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Subject: A snippet of Post Apocalyptic fiction rss

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Abraham Gray
United States
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The Restaurant, by Abraham Gray
This work is public domain

The six of us decided to check out the Chinese takeout place. The windows here, like the rest of the four units in the tiny strip mall, were smashed. While I doubted there'd be anything to eat but cockroaches, it might have been possible to salvage some useful equipment. We also needed a break from the hot summer sun.

Crunching past the broken window glass, I saw my suspicions about the roaches were confirmed. Our footsteps caused a few to scatter from the middle of the red and white checkered floor. I wondered what they survived on for the past year. "Ew." said Kara, as the fat bugs skittered away. "I'll watch the door." She crouched in the shadows near the doorway, her tiny frame seeming dwarfed by the rifle she unslung and held at the ready.

The rest of us lit our flashlights and proceeded past the counter, through the kitchen, almost tripping on old chicken bones and nearly tipping pots filled with swill and floating roaches. Past the kitchen was a storeroom. Dan joined me there and the rest hung back in the doorway.

The wire racks of the storeroom were bare save for a couple boxes of chopsticks. A chef lay face up, desiccated by the Arizona climate and stripped of some flesh by vermin. The body had a musty stink like a forgotten gym sock tossed in a corner to mold over. A dusty cleaver still lay by his outstretched right hand. The other three of our group, seeing the room otherwise empty, returned to the hallway to explore further. Dan knelt over the body with a rag held over his nose and mouth, and rolled the dusty corpse halfway over. "Stabbed in the back. No bites I can see. Must've been thieves."

I briefly imagined the proprietor making some valiant last stand against a panicked hoard of people. Defending enough dried noodles to last his family a month but wouldn't feed the mob for a day. But there were no blood stains on the cement floor aside from the one under his body. He either couldn't swing that cleaver or was unwilling to. Maybe it was one of his own crew that did him in.

In the kitchen I could hear the other four clinking around and discussing the various kitchen gear and what might be handy for use or trade.

"Want some roach soup Kara?"

"Fuck you John!"

I noticed the copper gas line in the ceiling, and left Dan examining the body. I called to the others as I left the storeroom, "Maybe there's some propane left in the tank. Any movement out there Kara?"

She shouted back, "No! But if John doesn't shut up I'm gonna shoot him."

The other three and I emerged out the rear onto a crumbling bit of asphalt, now being retaken by grass and dandelions. Another 30 feet back, in a bit of undeveloped dirt lot between two streets, was the tank. A virtual goldmine if untapped. The more mechanically inclined members of our party investigated the tank. Someone produced a pressure gauge and plugged it in.

Then came the bad news. "Nope. It must've all leaked out through the pilots in the restaurant."

"Well that's a waste." I said. "Let's salvage what we can and get out of here."

Someone suddenly slammed the push-bar on the door behind me, popping it open. Reflexively I turned at the creaking hinge with my bat drawn back, ready to swing. "Whoa killer!" It was Dan, squinting in the sunlight. "We'll be wiping our asses in style!" He held aloft four rolls of toilet paper, two in each hand. "It's soft and cottony, and there's another dozen in the shitter."

Hard living had taught me to ignore anal itch from lack of wiping. But now the itch was back with a fervor. "Me first!" I leaped up at the outstretched rolls, grabbed one, and bolted inside in search of the restroom, the laughter of my comrades fading as I turned a corner.

Thank God the toilet tank was full. Sadly, it didn't refill. It was the last time I ever flushed a toilet.
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