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Peregrination of Hope
By J. L. Young

It feels as though I walked twenty-some miles today and the cold is cutting through my coat. Fire is but a dream. I dare not risk them coming for me. By chance, this old road has led me to the town of Worms. It was ravaged, its people dead. They have already been here, so this is a safe place to rest.
They broke through wood and concrete to extract life from the people here. Monster is a word that comes to mind when I think about them. No, I don’t think they are monsters. They are something else entirely. There’s a reason for their killing. It’s not to spread fear, something random, or out of desperation. I don’t know what it is, nor do I know how to end it.

At last, I found a structure with minimal destruction. Along the paving stone path separating two overgrown patches of a yard, a child’s tricycle is slowly returning to the earth. I could see where a grouping of vines hardened to form a ram, used to make entry, and then tossed aside. I climbed the steps, pushed the door open, stepped in, and closed the door behind me to forestall the cold.
The stench of rotting corpses had abated. A white-haired woman sat coldly staring at an unpowered television. Fear was left indelibly fixed on her face. A thick blanket across her lap. “May I?” I politely asked. I removed the woolen cover and offered appreciation while wrapping it around my shoulders. She did not mind.

After a search of the house, I found a couple of fresh pairs of sweat socks folded neatly in a chest of drawers, along with other clothes. They still smelled of fabric softener. Respectfully, I continued searching through the house. The kitchen pantry remained well-stocked. I stuffed cans into my rucksack, leaving one on the table to eat before sleeping. Luckily, this house was supplied with natural gas, making cooking and a hot bath possible.

Morning light flooded the bedroom. It had been almost six months since I had slept in a bed. I layered on clothes for my continued peregrination to find what remains of humanity. I hope I’m not it.

Gohan 7 Oct 31
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