Adult Native Speaker WINNER — 2021

The Vigil

by Adrian BUTLER


George and Deirdre had decided that they preferred to watch the end of the world together rather than being evacuated with the masses. Dodging the army roadblocks along marshy tracks that only George knew, they had parked up for the night in their old VW camper van hidden from the helicopters in some woods. Early the next morning – the day the blast was expected to occur – they had taken up position on the empty Suffolk beach with a grand uninterrupted view of the Sizewell power station across the bay.

George was sitting in his folding chair with the Union Jack on it reading some old copies of the Daily Mail, which he’d found in the garage. Deirdre had had no other choice than the saggy green nylon one and was now distinctly uncomfortable after six hours of waiting for something to happen. She had finished the crosswords in the Woman magazines, which were all she had thought to pack once she’d finished the sandwiches the day before.

“It’s turned a bit chilly,” she said. “I thought it was due early afternoon.” George had been grumpily silent for the past hour. What had seemed a heroic, suicidal act of defiance yesterday was turning into an uncomfortable and unnerving non-event.