Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:21 PM
Sunny beaches. As far as the eye could see there were sunny beaches. And people… on sunny beaches. At least Jeremy thought that this was what people meant when they spoke of beaches. Jeremy had never visited any himself, but they sure looked nice on postcards.
Flipping the postcard over, it read “Greetings from the sunny Caribbean!” and the name and address of some woman in Clarkesville. Jeremy had a vague notion that Clarkesville was probably named something else nowadays, if it was recognized under any name at all. Such names were a thing of the past, he knew, but the picture was nice, so he could probably use it for trade.
Jeremy put the postcard into the saddle bag, along with all the other cards already making the bag bulge, and picked up another item from the mailbag resting next to him on the floor of the post office; this one a letter in a sealed envelope from a place called Seattle. This Seattle must’ve been one of those places that didn’t have postcards; why else send plain letters, Jeremy thought. He liked sunny beaches, because those he could trade. Plain old letters was a different matter. Here we were talking about stuff for discerning customers only, and there weren’t so many of those around these days.
The letter from Seattle was lengthy, containing a tedious tirade about the rising international tensions and how the situation was exploited by those who wanted the people to live in fear. Or something along those lines; he had already read several letters like that this very day. Jeremy couldn’t be bothered to read beyond the first paragraphs anymore once he noticed where the writer was headed, but this was clearly the kind of stuff that he knew Wolfgang was always willing to trade for. To each his own, Jeremy thought as he bagged the letter.
While picking up the next postcard, Jeremy glanced over at his companion, the ever-so-charming Kenny, who had been busy going through a pile of mail of his own, but had somehow gotten distracted by some kind of calendar.
Jeremy put down the postcard and rolled the previous letter’s envelope into a tiny ball. The paper ball caught Kenny in the side of the head and bounced to rest on the littered floor.
“Another one of them lizard calendars, eh, Kenny? You know we can’t trade those,” Jeremy pointed out as he saw that he had caught Kenny’s attention. “Half of these clowns in town don’t even know what a lizard is, let alone want a collection of pictures of those freakish animals.”
“No, no, no, this is the good stuff. Gen-u-ine quality,” Kenny insisted, “Take a look at this,” he held up the calendar, showing Jeremy a large color picture of some fancy looking woman doing unspeakable things, “and tell me we couldn’t trade a million of these calendars!”
“Yeah, yeah, almost as good as canned food alright, but put that thing aside for now or we’ll be in here all day,” Jeremy conceded.
“Come on, mate. I’m just taking a little break, is all,” Kenny replied as he turned back to his calendar. “Didn’t you learn anything from Year Zero? You could wake up dead tomorrow and then what would you do?”
“Well, break’s up,” Jeremy interjected, hesitated and then added, “What I learned from Zero was to be prepared for tomorrow, side with the winning faction,… and not take advice from fools – that would be you, Kenny.”
“Oh, so that’s where we’re heading, are we,” Kenny responded with a sigh. “We’re just about done here for today, I say. I’d much rather rest my head with sweet Jane over at the Blushing Maid than sit here listening to you lecture.”
Getting up from his broken old office chair, Kenny walked over to Ol’ Beast, the companions’ trusty mule, and rolled up the calendar and secured it inside the saddle bag. Looking over the back of the animal at his partner, Kenny added, “You know, this little thing we got going on here is starting to remind me a lot of harvesting season back on the farm: tedious work with little pay and the old man whining all day. I left the farm mid-season and I can walk out on this as well.”
“It’s a partnership, Kenny, and a partnership doesn’t work if the partners don’t put in equal effort. You know that. Unless, of course, you want to renegotiate down you share of the take,” Jeremy said and glanced innocently at Kenny.
Looking at Jeremy for a moment or two, Kenny’s face broke out in a good natured smile. “You see, that’s why I leave negotiating the trade up to you, old-timer. I’m the one with the looks and you’re the one with the words. Now let’s go before the Maid runs out of booze.”
As the companions left the post office, a single postcard fell out of the saddle bag, danced through the air and settled in the thick layer of dust on the floor.
Sunny beaches half covered with grey dust.
Posted 05 April 2009 - 04:52 PM
Firstly, I had to read the ending twice to get it. I think the ending's abrupt change of moving towards the telling of the future was what really sold it. So, from what I have read, it's this normal man going on with his casual day, unforseeable to the radioactive-apocalypse-type of incident?
Posted 16 April 2009 - 12:04 PM
As I meant it to read, the world had already "ended", but there are actually quite a few ambiguous parallels in the story to life before and after "the apocalypse", such as the fact that the characters are doing tedious work in a post office setting, as they could've done before the 'calypse, looking forward to "the weekend".
The ending is a nostalgic reminder of what was lost, possibly never to return. But life goes on, even after the world has ended.
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