Gimme a nickel fer everytime I were stupid nuff ter think the world would end after a zombie apocalypse. Zombie apocalypse my foot, good ol’ Grandpa jus’ kept harping on about that, didn’t he? It weren’t zombies that killed us, it was forest fires! So the global warming as they used ter call it on TV just kept gettin’ worse and the government kept goin’ on ‘bout its dirty ways, till everythin’ started ter burn. And mind you, burn it did. The fires started from the forests and spread all o’er the cities. The people ‘ere I know tried ter run to the Arctic and what not, but ‘ey sonny tell you what, there was no Arctic no more-all the ice had melted!
But tis' been a while now since all that happened and I’ve gitten pretty used ter the silence anyway. I mean ter say that some o’ the time I miss my ol’ Grandpa but he were quite the nutter really. Always chewin’ an’ snortin’ on his pipe he was, bless his soul!
Now it might sound a littl’ crazy to you but I sure am glad ter be one of those folk who has their countryside ter themselves. It’s been five months since the apocalypse an’ I’ve rebuilt some places. Most is soot now but you can always find a sturdy bench to rest yer bum on half the time. Havn’t seen a single soul since after but ah well, you have ter be a bit insensitive ter survive, don’t ya think? An’ I’m old meself now, hair silver n’ all, but these knees still doin’ their job and I ain’t too worried cause darlin’ I lived a pretty full life, didn’t I? Some days during the war I lived on nothin’ but pea soup but I had me son together an’ we sang tunes in the basement in the evenins’ and things were good. I think God spared me this time ‘round so I can see a little more o’ this world ‘fore I die!
Good thin' is the animals have come out-whatever’s left of them an’ sometimes I think I’ve seen a human but I know I know, that’s just me mind twistin’ on itself!
So one day I decide ter go down to this lakehouse I’ve discovered that’s still standin’-it’s become a favourite picnic spot o' mine. I have littl’ day picnics for meself- they keep me sane n’ all. I keep a gun with me jus’ in case I see a deer I can hunt. Good thin’ is we went solar before the catastrophe happened so I still got power most o’ the time, thank God fer that.
I’m settin’ up the grill when I hear a rustlin’ behind the trees. There are some big ‘uns here that the fire forgot ter touch and they’re obscurin’ me from whatever’s behind ‘em. I take out me gun but I’m trembling folks, could be a wild boar hidin’ in there, could be a lion-
But all hail Mary, to me surprise comes out a young woman, pretty as a daisy! She’s wearin’ a pink blouse with some dirt splotches on it an’ blue jeans cut out to her shins. Young ‘un sees me an’ stops in her tracks, mouth open, eyes gaping wide like almonds.
‘Good ol’ Lord! Where in all of Minnesota did you come from, honey?’ I say, me mouth workin’ by itself.
‘God. Shit. Shitt,' she’s mumblin’, lips all a quiver, those almond eyes on me tryin’ to figure out if I’m real enuff or not.
I have ter say I am relieved that it were no boar after all, but bless me, what this is I was not expecting! I raise me voice an’ say, ‘Come here girl! Come to Nana!’
She’s still disbelieving but I see the muscles in her face becomin’ softer. She steps forward and comes ter stand in front of me.
‘Uh do you live here?’ she asks. Her accent is city-like, clear as the blue sky. I can tell she ain’t no country gal.
‘No I live up there,’ I say, pointin’ northeast. 'I’m ‘ere to spend the day.’
‘Oh,' she says, her eyes brightenin’ like a tin can.
So I make the gal sit down and I cook her up some roast. An’ she tells me she lives on the other side o’ the lake and she was jus’ lookin’ around the area for some good fat bird to lunch on.
‘Do you have a family?’ she asks, curious. ‘Anyone else?’
‘No,' I say. 'Lost ‘em in the fire, all ‘o them. No 'un left in this part of town I can tell you at any rate.’
‘No one left anywhere. I thought I was the only one left till I met you.’
‘So did I, lassie. No 'un coming on the TV, no 'un moving around. I’m shocked enuff ter see a young, healthy gal like you come out o’ the trees,’ I tell her.
‘We could build a new world, Grandma. Just for us,’ she says smilin', playin' with the dirt where we’re sitting.
‘Call me Nana,’ I say. ‘Tis what me grandkids used ter call me.’ My eyes crinkle up like paper at the thought of them.
‘Okay Nana,' she looks deep into my eyes, ‘we’ll build a world better than the one before.’
‘So I got a new idea,' I say. 'How ‘bout usin’ a radio to broadcast ourselves? Mebbe some ‘un’ll hear us an’ respond. There’s ‘un in the house ‘ere.’
‘Good idea!’ she exclaims. ‘Are we going to do it now?’
‘Course, why not,' I get up. ‘Come on.’
I lead her inter the lakehouse. We turn the lights on an’ she waits in the lounge while I go and get the radio from the spare room. Tis’ a big black thing, don’t think I could ever learn ter work it on my own. It’s dusty so she starts ter clean’ it up with a white cloth. I watch her turn the round knob on it. It cackles ter life, like a monster wakin’ up from its slumber. She’s fidgetin’ with the buttons. On ‘un o’ the stations, a song’s still playin’. Automated.
This ‘un I always liked by Nina Simone.
‘You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi’
So while her back is turned ter me an’ she’s fumblin’, I take a heavy club and walk to her. I swing it an’ bash it on her head.
When I were a young maiden meself, I worked Mrs. Wright’s laundry with the other slaves. And she was a foul hag herself. Used ter burn me hands with her hot iron if she didn’t like the way I folded her sheets. I’d start ter cry but she ‘ud dunk my head in the water tank if I did. She hated cryin’. It was very long ago but I can still feel the heat up my hands. I’m black as a coal mine, but those scars still show up like flames on me skin.
Screw my sins! The apocalypse came and there ain’t was no Judgement Day. No judgement at all fer Mrs. Wright. She may have got away with her wrongs, but I ain’t forgottin what happened ter me.
All that talk ‘bout a new world, now I’m gonna build ‘un folks. An’ this white gal will wake up tomorrow in a cage workin’ fer me!
Good ol’ Grandpa, if he could see me now. He’d be havin’ a good ol’ chuckle.