A Quiet Apocalypse
by Dave Jeffery
Genre: Dystopian Horror
The end is hear…
A mutant strain of meningitis has wiped out most of mankind. The few who have survived the fever are now deaf.
Bitter with loss and terrified to leave the city known as Cathedral, the inhabitants rely on The Samaritans, search teams sent out into the surrounding countryside. Their purpose, to hunt down and enslave the greatest commodity on Earth, an even smaller group of people immune to the virus, people who can still hear.
People like me.
My name is Chris.
This is my story.
“A Quiet Apocalypse is told from the perspective of ex-schoolteacher Chris, a hearing survivor. He has lost everything, including his freedom, and through his eyes we learn of what it is like to live as a slave in this terrible new world of fear and loss. I was keen to write a piece that preyed upon people’s traditional misconceptions of deafness as an illness, and the imposition of ‘hearing’ norms. It is a story that has poignancy in any understanding of the struggles of minority groups.” – Author, Dave Jeffery
Sometimes I struggle to remember what it is like to have hope.
These days it’s an elusive entity, like a day free from Crowley’s scowl. The weather doesn’t help. Thunderheads wheel in from the west, bringing with them dreary light as fat raindrops fall, hitting my poncho like the bodies of dead birds splattering the asphalt. Beneath my poncho, my arms are in sleeves that are stitched to a belt harness giving my limbs limited movement.
I lean forward, giving my hands a chance to pull my baseball cap down to protect my face from the rain. A trickle of water exploits a small gap in the collar of the poncho and begins a slow, icy descent, causing an involuntary shudder. I shuffle on the camping chair, rubbing my back in the upright until the raindrop is wiped dry against my shirt, though my eyes remain fixed on the road running past the village, making sure it is clear, safe. I chew on my gum shield, the thick plastic sticking to my mouth. To keep it in place, a leather thong wraps about my mouth and cheeks. I have to breathe through my nose or the gaps left available to my lips.
Crowley is beside me, sat in his own chair, wearing his own poncho, holding the leash of twine and strips of leather, braided and tethering us together. He, too, is scanning the featureless countryside, yet I know it is fear that keeps him alert, fear of losing me to the Samaritans.
A Quiet Apocalypse Book 2
CATHEDRAL … The world has changed. So have the rules.
In the silence of a quiet apocalypse, there is Cathedral. It is a city like no other, sanctuary for the survivors of a terrible plague that has deafened the world. The walls protect the small community. Rituals and laws maintain order to prevent a return to chaos.
But Cathedral is a dangerous and complex place. For citizens like Sarah and newcomer Paul it can be either home or prison.
They just have to decide where their loyalties lie…
We turn a corner, there is another half a mile of High Street until we reach the city gates, another run of storehouses. As soon as we have walked twenty paces, we see the group of four people sitting on the concrete ramp leading up to a warehouse.
There are three men and one woman, of mixed ages, but united by their shaven heads and malformed hands. The fingers appear twisted, the palms convoluted like panels of corrugated metal. One man has support splints on his wrists, bulky leather straps keep the haphazard bracelets in place. The four vagabonds sit and, at our approach, hold out their ruined hands whilst the woman types slowly on her tell-pad with a zig-zagged finger.
Good peOple! HAv meErcy at our timme of neeDD. Alice intercedes. Her comment is brief, and I can guess it’s not welcoming.
I look upon these poor souls, victims of a momentary lapse of reason, and the long-term penalty it has incurred. It is pity that has me pulling a wax wrapping from the folds of my gift bag and tossing it to the woman. She has no chance of catching the alms but tries regardless, and it hits the street, the wax paper keeping the sandwich inside it contained.
The men sit back as the woman scoops it from the concrete with the combined mangled digits of both hands.
I feel Alice place her palm in the small of my back and urge me along.
You shouldn’t encourage them, Sarah. They get their daily rations, even though they contribute nothing.
I watch as the woman opens the wrappings in her lap, the white paper stark against the grey rags of her skirt. The men sit patiently, their eagerness betrayed by their twitching, twisted fingers, and she portions out the sandwich, distributing each piece like a mother feeding her young.
Once this is done, she looks up at me, a crown of stubble on her head, face etched with the deep lines of chronic pain, and she lifts her parody of a hand to give a wave of thanks.
Alice nods as if her worst fears have come true.
See? Now they’ll expect it every time. You’re just a big softy. It’s my new name for you, Sarah Soft!
I smile and turn away from the group as they take comfort from their meagre meal. The laws of Cathedral can be harsh.
But as Chapter 9 reminds us, a life without them is worse.
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About the Author
Dave Jeffery is author of 15 novels, two collections, and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham supernatural mystery series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel that was featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists. A third edition of this book will be released by Demain Publishing in 2020.
Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association. He is also a registered mental health professional with a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Studies and a Master of Science Degree in Health Studies.
Jeffery is married with two children and lives in Worcestershire, UK.