Monday, July 21, 2014

Part 5

Jerry was a jerk.  He died a jerk.  Or will die.  Well not die exactly but he'll probably wish he had for a while until he forgets who he is.  He always said that if he got infected he would just off himself.  I'm thinking the bully is too big a coward to do it though. He got away but not before getting nibbled on.  The smaller the dose of infection the longer it will take him to go over to the dark side and the more pain he'll be in until he does.  I had to work to make myself feel bad about that.

They never even knew I was there thank goodness.  They were making way too much noise; Moses would have slapped them up side their heads fast and hard for being so sloppy.  But I didn't see Moses or Sherry.  I don't know if they made it or not.  Good luck to them if they did.  It isn't healthy to hold grudges.

I was up on the bridge trying to remember all the bragging that Jerry had done about working maintenance on the bridges and how, even if the spans were down, there was a way for work crews to get across.  There's like scaffolding that runs under the road on the edge on each side of the bridge.  So it is like the black top can disappear but there is still a skeleton that will help you cross.  Only it is really freaky because there is no floor on the maintenance crosswalk.  You have to wear these harnesses like mountain climbers do and just walk across metal beams.

Holy frijole, I was ready to blow chunks just thinking about it once I'd gotten up there and seen how high everything really was. That's when I spotted them being chased by a small group of puss brains.  I recognized Jerry right away because of that stupid hard hat he always wears.  Once I recognized him I recognized the rest of them though I couldn't make out their faces.  Hardly any of the old group made it apparently ... or maybe some went with Moses or ... it really doesn't matter anymore.  They left me so I've gotta leave them.

I bet they were following Jerry's lead and had come to do just what I was doing.  He'd always said if we wanted to get out of the city that was going to be the best way.  No one really listened to him because Jerry bragged a lot.  Or maybe it wasn't his bragging so much as the simple fact that he was such a jerk.  For whatever reason they were listening to him then ... only instead of making it to the bridge they got cut off and got stuck out on a pier with nowhere left to run.  They were getting a dingy off a tug that was moored to the pier when one of the puss brains broke through the group's defenses and came straight at Jerry who had been supervising rather than working to get it done faster.  Chomp.  Chomp.

McDowell threw Jerry out of the boat when he tried to get in and then those that remained started paddling with their hands to get away.  Haven't the foggiest if they'll make it.  Once they get near the center of the river there is no way paddling hands are going to control where it goes.  If they're lucky it will just take them in the current and carry them off until they hit dry land somewhere down the way.  If they aren't careful though they'll flip over where it gets rough.

I was really worried that Jerry would come back and try his old plan out without the rest of them so I opened the maintenance locker at the foot of the bridge and sure enough the harnesses were right where he said they would be.  It took me a while to figure out how to put one on and when I did it was all baggy and stuff.

That was like the longest four hours in my entire life.  It was dark by the time I got to the other end of the bridge and I kept expecting someone to shoot me.  I was afraid to call out and afraid not to.  Especially when I saw how clear of cars and junk that the road was.  Well there were leaves and that sort of trash in the road but nothing big.  No skeletons or anything either like if someone had been shooting at anyone that crossed the river.  There wasn't any kind of sounds at all except regular ol' night sounds.  So I started walking.  Carefully.

The moonlight was pretty decent until the clouds came back then I was nearly blind as a bat so I found a building and crawled inside.  It had been stripped bare but not like someone had done it in a panic.  There were broken out windows but I didn't know where the glass had gone because it had all been swept up; none crunched under my boots at all.

I curled up in a room labeled janitor's closet and fell asleep.  I woke up having to go to the bathroom really bad.  I almost didn't make it I was so careful about getting out in case there was someone around.  Necessities taken care of it was light enough for me to really look around.

I'm telling you the dead city never felt as empty as that stretch of road did.  Every building had been stripped.  Every vehicle had been stripped down to the metal frame.  The place was so neat that it looked like a movie set.  It was spooky weird.  There was no trash anyplace.  Not for at least three or four blocks on either side of the road the bridge fed into.  I didn't go any further than that.

Instead I started walking towards home.  That's when I noticed the other weird thing.  It didn't smell.  I mean there were smells but they were proper smells, the kind you would expect to smell if the world was operating sorta semi-normally except cleaner.  What I wasn't smelling were puss brains.  I looked around and I didn't see any of their waste.  I mean they weren't exactly shy of where they dumped so I should have seen some.

By the time the sun was straight over head I bet I'd gone about five miles and still no people and everything was that weird kind of freaky neat.  I decided to take a chance and sat down to put on my skates.  I knew from the map I was still a good forty miles from home and that I wouldn't get there in one day but I was going to get there faster by skate than I would by feet alone.

A quick hour later I noticed that things started to deteriorate.  I was hitting the suburbs that were closest to the city.  Here most of the houses had some kind of X or O on their front.  Some people had spray painted messages like "GONE TO GRAN'S" or "HEAD TO UNCLE ALBERT'S".  There were numbers on some of the houses but I can't imagine what they are.  Some had too many to be phone numbers and some had too few.

I had to slow down as there were more cars in the road.  Things weren't totally trashed but they weren't as neat as down by the river.  Then I saw a dilapidated sign hung across a big church.  "RED CROSS STAGING AREA".  I skated that direction, but cautiously.  Hospitals weren't the healthiest places to be and usually they were good for housing at least one or two puss brains if not more.

Inside the "staging area" was a mess.  I didn't find any puss brains but I did find the morgue.  The bodies were like a lot that we ran across in the city; nature had do what it was programmed to do and there weren't any serious fluids left after a year.  They weren't mummies exactly though, more like raisins.  And a lof of them looked like they'd taken what Moses called a Mercy shot to the back of the head or the temple ... a few took it in the forehead.  A few must have done for themselves because the shot came from below the chin.  You could tell where the bullet went in at because the exit hole was bigger and nastier ... sometimes real nasty.

It was depressing.  I don't know what I expected once I left the city but not the emptiness I've found.  I want to know where all the people have gone.  They had to have gone someplace.  I know a lot of people are dead.  I saw that with my own eyes as it happened in the city.  But if outside the city was as dead as inside the city there'd be bodies all over the place out here too.  Not this ... this ... whatever it is.

Maybe they've moved people to someplace safe.  But around here seems pretty safe.  I haven't seen any puss brains.  But somebody took all of the stuff.  The groups in the city salvaged too but they sure weren't this neat.  This looks like somebody's housekeeper did it.  Or somebody's mom.  Kinda to the point of being OCD.

I'm actually glad things are looking a little messier than they did at first.  That painful cleanliness was hard to take.  It was so fake.

I gotta sleep.  Too much thinking.


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