Cross Plains, Texas
Rob sat in the passenger seat of his pickup truck looking down at the gun in his hand. The truck was parked on Main Street down from the Municipal Building. To a passerby it might look like he was asleep, or weeping. The knurling from the little Colts handle had left a diamond pattern on the skin of his left palm in which he had just been holding it. He watched the blood quickly flow back in to the tiny white squares and gripped the gun tighter in his right hand. He coughed and thought about raising the gun to his head. So quick and it will be over. Should have just done it at the motel, who cares what the inquest finds, they are still gone.
"Honey I will be right back and yes I have your list. Mazey - you want to head to the store with your old Pops?" She hadn't - a new Samurai Jack was on and she was engrossed as usual. Rob left her sitting in front of the tv while some cartoon creature sprung from jungle branch to branch. "I will be back in a jiff," he had announced to the house as he shut the front door.
And he was - but the house wasn't.
A freak fire had taken the 100 year old house down like kindling, faulty wiring they thought. They would have more solid information after the inquiry was completed. They found the remains of his wife and daughter close to where their front door had stood. Smoke inhalation.
Rob blinked rapidly as if this would dissolve the image of the smoldering ruins of his house from his mind. This had happened 3 days before the virus hit. He had been staying at the almost deserted Shipwreck Motel on the edge of town since then.
Oh yeah, the gun. Sooner started, sooner done. Rob started to lift the gun to his head but stopped.
The radio was droning on the local A.M. news station and the word that caught Rob's ear was DEAD.
A sort of mental shorthand went flashing through Rob's mind. He had had a biology teacher in High School, Mr. Mervin, who used to extol the almost supernatural powers of the mind. It is always recording the teacher had ended every speech about the human brain with. Rob had always pictured a movie poster or a glossy ad in a magazine with a huge gray brain that was half old style movie camera with the slogan IT IS ALWAYS RECORDING under it in giant 3d letters. Even when you weren't paying attention - you were.
At first he thought it was about his family. ( In a small town a fire with casualties was big news, Rob had avoided the tv, radio, and newspapers since it happened )
Rob turned the volume up.
" I repeat -This is Bob Bennington from KFLM issuing a Virus warning for Cross Plains. Additional multiple eyewitness accounts of the dead rising. The Federal Government has declared martial law and has asked that people stay indoors and report sightings to their local law enforcement. Repeat - Stay indoors and isolate the infected. I repeat - stay indoors and.."
Rob turned it back down. It had to be a hoax.
War of the Worlds type crap. I would have heard something, even out at the Shipwreck Motel. How many people have you spoken to since they died? One, two?
Then he looked up from the radio.
Mr. Higgins, the funeral director from Higgins Funeral Home was shuffling down Main street, apparently chasing something. Mr Higgins had on his somber black suit jacket and sober tie but was wearing nothing below the waist. A small border collie sprinted away from the funeral director, dissapearing between a green Beetle and an old blue Volvo with California plates.
Rob opened the passenger door of the truck and stepped out. The creak of the old door caught Mr. Higgins attention. The dog was gone.
Rob shut the door calmly, the Colt pistol at his side, he raised his other hand in a hold on gesture, palm facing out.
When Mr. Higgins got closer Rob could see the bites all over his bare legs.
Christ it looks like something took a few good chomps out of him
Mr. Higgins did not slow down, his teeth gnashing, his eyes fixated on Robs outstretched hand. Rob did not speak.
Rob fell smoothly in to a shooters stance and fired almost point blank into Mr. Higgins chest.
Mr. Higgins did not slow, his teeth clamping together where Rob's outstretched hand was a split second ago.
Without thinking Rob leaned in to Mr Higgins, pushing him down to the sidewalk.
Rob put his foot on Mr Higgins chest to keep him from rising and fired the Colt pistol in to his eye.
Mr Higgins lay still.
When nobody came out to see what happened Rob knew it was all true. He sat down on the curb by the bare feet of a dead man.
Rob was calm until he looked across the street.
IT IS ALWAYS RECORDING flashed through his mind. He didn't want to think about it but his mind wanted him to know, it was oh so clever and insistent.
Rob sat trembling on the curb and stared up at the Municipal building where they had autopsied his family.
"Some things a person can't bear to stand to think about," Rob said aloud and got in to the drivers side of his truck and drove out of town.
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