Chapter 3: Reality Sinks In
I find it hard to imagine how it hasn't even been a day after this disaster and there is already a group of these racists fucks running around acting like this is a whole new world that will live by their standards. I wonder how many of these guys were people that waved to me when I was getting mail, and deep down they wanted to kill me because of my skin. I wonder if those yuppie neighbors of mind held the same type of resentment towards me. You'd think all of that would bother me the most about this whole situation. But honestly, no. What bothers me most is that he shot my fucking beer. What a piece of shit.
I bend over and grab one of the shattered bottles that he had pumped maybe 3 too many rounds into. The sticky label holds some of the shattered pieces together as I pull it up and the delicious foamy beer drips out more and collects into a pool on the ground. Can't I have this one fucking thing? The glass is shattered all over, bread and frozen food all over the floor. Not surprising to see that even after the world has gone to shit, kids still don't have respect for shit. I take a deep breath and grab a few more water jugs. I put them into school bag I grabbed earlier and start heading out. On my way out I grab a few protein bars.
I cautiously approach the entrance that they busted out. Looking left and right like a child at a bus stop, the coast seems clear. I take a step over the broken display window frame with my tennis ball prosthetic. The glass crunches underneath it. The tennis ball slightly slides out before I regain my composure. I step out with my other leg and the small shards of glass crackle as I shift my weight. I take the protein bar out, slowly start unwrapping it and take a bite. Tastes good. Peanut butter and chocolate always mixed well. The slight off taste of the whey doesn't bother me much. Most of my energy has been spent recovering from this stub I created. So any kind of replenishment at this point is a welcomed addition to this truly fucked up day. I take another bite, slowly peeling back the malleable bar which rips away, uncomfortably sticking to my teeth for a second.
CLICK. "Don't. Move." I hear from a stern voice behind me. I'm fucked. At this point, you would think my life would flash before my eyes. I have nothing to remember, just this shitty day. I can't go out like this, man. I take a deep breath and put my hands up, protein bar half eaten in my right hand. "Were you the one shooting over here?" inquires the voice. I shake my head, too scared to do much else. "Stay still, put your hands on your head." I drop the protein bar while moving my hands to my head. The man starts patting me down, I see a shine from the corner of my eye. A badge. Fuck. I'm wearing a cop's belt. He removed the handgun from my belt.
"This is standard issue, you kill a cop to get this?" he asks. I stutter at first "N-No, I found it down the street, there are two dead cops. I don't know how they died.". He seems to believe me and moves to in front of me. "What happened to your foot?" he inquires. "I-I cut it off." I say, in a way questioning my rash decision to amputate my foot. "What the hell did you do that for?" "It was severely crushed. Shattered bout every bone, easily. There wasn't much hope for it even with a quick trip to the hospital. Which, from the state of where I was at and no sign of a fire truck I could tell that wasn't an option.". He shakes his head while listening to me, he hands me the handgun back and kneels down looking at the ground. "Yeah well, hospitals aren't running very well right now..." he continues, "A lot of the police and emergency personnel have some camps set up on the north side of town. It's a quick a walk, but if we can find any kind of running vehicle it would only take us about 15 minutes.". He had a good idea, but for some reason, I wasn't so eager to just join up with this cop.
"Us? What do you mean, us?" I ask him, sort of confused. He looks at me with a small smirk "Well, I don't imagine you have much of a plan for surviving around here do ya?". "Well, as a matter of fact, I was going to head back down to what's left of my house. I was going to stay there for the night with the supplies I have.", he didn't seem impressed by my plan. "Look, you can come with me, or you can stay here in the city. This area isn't exactly safe." he says before looking out towards the North side of town. He continues, "I figure we got a couple more hours of daylight. If we got caught at night we can hunker down somewhere before continuing north. I'd rather not be out here at night. This badge don't mean a lot out here right now unless I got a lot of other's badges around me.", he looks back at me expecting an answer. He doesn't get one. I look down at the ground, just trying to remember what my name was. "I'm Officer Daniels, uh, Tim. You can call me Tim.", I look up at Tim and his hand is extended out to me.
I have this blank stare on my face, my mouth gaped open. He looks a little confused as to why a handshake is such a hard task for me. Honestly, it's just the fact that I have no idea what to introduce myself as. I put my hand out slowly trying to think what to call my self. We grip hands and I think to the one thing I can remember - the beer. "English." I say. Tim smiles at me, "English? Your name is English. Is that your first name?" he asks. "Yeah... English." I say slowly. "Okay! Sounds good. So... English, you in or out?" he says enthusiastically. "I'm in. Yeah, I'm in. Let's do it." I respond. He smiles and offers to help me out of the glass I was still standing in. I grab his hand and I step out of the glass. "Sorry about sneaking up on you before, I heard the gunshots and things have been pretty wild since the uh, you know... the bomb." He laughs slightly as if he were trying to push the reality of the situation back into his mind. He seems like the type of guy who just trucks forward. He picks his goal and just goes to do it, it's how he deals with a situation like this.
Not me. I'm way too much into my head. But maybe that's because I still have no clue where the hell I am from or what the hell I am doing in Indianapolis. Fuck, does it even matter at this point? The people I know and love are probably all dead anyway. Maybe it's better I don't remember. It may save me the pain of grieving their loss. I wonder if anyone is grieving me? Maybe I didn't mean shit to anyone. Maybe it's better I don't know my previous life. I could just continue to fuck up everything and everyone that was in it. But what if I'm a father...? What if my kids are out there somewhere worried about me.
"You got any kids?" I hear abruptly as Tim and I walk down the road. Not quite to my house, but about halfway from the grocery store. "Huh?" I say back. Tim laughs slightly and continues "I said, do you have any kids?". "Oh... uh... Nah." I chuckle slightly. "Yeah, no kids." Tim nods and looks forward as we are walking. I continue, "What about you?". He looks back at me "Uh yeah, got a boy and a girl... not really sure where they are. I live outside of town. Maybe they'll end up at one of these camps. You know?" I nod, as trying to comfort him but I can't get my mind off my own situation. Tim continues talking about his wife, his dog and how fast they grow up. He mentions something about football, I don't know. I'm not even sure if I like football. How the hell can relate to a damn word this guy is saying when I have no fuckin idea who I am. I do the courteous thing and just listen though. I think he just needs someone to talk to in between this journey of his.
It's easy to forget the pain when you are frisking someone down or focusing on a weapon. I think that's why he did what he did, it was routine for him. But this walking, all this empty time and space for your mind to wander around about what to do, what is happening, who is okay, and who is dead? Fuck that's got to eat away at a man's soul. I can see it in his eyes, he's worried about them. "We'll find them at the camp." I assure him. Though I had no idea. He looks up at me and I can tell my words comforted him. I might as well keep him in good spirits. If I'm going to survive long enough to figure out who I am, I'm going to need him. "And hey, maybe we can get you a real prosthetic." he adds. We both look down at my leg and laugh. "Hey..." I say, "you gotta do, what you gotta do.". "Amen to that." Tim says sincerely.
Tim moves towards the cop car I was at earlier and starts looking around. "This where you found the-" "Yeah." I say, interrupting him. He continues to look around, as I prop myself up on one of the cars. I try looking at the street and imagining a house where the rubble of where I woke up stands. Nothing. It's as alien to me as the giant cloud formation towards the middle of the city. Tim continues searching around and finds one of the bodies, he starts to pull him out of the dirt. I look away, at this point a little drowsy, losing focus on the walk we are supposed to be taking. It is going to be tough for me to make it to the North side of the city where ever this camp is supposed to be. I haven't the faintest idea if it even exists, to be honest. He could be taking me to my death, and I would never know any better.
I hear some distant explosions. Gunfire follows, but not shotguns or handguns, these are rifles. Tim looks over at me and continues to listen. More distant explosions. "That's artie..." he says, he stands up on the hood of the car next to me, slightly setting off my balance as the car tips. He looks out towards the horizon. "Arta-what now?" I ask. "Artie, artillery." He says. What the fuck is somebody shooting artillery in Indiana for? And why is it followed by gunfire? I want to ask but I'm afraid it is something I should probably know. If we got nuked, are we at war? Man, what the fuck is going on?
"That's about 15-20 clicks east" Tim states confidently. "You former military?" I ask. "Yeah" He says. "Army, 8 years." He jumps down. "Let's steer clear of that obviously. Do either of these vehicles work?" He askes, pointing at them. "I didn't see any keys." I shrug. "Nah, these run on fobs. Should be a little key fob on one of the officers. I only see these two though, should be two more." He continues looking around. "These guys were shot, they didn't die by the bomb." He adds while continuing his search. "I found them, that way." I insist. "Yeah, these guys were killed by a rifle, went right through the vests. Gotta be something high powered. Illegal for sure.". "Was it... the... you know...?" I try leading him into telling me who we might be fighting a war against. He looks at me confused, then continues looking around. I sigh lightly. Tim comes up to me and looks out at the sky. "We should probably just set up here, there's a nice little structure here we can stay in. Or at least part of one" he says laughing. I nod slightly, not amused. I'm just tired. Stone fucking tired.
Our camp is pretty primitive, we have what he calls poncho liners over the holes in the roof of the structure and sleeping bags. There is a small fire he got going with another small fire in a barrel. It provides light, but not much heat. I continue to feel nauseous as we lay down and try to get some shut-eye. Tim is out pretty quickly, maybe he is used to falling asleep in situations like this. I personally find it hard to go to sleep in a situation like this. Especially still wondering about so much. I think that is something that a lot of people take for granted. Just knowing who you are, where you are from, who you know, and what is going on around you. These are basic things that you would never think about day to day, yet here I am. Laying down and I can't get these simple questions out of my head.
I hear a phone ring. I turn my head. I am sitting at a counter, it is nice. It's Middle class, the kitchen is clean. My hands are clean, I am in a black suit. In the kitchen, a woman is holding a younger woman. Her daughter maybe, they are crying. They are wearing black as well. To their left looking out the window, a man. He takes a sip of a drink, he is in a black suit. Another ring. The woman looks at me, I don't know what she says. But I get up to answer the phone. Walking towards the phone I see a man, he looks at me with his arm crossed. He is also in a black suit. He picks the phone up and hands it to me. I grab it, it is a smartphone. I can't see what the phone says. The man looks at me and nods. I put the phone to my ear. "Shawn." the voice says.
I feel the press of a gun to my forehead. The cold steel wakes me up from my sleep. I open my eyes. I see nothing but a blurry barrel and the hand that is holding the gun to my forehead. I feel a hand on my waist, it removes the handgun from the holster. I take a deep breath, before hearing a familiar voice, "Here's what's going to happen." Tim suggests, "... you're going to get up put these cuffs on and get in the back of the cruise." I gulp. Time continues "I am going to take you to the camp. There, we're going to sort some things out. Do you have a problem with that?" He asks me boldly. I shake my head. "No... man" I said, shakily.
Tim rolls me over and puts cuffs on my arms. He brings me to my feet and puts me against the wall before patting me down again. "Hey man-" I try to inquire, "SHUT UP!" he yells at me. I listen to him and shut my mouth. The gun in my back was a small motivator you could say. He puts me into the cruiser and gets into the front seat. He seems confused, or distraught. "You and me gotta talk man...." he says. I look at him intently in the mirror from the back of the police car. "Yeah... I agree, what the fuck?" I say. "What the fuck...?" he says. "Yeah, that's a good place to start." He continues, "Tell me why you lied man." I start to get worried. What did I lie about? Shit, what has he found out?. "Look..." I say, "I don't remember shit, man. I don't know who I am." Tim interrupts me at that point, "Real fucking convenient man!" he starts the police car up, I'm guessing he found the key fob. "Explain this..." He slams a printed, paper security camera screenshot on the glass that separates us. I look at the paper and see a man armed with some sort of military-style rifle. He is removing a mask as he exits what appears to be a bank. He is a bald black man, in blue coveralls... oh my god... my eyes get big and my heart sinks.