One Saturday in May
The Rapture occurred during a bright Saturday morning in May. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and Peggy was getting ready for her morning jog when it started to rain blood. This was slightly disconcerting.
To be fair, it was only slightly drizzling blood. Peggy looked out at the sky and the blood-red rain. She had read about this before. Something about dust in the water supply that turned the water red, so when it evaporated and then came down as rain it looked like blood.
Peggy held one arm out in the rain and then brought it back. She looked at the raindrops. They didn’t look like red-colored water. They looked like drops of blood. She slowly backed away from the window.
The rain of blood stopped as suddenly as it started, but Peggy noticed that the sky was still colored red. The clouds, Peggy thought. The red water in the clouds is making the sky red. She looked upward, but couldn’t see any clouds, even though it had been raining just a moment before.
Suddenly, there was a scream. It came from the house next door to Peggy, the house of nice Mrs. Kramer who was seventy-two years old and had four cats. Peggy looked at Mrs. Kramer’s house, then up to the red skies. She pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911.
"I’m sorry," an automated voice said, "all lines are currently busy. Please hang up and try again." Shit, Peggy thought. She dialed 911 again. "I’m sorry, all lines are currently busy. Please hang up and try again." She almost threw her phone in frustration, then dialed 911 for a third time. "I’m sorry, all lines are currently busy. Please hang yourself and die already."
Peggy dropped the phone. She looked at it. Then she looked back at Mrs. Kramer’s house. Carefully, she opened the door and ventured outside.
The sky was a brighter shade of red that she had thought. Crimson, almost. There must be a reason, she thought. Sunspots. It has to be sunspots.
Peggy walked over to her neighbor’s house and nervously knocked on the front door. “Mrs. Kramer?” she said. “Are you okay, Mrs. Kramer?” She tried turning the doorknob and the door opened. Images of scenes from horror films popped into her head, but she pushed them away. This wasn’t a movie. There was no crazed killer waiting inside. She took a deep breath and walked inside.
Like the other times she had been inside Mrs. Kramer’s house, it smelled primarily of cat. There were cat toys and pictures of cats and scratching posts. Peggy cautiously stepped forward and walked around all the cat paraphernalia, until she came to the kitchen. Which is where she saw Mrs. Kramer.
Mrs. Kramer was lying face down in a bowl of cat food. There were two cats by her side. When Peggy saw them, she did a double take; they looked like cats, yet her mind was telling her something was off. Two cats, she saw. Two cats, four legs. Two cats, eight legs. Two cats, sixteen legs.
Each cat had eight legs. One of them looked up at Peggy and purred. It had six eyes. There was a chunk of flesh between it’s teeth. Peggy backed away, then turned to run.
She stopped. There were two more cats behind Peggy. Four. Mrs. Kramer had four cats. And now she had four weird strange mutant cats that had eight legs and six eyes and a hunger for human flesh. Mrs. Kramer was cat food now.
Peggy was surrounded. There were two cats behind her, two cats in front of her. She had cat sat for Mrs. Kramer once. Mrs. Kramer had to go for an operation and begged Peggy to cat sit. She had agreed because Mrs. Kramer was so nice, but it was the worst night of her life. There was cat hair everywhere and the cats continually scratched Peggy.
They had longer claws now, it looked like. They circled Peggy. Cats, Peggy thought. What did she know about cats. They hated water. That didn’t help. They have an acute sense of sight and smell and hearing.
Peggy grabbed two pans from the kitchen and started banging them together, making an enormous racket. The cats backed away from her, hissing. As she banged them together, she walked toward the front door. Every time a cat got too close, she banged the pans louder and they backed away.
It didn’t work for long. As soon as Peggy was close to the front door, the cats saw their prey escaping, so they pounced. Peggy pushed open the front door and then immediately slammed it close, cutting off one of the cat’s heads in the process. The head fell to the ground and Peggy instinctively kicked it away from her.
Peggy backed away from Mrs. Kramer’s house. The sky was still red. She was still holding both pans. There was a screeching sound overhead. Peggy looked up.
Blackbirds were flying overhead. They flew in a formation she had never seen before. She saw a group of them dive downward and the next instant, they flew upward again, blood on their beaks. Still gripping the pans, Peggy ran back into her house and locked the door.
Peggy checked the local news channel. The handsome male anchor (Peggy could never remember his name) looked in shock. There was blind dripping from his hairpiece. He stared into the camera and stated, “This is the end, folks. The Rapture is upon us and it looks like none of us were worthy. Kiss your loved ones please and pray for their souls.”
At this point, the pretty female anchor barged into the studio and tried to eat the handsome male anchor. The pretty female anchor was no longer pretty. Her hands and mouth were covered in blood.
Peggy turned off the television and sat down on the floor. She was happy she had never bought a pet. She lay on the floor and didn’t look outside. Looking outside was bad, in Peggy’s opinion. One time she finally took a peek outside and saw a giant face. She quickly ducked down again and decided never to look again. She heard more screams. The sky became a darker shade of red, so she assumed it was night.
One time, there was a scratching at her door. She barricaded it with a dresser and then pushed her couch in front of the back door. The scratching stopped. Peggy realized that there were a lot of windows in her house. Windows that could be broken easily.
She didn’t have any wood. She would have to get wood. There was a hardware street a few miles away. A few miles outside.
Peggy took a deep breath. All the weapons she had were the pans. She didn’t have a gun. She had never bought a taser or pepper spray. In one hand, she held a frying pan. In the other, she had the only other weapon she could find in her house: a barbeque fork. She didn’t even have a butcher knife – she had been too afraid of cutting herself. But a few years ago, her father had given her a housewarming present in the form of a barbeque set, complete with a barbeque fork. She had never used it, not until now.
Peggy pushed the couch out of the way and tentatively opened the backdoor. Then she walked outside.
Things were quiet. Some of the houses on the block had been reduced to rubble. Peggy didn’t like that. Her house was all she had. She had to live somewhere. Even during the Rapture, she had to live somewhere.
She started walking. It was a straight line to the hardware store, but she would have to pass the freeway. As she did, she saw that the cars were bumper to bumper, none of them moving on inch. She tried not to look inside any of the cars, not to see the blood stains or half-devoured bodies. Looking further along the freeway, she saw another giant face; luckily, it was going in the opposite direction than where Peggy was going. She breathed a sigh of relief and continued walking.
She got to the hardware store. It was closed. Peggy took one of the carts littered around the parking lot and, pushing it to gain speed, she rammed it into the glass doors. No alarm went off, but Peggy was still worried something might have heard the glass shattering, so she quickly went to gather wooden boards. She piled them in her cart, three for each window. As she pushed the cart, she realized it was going to take a lot more trips for her to carry enough boards back to fully board up her house.
She worked all night. One time she looked up and saw the moon. It was tinted red, just like everything else, and suddenly the words of Creedence Clearwater Revival came to her. “I see the bad moon rising, I see trouble on the way.” She laughed, then stopped when she realized what she was doing.
Wooden boards, hammer, nails, and a saw. She pulled everything she needed back to her house, trip after trip. She even found a nail gun, but it didn’t work unless plugged in and she doubted there was power anywhere anymore. Instead, she carried a variety of knives taken from a display case on aisle eight. She even had a chance to us one – during one trip, she was attacked by one lone cat and she managed to stab it to death. She left her knife in its body as a warning to the other cats.
After a while, she had all the supplies she needed, so she started boarding up her house. She tried to hammer quietly, but it was no use. Using the hammer made noise. Noise attracted cats. She killed two more cats, stabbing one with the barbeque fork, and left them on her porch. She hoped the sound of her hammering didn’t attract the giant faces – she could fight off the cats, but she had no idea about the faces.
Finally, it was done. All of her windows were boarded up. Her dresser was still barricading her front door, now complimented by four boards. Peggy dragged her mattress into the center of her living room and lay down, still clutching Mrs. Kramer’s frying pan, and tried to sleep.
She couldn’t. She was tired, so tired, but she couldn’t sleep. She lay awake until the sky was a lighter shade of red. Her eyes stared at the ceiling, noting each crack and stain.
What was she doing? She was safe. She was in her house. The house she had lived in for years. The house she barely left anymore. The only neighbor she had known was Mrs. Kramer and that was just because she had cat sit for her. All the rest of her neighbors had been strangers.
And now they were probably all dead, Peggy thought. They had all left their houses, looking for shelter with other people. They were all dead together.
And Peggy was in her house, alone.
Peggy dropped the frying pan. She stood up. She pushed the dresser away from the door and carefully pulled each board away. She opened the door. The dead cats had been dragged away from her porch, probably by other cats looking for a meal. She walked to the middle of the street.
The handsome male anchor had said, “Kiss your loved ones.” But Peggy had no loved ones. Her mother had died long ago and her father had died just last year. She had gone to his memorial service and talked to no one and scattered his ashes and said nothing. And then she had gone back to her house.
Peggy walked down the middle of the street. It was the end of the world. She had been alone for so long, she didn’t know how not to be alone. But it was the Rapture. There was still time to learn.
The Rapture had occurred during a bright Saturday morning in May. Now, the skies were bright red, the blackbirds screeched as they hunted, and Peggy walked down the street looking for a life amidst the ruins.