“Say something, blast you!” Jack yelled at the mannequin. He knew he was losing it, but why should he always be the one to carry the conversation? “You cheap bit of plastic. We’re through.” He pushed her over onto the pile of clothes and walked away.
It hadn’t taken long after the apocalypse had been inconsiderate enough to leave him behind for him to start losing what used to be referred to as sanity. Now that he was the only one left the whole question of what was and wasn’t sane was up for grabs. Jack peeked back at the mannequin but she had her hand up in what clearly meant to be a rude gesture. Let her stew for a while.
Yap trotted after him growling at his ankles. In all the movies he’d watched the lone survivors were accompanied by loyal and intelligent dogs, big ones. Yap was an irascible little mutt who would have a hard time protecting him from a squirrel. The dog stopped and lifted his leg.
“Yap,” Jack said, “how many times have I told you. Don’t pee on the canned goods?” He walked over to the telephone. “Clean up on aisle four. Clean up on aisle four.” He waited but nobody came, so he went to the back of the store for the mop and bucket. He put on the blue vest and mopped up the puddle. Then he carefully hung up the vest and went back to his shopping.
“We don’t have much of a choice today, boy.” Jack pulled his can opener from its leash and opened a couple of tins. He put one on the floor for the dog and spooned the cold beans into his mouth. He hated beans, especially cold, but he hated moving even more. But the shelves were dangerously empty.
“Well, Yap,” he said, “It’s time we found another place to hang out.” The dog barked then trotted over to a shelf and lifted his leg. “OK, OK, I’ll pack the cart.”
Jack put the last of the tins of food in the shopping cart along with a tent and sleeping bag from camping supplies. The final item was the shotgun and box of shells. There were predators out there. This was going to be a big move. He’d cleaned out all the stores in this town. The next town was at least a week’s walk to the south. There would be stores there with shelves full of food. His mouth watered at the thought of eating something other than beans.
They started out in the early morning. Yap trotting along attached to a leash tied to the cart. The dog hated the leash, but it was safer to keep him close. Jack pushed the cart along the road and basked in the warmth of the sun. He let Yap ride in the cart when he got tired.
“Leave the leash alone,” Jack said tapping the dog on the nose. “I don’t want you chewing at it.”
They made good time and he found himself enjoying the walk. Other than the faint squeak of the wheels the only sounds he could hear were the birds and the squirrels.
Then Yap took off after a squirrel that crossed right in front of him and the leash broke.
“Come here you stupid dog! That squirrel will eat you alive.” The dog ignored him and ran around the base of the tree barking. Jack didn’t see the eagle until it swooped down and snatched Yap from the ground. Picking up the shotgun he shot at the eagle but it was long gone.
Jack wiped at the tears that poured down his face. Here he was Jack, Survivor of the Apocalypse, crying over a stupid little dog. He looked at the shotgun in his hand. Maybe it was time to just end it. He was no heroic survivor; he was just a freak. There was no reason he could think of why he was left behind.
He put the gun back in the cart.
“Sorry, Yap, but I’m just not ready to let go.” He untied the end of the leash from the cart; dropped it to the asphalt then started pushing the cart down the road.