All was silent as the Mai-Thai sputtered to the dock. The tide slowly rubbed the bow on the wooden boards and Ike leapt up with line in hand to tie up the remains of their rescue vehicle.
The quiet was deafening. Only the splash of the waves on the shore and the scraping sound of the Mai-Thai against the splintered timbers interrupted the quiet.
Ike stood and looked slowly around the abandoned dock. There was no sign of life or that life had existed here for some time.
“Hey buster, what about me?” Ginger said as she stood on the rocking deck with arm outstretched.
Ike lean over and with a grasp to her forearm, jerked her up to the dock.
“Thanks!” she huffed brushing herself off, “ Where is everybody?”
The both froze as if in a vacant time.
The hulk of Ike’s car, the Silver Bullet still sat in wait of its former owners, but only a shell of its former life.
As Ike and Ginger approached they saw the silver body, doors open, rag roof down and trunk open. All the tires were flat and the dashboard had been torn off with only dangling wires hanging from the holes where the latest technology had occupied.
Ike stood at the door and looked down at the ripped leather seats. He had spent many miles in this chariot. The memories flooded his mind in a quick flashback journey.
“Ike!” Ginger screamed as she had wandered off toward the shipping station.
Ike turned and jetted to her side, body tense.
“There….there. Look at that” she stammered.
Behind the shipping station were bodies. Bloated by the sun. Some were charred. Some were with suitcases as if to travel. Others were partially clothed.
“Don’t get too close,” Ike restrained Ginger’s inner emotion to go and assist. “We don’t know what we have here.”
He looked around for some sign of life. There was no one.
Backing away from the dead, he peered into the stations window. Wiping away the dust, he saw more shadowy figures on the floor, some on top of each other. There was on lying at the desk, face down, arms limp at the side.
“Let’s move on, there is nothing here for us.”
He turned toward the road that had brought them to this point so many months ago.
“What about transportation?” Ginger said, slowing the pace.
“You want to call a taxi? I through away the Silver Bullet’s keys and I don’t think it is going anywhere anyway. “
“Maybe we should try to use the phone?” she turned to the station.
“Do you want to go in there?”
“OK then, let’s move on and see what else we can find.”
Ike thought to himself this might have been the results of the riots, but why weren’t there anyone else around. Army? Police? EMS? Fire?
“Do we need to take anything from the boat?” Ginger asked.
They both turned back and smiled as the Mai-Thai gave its last gasp and sank next to the dock that could no longer hold her up. A loud splash followed as the entire dock sank like dominoes into the water.
So they both turned and started walking down the road.
The sun was about to go down. Ike knew there was a small inn about a mile from the docking area, so that was his next destination.
As they arrived at the inn, there was complete darkness. There was no moonlight or any sign of any life inside. Only the shapes of dark against the sky gave sense to direction.
They felt their way toward the building, hoping to feel a window or a door.
“Oh” said Ginger as her foot stepped on softness. She poked her foot around the object and said, “ It’s another body.”
“I’ve got a couple over here too, step over them and move forward.”
“Yuck” Ginger winched and stepped over the mass of rotting flesh. “The smell around here is not so good either” she said poking here foot in front of her searching for more death.
“Follow my voice,” Ike said, “I’ve found a doorway.”
“Do you think anyone is….” Thud. “Damn!”
“Yeah, I tripped over another one of these corpses. They are everywhere.”
Ginger picked herself up and continued to move forward. Thud. Another roadblock with a kick of frustration.
“OK, looked for a flashlight or candle or something that will light this place up. We’ve got to see what is going on.” Ike said in his most professional voice.
Once inside they split up gently feeling their way in the blackness. Opening cupboards and rubbing along counters. Reaching inside on drawer, a discovery.
“I’ve got a wax stick!” Ginger cried out.
Ike joined her and reached into his pants pocket. His trusty knife had been wet, but it might still work. He pressed a button and a spark briefly brightened the room.
“Ow!” he said as the light dimmed and the knife dropped to the floor. “Damn I never remember which end that thing lights up” Ike said in the dark, licking his hand.
After retrieving his pride and his knife, he pressed again and the spark became a flame. Ginger held the candle and the light brightened.
“Here’s another one” she said handing Ike another lit candle.
Back to back they surveyed the area.
There were no bodies inside the room. Everything looked as if time had stopped. Plates and glasses were on the dining room table awaiting a meal. A clock on the mantle above a stone fireplace clicked in sequence. Ginger touched the quilt over the back of the deep sofa.
“Let’s light a fire.”
A little resourcefulness and some trying, the room was a glow with warmth and light. They found some candle holders, matches, and the most important, bottles of wine.
“That’s a great wine cellar” Ike smiled as he popped the first cork with his trusty knife’s corkscrew.
“What’s the year?” Ginger quipped grabbing two glasses off the table.
“Does it matter?”
“Not really” Ginger quietly said placing the glasses for Ike to pour the red refreshment. “So what do you think happened here?”
Ike filled his glass and walked to the window. There were shadows on the ground lit by the fireplace. Mound after mound of desperate yet unsuccessful flight.
“I don’t know but it seems it happened very fast.”
“Was it the riot?” Ginger remembered her quick retreat.
“No, I think this is bigger than that. A lot bigger.”
Searching around the room for a note, or message, or newspaper to hint at the disaster befalling this place.
“What’s this?” Ike questioned picking up a radio.
Having already tried the electricity and realizing there was no power, he unplugged the radio and turned the knob on the top of the small metal case. Click.
“…..” Ike tuned the knob, then….” This is an emergency message….this is…emergency message…..this…….emer….” Ike continued to turn the knob.
“THIS IS AN EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION TO ALL PEOPLES OF THE WORLD. THE A2O2 FLU IS SPREADING AND THERE IS NO MORE MEDICINE. STAY INSIDE AND AWAY FROM ANY CONTACT WITH ANYONE ELSE. NO CONTACT! EVEN YOUR FAMILY. DO NOT GO OUTSIDE FOR ANY REASON. THE A2O2 IS BEING TRANSFERRED ON CONTACT. MONEY, FOOD, TRANSPORTATION, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION. …THIS IS AN EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION TO ALL PEOPLES OF THE WORLD. THE A2O2 FLU IS SPREADING AND THERE IS NO MORE MEDICINE. STAY INSIDE AND AWAY FROM ANY CONTACT WITH ANYONE ELSE. NO CONTACT! …” the message continued.
Ike stood quietly looking at the box, then glanced out the window again.
“Ike, we touch those…those bodies!” Ginger screamed panic in her face.
“You feel OK? I feel OK. I’m not hot or sick, maybe a little drunk.” Ike calmly replied trying to calm Ginger’s nerves.
“Yeah, I feel OK I guess. Give me another shot.” Ginger smiled stretching out her empty glass.
“Let’s sleep on it and see how we are in the morning when the sun comes up.”
Sipping from her refreshed glass Ginger yawned,” OK, just one more glass.” Her eyelids started to drop.
Ike looked out the window at the shadows and thought.
“What was this? What had happened in such a short time? How far did this go? How long had it been since the world was healthy and normal and “Puppywoods” was the center of their universe?
Turning back to the light, he quietly walked over to Ginger and covered her with the quilt on the sofa. Eyes closed she smiled and pulled the corner toward her.
They would sleep tonight but there would be little rest.