The scene I have just witnessed has left me open-mouthed, wide-eyed and utterly speechless.
I just wish I could have written a scene so bleak, so devastating and so perfectly designed to rip the arse mercilessly out of a person’s soul that they are left devoid of hope for any future past the immediate.
I have seen many terrible things in my life; gruesome fatalities on the road, the bodies of the old and the young, the carnage and distress caused by house fires and floods, and nothing, nothing, prepared me for the total hopelessness of what I have just experienced.
For those of you not currently in the UK on March 1st, 2018, we are suffering what the media had dubbed “the Beast form the East”, otherwise known as a week of minus temperatures and high winds with a good dose of snow.
You know, the kind of thing that lots of countries live with constantly.
But not the UK, oh no… here we have to panic. And we have to panic in such pathetic, cataclysmic style that my local Morrisons (which may or may not be where the gang holed up in book 1) looks more like an undead horde had ripped through it instead of Thursday evening shoppers.
I was one of those rare creatures who actually needed bread and milk, and instead of finding bread and milk I found a scene so devastating that I started taking notes in the hope that I could accurately describe to you the desolation, that void in my soul I felt on seeing the ransacked shelves and pass on those feelings effectively in writing.
I didn’t think I could.
I saw tins, bent and discarded, scattered on the aisles where I imagined desperate shoppers running down the length of the shelves with an arm held stiff as they scattered tins into their trolley indiscriminately, bouncing the contents in any direction in their desperation to keep the three-wheeled beast in line as the single errant wheel flapped uselessly.
I imagined that same desperate shopper turning left out of the aisle of canned vegetables and canned fish (of which there was plenty left bizarrely) and slipping to land heavily on the squeaky tiled floor as they spun out of control to scrabble to their feet and make it to the shelves before some other quick-witted scavenger cleaned out the freeze-dried noodles before they did.
I imagined them turning right at the end of that aisle, feet slipping on wet tiles on the spilt cream that lay in inexplicable globules in random spots of the store to power up their legs again only to pause as they found themselves in that confusing aisle marked ‘seasonal’ that contained a curious mix of discounted valentines chocolates and three-for-two Easter eggs that temporarily confused the mind, with a mixture of mother’s day gifts until either good sense or renewed panic stirred them back into action.
Next came the chilled aisle, mostly devoid of contents and forcing the discerning looter to try organic red-top milk instead of their usual semi-skimmed and left again past the section where the eggs used to be as they slipped over the oily filth on the floor to regain their footing and take the next turn with more skill and experience into the bread aisle.
Oh, dear God, the bread aisle.
The scene of the crime where only the costliest of loaves remained, with all other shelves littered with parts of crusts over a littered floor of ripped wrappings and crumbs. Looking left to where a single, torn pack of organic whole wheat bagels lay twisted as though with a broken spine. The ripped pack of seeded wraps that already looked untrustworthy, the trampled cakes and spilled packets of cherry bakewells.
The empty alcohol aisle, as though that was the highest priority in survival, forcing the more discerning shopper to buy locally-branded vodka to accompany their fanta zero, and then the biggest horror of all.
The empty checkouts. The single conveyor belt operated by a human being, and one that looks so depressed and close to death that you aren’t sure it would be worth having to put your hard-won items back in the basket to find another till when she finally goes towards the light whilst scanning…
So you go to the self-service section, and when that light, when that bloody light, above your till goes red then you know, you just know there isn’t a single person working in sight.
Eventually, with my pathetic haul, I regain the safety of my car and start the engine to lock the doors in case any opportunistic scavenger is marauding the car park, and I think to myself.
This isn’t the apocalypse. It’s just a three-day forecast of snow, ffs!
Stay safe in the snow – stay at home!
For those of you who do the facebook thing, I performed this blog on video after being nagged to do it…