Home > Creative Writing Exercises, Social Networking, Writing > Three Words Musing 1: Bacon, Shortage, Blockade – Part X (Conclusion)

Three Words Musing 1: Bacon, Shortage, Blockade – Part X (Conclusion)

This is the tenth and final installment of a project inspired by suggestions on Twitter. All rights reserved!

October 2012

Before the Skitters, Regina Todd worked as a secretary for the Orange County School District.

Now, she took a shift each night, manning the wall of the repurposed 33rd Street jailhouse clutching a Winchester rifle to fend off the monstrosities. Regina – Gin to her friends – had enjoyed occasional hunting trips with her late husband, Anthony, and their dogs, Ghostlight and Fergus. She didn’t enjoy this duty much at all. Gin had shot more than a few muties. Always, in the back of her mind, she wondered if they’d once been faculty, administrators, or students that she’d known.

She supposed it was a mercy that Tony had died of a heart attack in 2010. That nice man who used to be in the White House talked about change you could believe in. Tony had liked that, even if he didn’t always think that the actions kept up with the promise of the rhetoric. He had tried to be optimistic, even when the space center started cutting programs and the jobs that went with them. He had wanted to believe people would go back to the moon or even to Mars.

Best that he hadn’t lived to see what became of the world, Gin thought. Would’ve broken his pure, sweet heart.

It was closing on dawn, the gray sky to the east starting to grow pinkish blue. Downtown’s broken towers still smoldered, with oily black wisps trailing into the sky. The only vehicles on I-4 were the battered and burned hulks that had choked the highway in the days after the plague spread. She’d only had to snipe three Skitter-fiends during the night. One of them had been a child, no more than six, clutching a moldy brown teddy bear. She didn’t think she’d sleep easily today.

“Relief’s here.” The one-eyed fort commander, Jimmy Webster, smiled wanly at Gin as he reached the top of the ladder and joined her on the platform overlooking the street. “Toby’s cooking up breakfast. Creamed corn and hummus.”

“My favorite,” she replied, rolling her eyes. “I really miss my morning Starbucks.” A soft chuckle, then she offered the Winchester to Jimmy. She was about to say “All yours” when she caught a movement in the corner of her eye, coming from the west. Gin frowned.

“What is it?” Jimmy asked.

“Refugee, maybe.” Gin shrugged. She hefted the rifle so she could peer through the scope, which zoomed on the target: A shaggy-haired man in a blood-splattered gray University of Central Florida hooded sweatshirt and cargo pants. He shuffled, one foot bare and filthy while the other inhabited the remains of a white and blue New Balance sneaker. He dragged what appeared to be a battered highway mile marker sign in his right hand. His eyes glowed yellow-green. “Oh, no,” she said.

“What?” Jimmy pressed. He followed her gaze. From this distance, all he could make out was an indistinct gray and brown blur, although the glowing eyes certainly called attention to themselves.

“Lloyd Porter,” Gin said.

She wrapped a finger around the rifle’s trigger, but Jimmy put a hand on her arm. She gave him a puzzled look. He beckoned for her to hand the gun over. “It’s gotta be done,” Jimmy said. “I gotta do it. This shouldn’t be on you.”

Gin shook her head. “Sun’s not full up yet,” she said. “Still my shift. Not something I want to do, boss man, but it’s no worse than anything else I’ve had to do since I got here. You let me carry it. You remember your friend the way you saw him last.”

She could tell the ex-bailiff wanted to argue, but ultimately he held his tongue. Jimmy’s eyes rimmed with tears that she almost couldn’t see in the pale morning light as he looked east. She aimed west.

***

He’d almost lost the nerve.

In the end, though, Lloyd Porter summoned up the willpower to do what he needed.

After fighting his way through the parking toll booths, along the monorail track, and down those horrible streets where the undead horses dragged overturned trolleys ahead of muties hauling honeybuckets, he had bashed in the fevered brains of the last guardians in the employee cafeteria and secured the last frozen bacon he’d ever fry up and eat.

When he had finished, he had fought his way back to a souvenir shop – the magic store – and found what he’d really come for.

The phosphorescent contact lenses came with a warning to CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE PROLONGED USE.

He didn’t bother consulting anyone. It wouldn’t take that long.

“The monster’s always hungry,” he said as he dragged the sign beside him, shuffling east toward oblivion.

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