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  • But It's A Dry Heat...

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        Thursday, July 17, 2008

    But It's A Dry Heat...

    He rushed in, just barely ahead of grasping dead hands, and slammed the door until the bolts clicked. He noted several gray fingers wiggling on the floor, like grubs, still trying to get to him. He whooped in great gasps of superheated air, air that actually hurt his lungs, but he had just run up ten flights of stairs, and even hot air was precious.

    And then the usual pounding began. Relentless dead fists, that would, absolutely would not stop until their owners were feasting on his torn flesh.
    He knew better than to lean against an entryway wall...they sensed you there, and went into a frenzy...and then the first fist broke through the door, the hand reaching blindly for...anything. Something to eat. Him.

    He pulled his razor sharp machete and lopped that arm off at the forearm, like cutting a dried salami in half. As the hand headed towards the floor to join its much smaller brethren, still wiggling there, he noted with some detachment that it was a right hand, that the arm did not react or bleed when it passed over the jagged teeth of broken wood, and then it pulled back, and he began to hear the exposed bones of the forearm cracking against the outside of the door in concert with the other hungry, pounding fists.

    The man sprinted as quietly as he could into the far left bedroom of the apartment. He had known that this day was likely inevitable, and he didn't want them to see him, if possible. His mere presence drove them crazy, when they spotted him, it drove them to superhuman efforts.

    He climbed the ladder that he had set up to a hole he had made previously in the ceiling, and as quietly as he could, he pulled the ladder up after him, and positioned the piece of ceiling over the hole, and then lit a small, scented votive candle both to mask his scent, and give him light to traverse the crawlspace that led to the roof.

    Once up, he quietly made his way to the shelter he had made out of opaque Visqueen, where a refrigerator and a small A/C hummed quietly, well away from his gas cans and other supplies. Outside, a Honda generator hummed. When he had first turned all this stuff on, his dead friends had gone berserk, clotting the streets below, but unable to get in, because they couldn't figure it out. They're dumb, they're all messed up.
    Eventually, they wandered off, and sometimes you'd hear the horrified screams of some unlucky survivor. Or survivors.

    Now, he was pretty sure he was alone in the city.

    He went to the fridge and got a cold beer, and a couple of slices of baloney, and some canned bread, and sat down on his canvas lawn chair and let out a long sigh as he chewed. He had found a butcher shop with its own generator, running, and he had been nurturing it with fuel and regular maintenance ever since. He'd be dead before their stocks ran out.
    He went and got some French's mustard and slathered it on, and all was right with the world.

    Except for that whole Walking Dead thing.

    Al Gore had been full of shit. Everybody had been full of shit. Nature hadn't turned on Man, some men had taken a shot at other men, and turned 99% of all mankind into what was likely shuffling around in the apartment somewhere below him about now. Sniffing, looking for that rich, fresh meat.

    He listened to ham radio at night, when the asphalt heat sink of the city allowed him to venture out on the roof. Sometimes he heard broadcasts where the broadcaster abruptly stopped, then the screaming began, until the signal disappeared. There was at least one man, at the SETI array, away from it all, who claimed to be a scientist. He also claimed that someone had re-engineered the rabies virus, and that when men in towel hats released it all over the world, well...

    The man thought that sounded as plausible as anything else he had heard. Whatever it was, it certainly was infectious.
    He dreaded winter. He'd have to reinforce his shelter against the weight of snow, and the battering of the wind.

    His last thought, as he began to doze off, there in his chair, was "Damn...all things considered, I would have chosen Global Warming."

    And things shuffled, blind and hungry, below him...