Chapter 1

Written by: Ray Stone

I sat and cried when it hit me a day later. Three miles out of Jacksonville and the black horizon was still there as I rested for the night. The following morning was when I saw green in the distance intermingled with piles of wood and brick where homes and shops used to be. Hell, man, it was like I was living in some kind of nightmare. There were loads of friggin’ destruction, and you’d think there’d be bodies, but there weren’t a one. That made me think there’d been a mass evacuation of some kind to Jacksonville. 

The highway into town was strewn with cars and trucks, and I kept hoping to see someone as I got to the outskirts. 

“You’ve got to eat, Ray,” I shouted out loud.

That’s a real funny feeling – shouting and listening to your own voice, the only voice you’ve heard in daysI don’t know why I shouted, but it felt good. Maybe I was getting tired of the silence. Jeez, not even a bird had so much as squawked. The sky was empty, and I thought about 9/11. Without meeting anyone, it was hard to know what the heck had happened. It sure wasn’t a twister, that was for certain.

“Gypsy, wish you was along on this one, boy,” I said wistfully.

Gypsy, my hound dog, had died the previous year of old age I guessed. He was great at tracking and sniffing out anything that wriggled in the grass. Pop got him for me on my fifteenth birthday and from then on, me and Gypsy went everywhere together. I trained him proper, but Pop said the dog was really training me. That’s what the old man was good at. He never let me get a swollen head and told me: “You look after that hound dog, and he’ll be your buddy for life, never asking too much of you except your undying love.” And so it proved to be because me and Gypsy ate and slept together. I missed him.

Damn near got all sad at that thought and decided to think about getting something to eat.

Jacksonville was wasted. Behind what used to be an apartment block, I found  a supermarket, half of it still standing. I spent some time climbing over the stuff scattered all over the floor and filled a trolley with mainly cans and coffee and the like. I guessed no-one was going to miss it. I sat on a checkout stool later and opened a can of peaches. They tasted great.

“Come on out and talk to me,” I called. “Even if you’re a zombie, get the hell out here.”

That made me laugh. I thought about all those zombie movies me and Gypsy used to watch on TV. I looked around the store and found a burner for a fondue set and lit it so I could brew some coffee.

“Howzabout a coffee, pal?” I asked an imaginary friend.

That’s when I started to cry.