Comments are closed and we have a winner!
FYI, when you actually do google “bleak soup,” the first entry – and I am not kidding – is a tweet from Mariah Carey reading, “Eating some bleak soup.. Its green and quite putrid: )”
Anyway, WINNER: jck! Send your mailing address to michelle at thursdaynightsmackdown dot com, and Sunday Soup will soon make its way to you!
Although this was decided via random number generator (we’ve moved up from Brian randomly picking a number to Brian rolling two ten-sided dice and using one number for the 10s column and the other for the 1s), I must give an honorable mention to Rob. He created this magnum opus before realizing the contest was based on a random number draw. While there were many excellent examples of bleak soup in the comments, the effort put into this astoundingly crafted tale of an impossibly bleak soup deserves time in the spotlight.
Warning: you may want to be sitting down with a strong drink and/or Valium in hand before reading. Quoth Rob:
Post-Apocalyptic Soup (w/ Rabbit)
After the first wave of the virus hit, my wife and I counted ourselves among the lucky ones. We were wrong. The luckiest were probably those hit before they knew what hit them, before they knew what horrors awaited them.
She wasn’t so lucky in the second wave. The virus mutated quicker than the government could find anything to stop it. It was airborne, waterborne, foodborne and nobody and nothing escaped it. Except me.
Maybe my parents were cousins, maybe I had some glitch in a chromosome, I don’t know. The doctors couldn’t figure it out before the virus took them, too, fear and desperation gripping their scientific minds as the virus turned them to mush.
There was a chance for my daughter, born premature as my wife’s body was ravaged by that godforsaken plague. But without my wife to sustain her, without mother’s milk or a hospital, she was gone, too, and I cursed the atrocities I had committed to pull her from my wife’s dying body.
I haven’t seen anyone for two years now. No living animal except me and Harvey, the rabbit I didn’t have the heart to kill when I snared him in that first clumsy trap. There are mutated, wild things out there, that pervert what an animal once was, but I don’t count them. Anyway, It’s getting to be too much.
I fire up the generator, one last desperate time with the shortwave radio, broadcasting my agony to nobody before I end it all.
I gather the few dismal vegetables I have left. A carrot, cut into halves, Harvey happily munching on his share, the rest going in the pot. A potato, not worthy of the name, as mealy and half-rotten as it is, but I cut away the bad parts and use what’s left. The poison, carried for two years in anticipation of just such a day. The man who’d traded it to me used it on himself as the plague hit the refugee camp, so I know it will work. And finally, tears streaming down my face, I kill Harvey and prepare him to put into the pot. He wouldn’t survive out here, I tell myself, where no vegetables will grow any more, where wild mutated things will tear him to pieces without my protection. He would want this, I think, though I can’t imagine that being true.
Salt, pepper, stir. I go through the motions of cooking. It was a joy, a thing I did for pleasure, and for so long it’s just been pure, bitter sustenance. But now? Now it’s a way out.
I light a last candle, set a place with dirty bowl and bent spoon. Soup’s on.
I ignore the spoon, pick up the bowl and drink it all down in one draught, feeling the warmth in my stomach and a numbing begin to radiate through all my limbs.
I lay my head on the table; my vision begins to blur, and I know I’m not long for this misbegotten world.
I hear the shortwave crackle to life, a voice–god, I’d forgotten what a voice other than my own even sounded like–comes over the radio, “–small community of survivors, hoping to find others. Do not lose hope, we have food and water. Again, we are broadcasting on all channels, do not lose hope–,” but it’s too late, and I can only wonder what they will make of my wasted flesh as what I consider to be my self rises above it and fades away.