Chasing Winter 3

The houses might have something, but he’d learned to be afraid of enclosed spaces.  Especially dark ones.  Eventually he knew the hunger would grow too great and he’d have to start going in them again, but he’d hold out as long as he could.  He realized Rhoda was no longer with him.  Turning back, he saw her standing and staring at an open front door.  The house was back from the road, surrounded by a deep fenced in yard.  Gazing through the chain link, he saw the house and door were white.  He could kind of see the resemblance.

It looked like Rhoda’s old house.  Well not her house.  It was getting harder to remember that she was just a dog.  They spent so much time looking after each other that she was like a person to him, especially when he saw her whining at that open door.

“They’re gone.”

The dog yelped—quietly.  She was always more careful than he was.

“I miss them too.”

They stood looking at the door, remembering together.

“Why don’t we see about getting you something to eat?  There has to be food left in this town.  I wonder what its name is.”

He was babbling.  Rhoda didn’t like that.

“Right, food.”

There were too many days lately when they’d had little or nothing to eat.  He wanted to scour the shops in the middle of town, but he needed to get the lay of the land first.  If there were supplies that were easier to get to, they’d settle for those.

He’d been able to tell by the walk into town that there wasn’t a school here.  Looking through empty classrooms brought up too many memories of everything he’d lost, but he could really use a good chemistry lab.  The hand pump water filter had broken a couple weeks back and he was running low on iodine.  Maybe there was a sporting goods store or a pharmacy in town.  That would be worth the risk of hitting Main Street.

He’d carried a gun for a while, several actually, but he’d ended up discarding them.  Not only were they too loud, they also weren’t easy to take care of.  He’d seen so many movies and TV shows with people using guns.  Using them was the easy part.  Click off the safety.  Don’t jerk the trigger, squeeze.  Maintenance was another issue.  He remembered vaguely from a few shows you had to take guns apart to clean them.  The problem was he didn’t know exactly how and he didn’t have any of the little wire scrubbing brushes and oil that seemed to be required.  And don’t even get started on jams.  Maybe it had something to do with not cleaning them, but guns seemed to jam way too much.

“Still would be nice to have one though, as a backup.”

Rhoda tilted her head.

“Just talking to myself again.  Silly right?”

Maybe he’d find a bookstore and get a book on gun maintenance.  The thought drained him though.  He used to carry a few of his favorite books around with him, but the ones he hadn’t thrown away had been used as fire starters.  Too many memories.  And he’d always been a really deep reader.  When he got going, he wouldn’t hear people talking to him and he could tune out anything short of a car crash.  He felt bad making Rhoda be the only one on watch for hours on end.

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