Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Writer: J.K. Davies

Foot & Mouth

Duane's grandmother called us to her to tell us a story about the last big breakout, from her chair in the corner of the room on that heavy afternoon when the adults had all left the complex, her cracked whiskery voice pulling us closer in, her flat unemphatic words were delivered in a staccato non-rhythm. The atmosphere of abandonment still felt temporary, we didn't believe the grown-ups would not come back, that they would, could leave us here. They would have to come back for Grandma as she couldn't get out of her chair by herself.
We crouched together on the bed to listen to her, a blanket around our shoulders now that the heating had stopped, imagining the disease stalking the land, a stick legged giant with a flapping coat of rooks wings pointing its myriad fingers at its myriad victims. We could smell the fatty smoke she described, and see her tongue lick around her dry old mouth when she spoke of the charnel stink.
"The pyres sent plumes up to Heaven," she'd said, and looked upwards, and we did too, wondering what we would see there, but it was only the wood-chipped ceiling.
"We had to shoot them all, even those who had no disease. The scientists, they told us it was the only way to rid ourselves of it. The fires, they burnt for weeks, turning the bodies to charcoal," and she rocked forwards, backwards, rocked again.
"Oh, that it should happen again in my lifetime," she moaned
We clutched each other in excited horror, two boys on the edge of an adventure, having heard the grown-ups whisper of foot and mouth and BSE and CJD before they went, wondering if we too would have such horror-tales to tell when we were old.
"But, Grandma," Duane asked, trying to putting the pieces of the puzzle together. "What are cows?"

© J.K. Davies 2011

J.K. Davies is a practised reader & practising writer living in Germany. She blogs mostly at practice makes perfect and has a nasty side at too much practice (


  1. Especially loved the image of "a stick legged giant with a flapping coat of rooks wings" and the matter-of-factness of the wood chipped ceiling. And didn't see the end coming either!

  2. I loved the image of the stick legged giant, like Sandra. I also felt that the tone of the tale was what made it more frightening. Still wondering if those adults are going to show back up, and if so, what it means. Great story.

  3. I loved the same parts Sandra and Grey mentioned. Your description of the area surrounding the characters was great. You scared me.

  4. descriptions are amazing here along with your ability to keep me glued to my screen reading! Love this, and the ending... all I can say is my apocolypse better include zombies!

  5. Splendid voices you've created here. I like "We clutched each other in excited horror, two boys on the edge of an adventure," because that's exactly what I remember when ghost stories were told to us kids, years ago. Zoom zoom goes the mind of Julia, and "More Please," go I.

  6. Ditto what everyone else said. And that last line is perfect.


MDJB at GoodReads

Michael D. Brown's books on Goodreads Bastille Day reviews: 2 ratings: 3 (avg rating 5.00...