"Echo 3 to Echo 7, Craig old buddy, do ya read me?"
"Read you loud and clear kid, what's up?"
I rolled my eyes at that. I was more than aware that calling me "kid" was all part of the return quote that I had started, but the way that Craig said it left not doubt that he was once again teasing me for being the younger one in our pair. You'd never know it to look at us though. I was taller, had more facial hair, and sported an athletically toned body. I guess Craig got to be older because, well he had to have something.
I joke of course, that's what best friends do, and that's what we are, what we were, even before circumstances narrowed down our choices by, well let's see, approximately a lot. Nowadays, Craig was not just my best friend, but my only friend so far as I knew.
Yeah I know that sounds a little odd that I'm unsure of my number of friendships, but life has changed rather radically from what it used to be. The days of staying up til three in the morning to slay thousands of zombies in high definition, had become the days of staying up until three in the morning to slay thousands of zombies in actual definition. The graphics on them were stunning, you'd think they were capable of just reaching out and grabbing you.
Oh that's right, they could.
"Things are looking clear on my end," I said into the walkie-talkie velcroed to my shoulder. "The buggers are finally calling it quits."
"Speak for yourself!" Craig replied with a grunt. There was some static and then I could barely make out "They're all over me-" and his voice once again cut out in a sea of static.
"Hold on Craig I'm coming!" I shouted, mentally playing the accompanying theme song to the quote I had made unintentionally. Unintentionally because Craig wouldn't have understood the reference, it was from a television series from the 70's and 80's, an anime show called "Robotech." It was on my list of things to introduce him to, but as it always had, the universe was determined to screw with our plans. Only this time it went beyond something trivial like bad luck with a camera, and became more apocalyptic in significance.
I charged down the hallway of Craig's house, one of two bases we had setup here since our return. We had always joked that this place was stocked up well enough to survive the end of the world. At the time we hadn't expected that one day we'd put that hypothesis to the test.
The door to Craig's watch area was open, and I came through, weapon raised, ready to-
Ready to see Craig laughing apparently. I frowned, lowering my firearm to point it at the ground. It wasn't a loud laugh, if you didn't know it for what it was, you might have mistaken it for suppressed coughing or something.
"I find your lack of quote, disturbing" he said in a low voice. When I raised my eyebrow questioningly he elaborated, "The clone pilot in the beginning of episode thr-"
"Ohh, right. Well I'll just consider that first the next time I think you're dying."
Craig grinned, "Well at least if I die, I'll die with the knowledge that you're doing something more important."
"Quoting is not more important than saving your life" I said, knowing full well that he was messing with me. "Well, it appears that you're all set here. Guess we'll start the nighttime preparations?"
He nodded, and let out a sigh, "Back to work already I guess."
"Want me to take first watch?" I already knew the answer, but asking had become a habit.
"No I've got it. I'll wake you at the usual time."
We commenced with a quick perimeter check, making temporary repairs as needed. The main goal was to make sure the defenses lasted the night. The next morning would see the longer repairs take place. After the inspection, we moved to the the kitchen, or what passed for it. The only thing that still fulfilled its purpose of making food, was the small gas grill on the counter. The meal tonight was the same as it always was, hot-dogs and chips. This was the meal of choice not only because of availability, but also out of necessity. Craig was allergic to just about everything aside from pork, fish, and potato. We didn't have the supplies to keep fish good for any amount of time, which meant hot-dogs and chips it was.
It was dark by the time the nightly routine was finished. Craig went to take up the first watch, while I crawled into one of the beds, offering a silent thanks as I always did. We had, traveled, extensively before returning to our hometown, and there was many a night where the luxury of a bed was something we couldn't afford. You never quite grasped the beauty of something as simple as a mattress with blankets, until you went without it.
It didn't take long to fall into slumber's embrace as the telltale clicks of Craig's cell punctured the quiet.