What the Old Man Did 12

April 19, 2012

Journeying south, we found our way mostly on smaller highways that were not plugged with dead cars. I was worrying about what might happen when we had car trouble. The weather was getting cooler and nights were genuinely chilly. We debated one evening whether it would be wise to simply stop and stay in one place through the winter. Zombies had been rare. Possibly the quiet background areas didn’t attract them much. But who knew what they were capable of? I posed that question to Toni.

“Do you think maybe there are people somewhere trying to figure out what happened and stop things?”
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What the Old Man Did 11

April 19, 2012

We had been rash to suppose that that building was safe. As a result, we’d lost our cooking and sleeping gear. The nights had been cooling off and one of the reasons I’d wanted to head south, along with the nasty littered roadway, was warmth. I knew enough geography to say that some place like Florida would be much more congenial for a winter season. But for now, we had to find replacement items.

In the preceding six weeks, I’d found Toni to be a capable, good companion. That’s why I avoided too much staring or laughter. I didn’t want this to become anything more than just a business arrangement. She however, had other ideas. One night, having just replenished our food supply with some reasonable looking stuff, she sat down next to me. Usually she would sit opposite. Directness was a feature with her. Not a bug. At least I didn’t think so until now.
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What the Old Man Did 10

April 17, 2012

Four weeks later we were just outside Cleveland, Ohio. There was little left of the city. Toni explained that the government had tried to concentrate the infected in the city and used the National Guard to wipe them out. Simultaneously, it was tried in Atlanta and Boston. The increased incubation period made the protocol spectacularly unsuccessful. I wondered how many zombies there were.

The highway running next to Lake Erie was crowded with cars and it was difficult to drive there. We finally decided to head south at the next exit. The road was not easy on our car anyway. We had to travel slowly to avoid the large holes and cracks in the concrete. Heading south on highway 306, we entered a little historical town called Kirtland. We drove up a hill and stopped at a run down old building that must have been a church as some point. Apparently it had morphed into some kind of monument. The broken windows attested to looting. But now there was no one around.
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What the Old Man Did 9

April 16, 2012

I had been afraid many times. But since that day at Oakland’s door, I had not felt deep fear until now. I realized I didn’t want this person to die. At the front of the store I heard the doors swing open. She grabbed my hand and pulled me to the pharmacy counter. She hopped over it easily. I climbed over and followed her to a door at the back. I wanted to shout for her to wait but it was too late, she was through. It was semidarkness still but I could see another door beyond that. We stood there for a moment and then opened it. There was a warehouse. Locking the door behind us, we scanned the gloom. Nothing. After a few seconds, she put her arms around me and held me for a long time. Then said, “Thanks.”

I was still hyped up. When she stepped back I started looking around. There were racks of untouched items. Food, clothes, tents and sleeping bags. It was a bonanza. Further on, I saw a very interesting sight. A car. It appeared to be untouched. There was a light on the wall next to it. A dim red light. What? I turned to Toni,
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What the Old Man Did 8

April 16, 2012

The sun was up when consciousness returned and I exited my pleasant-painful dream. I’d slept quietly as far as I knew. I felt something warm against my back. So. I guess she was as tired as I was. I spoke.

“I’m getting up.” She stirred and then started. Apparently she thought this was a bit too friendly, no matter what happened last night. I stood carefully, noting some pains in my torso and arms. Last night had been a workout. Crouching, I moved toward the roof parapet. Peering over, I could see the burned out cars and the burned bodies of what seemed to be hundreds of “victims.” Nothing was moving. I leaned over and she grabbed at me. “Be careful!” I ignored her, looking up and down the street below and off to the barely visible garbage truck. Pulling back, I sat up looking at the rooftops nearby. On the next roof to the south there must have been 200 of them, straining toward the edge of their roofline, somehow hoping to cross the 30 feet that separated us.
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What the Old Man Did 7

April 13, 2012

I started walking back the way I had come. The woman followed me. Girl may have been better. She couldn’t be more than 17 or so. She followed after me, though I had said nothing in response to her plea. I didn’t like this. Darkness was falling and I had no light. But what I was really worried about was having to take this one along. I now felt some obligation to see that she did get herself killed. A likely prospect I thought.
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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.
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What the Old Man Did 5

April 8, 2012

I knew it was a dream, but I couldn’t seem to help going with it. We were lying under the stars, embracing, our kisses deep and passionate.

I woke from this rehearsal of the past reluctantly, holding K in my arms—but the image faded from my mind. I could almost smell her still.

After I had left the store, I stopped across the street to watch. I had realized something. The doors opened inward. When the things got to the doors they couldn’t figure out how to get out. Apparently pulling never came to mind. That was why there were so many. I almost laughed, but I didn’t. I thought about the bones. It was gruesome. But I now had an idea. I needed to find a gun shop. Walking toward the city center I noted the deep blue of the sky. The sun seemed excessively bright. A slight breeze blew and I tempted to find grass somewhere and just lie there with my eyes closed, savoring the peace of the moment. But this would only invite trouble in this upside down world.
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What the Old Man Did 4

April 6, 2012

. . . Standing at the stop of the stairs, tears filling my eyes, I didn’t notice that she began to move. Slowly, staring with her white eyes, her hand out, moving slowly toward me. I bolted, running for the door. I heard a noise behind me, shuffling footsteps, and then a kind of groan. I stopped and turned. My mother was hurrying slowly to me. But it wasn’t really her. There was a mad hungry look on her face. I turned again and ran for the street. Aside from the breath whistling in and out of my mouth, everything was dead silent. No cars, no people, nothing. I ran for my friend Oakland’s house . . .
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What the Old Man Did 3

March 23, 2012

A gibbous moon hung in the sky when I awoke. Sleeping quarters were cramped in the crows nest. Sitting in the top of a man-made tree at this very early hour brought those ancient memories flooding back. I had climbed this “tree” — the nearest faux-wood stairway was twenty feet down. Only a human being would know to come here, could see that it was a possible lair, a hiding place from things that never look up.
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