The Child Who Ended The World (continued from April 2 entry)
[A Try-2-Read PictureBook, suggested for ages 5-9]
Chutes and Ladders is your favorite board game, and you need your brother to play it with you. He’s only flipping through TV channels, not doing anything important, so you’re sure he’ll agree.
“Don’t feel like playin’, kid.” Your brother doesn’t even look away from the screen as he brushes you off. He uses the remote to adjust the volume higher, as if he knows what’s coming.
You decide not to cry. You decide not to kick the back of the couch, or hold your breath until you turn blue. Instead, you ask him again: “Please. Pretty please. Just one game. One.”
He presses the mute button. “Stop whining, kid. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get to play your dumb game. Hey, I’ll tell you what the end of the world is like.”
Finally, your brother looks at you. “Once the world ends, you won’t have time for games. If you whine and beg for things, it will be about something important. Practice saying ‘Don’t kill me,’ in that same little pleading voice, with those puppy-dog eyes. If there’s a game at all, it would be Hide and Seek. You’ll be hiding from killers and mutated monsters. You’re ‘it’ all the time. And if they catch you, here’s what you would look like:”
He clicks pause on the TV screen, then points at the image.
[Insert illustration: two page spread of a TV screen showing a small body, torn to pieces.]
The Social Worker brings a small metal tray into your windowless room. The walls and floor are hard, cold concrete. There is a single cot against one wall, and a bucket in the corner. You haven’t used the bucket yet, but know what it’s for.
It looks like you’re in a prison cell. But you don’t know what you’ve done wrong.
The Social Worker smiles. You notice the tray is overflowing with food: a hamburger you’ll have to eat with two hands, countless french fries, a large square of chocolate cake. Instead of low-fat milk, a tall milkshake sits in one compartment of the tray.
You accept the tray and balance it on your lap. “Thank you for the food.” It’s important to be polite, first. But you have so many questions, and they all run together. “Where am I? Where are my parents? Where is my brother?”
“All in good time,” the Social Worker says. She smiles the right kind of smile, which makes you feel better. “Your family will visit soon. They will take you back home, once things are ready. In the meantime, I’ll take very good care of you.”
The Social Worker turns and leaves. Her words were comforting, but the door slams loudly behind her. You wonder how many other children this nice woman is helping.
You eat the large hamburger, and the countless french fries, washing down big bites with thick drinks of your milkshake. All the food is delicious, including (especially!) the square of chocolate cake.
When you lift the empty tray off your lap, you notice a rough texture to the bottom of the tray. You turn it slightly, and notice there’s a message taped underneath.
You pull off the crumpled piece of paper, and Try-2-Read the handwritten message.
That woman is not a Social Worker.
Your family sent you here. You cried and whined and begged too much, as if the world was coming to an end if you didn’t get your way.
And then, the world actually did come to an end. Didn’t you notice?
The people here aren’t trying to help us. They’re giving us a lot of food to fatten us up.
Can you guess why? Here is what you will look like:
Beneath the message appears a drawing…
Author’s Note: If you’re enjoying this or other posts on the Apocalypse-a-Day blog, please consider reading my novel, Odd Adventures with your Other Father.