I witnessed something yesterday that moved me like nothing else I’ve yet experienced. It literally brought me to my knees.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the lack of emotion on my part since the apocalypse began. I certainly have. Not that it bothered me. I thought I was merely facing hard times with hard logic. After all, why dwell on what you can’t change? What’s the point in crying over spilt milk? No need to be human. Sever your emotions. Live like one of the living dead––just don’t eat anyone. Let’s call it the spilt milk syndrome. I know I’m boring you with all this talk about emotions so let me tell you what happened before you turn the channel.
Yesterday morning, Shelly and I set out to forage for cigarettes and other basic essentials. Our destination was a small market/liquor store a mile and a half away. Shelly insisted she carry the 9mm which left me with the machete––I’d broken my shotgun and left it behind during my botched rescue attempt. And no, I didn’t let Shelly finagle the pistol from me. The truth is I’m just not a very good shot, and I can’t waste ammunition with a machete.
Our plan was to enter the store, clear out any rotters loitering about, then loot and vamoose. We made it there with only one incident. A dead teenager began to follow us down the road. Although she wore the pallor of death, she was in much better shape than most of her kind. She had a bite mark on her upper arm and her bloody hands told the tale of her suicide. Poor kid, she must have believed she’d truly die if she took her own life. Although we could easily outpace her, Shelly insisted I dispose of the girl. She was right, of course. Once a rotter catches the scent, they’re relentless. Nevertheless, there was enough left of the young girl that her decapitation shook me up a lot more than you’d think. Perhaps that’s what helped pry open the door to my emotions.
We came into sight of the store. Rotters were scattered about, sprawled over the street, twitching and crawling, broken, mangled, crushed. Further down the street, a throng of dead swarmed over and feasted on something large, which I at first took to be a horse or cow. Whatever it was had drawn every rotter in sight, leaving us free and clear to accomplish our mission. I’m sure I would have been fine if I hadn’t suddenly realized that the thing in the road was not common livestock, but an honest-to-God rhinoceros.
The rhino jerked and tossed off several rotters who picked themselves up and resumed with their repast. The creature was still alive, though beyond any hope. It seemed absurd to me that such an extraordinary and powerful animal should die in such a manner. Without warning, I envisioned mankind as that dying beast, and everything I’d bottled up inside me over the last few weeks poured out. If Shelly hadn’t pistol whipped some sense into me, I’d probably have drawn the entire pack of living dead down on us.
For the rest of the day and far into the night, I continued to mourn the people I’ve lost and the world that’s crumbling around us. Shelly, I should say, got her smokes and joined me in my grief when we returned home. I’ll also mention how much my jaw hurts from where she hit me with the gun. I’ll give her this. Whatever she does, it’s never half-assed.
Note: As much as I could really go for a genuine miracle about now, the rhinoceros most likely walked here from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which is located about thirty miles away.