Bood and Water!
Melanie’s thirst was insatiable as she pushed down again on the old pump handle, summoning another refreshing torrent of water. She drank, filled her water bottle, and then doused her head and neck, cooling her body down, slurping the last drops as the gushing flow trailed off into rivulets. She had had her fill. Not so insatiable after all, she mused.
The well pump was located in back, conveniently visible from the driveway of the farmhouse she had been approaching for the last hour. When she spied the pump, she had paid no mind to the state of the house, or to whether it was occupied or not. She regarded it now.
Before their escape module had crashed, she could see that all of North and South America were dark. This was no doubt the result of the giant solar storm that took out the ISS’s systems. She was pretty sure that anarchy reigned in the cities, but unsure if its ugliness had yet taken root in the more rural western states, where she was. Being one to not take chances, she approached the house with care, hoping that her caution was overdone, and she would find Ma and Pa Kettle having their Sunday dinner. Speaking of which, she was hungry.
She painstakingly peeked in each of the back windows, following the wrap-around porch, finding no one moving about. However, there were several signs of occupancy, and one in particular that caused her concern. Her vision and focus, previously lost in a haze of dehydration, were now sharp and hyper aware as she approached the back door. Its small window, about chest height to her, was broken. She peeked through the jagged opening, looking into the home’s kitchen. A light breeze blew through the opening, brushing the single curtain aside, and then letting it fall back into place. Each breeze revealed more of what she was looking at: lots of dishes and discarded food strewn around the kitchen; a wood-burning stove–it was on, its heat visible–and resting on top, an old camp-fire coffeepot with steam gushing from its spout; and a man.
Melanie hurriedly looked to her left and then right and then back through the breach again, attempting to will the curtain aside once more so that she could see. A man with crazy hair dressed in overalls walked out of a large pantry into the kitchen. He wrapped a folded towel around the coffeepot’s handle to temper the heat.
One of the porch’s old wood floor boards creaked, sounding an alarm behind her. She spun, shocked, as she was staring at the ugliest mug of a man she could ever remember seeing. Rotten breath and the words, “What do we have here?” spilled from a mouth missing several teeth. The gun he pointed at her and everything about him announced this was one bad dude.
ML Banner is a writer of apocalyptic fiction. Find out more about ML Banner here: