ILL V

Previously on ILL… It’s the apocalypse, my apocalypse. I’m here, alone, or so I thought…

I froze.

“What the fuck are you doing?” It repeated. There was something odd about the voice. Was it male or female? I couldn’t tell. It was almost robotic.

Again: “What the fuck are you doing?” The same tone every time, no insistence or impatience at my delayed response, just the same, flat monotone.

Slowly, I turned from the side exit door of the fire station’s garage to face my challenger.

No-one was there.

Was it already time to start questioning my sanity? The thought occurred to me that maybe it was the zombie fireman that had spoken. The cab was closed but was there a loud-hailer or something in there? Bollocks! I really was losing it. He was taped to the steering wheel so how could he possibly…?

“What the fuck are you doing?”

It was above me! Startled, I looked up. The fireman’s pole disappeared through the hole in the ceiling and there, sitting on the lip with its head tilted to one side, was a blue and yellow parrot.

“What the fuck…?” I muttered.

Images of articles in the local newspaper flashed into my head. The parrot was the fire station mascot. It had been something of a local celebrity at one time. The firemen had taught it to say stuff like “Put the kettle on”, “Pass the biscuits” and “I want bacon and eggs”. Evidently, the parrot’s education had taken a different path since those days. I remembered then that the parrot’s time in the limelight had come to an abrupt end after it upstaged the town’s mayor by pecking off the poor man’s toupee at the grand opening of my very own favourite supermarket. Fame, they say, is fickle, even for parrots.

It shuffled sideways around the hole, its beady eyes staring down at me from a white and black face.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I asked it. It squawked and stuck out its black tongue. “You scared the shit out of me,” I said, “that’s not nice.”

It lifted a wing, stuck its beak under it, sniffed and squawked again: “Pah! Smelly bastards!”

“You’re a bit of a twat, aren’t you?” I said. The idea of taking the parrot with me had actually crossed my mind but I quickly discarded it as a very bad one. Having company of a sort was one thing, sharing My Apocalypse with a foul-mouthed, smart-arse parrot was entirely another. “I’m going.” I told it.

“I want bacon and eggs,” it replied.

“Go fuck yourself!” I said.

I closed the door behind me and crossed the station’s forecourt to where I’d parked my ‘car of the day’ – a Mitsubishi L200 pick-up (It was shopping day!). Wings flapped above my head and the damned parrot landed on a nearby lamp-post. I noticed an upstairs window of the station had been smashed and wondered if the parrot could have broken it somehow. After all, it couldn’t have survived all this time stuck inside.

It watched me walk to the pick-up, past a small group of the shambling undead and repeated its request for a cooked breakfast. The zombies turned as one and stared up, open-mouthed, at the bird.

“Ah, shit!” The parrot said, hopping back and forth across the top of the street-light and flapping its blue wings. “Smelly bastards!”

I got into the pick-up and started the engine, happy in the knowledge that there was somewhere I could go if I needed sparkling conversation and witty repartee.

As I pulled away, parrot-shit splattered across the windscreen. I made a mental note to treat myself to lots of bacon and eggs… and a gun.

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