I decide to [[keep looking|keep looking 2]].\n\nAn hour or so later, I fall upon the second one. She's a bit better than the first, but only slightly. The diptera-swarm is smaller, but the stench hits earlier.\n\nShe might be worth to [[settle]] on.
I pick up a small piece and hold it in my hand, despite every fibre of my body resisting its warm embrace. It's as if my hands are forced; as if my decisions aren't mine.\n\nIt feels like some invisible force would [[put it to my mouth]] at any moment. The thought makes me shudder.
//She's far too old.\nA remnant of the past.\nUnusable.\nWorthless property of the beasts.\n\nShe would not hold.\nShe would not last.\nDespicable\nShe would not withstand the feast.//\n\n[[I need a fresher one, enveloped in shadow]].
//The city is etched with a thousand slowly fading fires,\nreplaced anew with every dawn.\nTwo dogs are ripping at decay found caught between the wires,\nthen lit ablaze and soon withdrawn.\nThey huddle up to divide what they by night [[acquired]],\nfar away from sunlight's jaw.\nBy claws and teeth I silently watch as [[meat|acquired]] expires:\nrotting, bubbling, hot yet raw.//
The third one I almost don't see at first. She is worse than both the previous ones. Still, she might be usable. There are no sights of vermin-attacks or other pests, only the inhaled putridness.\n\nThe day is coming to a close and so I have no choice but to [[settle|settle 2]].
Despite being long-passed, she is warm as my fingers [[enter her]]. My action repulses me, but some external power seems to dictate my every move, betraying my convictions.
I put it in, gently;\nand [[chew|Ending 2]].
I return my attention to her. It is nearly done. My stomach is already spitting out vile noises with the promise of food. But it has to be prepared thoroughly, especially since I didn't check it. It can not be [[eaten directly]].
I [[squeeze|Ending 1]] it ever so gently. Any moment now.
It is never easy to decide whether to [[settle]] or [[keep looking]].\n\nI see her almost immediately and the smell comes only later. A good sign. The diptera-swarm, however, is one pointing in the opposite direction. She is largely collapsed upon herself, but not yet swollen.
The City
The mixed fluids flow out as I pull out.\n\nThe blood reveals that she is unsalvagable, but her clothes could be cut off and repurposed. Children's clothes are too small but one can always make rags out of them.\n\n[[My scissors are at the table.|Ending 3]]
How odd. I usually would have stopped to check. If there is a problem it would be better to go hungry a day than to risk disease. Perhaps I just don't care anymore. Perhaps I've even [[lost my will to live]].\n\nI mustn't think that way.\n\nI begin to carve her up into sections. Sweat rolls down my back and my forehead. I wipe it off and [[carry on]].
The blood runs from between her legs, her vaginal area. I need to [[examine it]] further or [[ignore it|pull her]] altogether.
Normally, I wouldn't have kept looking for so long, but something kept me going. I load her up and leave, easy since she's far smaller than the other ones, hoping to return before the fall of night.\n\nI always assumed the post-apocalypse would be filled with deformed monsters sprawling the landscapes. Yet there is nothing but the fucking dogs. Regular fucking dogs. But deadly, as soon as [[the sun]] no longer keeps them at bay.
I pick at the buttons, despite every fibre of my body resisting their cool embrace. It's as if my hands are forced; as if my decisions aren't mine.\n\nFinally, it is set free before entering a foreign body. It is too tight. [[Fuck.]]
She sinks to the ground, disappearing into herself. I [[pull her]] into my den by the legs. A thin trace of red runs along the ground and beneath the foils of her clothing. I can't see more without [[lifting it]].
The blood acts as lubricant. Her face is indiscernable beneath the swelling. The sweat runs down my back.\n\nI, or rather, //something// forces me through the act. I wish it would [[finish]] soon.
Albin Bernhardsson
I need the cold ones, but even they are becoming a problem. I suspect neither I nor they will last much longer.\n\n[[Regardless, I go on, searching for today's catch.]]
The sun devours everything, hungrily lashing out at any uncovered piece of skin; burning ferociously. Even with my thick layers of clothing, it is unbearable.\n\nWhat's more: I feel odd. Like my actions aren't mine. Or perhaps it's just the dull repetition of a routine life taking its toll. Every week I scour the lands. Every week I find another one. Every week [[I unload her]]. Every week I get more lonely. Every week my hopes dies further.
I run my hand along her thigh, tracing the source... [[finding it]]. I don't know why. It's as if my decisions are no longer my own.
//The city is quiet despite its thousand howling beasts;\nthe silence in a hanging moment.\nThe barrel lays in place to join the ceased;\ncold, stubborn, piercing, cogent.\nThe stillness is broken far off in the distance,\nfar beyond the eye's reach.\nThe rumblings of a single, solitary instance\nof a last waltz on the beach.//\n\n[[Do it!|index.php?f=t]]
//The city is quiet despite its thousand howling beasts;\nlicking at what's stuck beside the curbs.\nThe clotheslines at the rooftops still in order,\nunaware, at peace, undisturbed.\nThe stillness is broken far off in the distance,\nfar beyond the eye's reach.\nThe rumblings of a single, solitary instance\nof a last waltz on the beach.//\n\n[[I collapse, sobbing.|index.php?f=t]]
//The city's every vein filled to the brim with disease,\nechoing my brittle body.\nA last chance to enjoy the plainlands' breeze\nand feel the earth: soft, soddy.\nThe stillness is broken far off in the distance,\nfar beyond the eye's reach.\nThe rumblings of a single, solitary instance\nof a last waltz on the beach.//\n\n[[It eats from within.|index.php?f=t]]
I pick it up, despite every fibre of my body resisting its cool embrace. It's as if my hands are forced; as if my decisions aren't mine.\n\nIt feels like some invisible force would [[put the gun against my temple]] at any moment. The thought makes me shudder.
I raise it slowly; as slowly as possible. It seems I have no choice. What I do is dictated to me. My fingers approach [[my mouth]] with caution. I am terrified. Utterly. I wish I could just put it down: that I would be allowed to do so.
Normally, I wouldn't have settled so early, and for such a small one, but something made me impatient. I load her up and leave, hoping to return before the fall of night.\n\nI always assumed the post-apocalypse would be filled with deformed monsters sprawling the landscapes. Yet there is nothing but the fucking dogs. Regular fucking dogs. But deadly, as soon as [[the sun]] no longer keeps them at bay.
As I go on, sweat forms again all over me.\n\nThere is a small spring running through the shelter, the reason I built it here. Greedily, I soak my throat in it. My breathing is heavy, attacking my lungs at regular intervals. But I am ready to [[resume]].
I raise it slowly; as slowly as possible. It seems I have no choice. What I do is dictated to me. My finger rests lightly on the [[trigger]]. I am terrified. Utterly. I wish I could just put it down: that I would be allowed to do so.
I pause from the butchering. A [[gun]] lays invitingly on the table. A final solution, if all else fails. My clothes are stained with sweat and the [[meat|resume]].