#1820

Isaac slumped against the loft railing, staring down to the floor below where his companions worked to reinforce the boarded windows. He vacillated between admiring their stubborn determination to keep fighting and pitying them for not being able to accept the bleak truth of their situation. Mostly, though, he watched Michael move among the busy scene and wondered how things would be different if he had met the handsome doctor under better circumstances. When you couldn’t even leave the building without carrying a gun, or at least a crow bar or sturdy length of wood, romantic overtures were quite low on the list of priorities. Of course, it also didn’t help that you had zero privacy and were never more than fifteen or twenty feet from one of the other survivors. Was it wrong to wish a few of them might disappear, to whatever end, just to ease the crowded conditions?

“Isaac, you look like you haven’t washed in days,” Maria’s heavy boots thunked along the cheap plyboard as she climbed the loft stairs, a hammer hanging from her belt loop and spare boards tucked under her arm. She looked him over with a motherly frown of disapproval. “Your hair’s all greasy.” Isaac wanted to reply with, We’ll all be dead soon, why does it matter if I don’t look my best? or perhaps, That’s what concerns you? I guess you didn’t notice that I haven’t eaten in two days, but he held his tongue and answered instead with a careless shrug. “Maybe the dead won’t want to eat me if I taste like unwashed skin,” he added as an afterthought, but Maria had already turned away to block up one of the second story windows. She could be friendly, and her nagging was well-meant, but sarcasm had no place in her version of the apocalypse.

To be fair, Isaac had very little energy or desire left for sarcasm himself. He also didn’t particularly mind that no one had yet noticed his share of the rations went untouched, though just from feeling his own body he knew the effects were becoming noticeable. Whatever. He wasn’t trying to be a martyr or anything; he just honestly felt that what little food was left to their ragtag group should go to the people who still clung to hope and life. Sure, they’d be dead soon either way, but at least they would fight until the very end. Isaac had given up, plain and simple. At this point all he wanted was to finish this slow wasting away so they could bury him and forget he’d ever existed. That had already happened to a couple billion other people, after all. What was one more?

Isaac closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the splintered railing, letting the sounds of hammering and urgent discussion wash over him like a white noise machine. Exhaustion and hunger made his head spin and when he woke later he couldn’t tell if the memory of Michael kneeling beside him, his handsome face creased with concern as he checked Isaac for fever, was real or just a wishful daydream.

#1786

If this is the apocalypse, it’s not so bad. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, the power’s been out for weeks now and the whole city smells like unflushed toilets and burning trash. Most of the defensible buildings and hiding spots have been claimed, boarded up, and packed full of whatever supplies and weapon-like objects could be lifted from the non-defensible buildings. The sky’s a uniform gray because it snows non-stop, or just about, and if you don’t watch your step you’ll break through snow and ice and fall down an entire subway stairwell – and that’s if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, you’ll step on the squishy flesh of a buried dead and it’ll grab your ankle before you can right yourself. They eat better than any of the living, these days. Except maybe the wolves.

So I mean, it’s not pleasant or anything. It’s just not as bad as I guess I always thought it would be. I holed up in some ground floor apartment in the university district, just one bedroom and one bathroom, and I share it with five others. We aren’t best friends, but we get along okay as long as no one tells the blond chick to stop being so bossy. The girls sleep in the bedroom, of course, and us guys on the cheap carpet in the living room. At night you can hear the dead shuffling around and you have to keep pretty quiet, but as long as you only light the one lantern, you can at least play cards.

That’s all beside the point, though, because what I really mean when I say it isn’t so bad is, well, her. Not the blond one, the other one, with the flaming red hair and the eyes that can be hard as steel when she needs. Man, that hair stands out like a torch when we’re out in the cold, gray city. You’d think that would make her a target, make her want to cover up, but no, she just stands there like some Amazon. If the dead could feel anything, I know they’d fear her. As it is, the living don’t mess with her much, and so they don’t mess with us much either. It’s nice. I mean, there’s nowhere to take a girl out now and where would it lead anyway, marriage? Yeah, we’re gonna settle down in a nice little place off the collapsed viaduct. Have an indoor pool and everything – you know, because the house is half under water.

So anyway, like I said before, it’s not great. I’m just saying I never woulda met her if the world hadn’t come crashing down around us all. Gotta find the silver lining in this sorta thing, right?