CW: mention of blood
Sophie’s whole body shuddered with a force she’d never felt before. Clutching the roots of her hair with her cracked and bloodied fingers- Sophie ran frantically towards the Gallerybehind Lizzy, nauseous and confused. Before stumbling up the steps, Sophie turned to face the grey glint of an apocalyptic sun. She sighed, raspy, as her view of the woman she couldn’t save disappeared behind a shroud of low-lying fog, also obscuring her view of it. Sophie fixated on it’s striking red eyes and a scaly, devilish grin that made the hair on her arm stand to fearful attention, like wispy soldiers blowing in the freezing breeze. Those claws. Claws ready to tear flesh at any given moment.
It had been worse than she could ever imagine. It had been nothing she had ever seen.
Suddenly, from within the gallery, Sophie heard a voice that sharply shattered her terrified daze. It was Lizzy.
“Oh god, Lizzy”, Sophie bawled. Lizzy’s voice was indistinct enough to both alarm and comfort Sophie simultaneously. There was no way to know her tone from so far away. Sophie gathered herself and made way under the stone pillars towards her girlfriends’ obscure signal. Banners advertising past exhibitions still hung jauntily down the face of the slabs- burnt to white and frayed – like a surrender plastered brutally to their hidden fortress. Fantastic.
Within the gallery, Sophie was alarmed immediately by the haunting normality of the gift shop in the corner- it’s piles ofmulticoloured pencils, rubbers, notebooks with pictures of the art photocopied to the front contained in plastic display cabinets. Commercial cockroaches. Here to the end, untouched by The End.
From across the room a familiar and strangely calm voice rung out betwixt the rafters.
“Over here, love!” Sophie’s smile beamed as she bounded towards the Gallery café, where her girlfriend stood with a pair of warm, open arms. The past five minutes had been the longest time they’d been apart since this whole thing began. And there they were, stood upright and unafraid. Armed with a bright red kettle and plastic forks, ready for a hug.
They embraced for longer than they really should. Everything lay eerily quiet aside from their puffing and exasperated “I love yous”. Sophies tears streamed messily onto the synthetic cutlery and puddled into the gap at the top of the kettle.
Lizzy, a bit befuddled as, pulled away and dusted themself off before continuing to bumble about behind the wooden counter.
“We might be alright here for now. Before that thing,” They gulp and draw their eyes to the café cupboards and drawers, “Before that thing, follows us in and does what it did to… well, I’ve got a plan. Just you wait. We’ve got tons of stuff in here but for now we’ll just make tea and eat the Gallery’s biscuits… I’m sure they won’t mind… Hey, look! I even found a new kettle”.
Sophie giggled quietly at her girlfriends attempts to cheer her up in this utterly dire situation. They’d always had each-other and this wasn’t going to be any different; they’d make sure of it.
When Sophie used to get anxious as a kid around thunder-storms, Lizzy had been there to cuddle her under blankets and bring her some orange juice. They always drank orange juice in storms. They couldn’t remember how that habit had started, but Lizzy always said it gave them both superpowers against the weather. Sophie always believed them, even if it was just a little. This felt, to them both, a teensy bit like that.
“You’re always one step ahead, aren’t you?” Sophie pulled Lizzy’s arm away from the tea they’d been concocting whilst delivering their somewhat optimistic spiel.
“I guess I’ve always had to be. With my mum, your dad, and the rest… But I’ll never feel as much as you do. That’s something you do best. Always have done. Always will.” Sophie noticed Lizzy’s tone was more serious now. The gravity of the situation seemed to engulf them both in that moment as they stood together, in a café beside a gift shop in an abandoned gallery, in a world that felt like it was tearing itself apart.
Sophie took some napkins and rubbed off the dirt and blood from both of them as best she could. Her best left them still covered, but Lizzy knew it was the thought that counted.They’d always, for as long as they both could remember, been alright with silence. It was comfortable. Reassuring, even. As she cleaned herself and Lizzy, Sophie decided to break that silence.
“We should really call them. Our parents. I know they, ”Lizzy pulled themselves away and shook their head as they made way to the kettle again. They then turned on their heels to be eye to eye with their girlfriend,
“What are they going to do, Sophie? What do you seriously think they could do? Do you think they could have saved that woman out there…From whatever the hell that was, from whatever the hell murdered her? We sure couldn’t. We sure couldn’t, Soph.” Their eyes are both bloodshot and bubbling, locked painfully. Their raw cut and bruised hands both trembled. Their hearts both raced one another, calling out to feel the warm glow of before any of this- the warm glow of each other.
And there is a silence again. Not a good one. For the first time they’d known each other, they were breathing in a shared not good silence.
Before either of them could say another word, that shriek returns. Visceral and echoing. Echoing?
“It must in the Gallery”, Lizzy gargles out as she takes a frozen Sophie by the arm and they both run towards the stairs. More running, Lizzy thinks. Who knew the end of times would be so exhausting?
As they scrambled together to get away, to get anywhere away from it, they pass briefly by the Eardley painting again, except this time it was torn in the dead centre, coated in a clotted mass of fresh blood, surrounded by broken casing.
Sophie couldn’t help but let out a nervous laugh as she ran, pulled by Lizzy, past a window, where she noticed a blizzard had begun to wreak havoc on the city.
By Molly Knox
A Queerativity Tale is a Queerativity original story updated by a new Queer Artist at the beginning of each month. If you are interested in writing an issue for A Queerativity Tale, please email [email protected] or fill out the Get Involved Form.