Home Sweet Home
As I walked through the streets, they became increasingly empty. The noise from the cars, radios and televisions was gone, and it was easy to hear the arguing, crying, and panic happening in the various homes and buildings.
I feared for what was to become of Oasis.
The situation was dire. There was a highly contagious and deadly viral breakout. Those affected appeared to have lost all sensation of pain, and had excessively modified personalities. The power was out, and no communication was possible to control or even slow the spread of the disease. And now, without transportation, the city would be held hostage by the desert. It was over 100 miles to the nearest city. Perhaps someone in good shape could make it on a bicycle, but to try the highway by foot would be suicide. It was all like a horrible, bizarre nightmare.
It took twenty or so minutes for me to make it back to my apartment. As I turned the corner on my block, I heard a familiar clank. It was the closing of the iron grate that locked the front entrance to my building.
I again broke into a run. I could see Tim struggling with the lock. He was so engrossed in the grate that he didn’t see me approach.
“Hey Tim, open it back up.”
His head snapped up and the lock slipped into place. “Oh, um, Corbin. I, uh, can’t.”
“Of course you can, just stick that key back into the lock, push the thing, and turn the handle.”
“I, I’m sorry. I just can’t. Andy said not anyone, especially, um, anyone…”
“Since when does Andy get to decide?”
“He specifically told me to…”
“Yeah, well now I’m specifically telling you let me in.” I took a step toward the grate.
Tim flinched and backed up. “Look, I’ll go ask if it’s…” He turned and scurried off.
What a pansy. I can’t believe he would actually lock me out. I could have have fumed there on the landing about Tim’s cowardice. I could have built up a pretty good anger. I would have done it, too, if I didn’t have a key. A coward and an idiot. I didn’t really want to be mad at Tim, anyway. It was Andy. I wondered why Andy would want to lock me out so bad.
After re-locking the gate, I headed for the stairs. As I reached the third floor I heard shouting. I stood still and listened for a moment. I couldn’t tell exactly what they were arguing about, but I could definitely recognize two voices: Andy and Linda.
Linda lived across the hall and worked two floors up from me at the hospital. We had been friends since the day I helped her move in. She was about fifteen years older than me, and looked great for her age.
“You’re nothing but a thief!” She was also a little feisty.
“I’ll go down and deal with him,you idiot. You finish here.” I guessed Andy was commanding Tim.
I opened the stairwell door and stepped into the hall.
My door was wide open. I could see the interior of my apartment. It had been ransacked. Andy was standing in my doorway.
I didn’t have the composure to add a tone of joking. “Don’t bother knocking. Just let yourself in.” I marched at Andy.
Startled, he turned his head toward me. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
I heard movement from inside my place. It just fueled my anger. “This is my apartment, you’re the one that’s not supposed to be here.”
As I reached Andy, he wheeled about and put a gorilla-like left hand on my chest. In his other hand, I could now see a gun. A very familiar-looking nine millimeter. My gun.
“Just calm down there, cowboy.” He gave me a shove. “We’ve got a situation here.”
I was stunned. Completely dumbfounded. They had stolen my guns and were now going to threaten me with them. I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I just clenched my jaw and glared.
“Corbin, I’m sorry, this is all my fault.” Linda had a bizarre look on her face and I couldn’t tell if she were going to burst out crying or screaming. “I just… These idiots…”
Andy stepped between us. “Someone’s gotta be willing to make the hard decisions, Core. We need to defend ourselves. She told us you had a gun locker. Only two others that we know of even have guns. You weren’t here, so I made the call.”
Tim and a man I didn’t recognize stepped through the door, each carrying a gun case and a large orange ammunition box.
The new man spoke. “I couldn’t find any more.”
“All right. Tell everyone to meet me down in the lobby.” He looked at me. “Except you. You wait here.”
“Since when can you order me around?”
“Since an hour ago, when the rest of the tenants voted me mayor of the Millers Crossing Apartments.”
Again I was shocked. I could speak this time, though. That has to be his idea. Why do people just do what he says? “Mayor? That’s got to be the single dumbest thing I have ever…”
“Every team needs a coach, Core. If you don’t do what the coach says, you get cut from the team, get it? Now wait here until we finish our meeting.” He looked back to Linda. “I’m going to forgive your little outburst this time. Since you’re all buddy-buddy with Core here, why don’t you keep him company and fill him in on the program?”
Andy lumbered for the stairs with his cronies close behind.
I was still pretty mad, but the stupidity of it all almost made me laugh. I looked at Linda.
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t even get me started.”
“Well, let’s go see how big of idiots they really are.” I motioned for her to follow, and we went in.