Connection Lost (xix)

In the morning, half the cars on the street were gone.

Alan had to fight the urge to go outside just for the sake of going outside. Fight it he did. He stayed in his warm little nest. He stayed in safety. He stayed smart. He wished he had… well, quite a lot of things. At that point he would have settled for someone to talk to. Or a fucking scarf to knit. Or anything.

He tried to take a shower. There was no hot water. He thought he’d take a bath by letting the water warm to room temperature. The tub was almost filled when the tap gave a sputter and gasp. The water went off altogether. Another victim of the sudden-onset stone age.

Alan decided not to drain the bathtub. He’d find a use for that reserve water sooner or later. He found that use about ten minutes later when he tried to flush the toilet. He estimated that the bathtub held enough water to last him two to three weeks at one flush per day. He had enough water in reserve to drink more than half a gallon a day for the same duration.

Sometime around midday – time was another utility that had gone on holiday – Alan heard a knocking coming from the hall. It was a cacaphonous sound in that pale silence, but still Alan could tell it wasn’t his door getting knocked on. That didn’t stop him from hearing every word that was said between what was clearly a policeman and one of the building’s other tenants.

It was a checkup. The cop just wanted to make sure the person was alright. He asked about their food supplies, their potable water, their medical needs. He told them that aid stations were up and running at Harvard, at Porter, all over the country (most likely). That if they needed anything, that was the place to go. That if they wanted to volunteer, their help would surely be appreciated.

Alan overheard two more such conversations as the cop went door to door. Half the doors didn’t open to his knock. Their residents had fled. Alan guessed they were looking to the promise of a cosier respite outside of the huddled city. If you had to be somewhere to ride out Ragnarok, where would it be?

Alan didn’t need to ask himself such questions. He was where he was. And he was riding well enough.

By the time the cop came to knock on his door, Alan knew his spiel half by heart. There’d been a major communications crash. It’d be a few days before things were up and running. No, they didn’t know how it had happened. No, they didn’t know if it was terrorism. No, they didn’t know how long it would last. It’s like when there’s a blizzard, the cop says, and the power lines go down. They’ll be up in a day or two. Just stay inside, stay warm, drink hot cocoa (or the luke-warm equivalent), and it will allll be over.

The cop pulled out a pad of paper – Alan had pictures of uniformed officers busting into stationary stores to commandeer some emergency hard-copy – and took down his character stats. Yes, he was the only person here. Yes, he was in good health. Yes, he had plenty of food and potable water. When he described his supplies, the cop smirked at him in a way that made Alan want to punch him. Apparently forethought made you a pussy. Who knew.

The cop gave his little closing spiel about places to go and First Aid to receive. Then he checked Alan’s apartment off his list and moved on down the hall.

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~ by davekov on 15 December 2011.

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