Serene

The End of the World Diary Day 2, 1st December

 

I heard the neighbour's dogs howling all night. Frank's got four: Pig dogs, all half-breeds that he uses: used, for hunting. Not my kind of thing, but him and his wife have always been friendly and always said hi; least they used to…

Hearing the dogs had got me to thinking; Id assumed Frank and his wife had gone bush, He's a mad keen survivalist. Not the over the top doomsday prepper type, but the one of kind of people who likes to be off the grid. If he had gone off on a trip he'd have taken the dogs; if they were still there then where was he. What was for sure was that the dogs were trapped in the house, and they were probably starving.
It wasn't a nice thought, but that kind of pleased me; I didn't want to see the animals suffer, but it gave me the ideal excuse to go over to his place. I don't know why I haven't done it already; I suppose I felt: make that know, it was trespassing, but if the dogs were trapped it was my moral duty to go wandering around somebody else's property, right?
And once I'd let them out: then maybe there was other stuff in his garage that I could kind of, borrow.

I went around once it got light. As I got close to the garage door the dogs heard me, and the howls turned to snarling. I know the dogs and they know me but somehow that wasn't so reassuring listening to the threatening sounds from behind the roller door. I decided to try the side access; just open it enough that I could be sure they hadn't gone feral or mad with hunger.

Putting my hand on the handle I could hear them scratching and felt them hurling themselves against the wooden frame. It crossed my mind that this probably wasn't a good idea. The sensible thing to do would be to walk away, but the thought of leaving them to starve was just too cruel. Instead I picked up a length of timber: just in case, and turned the handle. It didn't open, the door was locked; maybe that was a sign that I should leave but instead I kicked it in.

It wasn't such a big kick, it was meant to be enough to break off the lock. I didn't expect the hinge to give first; one did and the bottom half caved in. A sickly stench burst out as solidly as one dog that forced itself into the gap. I hadn't time for choices; one hand held the lump of wood, the other I grabbed for the edge of the door to pull it shut; but the dog was out and immediately replaced by a second; and a third desperately climbing over that.

The first dog had ignored me and was racing off around the side of the building. It hadn't attacked; it just wanted to escape. The third was over the top and the fourth was now climbing over the poor second who seemed stuck, so I let go of the door, but held on tightly to the lump of wood. Before I could blink all four were out and disappearing into the bush.

Feeling safer my mind was drawn back to the smell. It didn't take too much thinking about to know what had happened to Frank and probably his wife. Holding my breath I stepped away before taking a long: deep, gasp of air. I forgot all my ideas of re-stocking from franks pantry and went back home.

It was around an hour later the dogs were back. I watched as they romped and ran about Franks garden. They looked happy and in pretty good condition racing around the yard pissing on everything they saw and having a good time; and it made me feel good about setting them free. It was puzzling though that after being locked inside for days they didn't appear as starved as id imagined they would look.

One thing I had seen while at the side of Franks garage was his gas tanks. I had to be running short on cooking gas after using the barbecue pretty much for every meal and coffee for about three weeks. It made sense to take Franks cylinders.
I found an old T-shirt; soaked it in bleach to cover my nose and mouth.

Firstly I took off the two cylinders. One felt almost empty the other seemed unused, so I took the full one.
Passing the garage I decided to have a look inside, I held the rag against my nose. The chlorine stung my eyes; even so I had to overcome my revulsion at the smell of rotting flesh when I Pushed the garage door fully open.
In the half-light I could see his utility. I'd forgotten about his truck, it was a hulk of a machine. Six wheel drive and kitted out with all the gear right down to solar panels. Suddenly my heart stopped; out the corner of my eye I saw one of the dogs racing towards me. I remembered it was the leader of the pack, a brute of an animal called Kit. I looked for the cudgel I had, had before, but before I could grab it Kit slowed and I saw his arce-end begin to swing from side to side. It had the dopey; happy expression dogs get when they re-meet someone they know.

He slowed and rubbed up against my leg so hard he was pushing me over. I reached down and scratched the back of his head. "Your All alone now fella." I said. He looked up; his expression telling me he wasn't so bothered, then I got a whiff of his breath and knew how he and the others had kept themselves alive.

Clutching the rag back to my face I went into the garage. I found the roller door release; clicked to manual and shoved it up as I went back out that way into the yard and made my way back home. I could come back later when the place had, had time to air.

I got home and went to the kitchen. I needed a coffee bad. It seemed the stench was just sitting in my throat. I drank the drink luke-warm and made a mental note to check Frank's kitchen for more grounds.

I'd been back at my place for around ten minutes when the dogs turned up. They wandered into my garden in a lose group exploring and playing at the same time. I was feeling more comfortable with them now so I took the drink out and sat on the verandah watching them. I don't know what I had been expecting; pining, sullen, but the fact they had lost their owner didn't seem to be too obvious. Still I'd never seen Frank treat the animals as anything other than another tool for his hobby.

Frank was a keen hunter, and he took pleasure in bragging about his hunts, and showing off all his gear. He had everything, all the camping gear. Swag: solar cooking gear, besides guns and knives. It seemed a glaring lapse of memory but I'd forgotten about his guns. Kit had come onto the verandah and was laid against my feet panting. I looked at him; he didn't look hungry, but he would be right that they eat what they had been eating.

I knew they wouldn't starve; hunting dogs know how to hunt and they'd survive, but what about me? I had supplies but they wouldn't last forever. I could empty Frank's pantry and other neighbours, I could work my way from house to house, but sooner or later it would all be gone or rotten. I didn't own a weapon but if I was going to live off the land now it seemed obvious that I should find Franks. I was going to need a lot of stuff so I put the coffee down and got out my wheelbarrow.

Kit followed me back with the others in tow. Even though the smell wasn't so bad now it was still strong, the bleach had made my eyes water so this time I took a rag smeared in chest rub. It was hardly any less unpleasant, and by now the smell had begun to dissipate a little.

Occupying half the garage was Frank's truck. I had often looked at it in almost awe. It was a monster that he'd had semi-customized so it would go just about anywhere. It was a home on wheels that he wasn't going to need anymore.

I found the trash bin he used for the dog food, and dragged it out side, putting both it and a full gas tank on the wheelbarrow. Wheeling it back I got kind of used to the dogs running circles around me.

I made four more trips, emptying the garage of all the stuff I thought would be useful. Kit followed me the first two times and then lay with the others in the warm: late afternoon sun,
I cooked a meal and drank Franks beer while the dogs feasted on hunks of meat from the bottom of his deep freeze, and for the first time thought maybe things would work out, maybe being the last man on Earth wasn't going to be too bad after all.

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The End of the World Diary Entry 3