The Road South

I’m a nice guy. You’d like me if we met. I’d strike you at first as being kind of shy; I have this way of holding my head as if I want to talk to you but I’m not sure that I can. But once you open me up with a couple of glasses of something strong and a well-chosen bag of snacks, I’ll go all night.

Oh, no – wait – not like that. I’m not the kind of man that can be bought so cheaply. We have to talk deep and long about life and love and commitment before I’ll let you go there. Unless, of course, you want to. I mean, I’m an open-minded guy at heart.

So, here’s the thing, we’re going on a road trip tomorrow. It’s all prepared. Got the shopping trolly all stacked up with whatever cans of food we had left from the raids we did on the neighbours. They didn’t mind so much. They’re all dead. And yes, of course, I’m sad about that on one level, but it was a while ago and we need that food.

We watched a movie called The Road before it happened. Adapted from the book of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. That’s where we got the idea to go south. In the movie, they’re always heading south. They ‘won’t survive the cold’, if they don’t. And neither will we.

Who’d have thought that a movie like that would become our bible! We had no clue when we were sat working down a big bowl of popcorn that night, that the world as we knew it (thanks R.E.M.) would end the very next day. Thing is, though – when the bugs hit (at least that’s what we reckoned happened), we felt anything but fine. We were knocked out; absolutely zonked for a week. Graham Crackers were all we could manage to eat, and even then it was a struggle to get through the plastic. A week later and we tried a can of soup. Took us all day to get into it. Then we found out that the gas was off. Cold soup. Crackers. Thing is, though – it tasted wonderful.

We wondered why it was so quiet until we started to knock on doors. We had to do that because the internet was down. And the TV and the radio and the telephones. All of it – dead. And power was off too.

I was confused. We talked about it, but it was as if we were talking about the moon landings or life on Pluto. There was this kind of disconnect. Sleep. Wander around the house in a daze. So quiet outside. Why so quiet?

Eventually, I started to think. Then we went a knocking. The first call was Betty and Jo. They were lesbians, but we’d come to terms with that long ago. I mean, I know the Good Book says that they shouldn’t; but they did, and they weren’t struck down and so, well – we thought if God’s not going to do anything then neither are we.

They didn’t answer the door on the first knock. Or the fourth. So we used the key under the mat. Boy, you’ve never seen such a mess. The place was trashed. And the stink? Unbelievable. We found them in the bathroom. Both of them were naked and leant over, one at the bath and the other at the toilet. Don’t know why they bothered; there were pools of vomit on every surface.

Of course, they were dead. You would be too if your body was covered with so many sores. Some of them were straight through to the bone. Looked like some sort of acid attack but I don’t think so. Anyway, we didn’t look too close; we got out of there pronto.

Canada gets awful cold in the winter. Summer doesn’t last forever and what with all the power being off. There were generators. But even they didn’t work. The electricity hadn’t just gone off. It’d gone away. Like the tech just didn’t work. No, not the tech; the law. The law of whatever makes electricity and magnetism work was just turned off.

We didn’t know why until we saw the ships. Yeah, you know what kind of ships.

So it’s south for us. Night travel because of you-know-what. Packed up the trolley like I said. Sat him safely on top facing forward. And there’s the road, just like in the movie.

I tell you, if I didn’t have Teddy Booboo to talk to, then I swear I’d go stark, raving mad.

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