Chasing Winter 4

A bag of groceries was suspiciously all alone at the end of a driveway.  Rhoda started to run for it, but pulled herself up short when he hissed.  Their eyes scanned the street and the nearby houses.  He crept behind a truck toward the bag, trying to look everywhere at once.  Rhoda hung back a little, probably ashamed of her rashness.

“It’s perfectly understandable.  I had those nuts at least.  Here, come have a smell.”

She obliged, poking at the rotted paper with her nose.  She sneezed and pulled back her head in disgust.  Now that he leaned in closer himself, he smelled it too.

“Rotten.  Must’ve had some vegetables in there.  No meat though, otherwise it wouldn’t have been left for us like this.  Alright, hold your breath.  I’m going in.”

Using the very tips of his fingers, he started peeling away layers of what’d once been a paper bag.  There was blue mold everywhere.  It smelled like death mixed with raw sewage.  Luckily he’d had a strong stomach even before everything that’d happened.  Rhoda looked a little queasy though.

“If you need to take a step back, go ahead.  I’ll let you know if I find anything.”

She decided to stay with him as he rooted through the filth.  He’d have to remember to clean his hands as best as he could before he ate.  Brushing off layers of rot, his knuckles touched something hard.

“Bingo.  What do we have here?  Sweet corn and green beans…yams…jackpot.”

He had trouble keeping the excitement from his voice.  He hid the latest can behind his back.  Rhoda reluctantly wagged her tail, humoring him.

“Baked beans, your favorite.”

Rhoda refused to get excited until he dug out their can opener and cracked it open for her.  He still had some hand sanitizer left, so he squirted a dollop into his palms and rubbed them together.  The ground seemed clean, so he dumped a puddle of beans on the driveway for Rhoda.  She started in right away.  Making sure his knife was still within easy reach, he rubbed a little hand sanitizer on his fork and then started eating out of the can.  You could never be too careful.

The beans were disgustingly sweet, but he didn’t really care.  He scraped out as much of the syrup as he could possibly get before tossing the can into the grass.  The corn was next.  Carbohydrates for energy.  He added to Rhoda’s pile and then dug in himself.  The other two cans went into his backpack, carefully wrapped in rags so they wouldn’t clink together.

The green beans wouldn’t have many calories, especially compared to the baked beans and the corn, but it was better than what they’d had the last few days.  He was pretty sure yams were starchy, but he didn’t feel like pulling them back out to check.  Two meals in a day, they’d be waddling.

Rhoda shook her head, slapping herself with her ears.  He put a hand around her neck to keep her from licking the pavement too much.  She’d gotten a scraped tongue before.  He remembered, even if she didn’t.

“There’ll be more later.  We can’t stuff ourselves in case we need to run.  I know you want to look for more food, but we need other supplies too.”

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