Like he had many times before Burton had his music loud and his eyes closed, pretending the world around him didn't exist. His desk, his laptop was all there was. Of course he was almost right, there wasn't that much left outside the window. He could see buildings, smell smoke and even a few sirens from the remaining law enforcement that hadn't simply given up or died.
If he looked straight ahead and just typed his stories and his diary he could pretend all was ok. Occasionally he looked down at the locket clenched in his hand, when his wife had died in front of him it was all he could take from her lifeless body. He just had time to tear off the necklace and kiss her cheek. There wasn't time for even a proper goodbye, the chasers were getting to close.
The locket held a picture of his wife and her mother, the pictures were from the happy and smiling days. In fact he could almost call his life the before and after happy times. There wasn't really a date as the end had come slowly, it was when it reached a place of no return that the smiles started to fade away.
The music he preferred was about beware of the machines taking over and ruining the world for man kind. The reality was pretty much the humans ruined it for the humans, the technology often being the part that screamed to stop before it was too late. The machines in fact slow down and change your ways, the humans ignored them and carried on regardless.
This apocalypse was different to the films in some ways, the population had shrunk to a few handfuls but rather then destruction everywhere it was still fairly tidy. The cars were on the street, mostly parked when the fuel ran out and the electric failed. The animals weren't roaming the streets looking for food, they had all died too.
For so many years the people in charge had argued about who polluted what, who had to pay for it and who was going to improve. Of course everyone shouted and blamed each other, and of course nothing changed. The slow and painful death of mother earth continued unbated.
The news shows reported it, the social media took selfies by it and nothing happened. As temperatures rose everyone bought more swim wear and sun oil. As the fuel ran out people finally realised electric cars may be the answer after all. That was until everyone noticed the power stations working overtime to power them up.
The problems weren't being fixed, they were being changed into new ones. Burton had worked in the local hospital and had seen a rapid increase of those who had trouble breathing. The oxygen supply barely kept up with the demand. People came in complaining the air was to thick to breathe, had a few gallons or oxygen then went straight back out to breathe in the air soup once more.
Burton had been lucky to live in flats built to house staff so had air conditioning on permanently and only a short walk to the ward he worked on. Initially he had to sneak mouthfuls from the oxygen masks , waiting for anyone coming in needing them. In the end it became so bad that staff took it in turns to have a top up of the good stuff.
His wife had been a nurse at the same hospital, which is why both could live so close. As stories appeared in the news of more and more people dying of breathing problems, dying from searing heatwaves and when the power went and nothing worked to help them anymore. No ventilation, no air purifying, no transport and no more humanity.
To save the hospital getting totally swamped Burton and his wife had joined a few staff at a medical centre a few miles away, armed with bottles of their finest breathable air. It worked well until the hospital power started to fail, the back up generators used fuel they didn't have.
The queues at the medical centre got longer and longer as locals found out they could get their oxygen hit much closer to home. Unfortunately the queues increased as the supplies went down. At first the doses were lowered to stop then running out so soon, then supplies were restricted to the most needy. This wasn't good enough for everyone, each person decided they were more important then the next and must have their fix.
Soon the clinic closed, many who couldn't travel died , the remaining few hunted to air. When it became clear the hospital had the only remaining air it became the target for the desperate and the dying. At first law enforcement tried to keep order, soon though they were just as desperate and anarchy descended.
The gangs took over the hospital, forcing staff to supply them with air. Staff that managed to avoid the gangs were forced to go to the building bottling the air and try and get some to the staff hiding in the flats. As the risk was so high it became decided by lots who would go. Every name would go in a hat, they would be drawn in pairs and would then go. Burton and Jane were a pair so once one was drawn it was assumed they would go together.
They had followed one of the numerous agreed routes, hoping to avoid anyone watching already used routes. "the chasers" were the name given to the gangs wandering the hospital grounds. Normally you would see zombies wandering slowly round, hoping to get close to someone. These were the opposite, their energy didn't last long but many were quick.
The lack of oxygen was slowly killing the chasers, any time they got an oxygen bottle it was like a computer game power up. Since Janes death Burton was unsure if he wanted to succumb to the chasers and give in or to try harder so more died off. The problem he noticed today was that as more chasers died more appeared.
He wasn't sure if he could go on, not sure he even wanted to any more. Jane was gone, the world was gone and the batteries for his music player were nearly used up. Also they had just drawn todays oxygen runner, as the numbers of surviving staff was getting lower it was now a single person job.
It was approaching dark, thought as of the best time to go. Burton though had decided a different approach for tonight. He had noticed a large crowd of chasers moving outside, he knew he didn't have the energy to race them anymore.
He got Janes locket, wrapped it round his wrist and got prepared. He picked up his music player and head phones and went outside. He walked slowly to the bench by the hospital, sat down and put his music on. He turned the music up and closed his eyes, pretending the world around him wasn't there. Then the chasers closed in.
About the Creator
England based carer, live with my wife, her parents and 4 cats. will write for all areas but especially mental health and disability. though as stuff for filthy seems popular will try there . any comments, suggestions or requests considered