Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Short Story: Unprepped


I remember that day. I remember the power went off. It went off and on several times that day before going off for good around midnight. The Game-Station died right in the middle of my battle with an Orc boss, it was really close but I think I would have beaten him. I rolled over on the couch and went to sleep, sure that the power would be on by morning.

Nope. Since I could not restart my game I went and took a shower, it was cold because the water heater was electric. I heard the front door open and slam, then the locks being turned, all six of them. Sandra was home, I hope she went by McDaniels and got me a breakfast sausage burger.

The door opened and I was startled enough to almost fall down in the tub. “Sandra!” I said, catching my breath “You scared me!”

“Mike! You won't believe it.” she said, she looked harried. She wasn't holding a paper sack with the MD logo either, or anything else. “Everything is shut down, the supermarket doors are open because they were stuck since last night, it's a mad house! Everyone was taking everything, there was hardly anything left. The whole town has gone nuts! The stores are empty.”

I wrapped a town around my waist, just my belly hung over it. “I'm sure it'll get back to normal soon, it always does. Is there anything to eat? I'm hungry.”

She rolled her eyes and went back out. “There are some Cheese Doodles and a left-over ham sandwich from last night.” she said looking through the fridge. I rolled my eyes, it was turkey ham; that is why it is still there!

She was sitting at the small table in the kitchen when I entered. “I don't think you grasp what is happening, Mike. It looks like the end of the world out there.”

I nodded and said “Calm down. If it's that bad the National Guard will be here soon to restore order and stuff. We have some canned goods, we'll survive.”

I look at the cellphone. Obviously there was no cellular connection but I had a little power left and there were games I could play on it. Then again, it might need to last days, I put it on standby mode and put it back down. I was proud I could be responsible like that.

The elderly woman next door knocked on the door and Sandra ushered her in. She was carrying a box and set it on the coffee table. “I know you guys sleep late, so I brought you something from the store.”

There were some canned goods, a package of chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of some cheap liquor in it. She smiled, some teeth missing and nodded. “Thank you, Lilly” Sandra said, and she sounded totally sincere. After the woman left she sat down on the couch next to me “She had two big carts of crap from the store! I guess we're lucky to get anything.”

Sandra leaned against me and put her head on my shoulder. It was quickly cutting into the circulation and she smiled. I know that smile. What a weird time to get frisky. I get my arm out from under her and throw it over her shoulder to let the circulation move again, it had gotten tingly.

“How in the world are we supposed to cook Mackerel?” I said, peeking into the box.

“If it's the end of the world, let's just forget about it. Let's drink that bottle and stay in bed all day!” she said, I was a bit put-off, it'd been months. It must be because of the stress of the outage and the shower I took. She grabbed my arm and tried to pull me up, as if she could budge me if I didn't want her to.

She had the bottle of that rotgut but I grabbed the cheese doodles from the warming fridge on the way into the bedroom. She was throwing the clothes from the bed onto the floor in the far corner. I moved the curtains over the window blinds to make it darker, it was impossible to sleep-and stuff- in the bright daylight.

So I let her have her way. I mean she let me have my way with her. Soon enough the liquor was wearing off and it was getting dark outside, really dark. She had been sitting between my legs while I massaged her back and shoulders, her muscles really were knotted up. When it was too dark to see we laid down and cuddled.

It was tough to sleep once the gunshots started. I looked outside about midnight to see that there were several buildings burning in our neighborhood. Sure we lived in a low-rent area but I never thought this kind of stuff would happen here. We didn't sleep, she was shivering like a scared puppy most of the night.

“Maybe it really is the end of the world.” She whispered. I tightened my arms around her. The only girl who ever showed the slightest interest in me, Sandra was my everything. It was her section 8 and food stamps that kept me housed and fed. Sometimes I felt like a bad person for not doing a better job as a man, but when she needed to scare someone off, I'd show up. My size is actually one of the reasons she hooked up with me, it was good to be scary big in this neighborhood.

“They looted and burned down both pharmacies!” someone had told us after we opened the windows and door once the sun came up. Everyone in the building was spending time out on the bannister because it was just hot and stuffy inside. One guy named Jamaal walked by handing out warm cans of beer, saying he couldn't drink it unless it was cold.

The only news we had heard from “outside” came from the police, firefighters and others who were trying to put out the fires and pretend to guard the looters. Looks like much of the east coast power grid had crashed, taking out a lot of the country with it. Except Texas.

“I don't have any clean clothes, Mike, why did this have to happen just before laundry day?” Sandra said digging through the closet. She finally ended up wearing tight yellow short shorts and a purple tube top that a friend had left. I saw her looking in the mirror shaking her head. Then she shrugged and put on big hoop earrings and the red high heels.

“Might as well go all the way with this look.” she said, I suppressed a laugh. She looked like some crazy hooker but that was normal in this part of town. Sure enough, nobody else even raised an eyebrow. That made me want to laugh even more. Then I remembered she was mine, and I wanted to drag her back inside to hide her.

A truck carrying ice and water came through and I was able to carry a few bags up to the apartment, we were second floor. I put them in the old cooler we had, the one with the broken spigot. We put a shoe under that end. We put the cans of warm beer inside and some bottled water, which was all we had at that moment.

There were more shootings and fires the next night. Again we just huddled on the bed and pretended it wasn't happening as best we could. The supermarket burned down, probably punished for having been looted off all the food. We only had a couple cans of food left, we had decided to save green beans, corn and leftover cranberry sauce from two Thanksgivings ago.

It was the food we wanted to eat the least, but that was neither here nor there.

I thought things would be peaceful again when the sun came up. I was wrong. Crowds of people started mobbing the police and fire trucks, throwing things at them, trying to smash the vehicles. I saw some of this from the bannister, I was completely shocked. I backed into the apartment and shut and locked the door.

Sandra had been washing her face. “What's up?” she asked.

“There's a riot.” I told her and she went back to washing her face in the kitchen sink. Then the water stopped and she turned the knob a few times.

“Seriously?” she asked and then she looked at me and then her eyes were red and brimming with tears again, “What are we going to do?”

I took a rag and got some water from the cooler and wiped her forehead with it. She put her hand over mind and sniffled. “I'm so scared, Mike.”


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