A complete wood pigeon sat on an obsolete television arial. Around it, everything stood still. The world had never been so peaceful and, if it wasn’t for the smell of mankind’s death, he would have thought that he was dreaming.
He had never been a success, never been successful, never thought of himself as anything other that a likeable failure. But here he was, ‘King of the World’ by virtue of his body swimming against the tide and resisting what had flooded over the everybody else on the planet.
A few days ago, people were merely sneezing.
Pollen had been the explanation. A new type of it had evolved due to developments in cereal crop production; that’s what a government scientist had offered as an explanation to the BBC. The main message was not to worry, hay fever comes and goes with the prevailing seasons. Only the very old and young needed to keep themselves indoors to avoid the worst of it. Now those most vulnerable were safely away from any further harm.
In the house, where he had taken refuge the previous night, he was aware of the seeping stench that could not be remedied by the masking tape that he had placed between the door and frame of every room, apart from the one he now sat in.
The bird had flown.
He had been thinking and it had taken that moment to sneak off into the warm morning air. He was alone again; apart from the ripening reminders of a past that would not be returning anytime soon.
Summer is here and I am drawn to yet another reading of The Stand. I have read this book every three to five years for the past (almost) forty years. It’s a straightforward ‘end of the world’ narrative without any subtext that strays beyond the obvious. But with Greg Stillson now running a major part of the free world, and the rest of the free world engaging with a certain extremist right agenda, The End Of Days seems to be a decent outcome.