Single Status Update
part 1 omg
part 2 lol
The behemoths were perhaps more dangerous than I had originally thought. Though their sole interest was in eating my clothes, after the seventh moth that attacked me stole my underwear I was in serious danger of dying from exposure. Watching the bastard soar into the sky, chattering it’s mandibles in the moth version of laughter and carrying with it my boxer shorts had caused me quite a great deal of upset. I was getting fed up of giant insects disrobing me. All I had left was half a t-shirt tied around like a loincloth and a single sock.
Or, concurrently, no socks.
“It’s not even like moths actually eat clothes!” I screamed after the latest flying mugger, “You bastards are just doing this to piss me off!”
The behemoth chattered indignantly in the distance, then it was gone.
I padded warily with my naked feet through the glass-strewn streets. Fortunately, I had learned the innate skill of watching where I stepped as a child; where I grew up, it paid to play close attention to your footing unless you wanted to end up heel down in dogshit.
No more behemoths circled overhead. Perhaps my t-shirt, a genuine synthetic polyester replica Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, was not as tasty as the rest of my wardrobe.
Thunder boomed overhead. Rain began to pour down, soaking me in seconds.
Or maybe moths don’t like the rain, I mused darkly. I promised myself that I was going to return with a portable searchlight and a harpoon gun and exterminate the lot of them.
Wearily, I picked my way through the streets. My thoughts turn from revenge to survival; I was cold and my last meal had consisted of two pints of German beer. And while extolling the virtues of German beer at every available opportunity, it is said thus; Man Cannot Survive on Beer Alone. My growling stomach competed with the Thunderheads above, proving the sage truth of that statement.
It had grown very dark with the sudden and unnatural storm, the clouds blotting out the strange moon. My only form of illumination now was the sporadic bursts of forked lightning that licked out overhead. The buildings around me creaked, timbers swelling with water and pushing apart already decrepit walls.
What the hell had happened here?
I had been in the toilet for a scant three minutes, yet the devastation here looked the work of a hundred years. Kudzu and ivy infested buildings, here and there was a small sapling pushing up from the destroyed concrete. It was like the Earth itself had rebelled against Man, tearing down the edifices of civilization with a slow and malicious efficiency.
I would have thought myself to be asleep, but everything felt more real now than ever it had in my entire life.
I wandered, meandering through the streets with no real destination. I was content to stroll blithely to my fate.
I found it by the bridge, or what was left of the bridge. Only a series of sad broken pillars stood against the swollen and raging river. Cursing, I realized that I had followed the road to a dead end.
A bitter wind kicked up, shivering me to the bone. The rain redoubled its efforts to bugger me up and I nearly gave up hope of escaping this mad town.
In the middle of all this chaos, I heard music. Not the music of nature, which was at this moment wild and violent. Nor the song of a bird, nor the chirruping of crickets. And I was thankful for that, because I really could not have handled a swarm of giant crickets battling for my ersatz underwear. It was none of those things, and more besides. It was music, and it was man made. Somewhere in the darkness a lonesome, soulful dirge was being squeezed out of a knackered organ.
The church was nearby, I realized. I raked in my long-term memory, and remembered a solid, ancient structure that had been erected in times memorial. I had never been inside, having not a religious bone in my body though arguments about the nature of God had filled many a long philosophizing session down at the pub.
I considered that the ancient stone of the church, having stood for centauries, would still be standing relatively intact. The church yards stood quite some distance from any collapsing masonry from the town around it, and the iron wrought windows would prove an efficient moth deterrent. Overall, the church would be an ideal rallying point for survivors of this bizarre holocaust.
I took to my heels and followed the sound of the music.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The doors proved locked against me, though a dim light issued forth from the wreckage of stained glass. The doors were huge medieval affairs, made in those times where monks might be expected to fend off the occasional raging horde of pissed off Scandinavian berserkers. Made of stoat oak and stained black, reinforced with unrusted iron and studded rivets. They were very imposing doors indeed. Rapping my knuckles against them to the tune of ‘Shave-and-a-haircut (two pence)’ was a painful experience akin to punching a concrete wall, and produced about as much sound.
Even still, I was not forced to shout. Before I had progressed much past the haircut, the organ ceased playing and my ears detected scuttling within. Without ceremony, the doors were unbarred and cast open before me.
The wizened man doing the opening had much of the medieval monk about him, minus the tonsure of course. He bore a week-old beard, thick glasses and wore a robe. The effect was rather ruined by the pictures of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that adorned the man’s attire, a throwback to the robe’s previous career as a young boy’s bedsheet.
“My Lord!” exclaimed the man, prostrating himself on the ground before me.
“Eh?” said I, much confused.
“My Lord! Our Saviour! You have come!” said the man with much groveling and bowing and other worshipful things of that nature.
“I have?” I asked, puzzling over the man’s words and wondering if I had stumbled across a looney.
“You are not Jesus?” the man in the bedspread asked, raising his head to grace me with a skeptical look. I shook my head to indicate the negative.
“I don’t think so, friend,” I hazarded, preparing to run off back into the stormy night should the fellow before me start foaming at the mouth, “Perchance you were expecting someone else?”
“Bollocks!” said the man in a most un-monkish manner, peeling himself off the soaking flagstones and wringing out the hem of his robe, “That’s the second time this week.”
“Sorry to disappoint you,” I apologized truthfully.
“No, it should be I who should be sorry. Look at you, you must be freezing. Come in, dry yourself off and I’ll see about getting you some clothes. Come, follow me.”
I did, following the old man into the church and helping him rebar the door behind us. My hopes of finding a faction of survivors within the church were dashed as soon as I got my first glimpse of the interior. It was dark inside and there was no further movement in the darkness.
The door shut against the fearsome night, muting the sounds of the building storm outside. The noise was replaced by that of a steady stream of water cascading from some hidden crack in the ceiling, and for the first time since this dismal day began I was glad of visiting that accursed public toilet.
The man retrieved a burning candelabra from the corner and gestured that I should follow him into the bowels of the church. We passed rows of moldering pews that stank of moss and fungus, and I was aware of a worse and more malignant odor in the air; it was the stench of death itself.
Two questions burnt in my mind. One of vital importance to my sanity, and the other an irritating mind fart that niggled in the back of my brain.
“What’s with the Turtles?” I asked, releasing the mind fart to stink up the atmosphere.
“Bloody moths,” said the man darkly, “They ate my regulation papal vestments. They even ate my bloody dog collar. I see you have had an encounter with the moths yourself.”
“Indeed. They stripped me bare, even stooping as low as to steal my boxer shorts,” said I. And probably just as well, I added to myself.
“Well, you’ve got a choice between Transformers and Thundercats.”
“Transformers,” I said automatically, having no love at all for Thundercats.
“A wise decision,” said the man. “I’m Father Derek by the way. It’s a pleasure to meet a fine young man such as yourself, even under these terrible circumstances.”
“Ah,” said I, “That brings me rather neatly to the second question I was going to ask.”
“Ask way, my son.”
“Father,” I began, “What in the name of FUCK is going on?”
“Good question,” Father Derek cackled, “I was planning on asking Jesus that myself when he got here. You sure you’re not the Messiah? Not just playing the part of a young dullard as some sort of Test of Faith?”
“Afraid not, Father,” I answered, privately rankling at the dullard remark, “I wish I were, truly. I would do some serious moth smiting for starters, then I’d do some of that water into wine stuff and get seriously rat-arsed.”
“A sound notion, though the second miracle is not currently necessary. I’ve got about twenty bottles of communal wine that I’m sure we could make a fair dent in while we questioning each other.”
“Hallelujah,” said I, getting into the spirit of things. The father moved off somewhere behind the pulpit, and there was much rustling and clinking of bottles. It gave me a chance to examine the church in detail. The windows seemed mostly inviolate, though the roof was leaking like nobody’s business. Water ran in rivulets down the stone walls and pooled in deepening puddles in amongst the uneven flagstones of the floor. The organ that had lured me here as sure as the scent of polyester lured the dread behemoths to my expired underwear, the organ stood ruined before me. It had once been a mighty and impressive instrument, but now the bellows were awash with water and green stains ran the length of the brass pipes. All but for one large clean section that was unblemished and stood out clear and shining like a beacon in the night; the clean section was the shape of the crucifix.
Bloody hell, I thought. A sign from God perchance?
“Ah,” said Father Derek, returning with the promised Transformers sheet, two bottles of wine and a handful of hymn books, “I see you have spotted my little accident.”
“Earlier I mentioned that you were the second visitor I have had,” said the priest, handing me the bedsheet and politely turning away while I disposed of the ragged remnants of my t-shirt and wrapped the makeshift toga around me in a manner much preferred by the philosophers of old, “The first man who came to my door had been sorely affected by these events. I opened my door and welcomed him, presuming he was the Lord. I was sadly mistaken.”
“Go on,” said I, plonking myself down on the floor and attacking the wine cork with my teeth.
“He was mad, stark raving mad. He rushed past me naked as the day he was born and ran to where you are sitting now. He then scaled the organ, which had a life-size wooden carving of Our Lord Crucified mounted on the pipes where now you see but the burnished space before you. The bloody sacrilegious bastard started humping the leg of Christ!”
“Gross,” was all I had to say.
“Quite. The crucifix slipped its brackets, fell to the ground and squashed the mad looney flat.”
“Double gross,” said I, spitting out cork granules.
“The Lord moves in mysterious ways,” said Father Derek, whooshing his wine bottle around his head to illustrate the point, “And the Lord smites silly buggers who climb ten feet in the air in order to dry hump the image of His son.”
“Was the madman alright?” I asked, sucking at the cork desperately. Father Derek took pity and produced a corkscrew from some mysterious orifice beneath his robes.
“Dead as a dodo hit by a steamroller. He made quite a mess of my Church and he’s really beginning to stink the place up.
“Ugh, triple gross. You just left him there?” I asked in astonishment.
“He’s stuck beneath half a tone of petrified wood. I’m an old man and recent events have drained what little stamina I had left.”
“I shall aid you in the miscreant’s disposal,” I offered, finally getting my bottle open and taking a long, healthy swig on an empty stomach. It was damn good.
“First thing in the morning,” stated Father Derek, taking a generous swig of wine himself.
“This is a damn fine vintage, Father. I think you were telling me falsehoods when you referred to it as mere communal wine,” I said, examining the bloody liquid with a professional eye.
“I tell no lies,” said the Father a tad indignantly, “But as the world around us withers and decays at an accelerated rate so the wine had matured and grown stronger.”
“Interesting,” said I, for it was. Very interesting indeed. Suspicions of a temporal nature were nebulously forming in my brain.
“You think the wine’s good, you should try the whiskey I keep stashed beneath the pulpit. It has been reduced to little more than pure inebriation in fume form. I have to keep it well away from any source of ignition, lest it spontaneously combust and take the church with it.”
“Fire,” I mused, wrapping myself tighter against the cold night, “You have candles lit. Could we make a fire? I am chilled by my long walk outside.”
“I was just getting to that,” Father Derek said, producing the fistful of prayer books and Psalms.
“Let there be light!” said I.