysteric.

"Ministry advises all to stay indoors and keep all exits securely locked. Avoid venturing out at all cost."

"Stuck in a 7-11 store with 5 others. Shutters are down but we don't know how long we'll stay here."

"Don't bother heading to Woodlands checkpoint or Changi or Harbourfront. Nothing's leaving and nothing's entering."

"WTF is happening?! The police are not picking up and there's no one I could call!"

"OMG OMG GOD SAVE US ALL"

At least the 3G network still appeared to be working, he thought.

He looked around his house. No one. His housemates appeared to have left the house before him like any other day, as his workplace is closest to the unit as compared to the rest of them, giving him the liberty to wake up the latest among his five housemates.He looked ath his phone again, looking to see if there is any messages or missed calls from anyone he knew.

None. Only the his favorite wallpaper of the latest anime Shingeki No Kyojin was there on the screen, with the Colossus Titan staring back ominously at him, sort of trying to indicate the storm that is now happening outside of his house. Was this how the humans felt when they were under siege by an unknown force threatening your very existence, he wondered. That thought alone sent shudders down his spine, so he chose not to think about it instead.

He tried calling his best buddy Darren to see if he can get through to him. A constant beeping of tone indicating the phone was busy greeted him instead. He tried another friend. This time, it was a pre-recorded message from the phone company that he heard. Yet another friend.

"Sorry, the number that you have dialled..."

He pressed the hang up button, sighing in exasperation. Though the 3G network seemed to work fine, for some strange reason you cannot make any calls. Maybe it's because the multitude of calls people all around the country is trying to make at the same time. He tried one last call to his parents who were living just across the causeway in Malaysia, Singapore's neighbouring country. Still nothing.

Slowly but surely, he felt a surge of panic building up inside him. The feeling of being so disconnected and not knowing what was happening to his loved ones never occurred to him before. Still, he told himself that it was okay and he needed to stay calm. No news is better than bad news, after all. It is this notion called hope that has kept humans going for so long under the harshest of circumstances throughout our history so he figured it wouldn't be so bad for himself to keep a little hope.

Knowing that there is little he can do right now, he plugged his phone to his charger to utilize the electricity while it lasts. Next, seeing that there is still 3G connection, he shot off a few hundred identical WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber and Facebook messages off his phone, hoping that at least he would receive a few replies. When he was done with that, he proceeded to the kitchen and took out every container possible, big or small, tupperware or pail, cleaned them and began filling them with water. He did not know what made him did that, but he reasoned that in any situation testing human's survival, the availability of water is the most important determinant of your success so no matter what happens, he would not want to be caught thirsting to death. Therefore the hoarding of water.

When he was done, his entire kitchen looked like a fish shop or a seafood restaurant, with water filled containers of every size imaginable scattered across the place. He took some of his housemates blankets and began covering some of the bigger pails because the last thing he wants is to have mosquitoes breeding in them. For a guy who just found out that he may be caught in a doomsday scenario, he felt surprisingly calm. He wondered if this was a normal reaction.

As he stole a final peek at the outside world through the curtain and then at his phone, noticing that nothing has changed, he quietly laid down on his bed and mouthed a silent prayer to god, if he still somehow exists, for everything to turn out alright. He knew that nothing that he does now will make a difference, he is just a student after all, poorly equipped with no weapons or skills to defend himself and no idea of what's going on out there, so he decided to the best course of action would be for him to conserve energy.

With the putrid smell of smoke still hanging in the air, he closed his eyes and went to sleep, hoping that by the time he wake up, it would have been nothing but a nightmare. Because today has not been a normal day at all.

Day 6

*****

So out of boredom I am trying my hands at writing. Mainly because I want to get this idea out of my head that has been bugging me ever since yesterday night when I'm trying to sleep. Depending on how it turns out, I might or might not continue the story. And yes, this is somehow tied in with my rant yesterday.

But for now, sleep.


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