Six weeks ago he had been a stock broker, on the verge of signing a client that would solidify him a generous retirement. This morning he awoke a survivor, nothing more nothing less. Millimeters of talc-like dust covered his current abode, which was more of a hiding hole instead of a place to live. His mouth was as dry as the skin on his elbows, tongue shriveled and numb from dehydration. Six days ago he had three companions. Today he awoke alone.
He ran his hand across the hardwood floor boards and pushed himself to a sitting position. He pulled his feet toward his body scraping his boots across the floor, every pebble and morsel of dirt leaving its mark in the finish along the way. He sat there for a few moments letting his body awake. Slowly he was able to muster enough saliva to wet his mouth, his breath smelled like dog, dead dog. Which to him was ironic, the last meal he had was a stray cat. It was roasted over a small fire in a coffee can that one of the other survivors had found, but he figured there weren’t really any survivors now. It was just him left and he was not exactly getting by.
The last fluid he had was a can of warm coke. But that was two days ago. Carefully he pushed aside the pew that served as the door to his fort built inside a once thriving rural church. For a man accustomed to the Wall Street life, this was low. He would tell himself ‘but at least I’m alive’. A self-motivation that was quickly losing it’s meaning. The others had been alive. Now they weren’t and in fact they were no longer in pain. Death is a far easier life than living. He emerged from his hiding hole dragging the hatchet that he pulled off a body earlier that week. They were all dead. The end for most was quick. Horrific but quick. The cityscape that once brought him such pleasure spiraled into a death trap that millions had tried to flee but he thought only a few hundred had escaped. The entire metro area had collapsed on its self. Now it lay in ruins. Catacombs fashioned from billions of pounds of concrete and steel that dared the clouds to rise above them, now just a heavy cap on the largest grave within a thousand miles.
After the initial cataclysm, it hadn’t rained. Not a drop. The thermometer stood at a constant 110 degrees, which was impossibly warm for November. He limped through the church and pushed open the heavy wood door. It was bright outside but he couldn’t see the sky. An orange dust lay heavy in the dry air. The heat suffocated and oppressed any thoughts of hope, the stench of death reminding him what he could be at any moment. He intended to head to the local former grocery store and see if he could find some beans or another can of coke. He stepped lightly as this was how his last companion was lost. They were separated in the dust cloud and she never returned.
He walked down Main Street and stumbled upon her, mummified on the road, mouth still screaming. Every bone in her body could be seen trying rupture through her leather taut skin. He thought if he flicked her she may have sounded like a drum but that would be insensitive. She had a family once; he decided to let her be. He paused for a moment and then moved on, he did not have the strength, time, or means to bury her. He entered the building labeled ‘Hogan’s market’, it stunk of putridity and rot. He dug through the rubbish and trash. After a few moments, he found a can of sprite, not what he intended but he needed liquid of any kind. At this point, even beer would do.
He blew the dust off the top and cracked it open, quenching his thirst just enough to want another. He searched farther and farther back into the darkness of the store. Finally, he found it, a one-liter bottle. He unscrewed the cap faster than he thought possible and guzzled half of it like a starving baby on a full breast. He hadn’t realized he went too far into the shadows. They had surrounded him. The same things that drained his poor friend in the street after the night came. He took a break from his soda, figuring he would save half for later. It was then that he heard them rustling about. He flung the soda to his side and swung his hatchet into the pile of trash. Thousands of rat-sized beetle-like insects leaped from hiding places all around him seizing pincher-fulls of flesh. The pods as they were called by the former members of his group had him in quite a pickle. They attached their ravenous mouths and began sucking what fluids he had left in him. Arthropod leeches from hell. In seconds he was covered. They buzzed and rattled as their abdomens swelled with blood. He ripped at his parasites, smashing everyone he could get a hold of. But there were too many. His arms bogged down by hundreds of the blood lusting bastards. The buzzing got louder as they fed until it was all that was left in his mind. Numbness trespassed on his being, exhausted and literally drained; he laid down his hatchet and gave into the darkness.
He had been a man living luxuriously in New York. Now he is sleeping under a pile of rubbish trying to feed himself and find others. He lives in constant fear of the bloodsucking evils that lurk in the shadows. Enjoy this flash fiction as a teaser for a novella being released in early 2017.