It was quiet that Sunday morning. I lay awake in bed, stretching my legs beneath the starched white sheets crumpled around me. There were no sounds of gunfire, no bombs dropping on the horizon. In fact, there wasn't even the sound of my downstairs neighbors doing laundry.
In a sense, it was kind of peculiar.
But I didn't want to confront the world just yet. I deserved a little peace in my bed on a day that was traditionally restful--although for the past few months all it had meant was a break in the constant warfare.
My stomach started to growl. I had fresh eggs in the icebox--a rare treat, considering most of the livestock was dead after the nuclear attacks became more frequent.
Padding down the hall, feeling the winter air of the desert stealing the warmth from my body, I went into the kitchen and pulled out a rusty frying pan from the cupboard overhead. I poured in a good amount of synthetic oil and turned on the burner of the stove.
That is, tried to.
There was no electricity. Puzzled, I stood there for a moment, staring at the machine as though that would fix the problem.
I went to the icebox. No power there either. The lights wouldn't turn on. And no wonder my flat was so cold--the thermostat was dead.
In the hallway outside, things were murky. The lighting that normally illuminated the enclosed hallway was off as well. No sounds came from any of my neighbors' flats.
I knocked on the door across from mine.
"Jesse? It's Xavier. Is your power out?"
There was no answer.
"Jesse?" I tried again. Still no response.
Maybe they're all dead. Maybe someone got them in their sleep. The power's out. It could have been a hydrogen bomb. Another nuclear attack? A biological weapon?
I paused, frowning.
How could I have slept through that?
I knocked on the next door. No answer. It was a trend. No one was home in the flats around mine.
Panic started to course through me. I ran towards the stairs, opening the door and skidding inside the stairwell.
I gagged as a wave of putrid air hit me. It smelled like burned hair.
My hands started to tremble, but I grabbed the railing and ran down the stairs, bursting out of the building and into the street.
It was the wrong decision.
They were everywhere. Bodies. Just...lying there. No injuries. Just dead.
A woman lying next to the doorway was clutching a bag of groceries, her hand extended. I was tempted to stare, but looked away. She was my neighbor, but she was missing all her hair. And there was merely a jagged line where her mouth should have been, bloody and scarred.
I nudged her with my toe.
Another bad decision.
Her hand twitched, and then I saw her nostrils flare. I started to back away. She blinked a few times, and then she began to writhe.