What the Old Man Did 17

May 8, 2012

My face was stinging like hell. We headed for the basement.

“Do you have any bandages or things like that?”

She went to a closet on the left side of the room and opened it. I followed her and saw that, yes, there were medical supplies. A considerable cache of injectables, dressings, bottles of pain meds, antibiotics, and other more exotic stuff plus some kind of lab equipment. I grabbed a bottle of iodine and some scrubs and took it to one of the tables.

“Do you have a mirror?”

“No, the only mirror is upstairs, where . . . they are.”

“Well, they’re not going away anytime soon unless something distracts them. In fact, I bet every one of them for miles around are crowding into the building. That’s the way they, uh, behave.”

I could see the questions in her face, but I didn’t want to answer them before she was ready to ask. I knew the hardest ones were ahead. Her parents. But first, focus. I slurped up the stuff with the scrubbing pad and wet my face down with it, gently working into the wounds. I was pretty sure that Joe claw didn’t care much about personal hygiene, and who knew where those hands had been? And of course the big question was, had I been infected from a hand scratch. I had to believe it was possible. If it was the evolved form of virus, then it might be a year before I knew. No point in worrying about that now I guess.

She gave me a weird look when I finished.

“Your face looks funny,” she said smiling a little. So, I’d forgotten about the staining.

I knew that even if I wasn’t infected by *that* virus, I probably had a host of other nasty organisms in my wounds. The stinging had dulled considerably, but I figured to make sure about as much as I could. In the meantime, the glass building kept floating in and out of my thoughts. I was hopeful that things had not deteriorated over there. Worried that Toni might do something drastic and come hunting for me. But first things first. I went back to the cabinet and looked at labels. One of the injectable vials was marked with a name I recognized. Ampicillin. Another was marked Rocephin. Several bottles bore the label Augmentin. I had seen this before somewhere and decided on that. I took two of them and decided to take some twice a day.

I wanted another look up top so up we went. I may have been right. There seemed to be thousands of them, congregating in the street, not looking up. Then it hit me. Gas.

“Sarah, do you want to stay here, or would you rather come with me?” She looked at me for a moment.

“I’d rather come with you.”

“Ok then. We’ll need some things from the basement and then, well, I want to blow this place up. What do you think?”

“We’d have to get out of here, right?” she said, cooly.

“Right.” I nodded toward the steel door.

“But we’ll need some light. Some candles would be okay, or a flashlight.”

She went to the cabinet and pointed. There were many batteries stored there and two aluminum flashlights. I tried one and amazingly, it shown brightly. On the bottom shelf were candles.

“Alright then. Let’s take some food with us and some of that.” I pointed to the medical supplies. It took us an hour or so to get ready. Finally, I was sitting at the kitchen table, loading a clip. Backpack on the table, little girl with her own backpack and a flashlight in her hand. We had gone over what to do and she was right with me.

I nodded to her and she went to the door to the upper levels and opened it. I blew out the gas lamps and turned the gas up full. Our flashlights played over the dark walls as we walked to the door. Taking the bar down, we opened it. It seemed to go on forever. We peered in and then went in, closing the door behind us. I knew it would take a while for the gas to reach the candle flames upstairs. But we walked fairly fast. About what seemed to be a mile out (I counted our steps) we stopped and waited. All the time, we had seen no sign of any exit.

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