I FOUND IT FUNNY. Now that the sounds of men were long gone, the natural world reclaimed the noises of the world. In truth, it was much quieter, but it was far from silent. Or perhaps it was merely a different kind of silence. The constant breezes, how they poured and billowed across the overgrown fields, swaying the grasses, or sluiced across the broken pavement between buildings.
Daytime was more quiet than night. That’s when the hunters roved the land, solitary like the large cats and the grumbling bears, or in packs like the wolves and wild dogs. They growled and roared, barked and howled, rejoicing over their kills and announcing their dominance over the world.
I alone remained to represent mankind, as far as I knew. The panic was no longer there, it had long since assuaged, giving way to a miasma of routine and wearisome habits. I stayed as near to the abandoned upper story apartment as possible, rarely venturing far, but now, as I was down to the last of my canned goods and bottled water, I was forced to consider my options.
I sat in the dark, the blinds drawn, scratching at my beard. It reached my stomach, my beard did, which told me I had been alone quite a long time. My body was gaunt, my hands skeletal. In truth, I avoided mirrors. They only depressed me.
I rubbed my thumb along the over-barrel of my sawed-off Browning. I preferred to call her Tracy. My only constant companion. She'd saved me a few times, once from a pack of wild dogs, another time from a brown bear I'd nearly walked right into, stepping carelessly into a shadowy alleyway, both of us scavengers on the hunt.
Now I wonder if it would have been better if Tracy hadn’t been with me that day. I often thought back to then, and how this all could have so easily been finished, me in the belly of that bear.
I caressed her under-barrel with my fingertips.
I fingered her safety, flicked it.
I lifted her weight. Touched her lips to mine.
I softly inserted my thumb, wrapping it around the trigger.
I stopped. Listened.
Was that the doorbell? How? Power was long gone. It was impossible for me to be hearing that damned doorbell!
“Let me in! Please!”
A female voice on the other side of the door. My imagination, surely.
Thud-thud-thud-thud! Bzzzzt! Bzzzzt! Thud-thud-thud!
Frantic beating on the door. My heart racing. Cold gun barrels against my mouth.
Hope was an emotion I’d quenched long ago. I couldn’t go back there.
“You’ve got to let me in!”
I choke down a sob...
Press the trigger.