This may make more sense if you read the first chapter. Here you go: https://cmkline.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/precipice-chapter-one/
I have always thought of myself as a loner of sorts. Not that I didn’t like people, but there is a certain security in solitude. That being said, I never realized how much I enjoyed the company of others until the day there was no company to be had.
It was only after I realized that I was a lone that I decided to see the extent of this absence of humanity. There was only one problem: Since the sun shot forth its fury, and the people vanished, nothing electric has worked, which unfortunately for me included my car.
Having really no automotive know how of my own, I have no idea how to override the electric ignition of my own car, but I did know that Dan’s old VW bus in his garage was made before cars needed computers to run, so I decided to take a chance and see if his old clunker would start.
I made my way over to Dan and Gloria’s, and went to Dan’s bedside table to retrieve his garage key, and I noticed something peculiar. Their bed was neatly made, and on the bedside table next to his keys, was a note hastily written that contained only a few words addressed to no one.
“Nowhere to run.”
That is all it said, which puzzled me, because until now I had figured that everyone disappeared in their sleep somehow. Now I was beginning to think that maybe Dan wad not been asleep at all, maybe he saw the whole thing. Maybe someone else was out there, alone like me who had also seen the whole thing. I had to know for sure, and that old bus was my only chance at finding any answers, that is, if it would start.
Dan’s garage was as archaic as his home, with shelves littered with old coffee cans and toolboxes filled with tools as old as he was. Under an old canvas was his pride and joy, a 1967 WV bus that he had been restoring for years now. I hadn’t looked at it for quite some time, so was not sure what I would find under the oil-stained cover, but aside from the whole engine being ripped apart, something, anything would be better than what I had, as long as it would start.
I pulled the cover off to find an unrecognizable vehicle before me. That old bastard had finished his project. It was orange and white, with shining chrome, and black interior, seats and all. He was like an artist, completely restoring this old machine to its former glory.
With keys in hand, I sat in the driver’s seat, crossed my fingers, and turned the key. With a cloud of white smoke and a sputter, the old bus fired up. I got out, and checked the tires to make sure everything was ready for the road, and noticed an old manual gas pump hanging on the wall. “This will come in handy,” I thought, and I loaded it and the gas cans from the cabinet into the back hatch.
I felt my heart sink into the pit of my stomach, and I put her in reverse and made my way back home to load up some supplies. There was nothing left for me there anyway, and if the answers lay out there is some far off town or city, I would find them. I owed that much to my wife and children, to at least see that this injustice had some kind of explanation. I loaded up whatever canned food and fresh water I could, a few changes of clothes, this notebook, and some photo albums, and hit the road looking for anyone, anywhere.
Hope raced through my mind as I turned out of my neighborhood onto the highway, and it was not until then, that I truly understood the gravity of what had happened. Up and down the road, in every parking lot, remained the empty cars and buildings; the sad remnants of a society gone missing.
Through the heart of town, I found myself navigating the barrage of parking lots and shoulders of the road way, as I was faced with abandoned vehicles and it was apparent that all of the people who were removed from their daily lives had little time to react to the event. Cars left in deadlock in intersections, many lanes blocked with the broke down memory of those taken from me. People I never knew, but at this point would be glad to.
I made my way through the canvas of life removed until I reached the local grocery store. I pull open the automatic doors, and grabbed a cart for supplies on the journey ahead. The grocery store was no different than the road. The pallets left in the isles by the night stockers, and grocery carts scattered throughout the isles, a theme becoming all too familiar to me by now.
Dried goods, canned soups, dehydrated milk, whatever fruit and veggies I could go through before they spoil, ice chests, and dry ice. “That should keep me for a while,” I said to myself, as I grabbed a backpack and headed to the pharmacy for first aid. I grabbed all the aspirin and bandages that I could find, as well as vitamins, meal bars, muscle milk, cold remedies, and antiseptics. In a leap, I crossed the pharmacy counter and grabbed any antibiotics I could carry, as well as pain killers, and of course my Zoloft.
Last stop in my shopping adventure, I stopped in the liquor isle to grab some scotch for the road– All they had in fact. I am not sure when I will get this chance again, and no sense in letting all of this scotch go to waste. Shopping carts full, I made my way to the bus and then to my next stop—the sporting goods store.
I am not exactly the poster child for the NRA, but better safe than sorry, right? The road on this side of town was so much less occupied by the vacant cars, so thankfully there was not too much maneuvering of them in order to get to the sporting goods store, which lay at the edge of town just near a west bound freeway entrance, which is just where I am headed. If there is anyone left here, they have got to be on the coast. That is the best guess that I have anyway.
The sporting goods store, being that it is not 24 hour like the grocer, was not yet open, so my first challenge here was getting in. I grabbed a crowbar from the back seat of the bus. It was dented and rusty, but effective nonetheless. I struck the front window, sending out a spider web of cracks. I struck it over and over, slowly wearing down the shatterproof layer in the glass.
Finally, I was able to kick the sheet of broken glass in, granting me my entrance. First stop, guns. I grabbed a cart, and found my way into the gun case. My friend the crowbar granted me access into the glass that protected them from me. I pushed the broken glass away with the crowbar, and grabbed a couple pistols. Kicking in the cabinet beneath the gun display, I found the ammunition I needed and moved on to the rifles. I broke through and grabbed a shot gun, the appropriate shells, and it was on to camping gear.
Tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, axes, and good boots for starters. Propane tanks, knives, and just about anything else that wasn’t nailed down. I found a small display of crossbows near the entrance, and just couldn’t resist myself, I just had to have one, whether I would need it or not remained to be seen, just as did everything else I had collected.
The last thing I grabbed was perhaps the only thing I would not need in my travels, perhaps the most important—I am not sure. I took a basketball off of the shelf, placed it in my cart and made my way out the door and into the world.
The craziest thing had occurred to me. This whole time, through all of my hopeful preparation for the journey ahead, I had not seen anyone. Was I really all that was left? Why me? In a world teeming with human life, any life for that matter, am I really the only one? I closed my eyes, turned on some music in the bus, trying to take my mind off of my solitude, but little could.
After collecting my senses, I made my way to the freeway entrance. The long road ahead, I tried to remain hopeful, that someone would be out there, lost like me. The freeway was littered with the abandoned semi-trucks pulling all night road trips, and early commuter cars, all left unattended. The only way to be sure that I would not hit one; I stayed on the shoulder, and make my way west toward the coast as quickly as I possibly can.
The road was sad a vacant of life, yet I kept on course until the sun kissed the mountains once again. I made it just a few miles after dark before I decided it was time to stop and make myself something to eat. It had been all day since I had eaten anything, and I was starting to feel nauseous. It was about that time that I discovered a rest area off the main road, vacant of movement and life, aside from the sway of the trees in the winter wind.
Pulling into the first parking spot I could find, I got out and stretched my legs, opened the back of the bus and grabbed the camp stove I acquired from the sporting goods store. Using the camp pots I gathered, I cooked a can of soup, which I had in silence, only the light of the camp stove to keep me company.
After dinner, I rolled out a sleeping bag across the back seat, had a few drinks of my scotch and lay down for what I hoped would be some decent sleep before dawn. It wasn’t long before I started to think about the guns. “One bullet,” I thought, “It would only take one bullet to put an end to this loneliness.”
“GET IT THE FUCK TOGETHER!” I yelled out loud, as I grabbed my chest and sobbed. “God I miss them so much. How could this happen?” No one answers, just as I suspect. I grabbed my scotch one more time, took the largest drink I could without throwing up, and chased it with what was left of the day’s ration of water, closed my eyes and tried to stay focused on what I was doing. I had to stay strong for my wife, for my kids. I needed to go on in their honor, not take the coward’s way out.
With the sound of rustling branches in my ears, I drifted off to a better place for the moment. A place filled with the laughter of my children, the laughter of my wife, and the touch of her skin. It was a good dream.
To continue the story, check out chapter three: https://cmkline.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/precipice-chapter-3/