The End: Surviving the Apocalypse

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

Book: The End: Surviving the Apocalypse by Richard Palmer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richard Palmer
hotties in scrubs. She reached for her little black book.
    “We could go next Saturday,” her father said. “We’ll leave early and buy hotcakes at that place you love.”
    They hadn’t been to the cemetery for months. Q hated that gray headstone sprouting from the clipped green lawn. It looked like it was growing, like at any moment, it might spring bulbous new life. As a kid, she’d always dreaded their next visit. It was years before Q understood Linda wasn’t coming back. She was glad she had an excuse for not going next weekend, but she didn’t like the idea of her dad visiting on his own, accepting pity from strangers.
    “Maybe the weekend after,” she said. “I can’t next Saturday. I got a date with destiny.”
    Why was she was holding her little black book? Had she been about to write something? She dropped it onto the table, unwritten and unread.
    *
    It had finally happened. Q had been preparing for this for so long, but now it was here, she found she wasn’t ready. Deep down, she had never believed in it. But she could not deny the evidence before her. There they were, all twenty-six of them, scattered across the stained carpet, limbs askew, small bodies motionless. What would her crew say?
    Q crept between them, not that she would disturb them if she made a noise. Not now. What sort of world was it that this could happen to the little children?
    “Hannah,” she said. “How?”
    “Well,” Hannah said, “I got everyone to lie down like Mrs Mason used to, and then I read them a story, and then they all went to sleep.”
    “But they never go to sleep in my class,” Q said. “I’ve been trying to enforce naptime since Thursday, and this is the first time it’s worked.”
    “Maybe,” said Hannah, “it’s because five minutes in, you always scream, ‘Take that, you evil fiend!’, and fire a cap gun.”
    “I’m keeping them on their toes, Hannah Banana,” Q said. “What if one day they’re attacked when they’re sleeping? Thanks to me, they’ll be prepared.”
    “Thanks to you, they’ll be in therapy with my brother. I hope Michael doesn't get a teacher like you. It might finish him off.”
    Hannah went to the play mat at the back of the room and got out her two favorite dolls, Tweenie and Glitz Girl. Q joined her.
    “I leave with the hippies for the retreat on Thursday afternoon from the station,” Q said. “I’m so excited, I forgot how to punch straight!”
    “You have to teach Friday,” Hannah said, brushing Tweenie’s hair. “Mrs Mason’s still away.”
    Q considered joining Hannah’s game, but decided on a solo round of Mad Scientist instead. She began assembling her horde. “It’s cool,” she said. “I’ll Bueller the day off.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “I’m not sure. I heard an old person say it once. I think it means I find adventure and you get a sub.”
    Hannah sniffed and ripped out the ribbon she’d tied in Glitz Girl’s hair.
    “I have to go to this camp with Rabbit,” Q said. “It’s destiny, bumping into each other like that.”
    “Isn’t it because you cyberstalked him, staked out his office and then went to those weird meetings looking for him?”
    “Nope. Definitely destiny. I can smell it.”
    Hannah wrinkled her nose. “That’s Sandy,” she said, indicating a small boy dozing near the back of the class. “He doesn’t always make it.”
    Q ignored this remark in case it led to some of the less glamorous work of a kindergarten teacher. She concentrated on jamming the head of an alien space doll onto the body of a small plastic pig. Satisfied, she added the results to her mutant army.
    “What are the other kids like?” Hannah asked.
    “What other kids?”
    “The kids you’re going on camp with.”
    Q considered. She hadn’t thought about anyone else on the retreat. All her thoughts had been about Rabbit. She smiled as she played out her fantasy once more. They would sit by the fire in their cosy log cabin. He would gaze at

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