3. When Things Begin To Go Wrong
"Jason! Stop throwing Brussels sprouts at your sister!"
"But mum! I don't like them!"
"If you don't stop, you won't be able to open any presents!"
My mother's classic Christmas lunch always followed the introduction of family members such as Auntie (so she introduced herself) Magdalene who no one previously knew existed until her appearance at the door and Grandpa George who was, upon questioning, not actually anyone's grandfather. Nevertheless, they appeared every year without fail and all had a share in a roast turkey - the poultry unfortunate enough to be killed for two celebrations in one month. Brussels sprouts decorated the edge of the finest china and gravy trickled along the carrots and cabbage. My mother then appeared out of the kitchen with a flaming mound of fruit and carbohydrates. Her hairline was dotted with sweat that hinted at the hours of time she has spent in preparation for this gathering.
That Christmas was peaceful. So I think to myself as I drive the convertible back to the compound. One of the water pipes had burst yesterday and the unlucky engineers (Jethro and I) were called upon to go out and fix them.
The roads are all cracked and broken. A worldwide earthquake will do that to tarmac. Jethro sits in the passenger seat, his excitement obvious.
I look back to the road. Thistlewood Compound looms over the car and we are immediately cast into shadows. Thistlewood Compound was an old army base from the Cold War and was the first port of call for the thousands of terrified inhabitants of the now nonexistent city. Strong as it used to be, it couldn't withstand the strength of geological disasters. I glance at the hundreds of maintenance men whose permanent presence reiterates extent of the structural damage.
Suddenly, a chunk of fractured tarmac flips upright and I swerve to avoid it. The ground starts to shake and I push a very shocked Jethro out of his door and clamber quickly out of my own. I hit the snow, hard. Unsure of which way was up, I turn to face the ground. It had been a while since I had last touched snow. The Compound wasn't build to enjoy the surrounding scenery (the nonexistent scenery of course) and was thus lacking windows. The Compound maintains a consistent temperature of too hot and snow was never seen inside. I close my eyes and savour the moment. The world is shaking, literally, and I'm just sitting in snow.