What to do, what to do...?
He wandered through the bare rooms that made up the top floor of his 'fortress'.
Countless times he checked the debris-strewn stairways; the only way in or out, up and down from where he had made his impromptu home.
He heard them down there even if he could no longer see them. Getting down on hands and knees he pressed an ear to the bare boards that made up the floor. He heard the sounds of distant movement from the floors below and could imagine that it was fairly well wall-to-wall rotten meat down there now.
Just for the hell of it he slammed the flat of his palm down hard.
He was rewarded a moment later with the sound of a million dead voices raised in agitation.
A deep resonating moaning.
Closing his eyes he could picture a multitude of hands and faces raised to where the noise had come from.
They knew he was still there.
They would never give up, never wander away until his body had been picked clean and the marrow sucked from inside his bones.
He stood with a groan of his own and brushed himself down then retrieved the battered and stained baseball bat from where it rested against wall close-by.
He continued with his inspection.
He walked passed offices that had been systematically stripped of furniture and everything else not nailed down. All of it had become part of the impassable mess that now clogged the stairs on the east and west sides of the building. Empty vending machines taunted him from around every corner and hallway, their glass fronts laying shattered on the carpets in front of them, their insides having been picked clean by the last people to have been here. His stomach grumbled loudly and he was sure that the sound could be heard by the dead downstairs.
He had checked and re-checked everything and everywhere when he had first arrived on the off chance that he could find something to eat. So far he had found exactly zip, butkiss...nada.
Water hadn't been a problem as the plumbing was still working as it should; cool clear water still pouring into cisterns and flowing from taps.
It would soon drip to a standstill however, of that he was certain, so he had started to gather every drop that he could in every container that he could lay his hands on. He had enough to last weeks.
But that would do him no good, it wouldn't be enough.
Without food it would only be a matter of time before his body would be too weak to do anything.
He could have all the water in the world but, in the end, without regular food it wouldn't matter at all.
He was trapped...
The vending machine had been emptied thoroughly, not even the smallest of snacks left for him to eat. His stomach gave another rumble, he could feel himself wasting away even as he stood there.
In frustration he lashed out at the inert machine, his foot connecting solidly with its front. Several shards of glass that had had stayed in its face fell to the floor breaking into smaller pieces. There were a series of clunks and thumps from the very guts of the machine and in the next second a small, red-wrapped candy bar fell into the tray underneath. It must have been stuck somewhere in the workings, his angered kick jolting it free.
He just stood there looking at it thinking that at any moment it would vanish from in front of him in a puff of smoke.
He reached out for it, his fingers seeming to take forever to get to where it lay.
Even after his fingers had closed around its solid structure he was sure that it would still disappear. But, it stayed.
The bat fell from his other hand to land with a thump on the floor. He heard the moaning start up from under his feet once more.
He didn't care.
Hardly even breathing he tore the wrapper from the bar and shoved the whole thing into his mouth. His teeth sank into and through the solid chocolate as he bit down. His mouth at once filled with saliva as he bit further into gooey caramel and crispy wafer. His teeth started to gum up with the sweet candy taste. He sat on his ass in a state of puyre bliss, the chocolate taste overcoming all thought that he may have had.
He could say, beyond any shadow of doubt, that it was the best candy bar that he or, indeed anyone else, had ever eaten.
He continued chewing until it was all gone then he grabbed what was left of the wrapper and licked the foil clean.
All too soon it was over.
The bar had just managed to take the edge off his hunger. He dropped the glinting wrapper in among the shattered glass at his feet.
Sighing heavily he stood once more, regretting the decision to scoff the bar down in one go, but his hunger had been so acute that he had no choice but to wolf it down. Regret had no place in times of need.
He started walking again with his lonely vigil.
As he walked he got to thinking; when was the last food he had eaten?
For that matter, disregarding the food for a minute...when was the last person...the last living, breathing human he had seen?
He tried to think, the sugar from the candy after so long making his thinking slightly fuzzy. He couldn't remember. He knew that time had been strange. Seconds had turned into minutes, had blurred into hours then days. Days had become weeks.
How many weeks.
Could it have been that long?
Had it been that long?
The light was starting to grow dim outside heralding the start of another oncoming night. The sky outside the windows starting to cloud over, starting to look like the start of another moonless night. A long, long night at the top of his tower.
He awoke to the sound of bird-song drifting through from the outside world. He was laying on the rough wooden boards of the large open plan office space, unconsciously falling where he could see every direction at a glance.
He had been unaware of falling asleep but it must have been quiet late. His body ached and he was still tired. Either that or the lack of any serious food was starting to tell on his body. So far he had had to put several new holes in his belt. His shirt was little more than a sweat-stained collection of rags hanging from his shoulders.
He forced himself into a painful sitting position and crossed his legs hanging his head low. He was going to have to find food and soon, he was going to...
What the hell was that? His head snapped around to the side. A noise, he was sure of it.
He struggled to his feet and grabbed the bat from his feet.
The light was starting to change outside, the birdsong clearer and clearer. The moaning started from downstairs once more.
He walked on unsteady feet to the closest corner and flattened himself against the wall, the bat held low but ready to swing up at a moments notice.
There...another sound, a furtive step on the wooden floor.
How the hell did they get up here. The stairs were blocked and the windows were sealed shut. They must have broken in somehow. Something nagged at the back of his mind but he ignored it. He inched his way down the corridor towards the area of the noise. As he got to the midway point he saw a door swing slowly shut on a silent hinge. He stopped when he got there trying to control his breathing. Across from the office a window stood open, smashed glass littered the inside under it. The nagging doubt kicked in...dead things don't break windows, maybe it was...he pushed the thought, with some effort, to the very back of his mind, and threw himself through the door raising the bat as he did so.
The intruder looked shocked then slightly wary... then its face broke into a huge grin.#'At last...someone...'
He saw none of this, heard nothing but the groan of a dead man...the visage of a rotten cadaver in front of him. Even as the figure lifted a hand to ward off the blow some part of his mind still insisted that zombies don't have that kind of motor control.
He swung the bat.
It whistled through the air and smashed the hand aside thumping into the figures skull with a wet thud. He followed the initial swing with a quick second hitting the others head on the back-swing.
He watched as the figure hit the floor in a crumpled heap, the whole side of its head caving into a concave mess. One eye flew from its orbit and hung there on its cheek. He quickly stood and readied the bloodied bat again.
He heard the thing still trying to moan (his brain still failing to make the obvious connection) and laid into the writhing body.
He hit it again...again...again.
Finally it stopped moving and the man sat down on the floor in an exhausted heap breathing and sweating heavily.
He looked at the bloody mess that lay in front of him; looked for the dead skin, the wound that had killed it.
He saw no sign of the first but instant signs of the second.
His eyes went wide at what had just happened.
The dead on the floor below sang along with him