Brad pushed his goggles to his forehead to properly appraise his surroundings. The yard of his family home from memory had a ghost gum. Instead of a white trunk with peeling grey bark, he saw a tree almost double its girth; purple with jet black leaves jutting from its spreading branches.
Mum always tended her rose bushes, bordering the front picket fence. The garden still had large red blooms; a distorted looking hybrid of rose bulb and orchid, protruding at points along a thick knotted vine, similar to that of pumpkins. Large bugs hovered around the bulbs, much like bees, but the same size as match boxes.
He wondered where Ben had gotten too. His tomcat crouched among the vines looking intently at the over sized insects. Brad stiffened, afraid that the alien looking bulbs might swallow his cat. After a moment, he realised they behaved no differently to any other plant.
In a daze, he strayed onto the footpath, unprepared for the scene that awaited him. Skeletons with a brown film of decay lay on the street, fallen where they died. A human skeleton not far from him, still clutched a lead attached to the collar of a small dog skeleton as a form of grisly joke.
Two cars remained in a crumpled deadlock in the middle of the road where they collided in death; their skeletal drivers still clutching the steering wheels.
One car had crashed through the front fence of a neighbour’s house across the street. It trailed two wavy ruts in the front lawn, leading to where it stopped, mounted on the front steps.
What could have killed them all this quick? He asked himself.
He wandered down the end of the street. Death greeted him all directions without relent.
How far does this go?
As far as he could see, skeletons lay strewn behind and ahead of him. He had to get away from the carnage. The basketball court seemed the best solution. Across its concrete court he walked, slipping through a gap in the rear of the chain link fence. Once through, he stood in the open fields. It looked the same as he remembered when he played here as a small boy, except for the grass. Before, it only came up to his knees, now it reached his arm pits.
Ben meowed, rubbing at his leg and running a few steps ahead. Brad looked beyond his cat taking in a vivid difference on the other side of the creek. In the past, it had bushes, interspersed with gum trees. He now saw an irregular line of slender black trees with gnarled branches making them appear like upturned hands. To add to the garish growths, they had a crown of orange leaves.
Brad chose to ignore the trees, revelling in the normality he once knew. He heard rustling in the grass, further assuring him that the world hadn’t totally degenerated. Rats always ran in the grass and probably drank from the creek.
A wind picked up, bending the grass stalks with its breath.