by Dan Sanders
It’s a stupid system because I don’t know what I’m doing and it’s dark all the time, but it’s good to leave a trail and everybody else is doing it. Just a spiral in marker until that ran out, and now scratched with stone or whatever I can find, as big as I can, over the panic graffiti that popped up when things got bad. Idiots writing “The End is Near” on walls all over town, “The Dead Live”, bible passages, warnings, prayers. Every building covered over in paint, warnings running into prayers, prayer paint dripping down and over the army leaflets that popped up overnight. I don’t know where everyone got so much paint, but it’s fun to think that some of them got eaten while they were out there, scribbling the weather report on the walls. “We Are Lost!” No shit. Run, dummy.
“EVERYTHING IS DEAD” was popular. It was every few miles and seemed to be the same handwriting, but there’s no way to know. I started doing the spiral a few months ago, after I first saw it underlined “EVERYTHING IS DEAD”. There’s a lot in that line.
I lived in a storage locker for three months. Whatever happened, happened while I was on the top floor of a burning building. I got to watch it all from the rooftop, all the stairs beneath me burned, the building didn’t collapse. I lost a lot of weight and ate from the vending machines. Other than that, I’m fine. Only had to kill one thing and I don’t want to talk about it. I’m not the only one, but I haven’t seen anybody else. All I know is someone is underlining, someone is a dove, someone is a stick figure and I’m a spiral.
It’s impossible to tell who got killed, who was eaten, who was dead, and who was dead and starved. There’s a lot of decay in the air. If the four of us make it through, we’ll die from whatever diseases must be on the wind. I hope they’re nice. Not the diseases. The other people.
If I had to guess, I’m a few weeks behind whoever is underlining, less from dove, and maybe only a day or two behind the stick figure but I can’t seem to catch up. I try to leave more information when I can, when I find pens and paper, and enough of it to drive into a post, let whoever’s behind me know that it’s over. It’s still bad and we might all die alone, walking wherever we’re going, but it’s over. East. I know we’re going East. Maybe to the ocean? I wish the underline would slow down.
I figured out a way downstairs once the groaning stopped. Maybe in January. I thought they just moved on, but I kept my eye on a pack near the bank. I threw gravel from the rooftop when I got bored and kept score when I hit. Cruel, maybe, they used to be people, but probably bankers, so kind of a wash. They just stood around until they dropped over one day. I checked after they were on the ground for a week. Almost broke my neck climbing down. Did three floors a day, and made it down in a week. Alive again.
Stick figure seems kinda lame. The Dove makes sense, it’s a good symbol. I wish I went with something other than a spiral, but I didn’t know it was a thing until it was already a thing. I can load it up with enough symbolism if I try, at night, when it’s dark and I can’t think of anything else. Stick figure just doesn’t seem like he’s even trying. Sloppy, sad work, getting worse before it gets better. Half the time there’s no arms. I’m stepping over bodies all day too, but, still, happy I made it, take pride in your work. He might be drunk. There’s so much booze everywhere. Every glove box, without fail. Found tequila and margarita mix in a Bronco about a week ago, I don’t drink, but I figured what the hell. Pretty sure it was Easter, why not celebrate. Fixed up a margarita on a highway full of dead people and just about lost my mind screaming.
That happens. It just does. It takes a few minutes to get it together. Remember that you have a purpose and that you are blessed to be alive.
It’s not as bad now, screaming. it doesn’t wake anything else up and it’s faded as I’ve followed along. There’s absolutely nothing else to be afraid of anymore and that’s it’s own burden, but a blessing. Maybe the heat. Maybe the animals. But be careful and keep walking, keep faithful and carry on. Try to catch up to the writing on the wall before you die wandering in the dark because there’s no reason it’s not going to happen again. Everything was just as dead before it all got up and stopped being so dead so maybe I’ll die and come back and keep walking and on and on and why not? The important thing is to keep moving. Catch up to The Line. Follow him right out into the ocean if that’s where he wants us to go. Better I should be certain that I’m going somewhere no matter what awfulness it takes to get there. It’s all I have, all I understand, all that I am, all that is left.
Next Week’s Prompt: Grand Notions.