The Last Man In Suburbia (Ch 1 & 2)


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    The Last Man In Suburbia (Ch 1 & 2)

    In the Burbs

    Itís really is quiet now. It sure wasnít quiet a few weeks ago. I think itís been a few weeks. Without my phone calendar, itís hard to say how long itís been. My phone died on the third day, I think.

    Anyway, forgive this stack of cardboard Iím writing on. Since the computers stopped working, I obviously canít write on the computer and print this out. Iím using Sharpies because I found a box of pencils, but they were all unsharpened (just my luck!). I suppose I could have carved my story into wood with my knife, but that would have been silly.

    Yeah, itís been crazy. Less and less folks every day. The ones that are still around beat the living shit outta each other over scraps. I suppose Iíve just been lucky. I keep my head down, and let people beat each other up. They usually drop something, then I get to eat.

    I ainít worried about catching The Crud. Before the Internet went dark, the folks that know were saying that the epidemic would burn itself out after a month or so. Like most people, I waited in my house under quarantine for the first few days, but when The National Guard didnít deliver the MREs to our town, I got hungry.

    There were a lot of folks walking around. We all avoided each other at first, because no one knew who had The Crud, and who didnít. I saw some folks in line at gas stations, just sitting in their cars. Others broke into the Whole Foods and kept swiping their cards at the register. Most everyone that just grabbed food was shot. Then, folks picked up the dead guyís food and ran off. I learned from that.

    But most folks that died from The Crud died in the first week or two. So us folks after that must have had immunity, I think. After smashing open a can of ravioli and eating, I talked to this one old boy (he didnít look sick, just dirty). I think this guy was with the Government before it all fell apart, Ďcause he sure knew a lot.

    He explained that The Crud was transmitted like a flu or the cold, and simply washing your hands couldíve stopped the whole thing. But after the national power blackout, shit went sideways. People couldnít wash or dry their towels without power. Authorities tried to distribute paper towels, but no one could get the authorization codes with the computers being down. Some folks got smart, and realized that public restrooms had paper towelsÖ but they were all in those new powered dispensers. People beat those dispensers open something awful. They got all bloody, then beat each other up to get the towels. Soon, the towels were covered in blood and backed-up toilet water. They were no good.

    The government guy then explained that they tried to distribute hand sanitizer. But folks figured out that the Purell had alcohol in it. What do folks do during a riot? Yep, drink and light shit on fire. There was no gasoline, and not enough White Claw. So they used up all the Purell. Truth be told, you donít wanna kiss a girl that tastes like hand sanitizer, but you do. Even if her teeth are green. Riots, right?
    The fires were kinda pretty for the first few days. And smelled like aloe.

    We parted ways. That old boy said he heard a rumor that the government was going to send a fleet of drones to drop MREs in the park that afternoon. I wished him luck, but took a pass. The last drone I saw flying was downed by a 12 gauge. Then the batteries were scavenged. I think I saw them trying to plug their phones into it.

    But yeah, a lot less people now. The lines are way down at the Trader Joes. I tried my debit card yesterday, and itís still not working. Sone old gal was stumbling around the store, screaming to speak to the manager. I donít know why, cuz there was nothing left on the shelves. I was bad, and walked past her and grabbed a bunch of Applebee and Target gift cards (for when the power comes back up). I told screaming gal that the manager was on his way. Was that wrong? Hey, at least she stopped screaming. Still had that resting bitch-face, though.

    Yesterday, I ran into this guy, literally. We both lunged for the same half-eaten bag of Crunchy Cheetos. We started beating each other up, until we saw the guy in the bushes watching us. He was waiting for us to kill each other and then take our chips. So, we stopped fighting, and dumped and crushed the bag. He wasnít getting our chips. We showed him.

    The guy I was fighting with (weíll call him Chester) told me a rumor he heard. He said a guy said that he heard from this other old boy that a bunch of folks just gave up and left town. Chester said that the rumor was they were setting up a new society since this one was shit, not working and not fixable. We both laughed as the Cheetos crumbs blew in the wind. How crazy was that. The best minds in government were working on fixing everything, and stuff would be back to normal in no time. At least that was the last thing we all heard from the helicopter loudspeaker flying overhead.

    My neighborhood stinks now. No one has picked-up the trash in weeks. A couple of nearby houses burned down. Damn firemen didnít show. Iím not sure if any were arson or accidents. I know Joey down the block was an accident. He was using a can of Aqua Net and a lighter to chase-off the rats. Hadnít seen him since, but the rats are still around.

    So, Iím wondering if I should stay. I havenít heard anything from the wife and kids. They were at the in-laws, and they may try to make it back here. Iíll probably just leave a note.

    I donít want to walk, but our bikes have flat tires, and the bike shop is still closed. Iíll find that new society those folks set up, shouldnít be too hard. Iím really good at Excel and PowerPoint, have my masters in web development and make 80k a year. Those survivalists will be lucky to have me.

    Iíll make sure and bring my wallet and cell phone (in case I get a signal later). Maybe Iíll bring some water, if I can find some.
    I was gonna order some water from Amazon. Damn. I wished Iíd though about that ahead of time. It isnít like water bottles just fall from the sky.

    Well, the cardboard stack is four feet high now, and Iím almost out of Sharpies. Wish me luck.


    Leaving Suburbia

    I finally made it out. Iím where I thought I wanted to be, but now Iím having second thoughts.

    Iím at ďThe CompoundĒ, a few miles from town in the hills. I now have a notebook and pencils. A young guy here showed me how I can sharpen my pencil with my knife. I think he rolled his eyes at me. Kids today, right? A nice old lady rubbed some cactus on my sunburn. It turns out Aloe Vera comes from them. Who knew?

    Before leaving the house, I did leave a note for my wife and kids, along with $40 cash. I figured when the government starts delivering gas again, they can call an Uber (do they take cash?). I locked-up the house, although I probably didnít need to. The last person I saw in our neighborhood was this poor disheveled old boy. He was mumbling to himself about Kanye West landing his spaceship and rescuing him. I told him he should leave with me. The guy looked me up and down and said he preferred his chances with Kanye.

    The trip here was perilous. I put on my best North Face jacket, and slung my LL Bean backpack, but I was so unprepared for the journey. As soon as I left the cul-de-sac, I was set upon by a pack of wild dogs. The Corgis were fast, but didnít have the stamina to keep up as I ran. The Chihuahuas and Poodles kept pace and nipped at me for miles. Thank God I was wearing my Chelsea boots and had ankle coverage. As they tired, I kicked them away. I made contact with a fat little pug. I think he would have cleared the uprights from 50 yards.

    All that running made me tired, and I realized how heavy my pack was. Those cans of pork & beans and Spam poked into my back. I was getting thirsty, but was only able to scrounge-up a couple of cans of La Croix, and decided to save them. Instead I opened a can of beans to slurp. I finally opened the can with my knife, cutting myself in the process. I just wish we still had power so I could use a can opener.

    The next few days were a blur of hot days walking and cold nights shivering. I walked toward the hills, because it just made sense to me thatís where all the preppers would go. On day two I took my shirt off, and my back and shoulders got burned. By day three, my water was gone and I didnít feel like eating. Which worked out well for the guys that robbed me later that day. They laughed, yanked my pack off my back and kicked me in the ass. One said they should shoot me and put me outta my misery. I think I heard one say to take my boots, but I had girl-sized feet, so forget it. Instead, I think they placed bets and told me to keep walking.

    I found a marshy area, with a few sheep nearby. I was really thirsty so I drank the marsh water. A few hours later, I started shitting my pants real bad. I didnít care. I just let it run down my leg. It was a spasm like every 2 minutes.

    I remember looking up and seeing big black birds. Native Americans say that Eagles are good luck, so I felt better. I thought I should try to get some food, so I put on my big-boy britches and decided to hunt. The thieves left me my knife ďIn case I wanted to do the honorable thingĒ, so I took off a boot lace and tied the knife to a long stick I found: I made a spear! I saw some rabbits off the side of the road and gave chase. I threw my spear at them, but somehow kept missing. Then the knife came loose and fell down a crevasse. I just couldnít reach it.

    I sat there and cried dry tears. I suddenly wished I could go on Facebook and share my sorrow. That just made me cry more. I reached in my back pocket and pulled out my dead phone. Insult to injuryÖ the screen was cracked. I had the extended warranty, but the closest AT&T store was probably miles away. I wanted to call an Uber. I remember getting woozy. The last thing I recall was the phone slipping out of my hands, and me thinking, ďI wonder if I paid my bill. I should set-up auto-payĒÖ


    When I woke-up here in The Compound, I thought I had died and went to Heaven. I smelled meat cooking, heard kids laughing, and I was in blissful shade. As I stirred, an old lady yelled ďHey, the prissy city boy is up.Ē As I tried to sit up, the lady put her foot on my chest and told me, ďLay the fuck down, genius. You nearly died. Rest.Ē

    A few hours later, a group of men came by. They were mostly laughing and shook their heads a lot. The wanted to hear my story, which only made them laugh more. I sat up, drank more cool water and ate a few bites of stew. They told me it was venison, and I replied, ďVenison, Hormel, I donít care. Itís goodĒ. I think they laughed for five minutes straight.

    Someone had washed my clothes, folded them, and sat them next to me. A young woman was working at the other end of the tent. I was in my BVDs, and reluctant to throw off the covers. The woman must have saw my concern, but simply sneered, ďDonít worry. I saw all there is to seeÖ Which ainít much.Ē She told me that I had a meeting with The Council at 1500. I asked her what time it was, and she said 1300. I then asked what 1300 and 1500 meant.

    I felt a lot better, especially knowing that I was going to have a chance to talk to someone in charge. I had so many questions. I think the most pressing question I had was if anyone had a working cell phone. It didnít look that way. I really need to check-in with my division manager in Redmond.

    The meeting at 3 oíclock (thatís what 1500 means) was cordial. A panel of three sat me down and asked a few questions. I told them I was a web developer. They kinda chuckled and asked if I had any practical skills. I told them that a web developer was a practical skill. The large, bearded man in the middle sighed, then said he would try to detail the situation.

    He explained that after the pandemic caused too many people to stay home, things started to fall apart. No gasoline, food deliveries, or even emergency services. Cops and even the National Guard stopped showing up to work. That explained why half my neighborhood burned down, and people shooting people over a can of Nitro Brew. He said there is almost no power anywhere, and where there is, people are fighting wars over access. The ChiComs might have used the pandemic as cover for a massive DDOS and / or EMP attack, he claimed.

    I asked again, for clarification, ďSo, no Internet?Ē

    The guyís sigh was so loud, it parted my hair. He said that they were looking at trying to re-establish land-line telephones with a nearby survivor community. He asked if I could splice wires, or test circuits. I think I paused too long in my response. Then I stammered that I also had a minor in media production. Bearded guy slammed his hands on the table and proclaimed that I would be on the water team. That didnít sound too bad.

    Well, it was. It turns out that installing plumbing and a pump at their camp was a ďlow priorityĒ project. So, water for everyoneís basic needs was carried up from the riverÖ by hand. In buckets. After a day or two of light duty, they expected me to carry buckets of water all day. I met a nice guy who said he used to be a retail worker at Target. He reminded me of the camp policy, ďNo work, no foodĒ.

    I complained. Loudly and frequently. I think after an hour or so one of the kids on the bucket brigade tripped me, on purpose. I was finally taken aside and talked to. It was very condescending. I tried to explain that I was still tired from my hiking ordeal, and probably needed more rest. The supervisor huffed, sneered and led me further down the river.
    After a few minutes we came to a group of old ladies huddled over piles of clothes. The supervisor told me that until I could do ďmanís workĒ, I could help here. Washing clothing.

    I canít articulate how angry I was. And am. I was, I AM a white-collar professional! I drive an Audi A6. Ok, drove. I had stock options. Iím educated! I should not be doing manual labor! This is bullshit.
    I went to bed exhausted last night. I swear I could hear some of the other guys in the tent laughing at my expense. I think my hands are getting calloused. This has to stop.

    If nothing else, Iím a good organizer, and a leader (I did place fourth in our regional debate club my senior year). I think Iíve identified a few like me that are being under-utilized and deserve better. Iím going to approach them, one at a time, and feel them out, so to speak. Iím forming a plan. Just because things have gone to shit, doesnít mean my life has to follow.

    I wonder what my wife and kids are up to? Iíll have to ask around and inquire if anyone has seen them.

    Oh. And I better hide this notebook. Changes are afoot.
    Opportunities abound! Land and titles available! Be bold! Enquire now!
    See Cazique Gregor MacGregor of details.

  2. #2
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