The End: Surviving the Apocalypse

The End: Surviving the Apocalypse by Richard Palmer Read Free Book Online

Book: The End: Surviving the Apocalypse by Richard Palmer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richard Palmer
Q.”
    Rabbit grinned. “I meant the Kindy Koalas.”
    “Oh. The little monsters—” she caught his expression and softened her tone—“are adorable, thanks so much for asking. We’ve been singing your song.”
    “Really?”
    “Quietly though, in case the school counselor drops by again.”
    An overweight man in his early twenties entered the café and asked the waitress for directions. He looked as out of place as Q felt. Her nose twitched at the delicious scent coming from the brown paper bag in his hand.
    Rabbit leaned toward her. “You smell it too? I know exactly what you’re thinking,” he said.
    “Mmm.” Q couldn’t help inhaling. “A triple Dunkirk. Three beef patties with tomato relish and extra pickle and a side serve of six crispy meatballs with creamy farmhouse dressing,” she said. “Or something dreadful like that, I expect.”
    The man left and Rabbit returned to normal volume. “Think what we must look like to a cow,” he said, shaking his head. “Shambling idiots with an insatiable craving for their flesh.”
    Rabbit turned and greeted a stocky woman sitting near the door. She smiled back until she saw both Q and the waitress staring at her in icy fury. The woman stood and left, which was a shame, because Q was halfway through picturing the fight scene if she joined the waitress as one of the living dead. Great. Now the rest of her evening would be haunted by an unresolved action sequence.
    The meal arrived, complete with a tomato carved into a heart. “It’s the thoughtful touches I love,” Rabbit said, indicating the tomato.
    “Weird,” said Q, glancing at the plates on the surrounding tables. “No one else has hussy garnishes.”
    He offered her the plate to share. Q stabbed the heart-shaped tomato with her knife and took slow, deliberate bites, smiling at the waitress.
    “What brings you here?” Rabbit said.
    Q beamed. “I’ve been at an animal rights meeting in the community center.”
    “Arar?” He chuckled. “I always thought they sounded like pirates.”
    “Me too!” Q said. “Are you here just for dinner?”
    “No, I had a meeting too, a planning session. Second floor in the same place.”
    “Wow. You were right above me and I didn’t even notice.” Q turned the color of her garnish. “What’s your group called?”
    “You are What You Eat,” Rabbit said.
    “Yawye? Yowie?”
    “I came up with it myself,” he said.
    “It’s a great name. Best name ever. I have never heard such a good name.”
    Rabbit ate his nachos. Q ate her words.
    “You should come along sometime,” Rabbit said. “We do all sorts of cool stuff. We even have weekend spiritual cleanses.”
    “I cannot tell you how much I love to cleanse,” Q said with complete honesty. “When’s the next one?”
    “We've got a retreat this weekend. You should come to the regular meeting tomorrow if you're interested.”
    “I am extremely interested,” Q said, grinning. At last her luck was turning.
    *
    “You’re in a good mood, Quinny,” said her father that night, exchanging knowing looks with his dinner. “Any reason why?”
    Q grinned and sculpted another instant mashed potato yeti with sultanas for eyes, then put fish fingers onto both plates. “What type of fish do these come from?” she said. “And why don’t they use the thumbs?”
    “It’s good to see you so cheery,” he said.
    They took their plates and settled onto the couch. Bruce switched on the television. “I was thinking of visiting Honeydew next weekend,” he said.
    “Mmm.” The seven o’clock news was too depressing for her current mood. Q was about to switch stations when the anchor cut to footage outside a US hospital. The story was about a new disease, Texan Flu, which wasn’t responding to antibiotics. Eight people had been diagnosed so far. Q wondered why they weren’t filming inside the hospital and why they hadn’t interviewed any of the doctors. It wasn’t like journos to miss out on filming surly

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