All Stories, Science Fiction

The Feast of Margaret by Adam West

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May this year was freezing. No snow just cold nights. Raw days. I went to the allotments every morning to check on the hens. Feed them. I don’t go any more. They’re all dead. A virus Harry sez.

When I used to walk down to the allotment along the narrow paths The Gardeners keep free of weeds the frost made that sound under my feet only walking on frost makes. Crunchy-crackly Jen calls it, like she would know.

Jen rarely gets out of bed these days. Too cold she sez.

Keeping warm is an obsession with her. You get cold and you might never get warm again and then you die. That’s what she sez.

Sometimes keeping warm is the only reason we do it as often as we do it. I don’t tell her that. We go on. The sex is good and we are both clean. There is no guilt and there will be no babies. Harry sez me and Jen are a pair of crazy messed up fuck-buddies. Thing is Harry’s jealous. Not about the sex. Harry is a eunuch. And not from choice. Sez he is fine with it. People do these things and you have to go on. Harry wants to cuddle Jen but Jen won’t let him. Fair enough.

After I get Jen warm I’m up and out. No frost today. Just cold. July or August? Don’t know. I head for the corner shop three streets down from the Community. My trip there is what folk at one time called a whim. The shop ran out of dry goods months ago. Mohinder said not to worry. More stocks were arriving at the docks next week. The week after that at the latest. Mohinder is nuts. Certifiable, Harry sez.

Mohinder once sold me a tin of tomatoes for a hundred quid even though paper money was by then worthless. Said he was going to invest the money in the futures market whatever that is? It was after his wife left him and took the kids. When he went a bit crazy. I felt bad about the tomatoes so the next time I saw him I gave him some herbs Jen grew when she first joined The Gardeners and was really into it and thought everything was going to be alright and I told Mohinder he could add them to a broth or a curry, or something or other, to give it some flavour.

Food is on my mind. Always. Today is a Feast Day for The Gardeners. We honour Margaret. The Gardeners expect everyone to bring something to the table no matter how small. But not meat. The Gardeners don’t eat cats or dogs or mice or horses. Any meat at all. They never did eat meat even in the old days when there was still sheep and pigs and modified cow muscle and such-like in the shops and markets. Harry sez Margaret was a prophet. No one knew it back then. No one listened to her. And now there’s no food in the shops. No shops. And folk are killing each other over an old tin of beans or such-like. There are no proper authorities either.

There are war lords. Quasi councils. Gangs. Death and hunger. Drugs aplenty. Hangings. Stabbings. No courts. No gaols. Lots of weapons. Very little ammunition. Lots of disease.

I see Mohinder isn’t there any longer. His shop burned out. I hear gunfire a long way off and go back. The compound is secure for now at least. I feel safe there and have Jen, too.

*

The dorm where all of us sleep is full of smells.

Last night’s sex. This morning’s bad urine. The smells really hit you when you come indoors from outside where the air smells clean apart from when there’s fires burning which isn’t very often these days.

Jen’s awake. My feet are cold she tells me when I snuggle up to her.

Hmm I say.

Is it still cold out babes?

No, I tell her, not really cold.

I picked some flowering nettles on the way back home. Put them on the floor next to the mattress. I think Jen’s forgotten today’s a feast day. I also think she does not care about it being a Feast day.

The Feast of Margaret won’t be much of a feast. A thanksgiving in name only.

Still.

 

Adam West

10 thoughts on “The Feast of Margaret by Adam West”

  1. I see this as a vivid and provoking story about clinging – clinging to each other, clinging to tradition, clinging to hope, and clinging to life even as it turns into hell as the future fades away. Beautifully done, Adam! Cheers! June

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  2. This is another variation on a theme…why keep hammering away on it? You know how I feel about this genre, so I’m sure the question won’t irk you. Also, I think by exclusively using short sentences you’ve lost the punch they are capable of. I’ll always read your work and I know I’ll always enjoy it more when the setting is contemporary, or in the past, and in Europe! ATVB Adam!

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    1. I missed your comment Richard but would have replied at the time you are right. I was (am) only aping the genre… and yet I could not help myself. Hope you are still writing Sir?

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