The Genesis Man
By Luke Mepham
It seemed every person in town was in the supermarket on that particular Saturday morning. Every till had a cashier on them and every line had four to five people with deep trolleys queuing up. There wasn’t a special occasion looming on the horizon. It was a hot and really humid day in the summer of 2014. Parents were becoming ignorant to the annoying whining of their children, who persist in screaming at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason.
John Fisher was on till number seven. That’s the one with half of the buttons missing on the keyboard so he’s been letting people walk away with free fruit. Nobody seems to give a damn though.
John looks around to see the crowded area by the returns desk, people moaning and swearing at whatever it was they didn’t want. It’s always like this but with an added sense of weirdness. He couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Excuse me?!” came a gruff voice.
John turned around and was met with a credit card up his nose. On the other end of the card was a very pissed off looking old man.
“Sorry sir. I’ll just take that from you.” John had a pain in his mouth. It was his tongue. He’d been biting it so he wouldn’t give rude customers a piece of his mind. He needed this job. It’s paying for his college fund. He’d taken a gap year to build up the money by going full time. He’s only got three more months before he can set off and say goodbye to this dead end job.
“Have a lovely day” he beamed a smile to the gruff voiced man who muttered something under his breath to John.
On the next till in front of his was a girl he’d taken a liking to. Her name was Charlotte and he’d only ever say Hello to her because of his shyness.
He looked at his next customer where a woman was balancing several children on her shoulders as if she was a set of monkey bars.
“Hi, any help packing?”
“Not now Daniel! Put it down Chloe!”
She wasn’t up for a bit of chit chat, she had her hands full. The kids began screaming and John looked up, as he was scanning food, and locked eyes with Charlotte. She rolled her big brown eyes at him due to the kids and John just smiled and nodded.
John often imagined himself travelling through the earth’s atmosphere towards space so he can escape the noise of this planet and find that quiet zone between here and there.
He moved his pen aside on the screen so he can see how long he had left. It wasn’t good news as John let out a little groan. Four hours to go. He’d already been there three hours and that seemed like his whole shift. It was 11:59.
The customer had a few bottles of wine (He can see why), so he got out a cardboard box to put them in. It was one of those ones that just need a little squeeze and then it would all pop up into shape, but this is John and his luck was quite bad. Of all the thirty tills he had to be on the one with the crap wine boxes, one’s that were covered in a bit of dust.
“Oh now that’s dusty!” cried the woman.
“I can see that, ma’am” said John, trying to get it right.
“Remember the customer is always –
“Yes I do. I remember that.”
The woman takes it from John and blows the dust into the air. But with this being John and his luck being bad, it all went and settled nicely into his nose hairs.
He’s about to sneeze, the strong inhaling begins.
“I hope you brought a handkerchief, I don’t want your germs” moaned the customer.
“ACHOOOOOOOO” – ‘blip’
The clock had turned to 12:00pm.
The dust went everywhere and he managed to get some in his eyes. He went deaf momentarily. “Must’ve popped my ears” he thought.
He wipes his eyes and goes to scan the next item but it’s gone. Everything has. He looks around and doesn’t see anyone. The annoying customer with her children, queues of people, deep trolleys, co-workers, all gone. He reached up and pressed his ears and realized that he didn’t pop them, but that everything just stopped and disappeared. The sound of tills beeping is now an echo. The food has all made its way back onto the shelves.
“That’s weird” he said as if he was talking to anyone. He hoped somebody would just pop up and yell surprise.
“Okay everyone, I knew it was busy for no reason. Nice joke. I’m the fool. Who’s the magician? You did that all within a split second. It’s funny.”
He comes out from behind the till and goes to Charlotte’s to see if she was knelt down behind her desk. “Ha, it was funny Charlotte. I don’t know what I did to deserve that. Charlotte?” She’s vanished. Just like everyone else and, just like John began to think, maybe his sanity.
He walks up and down the aisles to the sound of his footsteps squeaking. He calls out various co-workers but with no answer. He goes downstairs to the staff cafeteria. Even the chefs are gone. No food out of the fridge, stoves turned off. He knocks on the store manager’s door then laughs about it and just opens the door to an empty desk. He leans on the door and lightly bangs his head on it. He makes his way to his locker but doesn’t expect to see anything in there. He punches his code in the locker and is surprised to see his backpack still inside. Everything is still in there, his drink, his sandwich and his phone. He takes the phone out to call his house and dials the number. A high pitched noise takes him by surprise. He drops the phone and it cuts out.
“What the hell is happening?”
He picks the phone up and looks at his recent calls. He made a mistake and pressed the wrong numbers, clearly. Except he didn’t make a mistake and the number was correct. Every person has been wiped off from his phone list.
He takes his bag and runs back upstairs towards the front doors. Something catches his eyes and he stops in front of the Home department. All of the DVD’s and CD’s have no covers on them. They’re just black cases. He turns his head outside to see the sun has gone behind thick dark clouds and has turned outside into a grey and draughty day. He goes outside and shivers. There’s no birds, no cars, all of the trees are missing their leaves, like the flowers are missing the petals. He looks ahead of the car park towards the water fountain. It’s the only thing out there that is making a noise. It’s fully functional and working properly. John runs over to it and splashes his face. He cups his hand to drink some but spits it back out in disgust. Water is tasteless but what he just had in his mouth was as if the water had gone sour.
He looks back at the store and sees his bike, the only bike, still locked up. He runs to it and unlocks it and rides it through the town. It’s windy but not cold. Like there’s no air.
“Everything is still standing so it couldn’t have been a nuclear bomb. If it was then what makes me so special?” he thought.
He approaches the Police Station and goes inside it. Just like the supermarket, everyone had disappeared. Even the cells were wide open with a new set of bedding on the bed.
“It’s a dream. That’s what it is, just a dream.” He tries desperately to reassure himself but even he begins to doubt it.
John leaves the station and continues back on his journey to home. “Please be there Mum.” He thought.
He turns the corner into his street and sees all of the cars in the driveways. He rides the bike over the front lawn of his house and jumps off from it and runs inside.
Once he’s inside, he’s met with the big picture frame that was hung in the porch next to the refrigerator. It held a picture of himself, his older sister, his Mum and his Dad in there. John’s eyes begin to tear up. Of course that picture is what he wanted to see. He’d been seeing that picture for twelve years since it’s been hanging there. Now it’s just an empty frame. He dropped to his knees and began to cry. His head was in his hands and he was gripping his black hair. “What happened?” he muttered.
He stands up and throws the front door open, runs outside and screams at the top of his voice; “WHERE IS EVERYBODY?!”
His tears have dried up and have left his eyes bloodshot.
He looks to his left and looks down at the rest of the street. The neighbours’ house on the right side has a sprinkling system that starts to hiss over John. He blinks rapidly with every drop that hits his eyes. He gets up, wipes himself down and goes back inside.
He opens the fridge and sees all the food still in there but grey. It’s like he was looking at a black and white television of a fridge. He picks up a gherkin and studies it. He takes a bite out of it and immediately spits it out. There’s no taste, no smell. He goes to throw it at the wall but stops and looks at the gherkin. It has blobs of green on it from when he spat out. He sticks his tongue out to see if his tongue is now green, it’s not. He goes to spit on the gherkin again but chokes himself out of saliva and ends up coughing. More green is going on it. He places it onto a plate and kneels down in front of it and then just breathes on it. The gherkin is now fully green. He picks it up and takes a bite out of it and success! The taste is back. He breathes on everything in the fridge and it turns back to its natural colour. At first he thought it was pretty nasty but if it brings the flavor back then it sure is worth it. He stops and begins to think that he breathed life into food. “What if I did that to clothes? Would it bring my family back?” He ran upstairs happy as ever, until he got to the bedrooms. There are no clothes in the drawers and no shoes under the bed.
He sits on the side of the bed. “I should just give up really.” He scans the room and sees the phone book by his Dad’s side of the bed. “There must be SOMEONE still out there.” He grabs the book and flicks through the pages. All 1000+ blank pages.
He throws it down and begins to laugh at the circumstance.
“Hell, I’m the last guy on Earth. I can eat what I want, live how I want, do whatever I want.” He starts to feel a slight of insanity but goes back to his bike anyway.
He rides through the town and back towards his work. When he gets there, he crashes his bike right through the front door. “Oh I’m sorry Officer but I really couldn’t care less!” He laughs at his own clumsiness and looks towards the mannequins in the Home department. They’re all faceless. John looks at the make-up and grabs some eye liner. He takes it to the dolls head and makes faces out of them. They look like bad drag queens but it makes him laugh.
“I’d take you out tonight, I’d rent a film but they don’t exist anymore!” He notices one has a frown and he goes to fix it. “Aw now look at you –
Something clicked in his head. “At you – Atchoo, of course. I sneezed. If I go back to till seven and I sneeze, everything should come back! Oh John, you are a genius!”
He runs back to till seven armed with a pepper shaker. He sprinkles it on his nose and begins to get the feeling he’s going to sneeze. He does. It echoed throughout the whole building. Sadly it was only the sneeze that John could hear. There were no customers ranting, no children screaming and no beeping from the tills.
John laughs and then stops abruptly. “Of course, you are a genius. With that kind of luck you can only spell negatively.”
He walks slowly away from till seven with the buttons missing.
“I couldn’t have died. This is something else. he talks out loud hoping somebody would hear him. “Well I guess there’s nothing to live for. Why should everyone else have fun but me? I don’t want to do what I want if there’s nobody else to talk to, have a relationship with.” He picks up the stem of a rose and breathes on it. It blossoms into a beautiful, big rose. He places it on Charlotte’s till and walks out of the store.
He looks up and the tallest building in town, the cinema. It looms over him. He accepts his fate and goes to it.
He pulls down on the fire escape ladder and ascends the rungs one by one until he heard a noise. He stopped and listened out. ‘Maybe just the wind’ he thought, he continued up the ladder when he heard it again. He knew for sure that it wasn’t the wind and he raced down the ladder and began shouting out.
“Hello is anybody there?!” The noise happened again. He ran to the side of the cinema and the noise got louder. It’s like somebody is crying.
‘I’m not alone!’ he thought.
The crying seemed to have a higher pitch than normal. John approaches what was making the noise and looks down at a basket.
“Oh my God” he muttered. The crying stopped. “A baby?” he managed to say.
The baby just looked up at John. He was wrapped in a blue blanket.
“Where did you come from?” He picks the basket up and the baby laughs at him. “Is your Mummy here? I can’t tell you how nice it is to talk to a human being. I can’t wait to meet her”
‘Why am I talking to a baby?’ he thought.
Another noise began coming from round the corner.
John’s heart leapt out of his chest. “Is that your Mummy?” He ran around the corner whilst carrying the basket and stopped. The noise was more crying from what sounded like another baby.
John walked up to the other crying baby and this one was in a pink blanket. He took them both into the warmth of the cinema and placed the baskets on the floor.
He kneels down in between them and they have their eyes fixed on him.
“Now would be a good time for your first words, guys.” They just continue gazing up at him. He stands up and walks around looking out of the screen doors to see if a woman is coming. He turns back to the babies and spots a note on the side of one of the baskets.
He picks the note up, hoping it will say ‘Belated April Fool’s Day!’ or something macabre like that. With John’s luck being bad, of course it doesn’t say that. He does a double take at the note and seems confused by it. “Eve, what does that mean?” he said. That’s when it dawned on him. He races over to the other basket with the baby wrapped in a blue blanket and looks for a note on it. He finds it and looks at the note. His heart stops and he tries to calm down. He looks down at the baby. “And your name is Adam”. It was with that realization that John Fisher’s luck was far from changing.