“It’s Year Zero, Day errr Seven.
“Yes, that’s about right. Seven days since we got here, not seven days after it happened. That was umm ten days ago? My memory’s a bit vague, after it hit, there was a lot of chaos, a hell of a lot of fire. Christ, there was so much fire, everywhere I turned…”
There’s a pause, the quiet sigh of a steadying breath.
“I- I don’t know how to start this, I’m not even sure how long I can do this for. I found this recorder in the back, and there’s only so many batteries. But someone has to. Record how it all went down, how the human race fell, how we ended, and how a new world begins. So, here we go.
“We think it was a bomb, a huge huge one- or lots of them. It was so quick. One moment, May and I were walking the dog, the next, one big explosion. I hit my head, so it’s all a bit of a blur. I remember walls of fire, a muddy ditch. I remember getting back to the village afterwards. Just black and ash as far as you could see. Anyway, we managed to find a group, far far out where the countryside wasn’t touched – turns out doomsday preppers aren’t just a US thing – and now a new start. There’s no signal, nothing over the radios. At this moment, there is quite possibly nothing out there, only us.
“So, this is what I am recording, the beginning of a new human civilisation. A chance to build anew. God knows we needed to.”
“Year Zero, Day Eight.
“Sorry for the abrupt end to the last log, I didn’t know what to say anymore. I’m sure you can imagine how… upsetting it has been. So I think I shall keep it simple for this one, and just tell you where we are.“Well, I can’t actually tell you where we are. As I said, things got a bit confusing. But I am mostly certain we’re about a three day walk from the village of Ash-Easton. Not that it’s of any help now I think about it. I suppose one scorched wasteland looks like any other scorched wasteland.”
“We’re in still in Somerset, I think. Pretty sure we didn’t cross any county lines. Anyway, where ever we are, it’s in an old RAF bunker, you know, the ones with sod for a roof. It’s actually pretty spacious, and a lot more privacy than I would ha-”
“Year Zero, Day Nine.
“I’ve made sure to put in fresh batteries this time.
“We’ve still not heard anything, and, frankly, I am not that upset. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t begin to explain how we’re all feeling, about what has happened. But, this feels like a clean slate. I mean, before the- the Cataclysm – yeah, that works, it was all going to shit. Brexit, Russia, the US. Then this happens. It’s like we’ve been handed a great flood, and we can rebuild the world in our right image.”
“Year Zero, Day Ten.
“This log isn’t just about me, it’s about all of us here at Prometheus Base. Jane, do you want to introduce yourself?”
“Introduce yourself, how you want to be remembered by the coming generations.”
“What exactly are you recording? It’s 2018. And who let you call us Prometheus Base? That’s a fucking stupid name.”
“I am recording the first and best primary source for the Cataclysm and the new beginning of the human race. This could shape the development of coming generations.”
“Right, OK. One, we thought you were just doing a little journal to keep your mind off this all. Which I get, and support, I really do. But you’re acting like this is the apocalypse or something.”
“Well, it is, isn’t it?”
“I know what’s happened has been… fucking awful, but it really isn’t. Jenner’s saw a plane the other day, we will be OK. We are OK.”
“How do you know? We’ve heard nothing since the Cataclysm, and the coming generations-”
“Oh my god. Two, never, ever say the phrase ‘coming generations’ again. That’s gross. And three, I’m taking this recorder and speaking to your wife, I think this is just making you worse.”
Sounds of a brief scuffle occur.
“Year Zero, Day Twelve.
“They are absolutely convinced that this is not the Cataclysm. You should see them, so attached to the dead world that they think I’m the one who’s mad. It’s sad really. They keep their phones charged up with this solar panel thing, just in case. In case of what!
“Oh yeah, that reminds me, they’ve been going outside because there has been some activity on the radios. As if that makes it safe. I’m sure there are plenty of survivors in need alright. However. There are those who are looking for a nice cosy setup, just waiting to lure us out. And I highly doubt they’ll want to keep us around after they do.”
“Year Zero, Day Thirteen.
“Prometheus Base has been in an uproar for the last hour. Someone finally got through to us on the radio, and now they are coming over. What happened to being careful, safe? God knows what we’ve invited into a midst. I may not be able to record much over the coming days, but I’ve made sure I am prepared.”
“It’s still Day Thirteen. They’ve arrived, and, ugh, there is so much laughing and crying. May is looking for me, but don’t worry. I will not fail the coming generations”
“Year Zero, Day Fourteen.
“I’ve got to be quiet, they don’t know I still have this. I won’t stop just because… Shit-”
There is a scratching, rattling sound. The voices are muffled.
“I did what I had to, May. To keep us safe.”
“By stabbing someone who came to help!?”
“Of course, they are murderers! One moment of stupidity and we are all dead. And- and there will be no more hope!”
“Do you hear yourself, Brian?
“This is not the end of the world, this is not year zero. We are not alone! Christ, I know it’s been terrible, hellish even. We’re all struggling, but we’ve also been pulling together. These new people, they’re no different. In fact, they’ve been traveling around, finding us all.”
“The man I stabbed…”
“He’s fine. Luckily, it was shallow and he’s understanding.”
“You’ve spooked the others, but I think I can talk them out of turning you over to the police or military, or whoever when they come. But I need- I need you to pull it together. No more Cataclysm. No more new beginnings. Just back to how it used to be. Me and you.”
“No. No more.”
A metal door clangs.
“Year Zero, Day.. whatever.
“I don’t know how long I’ve been stuck in here for, they won’t let me out. May visits, but all she talks about how more people are coming, how the government is going to save us all. As if there’s an actual government. If Ash-Easton, the ass end of nowhere, was reduced to ash, then there’s a bastard crater where Westminster was.
“I tried to tell her it’s all lies, that we finally have a chance to make something better and worth while. But she leaves when I try. She’s my wife, and she won’t listen.
“Maybe we ended in the Cataclysm, maybe I’ve been trying to hold on to the old world too.”
“Oh god, I did it, I’m out. I don’t have long though, they’ll find May soon.Oh god, May. May. I’m sorry, I had no other choice. You were going to drag me down with you. And I can’t. I can’t have that, not when so much depends on me.”
Brian is panting, almost sobbing. Shouting can be heard from the distance. There is a dull thud.