This Top Ten Tuesday’s Topic was a rewind/freebie. So, I chose to do best apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic reads. I’m still kind of in a rut when it comes to these, even though I normally love participating in them. So I did a quick boring list, and then I did it in a way that challenged me a bit. Click here to have the quickie . Otherwise, read on.
By the way, Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you courtesy of www.brokeandbookish.com
What Are Cows?
A woman stood in front of a towering bookshelf. Her skin was pocked and deeply lined, her shoulders hunched, and her skin had that odd fragility that comes with old age. A vomit green scarf was wrapped around her head. No hair escaped from underneath, for there was none on her head. Over-sized glasses, with lenses so thick the frames could not contain the edges, sat heavily on the bridge of her nose. The rest of her attire had been washed and patched so many times it was impossible to tell what it had originally started as.
She craned her neck back, eyes slowly scanning the titles on the shelf. “The best post apocalyptic books?” She whispered to herself, and then snorted. “We’re living in a post-apocalyptic world, and they want fairy-tales about it. Idiots.” Still, she was the keeper of books, the self-appointed librarian in this particular refuge, and she wasn’t about to let just anyone rifle through her stacks. She moved with the agonizing slowness of one that recognizes that there’s no need to hurry any more.
An impatient cough sounded from somewhere behind her. The old lady took her time in raising her left hand and an equal amount of time extending the middle finger. She held it up for longer than was strictly necessary, but not as long as she would have liked, and lowered it again. After a moment, she reached up on tip-toe, and pulled a fat novel down from the fourth shelf.
She examined the cover for a moment, looked back up at the shelf, considering pulling down the rest of the trilogy. She shook her head. “Best one of the lot.” She adjusted the glasses on her nose, and peered owlishly at the trio standing behind her desk when she turned around. “You might find this interesting. Bloggers after the apocalypse has happened, and the world has started rebuilding itself. Zombies.” At this last word, one corner of her mouth lifted in a hint of a smile. “Politics.” She spat that word out like it had defecated on her tongue. The others made a sound of disgust too. Politics was what had caused… this. She nodded at the bushy-haired female that was the center of the three. “Heroine is someone who does what’s right, instead of what’s easy.” She shuffled over and put Feed, Book 1 of the Newsflesh trilogy, by Mira Grant on the table.
She turned back to her shelves, eyes sweeping over the array of books. Her lips pursed, and she huffed a breath from her nose before bending over, and pulling a book from a shelf just below waist height. It was another thick book, and it was obvious it had been read multiple times from the ragged appearance. She started to straighten back up, carefully, and the sound of her back popping echoed throughout the silent chamber. “Well, Trump it!” She hissed. She tried to straighten up one more time, and expelled a breath through clenched teeth. “Well, don’t just stand there starin’ at my rear.” She grumbled loudly. “Help me out.”
It didn’t take long for two of the three, a slim black-haired young man, and his taller, ginger companion, to get her situated in a chair. At least, not after she swatted and yelled repeatedly at them when they tried to carry her to the infirmary. The bushy-haired one had scrambled off to get the nurse. “Alright,” she said, pauses between the words as she winced and tried to get comfortable. “I’ll tell you title and shelf. You get the books.”
“We can, uhm, just look for ourselves.” The ginger said. Under her withering glare, he gulped and squeaked out a “Never mind.”
“Impact Winter by S.M. Freedman. Mutants. Asteroids. Eeeeevvvvviiillll. Plus, a crazy guy with a huge heart. Talented writer. Nice lady, too. I was the first review in for that book once it was published, y’know.” The black-haired man turned around, raising an eyebrow at her. She sighed at the look of absolute puzzlement on his face. “Just..ugh. Get off my lawn.” The other eyebrow joined the first, and she would have buried her face in a palm, but moving hurt. “Just get the bloody book. Fifth shelf.”
Frustration might have been part of what led to her next selection, but she told herself it was because she wanted to give them a wide range of experiences to choose from. “Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem. First shelf. ” She thought for a moment about how best to describe that particularly book. Was there a way to describe that book? “Mind-warping adventure through a bubble of post-apocalyptic horror slash weirdness.” Her next choice wasn’t funny, but it might just scare the pants off them. The word bubble in her previous sentence had made her aware of the fact that she felt something bubbling up inside her. Could have been a mad cackle taking it’s sweet time in emerging. Probably was just gas.
“Now, on the same shelf, get the one called Bird Box down.” She grinned, then winced and cursed as she tried to find a more comfortable position in her chair. “It was The Malerman’s first published book. The tagline is ‘Don’t Open Your Eyes’. Technically might not count as a post-apocalyptic because people are still in danger from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Na–Seen. Seen. Still, it’ll put some hair on your chest.”
While the two exchanged quick looks that said volumes about the sanity of the old woman behind them, she leaned forward until her forehead was almost resting on her knees. The pain eased, and she sighed in relief. “Alright, lads,” she said after a moment. “Truth be told, I don’t think I have ten absolutely rockin’ recommendations in me – and before you say anything, Mr. Wesley, it’s a saying. An old one, obviously.” She closed her eyes, imagining the stacks in her mind. It wasn’t hard, she’d stared at these shelves so many times she had them practically memorized. “I think we’re going to have to veer away from post apocalyptic, and throw in a dash of Apocalypse as it happens.”
That was easier. She had at least two of those. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to give them ten, but at least more than five might happen. “Sixth shelf. On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. One of the few apocalypse writers that gave us diverse main characters. It’s not a big deal now, but back then…when we were just starting to figure things out… it was a rarity. She was black, autistic, and having to lead her family in the apocalypse. That was almost unheard of. Now…”
As soon as she said the word “now”, the perfect book came to mind. “Now, COW! Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan!” She practically crowed, jerking upright a bit too fast and letting out a strangled yelp of pain. Even through that, she was able to grind out seconds later “Forget…the..cud…they…mean…blood.”
Her creaky giggle bordered on sounding insane. It quickly progressed to a full on belly-laugh, with little ‘ow!’ sounds randomly interjected. When it finally calmed down, she straightened up as much as she could, and wiped her eyes with the trailing end of the virulent green scarf. “Oh dear. I needed that. ” She turned her head sideways to get a better view of the young men standing several feet in front of her. “Horny cows. Not like HORN-Y, horny, like..” She put two crooked fingers to either side of her head, sticking them up in slight curves. “MoooooOOOOoo horny. The other kind of horny! And zombies! Horny zombie cows with a lust for blood!” This started up a fresh bout of giggles that was abruptly cut off when she processed the question the black-haired lad had just asked her. “What are cows? WHAT ARE COWS?! What do you mean, what are cows?!” She nearly shrieked out the sentence, voice getting higher every time she repeated it.
It was to this sound that the nurse, a bustling, big-bosomed woman in her sixties, came into the room. Sending a scolding look at the two, ignoring the young woman who scampered in behind her, the nurse rushed to the side of the second oldest member of their community. Older than her by ten years, to be precise. She pressed an injection gun to the side of the elderly woman’s neck. It was a strong muscle relaxer and pain killer combination. As strong as she felt it safe to give her. Within moments, the woman was able to sit up straighter, but it was obvious from the glaze overtaking good to the questing community members for a while. “They…” She looked at the nurse, who also was completely lacking in hair. “They don’t know what cowssssh are.” She slurred. “They don’t have a freaking moo what cow…clue what cows are! What’s thish world coming to? WHAT ARE COWS?!” She still sounded completely indignant. If it wasn’t for the fact the nurse had just given her things that would shortly knock her out, the matron would have been worried about the heart of the librarian.
“Okay, Lilyn…” The matron soothed. “It’s okay. Let’s get you to your bed, hm? You can have a bit of a lie down, and be ready to go in the morning.” By the time she got around to the word morning, the old lady was already slumped against her and softly snoring. The nurse looked up to where the whole trio were now standing together. She frowned, then directed her next statement to the African American young lady that had resumed her space between the boys, who was clutching the majority of the books to her chest. It took just a second for her to get the theme. “You, Miss, can grab Swan Song by Robert McCammon, Moonfall by Jack McDevitt, and…” Her eyes swiftly scanned the shelves. She spent nearly as much time in here as the librarian did. “The Passage by Justin Cronin, and….hm…” Her eyes zeroed in on a book with a bright yellow cover. “The Girl with all the Gifts by…whatshisname… M.R. Carey. I’ll tell her I oversaw your final choices.”
As the girl zeroed in on the shelves like a homing missile that had just been locked on, the red-head asked quietly… “Are all Elders so…strange? Does the… the..y’know… ” He pointed up above.”Does it make your brain go when you get beyond a certain age?”
The nurse huffed a small laugh, and shook her head. “No. This one’s always’s been a bit of an odd duck, bless her. Good earth, you think she’s bad now? You should have seen her before….” She cleared her throat. “Anyways, go on! Out! I’ll get this one to her quarters.”
- Feed by Mira Grant
- Impact Winter by S.M. Freedman
- Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem
- Bird Box by Josh Malerman
- On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
- Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan
- Swan Song by Robert McCammon
- Moonfall by Jack McDevitt
- The Passage by Justin Cronin
- The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Feel free to leave your links! I’d love to see your lists 🙂