The Usual Precautions V – Hero of the Apocalypse


He came to you one night, just on sunset and said,

“Quickly! The evil comes! It is time for you to stand now for humanity! Time for you to protect us all!”

You froze where you sat on the sofa, handful of popcorn halfway to your mouth, something with a laugh-track on the TV and you said,


And he said,

“Aren’t you ready?”

And you could have said, “How did you get in here?” but you saw him walk in through the balcony doors (without opening them) and the flat is six stories up so you said,

“Heck! Ready for what?”

He looked at you despairingly,

“You were born extraordinary. You were supposed to spend your days pursuing athleticism, learning, weapons-craft. You are the pinnacle of evolution.”

You look down at the popcorn crumbs resting in the wrinkles of the red t-shirt stretched over what is definitely not a set of highly defined and textured abs.

“I’m 51. I’m divorced. I have a stupid job I hate. I’m surviving. No-one told me I needed to be special.”

“Did you not read the great philosophers? Socrates on achieving peak fitness?”

“Oh yeah, I saw that one come round on Facebook.”

“Did you not learn and take inspiration from your teachers?”

You thought back to school: disinfectant, confusion, humiliation, learning to fit in, learning to obey.

“My teachers were ok, I spose. They said I had potential but I think they said that to everyone.”

He shook his head quickly, flinging thoughts away,

“You have to save the world. You have to get up right now and go to the rooftop and fight the demons. You’ll have to pull on every ounce of strength and resourcefulness you possess. Without you, we will all die.” He looked at you. “Horribly.”

“What I really have to do,” you said, “is go to bed so I can get up in the morning to go to work at the job I hate with the people I despise so I can pay the rent, help my son move into a new flat, help my daughter out with baby-sitting. That stuff. You know.”

The sky outside turned black. Something misshapen shrieked past the window. In the street below car alarms competed with screaming. You spread your hands.

“Even if I went out there,” you continued, “I haven’t done any of the things you’ve talked about. I’d be useless.”

He looked ashamed.

“I suppose we could have been more…encouraging.”

Together, you watched the end of the world from the balcony. There was popcorn.