She wasn’t sure how she’d cope, after he was gone. It wasn’t just that he was gone after all, but the circumstances! They’d joked for years about the apocalypse – everyone had, hadn’t they? And now it was here.
No-one else seemed nearly as concerned as she was, least of all their sons. They were teenagers now of course, so agreeing wasn’t exactly in their psyche. Still she’d hoped the headlines would have drawn them in – convinced them she wasn’t just going crazy.
When they hadn’t she’d had to take matters into her own hands. She found it hard to predict the hunger of two teenage boys. It was challenge enough to feed them when Tesco was there to help, but what about when even that didn’t exist any more? It sent a shiver down her spine, the thought that such a bastion of capitalism might just cease to exist.
Beans, sweetcorn, peaches. There were many things that came in cans, and it was these she began to collect. But something niggled at her, something that just wouldn’t disappear. Her boys needed meat. Every boy did, let’s be honest. But there was nothing in cans that even came close. Once upon a time, during that other war, people had made do. But she really didn’t think they were those people.
She looked it up on the internet. She could have asked someone, perhaps. But no-one else seemed to be taking it at all seriously, and the last thing she wanted was to draw attention to herself.
So she just began her collection: piles and piles of bacon, as dry as possible, because that was the way it would last.
It was Justin who questioned her first. He’d come home with a bottle of lucozade which he’d wanted to put in the fridge, but there was no space. He left it on the counter for a couple of hours, but when Lucas came home they’d confronted her.
“There really is no apocalypse, Mum.”
She’d acquiesced almost immediately. Of course she didn’t want to believe it, not unless she really had to. They’d looked together at the stacks of supplies she’d acquired, wondered simultaneously at the lack of menus the store cupboards suggested. It was the meat she felt most guilty about – if she’d hoarded it unnecessarily then she really should do something about the waste.
There was an evening when this came up in conversation, but the older son was well prepared.
“It’s ok, Mum. Everything tastes better with bacon.”
He was right, of course.
By the time a state of emergency was declared the cities were already burning. The smell wafting over their suburb was strangely familiar, making them salivate with the memory of the supplies they had so carelessly squandered. She couldn’t help but feel a smug satisfaction even as the tanks rolled closer. If nothing else, at least she wasn’t mad.
Thank you to Sara at ‘Mum turned Mom’ for inspiring this post with her prompt: ‘everything tastes better with bacon’. It seemed the perfect excuse for a short story, which in turn seems the perfect excuse to celebrate being shortlisted for the Cloudcuckooland Flash Fiction prize 2014. You can see the rest of the shortlist here!