38 – Business as usual

The talking head on the screen was saying something about the public execution of the tambourine man, naming all the usual sponsors and invited celebrities. It didn’t sound interesting so he turned the thing off and went back to the counter.

The little old lady from 38-C waved cheerfully as she walked her dog past the shop –leash in one hand, AR-15 in the other.

He smiled and waved back, wondering as he always did how that poor little poodle was able to walk under so many layers of Kevlar and flack armor.

Still, it was wise of her to protect him like this. Meat was really scarce now that rats had learned to stay away from humans, smart little buggers.

There were even rumors of them forming packs to hunt us back. But waving little lances and even tiny bows and arrows like old Mike swore? That was just crazy talk.

Hell, with all the things mixed in the water these days he was surprised people didn’t see Jesus climbing down a UFO on a daily basis.

He went back to sorting the tomatoes brought in by old Mike. Not a bad batch. They were all funny shaped and bleached in places, but most tasted well enough to be almost edible.

A sudden bout of coughing caught him, forcing him to spit a thick ball of green phlegm and blood. He fumbled around the Desert Eagle 50 under his apron to find the little orange plastic container, then washed down the crumbling iodine pill with a swig from the Whiskey flask.

A couple of teen punks came skating down the street, throwing kisses at each other as they zigzagged around the rusting skeletons of burned up cars. They were sharing a kebabs of roasted field mice. The kid must really be trying to impress her, probably spent a months wages on that treat.

He placed the bushel of tomatoes on the counter and watched the kids roll happily into the distance.

They said civilization would collapse. Well, maybe it had… but it was doing it so slowly that you almost didn’t notice.

But today at least, it was still business as usual.