John kicked the rock with his right shoe. It was a running shoe. It was old, dusty and rumpled. Maybe an Adidas at one time, but the logo had been worn out. He had been kicking the rock for some time now as he walked, following the highway. In what felt like a Marathon but was probably more like 6 miles, he had not seen a single car. He was thirsty and exhausted, and decided to take a brake over by a tree in the shade.
It was probably about 2 in the afternoon, and the sun was shinning bright. John wondered where he was. He was on a highway running through the middle of a forest. He tried, but realized he couldnʼt quite match the names of states with terrain, except for the obvious ones, like tropical and Hawaii, or Nevada and Desert.
But wait, isnʼt that a breakthrough in and of itself? I just thought of states, like Hawaii and Nevada. That must mean United States. Iʼm an American! He thought to himself.
Along the way he had made from his car to here, he had subconsciously been making up stories. He half hoped he was someone special. Maybe someone on a test for the government. Theyʼd given him some kind of Amnesia drug to see how he would cope. Or maybe he learned something he shouldnʼt have.
Of course, he expected something more reasonable. He had probably been speeding to work or something in some far away town on a road not normally traveled when heʼd fallen asleep at the wheel or something more like that.
It had obviously been there for some time, but he only now realized it as he started breathing through his nose. There was a far away stench coming down the road from up wind. At that point it was faint, but vary strong. He couldnʼt describe it.
As he walked, the stench got stronger, more intense. Eventually it was nauseating, but he new it must mean there was something close, even if it did stink, he wanted to find people.
He saw a sign on the side of the road as he walked. It was bent in the middle slightly, as if part of a car accident at one time, the way a lot of signs were. But it was old and scratched, dust and rust clumping to the ridges the scratches left. He looked at it for a while, but the only thing he could make out under the age was graffiti. He continued on.
As he came around the next corner, He saw a town. It looked like a small town. He walked down the road passing a few houses. He was excited, and for a moment forgot the smell, as he started to run.
But he did not like what he saw. As he got closer to the main part of the town, he found that it looked uninhabited. The road was old, with those little rocks or pieces of gravel that scattered the street, along with occasional ruff spots and cracks. The lines on the road were faded, and most of the bumps separating the bike lane from the main street were crumbling or broken away.
That was when he noticed the stench again, strong. He accidentally got a good inhale from his nose and it gave him sharp nausea. He covered his mouth and nose with his shirt, and broth in through his mouth.
He had a bad feeling about all of this, although he didnʼt want to think the idea to himself.
On the side of the road was a shop with a big glass window showing into it. It was dusty, and the room inside was dark, so he couldnʼt see. The outside of the shop red FIRST STOP, on the outside. It was a convenience store.
He walked up to the window, wiping an eye hole away from the dust, and put his face to it. He looked around. It was dark, so he couldnʼt see much. There was counter, with a rack of candy underneath it. Very typical, except for the dust that had piled there. Most of the candy looked flat, as if it had milted in its wrappers. He then looked harder, and could see behind the counter. There was someone sitting in a chair, staring at him.
He jumped. Seeing someone startled him after he hadnʼt expected to see anyone in the ghost town was slightly shocking.
But as he kept looking, he suddenly shuttered and literally jumped, moving back from the window. It was a man, but he was dead, sitting in the chair in his store uniform. His skin was shriveled and tight against his bones, and his eyes had shrunk from beings exposed to the air so long.
He hurled. Vomit erupted from his mouth, launching onto the sidewalk. He didnʼt know if it was just how sickening it was to see the dead body, or the putrid smell that seemed to come from the entire town, or that heʼd been walking in the hot sun for 3 hours. Probably a mixture.
John didn't wast a moment before running faster then he ever had. He ran back the way he came until he was out of the town. He didnʼt know if anyone else in the town was alive or not, or even if he hadnʼt seen exactly what he thought. It was dark and he only got a glimpse.
Really, he didnʼt care altogether, though. He was scared. He didnʼt want to venture any where in the same direction of the town again. He knew that that smell was too strong to be anything but rotting flesh, and there was too much for it to be only one body. He guessed everyone in the town was dead.
He walked over to the side of the road, next to a tree, and once again puked. This time it was less strong. He did not rocket puke all over the tree, put only spat a few chunks of disgustingness on the ground.
John just wanted to go home. But oh, wait, he didnʼt even know that he had one. He didnʼt even know where he was. Who he was.
He felt sick.