What the Old Man Did 6

April 11, 2012

I moved slowly around the row of buildings and found no one to impede me.  I looked carefully at the store fronts.  Most were smashed in the looting that must have happened after the the first alarms and quarantines.  My former companions at the park had spoken little of this time.  I wondered now if it was because of shame or simply the reluctance to recall those times when everything seemed futile.  K had told me of being in a hospital  and watching the panic on the nurses faces when the inhabitants of the morgue began to emerge.  Sometimes at night before we drifted off to sleep, she would tell me of her father, a doctor, and his keeping her in his office at the hospital after the public transport ceased.  They tried everything on the infected apparently.  Nothing seemed to change the course of the disease.

I was running with my knife in my left hand. I needed to practice using both gun and knife in either hand. Being right-handed, I swapped the knife to my right hand, holding the handgun in my left. Ahead was the corner where the garbage truck should be.

I saw the truck. No one was on top. Two possibilities: either she was attacked and succumbed or the creatures all left and she got away. I crept around the back of the truck and saw her, sitting in the bin. She looked up at me, tears streaming down her face. Wordlessly, she climbed out of the bin and approached me. She started crying out loud, sobbing, and threw her arms around me. I stood still, not making a move. I didn’t know this woman from Adam. After what seemed like twenty minutes she calmed down and released me.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Uh, that’s ok, I guess.”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say. After a moment, I turned to go. I took a few steps before she said,

“Please, don’t leave me here. I don’t have anyone.”

I paused, debating whether it would be a death sentence for me, if I took her along. Finally, I said, “Well, let’s get out of here. I don’t want to run into any more tonight.”

It was indeed nearly dark.

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