Star Bucked : Funny Short Story

Star Bucked

Jack huddled in the basement with the other residents. Above them sirens wailed across the empty skies while everyone below was sat down on the floor hugging their knees. Their faces filled with fear. The unbelievable had happened. A nuclear strike from a rogue state was heading towards their town.

Jack pulled up the collars on his leather jacket to keep him warm. He rubbed his hands briskly and smiled to the lady that was sitting beside him. She looked at him with bemusement. Didn’t he realise the country was at war? But if Jack was honest, he really didn’t give a damn. He may have been huddled with the rest of them, but it wasn’t fear on his face but a sick sense of satisfaction.

‘Hi, how’s it going?’ said Jack. The lady stared at Jack thinking he was quite mad. He had to be mad smiling at a time like this.

‘My daughters are at university and my husband is in London. I just hope they are safe.’ She said with tears forming in her eyes. Jack put his arm around the lady to comfort her.

‘And I’ve lost my pet poodle.’ She burst into tears. Jack did his best to console her whilst quietly imagining the poodle disappearing in a cloud of smoke. Less yapping on the streets when he next goes for a walk, he thought.

‘Now, now. Please don’t cry. The chances are that with crude Iranian technology. The missile will barely make a dent.’

‘Oh you think so?’ said the lady while wiping the tears from under her eyes.

‘Sure. It’ll maybe just knock out a few shops, and schools, but everyone’s underground, so we’ll be back on our feet tomorrow, cleaning the streets and working together.’ She smiled and rested her head on Jack’s shoulder and tried to sleep. Above the sirens continued to wail.

Jack sat in the darkness of the basement listening to everyone’s concerns but he had to admit. He wasn’t sure what kind of missile was heading there way. What if the missile was crap? Iranian technology wasn’t the best technology around, and the last thing he needed was a weak missile that made a loud roar, but minimal structural damage. He prayed they had taken no chances and had deployed only the best they had. In a few minutes’ time he would know for sure.

Jack’s rather pessimistic attitude wasn’t entirely his own fault. You should have seen his mother. She would often be sat at the kitchen table, cigarette dangling from between her fingers, ash falling like snow onto the table saying,

‘It will all end over the black gold. The final days. Nostradamus predicted it, and so did the Hopi Indians.’

It seems the Hopi Indians were good at predicting everything but their own demise.

Jack was not afraid of his mother and would often retort.

‘The Bible has been rewritten that many times that nobody knows if anything in it is true,’

But his mother would just continue to stare at him as the burning embers of the cigarette beat a hasty retreat from the tip.

‘Just you wait and see. Just you wait and see.’

Of course his mother wasn’t entirely to blame for Jack’s cynical worldview. There were also the two failed marriages and the piles of rejected manuscripts that lay stacked in Jack’s cupboard. It wasn’t surprising that Jack took his vengeance out on a small provincial suburban town set up as an answer to the London housing crisis. Not to mention the endless rows of identikit, corporate branded clothes and food shops that now littered the high street. Maybe a little war would bring people together, Jack thought. Just like society after the Second World War.

Jack sat there imagining the missile blowing up the high streets. He could visualise the melted yellow sign, moulded like the food it sold. The red tick insignias flying into the air as fast as the expensive products were supposed to carry their owners. Jack, obviously unsure of the complexities involved in the construction of a nuclear weapon, especially one capable of destroying an entire city, hoped that at the very least it would take out Star Bucked. If there was one high street chain he had come to loathe. It was Star Bucked. It seemed to sum up everything that was wrong with today’s tacky, throwaway, have-it-all society; and the frothy choccy lattes were nearly five pounds!

The sirens suddenly stopped wailing and it was some hours before the army guards gave the signal to go upstairs, but no one wanted to move. After all, wouldn’t the radiation kill them? But Jack jumped up and tore past the residents who seemed slightly taken aback by his eagerness. He donned the dark green suit and rubber head gear and some of the residents started to stand up and pat him on the back.

‘Look after yourself, son,’ they said. ‘Be careful out there,’ said another. But Jack was no hero. He knew exactly what he wanted. He climbed the steel ladder to the top and started to unscrew the bottom of the drain that had encased them. He pushed the door trap up with all his might and the drain fell to the ground. Jack climbed up the ladder and hoisted himself to the ground.

He stood up and stared around at the devastation. Cars were tumbled on top of each other. Mashed as easy as potatoes. Lampposts melted to the floor like ice-cream in the sun. Entire buildings had been flattened. Luckily there were no bodies as they had all escaped underground. For a while Jack felt sick. If there was a hell, he would be heading straight for it. He had wished for the devastation of his hometown and now he had it. He was gutted, but then suddenly he spied out of the corner of his eye. His main arch-enemy. Star Bucked.

All grief was suddenly forgotten and rage had taken over him. If there was one thing he had hated over the years it was seeing the death of a traditional Italian cappuccino poured to perfection in a mid-sized cup, now replaced by over-sized mugs of shoddily poured, apparently free ‘fucking’ trade, Star Bucked coffee.

Gripped with anger Jack strode towards the enemy picking up a chewed piece of metal from a now moulded flat Pizza Hut building, and running at the front doors straight on, he threw the twisted pipe and smashed down the doors. He walked behind the counter and as luck would have it, or thanks to inferior Iranian nuclear technology, the coffee machine was still alive. He did what he knew how to do, ‘of course he used to work as a barista’, and poured himself the perfect frothy latte, with a dash of caramel flavouring, then poured it into the largest takeaway cup he could find.

Grabbing a plastic lid he slammed it on the top. Stabbed a straw through the heart of it, and left a coin on the table top. Jack walked outside sipping his latte and then defiantly stuck his hand in the air. He held his frothy latte aloft like Excalibur’s sword and shouted.

‘There’s your fucking money Star Bucked and I have paid you exactly what it’s worth. One pound!’ Jack walked off triumphantly. Latte in hand.  Sipping away. The scenery around him was total devastation but at least it was quiet.

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