*Excerpted from the forthcoming book ‘Dan Marvin’s Award Winning Briefs’
Without the thin veneer of civilization, life at 6034 Rosewood Lane looked very little like it had before the solar flare. Gone were the frozen dinners and wireless internet connections and well manicured shrubs. In their place were desperation and unwashed clothes. Bernard looked out at the shambles of his neighborhood and wondered where he would find food today. He had been venturing further away each day and coming back with less and less. Now that even the canned goods were starting to spoil, it was getting bleak.
Checking the magazine in his gun (only three bullets left) he kissed Bernice. “Be sure to lock the door after me,” he said automatically.
“I always do,” she replied as she had every day for the last 11 months. “Good luck today,” she added, kissing him on the cheek. With that, Bernie set forth in search of food. The question now became, where to go? The Walmart super center had long since been picked clean as had the supermarkets, gas stations, and Walgreens. The stores that had put up their rolling gates and window bars had proven problematic to get into and he was running out of ideas. It would be dark in 7 hours and about the furthest he could walk in 3 hours was the next town over. He had long ago discovered that it was similarly picked over and running out of food.
Breaking into the houses of those that were gone was a possibility that he had also explored, but finding the gruesome remains of people who had been in contact with an electrical device when the fires from heaven arrived was unnerving. It seemed disrespectful to pick through their cupboards while they stared at him reproachfully from desiccated faces. Still, that might be his best path for this morning.
He wandered down Main Street and turned at a corner into a part of town where he typically didn’t venture. When there had been a good part of town, this had not been it. Empty windows and trash were interspersed with the occasional sense of being watched, or even a whisper of movement. This was his life now, and he hated it.
Arriving at one house that had seemingly not been looted he knocked cautiously on the door. It gave off the feeling of having been long abandoned, but so did everything in this new reality. Hearing no response, he put his shoulder to the door and pushed. Surprisingly, the knob turned in his hand and he half lurched, half stumbled into the hallway. A man smiled at him from the other end.
“Are you here about the toilet?”
“Uh, no.” Bernie fumbled. “I’m here looking for food.”
“Well, if you’ll look at the toilet I can give you some peaches.” The old man said.
“What’s wrong with your toilet?” Bernie asked, not sensing any danger but, perhaps, just a touch of madness in the much older man.
“It won’t flush.” He said with indignation.
“None of them do, there’s no water.” Said Bernie.
“Ah, that’s it is it? Well that makes sense, I haven’t been able to wash my hands either. I don’t know that it’s really worth a can of peaches to find that out, but I guess I did promise.” With that, the man disappeared for a moment and returned with a can in his hand. It was an empty can, but at one time it had contained peaches. Bernie accepted it with a sigh.
“Thank you, have a good day sir.”
“You too, and good luck getting the water back on!” replied the man.
Bernie ended up finding a variety of canned goods in a house just down the street that, thankfully, had not contained any disapproving former residents. He loaded them up for the walk back to 6034 Rosewood, said a silent prayer of thanks, and started walking but had to pass back by the house with the old man. Setting a can of peaches on the stoop, he knocked at the door and then hurried on his way. He had to get home before dark or there would be no protecting his stash.