Ok let me start this story from the beginning. I'm a twenty-five year old college grad with a tight slim athletic build six foot even and 165 pounds. I have a shaggy haircut, a piercing or two, and a couple of awesome tats. I'm the senior IT guy at my company's Dallas office. My team of three supports 230 users and I pretty much call the shots. I would say that I've done pretty well for myself.
I'm going to try to write down everything that happened, though it might be a bit confusing so try to keep up.
This morning my alarm clock went off at the same time, 05:15 to Jack FM. I got up, peed, fed my dog, poured a cup of coffee, went to my computer to read email and surf porn. You know... Same bat time, same bat channel.
When the dog finished eating it was time for her to go out, still very much routine. I let her back in and later praised her for leaving me a nice big pile of poo that I would have to pick up later after it stopped steaming.
Next on my list was 'shit, shower, and shave' as my old man would say. Looking at the clock it was now 06:05. I finished up in the bathroom and went to the closet to pick something to wear. This part wasn't too difficult, jeans, polo shirt, and my comfy sneakers. Looking myself over in the mirror, not too bad I thought.
Now in the kitchen with the frig door hanging open trying to decide, English muffin with Swiss or yogurt... I do this every day even though I know what's in the damned frig. I live alone so yea kind of stupid, it must be a 'guy thing'. Ok toasted English muffin with a slice of Swiss on each side.
Lights off, coffee pot off... Check! Coat on. Sling my curriers laptop bag on my shoulder, juggle house keys with my English muffin... I made it thru my gate...Success. Oh great... fog, at least I'm not driving in it.
I walk to the bus stop every morning eating my muffin on the way. Still very much routine and at 06:28 I'm on time too. Something on the periphery of my mind registered as not quite right, but whatever it was couldn't compete with my muffin. The walk through my neighborhood was uneventful, not that I expected anything more. Things started to catch my attention though once I got to the main street about three blocks from the DART station. Though not a busy street, there were no cars at all. There were no kids waiting at the corner for the school bus. Then it got really creepy, there usually was a low frequency noise from the freeway three miles away that was absent. Puzzled I thought 'Damn is it a holiday or something?' Nope... that part I was sure of.
I found the bus station deserted. A single bus sat empty at its stop, the engine running with the four-way flashers blinking. Time: 06:45. This station should be busy since it was a main route to down town. Now I'm starting to freak out. I turned and ran back home.
First thing in the door I turn on the TV. At this time, 06:53 there should be something on the locals. To my dismay there is nothing, not even a test pattern, even CNN was blank. I was scared. I slipped my bag off my shoulder onto the floor.
Ok. I sat down and tried to get a grip. I processed everything I knew up to the moment. I still had nothing.
My Phone! I have friends that are up and doing the same routine, I called my friend Paul. Odd, he usually calls or texts me about this time wishing me a 'happy hump day' or something silly like that... no answer.
I called my boss, the one with the blackberry surgically attached to his ear... No Answer.
Mom, she is up reading the newspaper with her dry toast and hot tea... NO ANSWER. I need to get control of myself or I'm gonna make a raid on the bottle of valium which just won't do right now.
What I did next really had no conscious thought connected to it. I went to my bedroom closet and grabbed my .40 caliber auto, both clips, the 'economy' (read: redneck size) box of shells and slipped my eight inch hunting knife in my belt. Growing up in the Arizona desert and three years as a National Guardsman with three more years to go, I knew my way around weapons.
Son of a bitch, I couldn't find my damned keys. Retracing my steps... Mom says things are always in the last place you look, which is the dumbest thing... of course they are in the last place you look, why would you continue to search? DUH! Found them, still in the door. I called out, 'wanna go for a ride' and in moments Mandy, my chocolate Lab was at my side tail wagging madly and ready to go.
She barely let me open the door before she was jumping in the front seat of the truck. My truck roared to life as usual, thank god something was normal this morning.
Nothing had changed in the neighborhood. The sun is coming up and the fog was starting to clear. I drove the three miles to the freeway and found more of the same, nothing at all. The minute that I made the decision to drive the loop around the city the low fuel light came on with the accompanied chime, "Ding... Ding... Ding" Oh just Great...
I pulled off the freeway and into a QT... at $2.74 a gallon it's still the cheapest gas. My ATM card worked, I smiled... sort of. The QT store was lit and also vacant. I had no desire to go inside since visions of 'Shawn of the Dead' were going thru my head at that very moment. Hey damnit don't laugh, it's a real concern!
I had my back to the store when I heard a soda-can scuttle across the parking lot. I almost snapped my neck when I whipped around at the sound, pistol in hand. 'I'm getting jumpy' I thought to myself, then it registered... some guy had kicked the can. Slowly I re-holstered my pistol. He was about my age and size, mousy brown hair and a five o'clock shadow. Poor guy looked like hell, his shoelaces were loose and dragging, flannel jammie pants hanging low on his hips, a plain white wife beater not quite covering his flat stomach and an open jacket.
I stopped the gas pump and called out to him. "Dude!" I said. "Do you know what's going on?"
"No what? Just got up and I need some coffee." He answered
"I doubt they have coffee in there. Haven't you noticed the total lack of traffic or people on their way to work or school? Or the cop that is always on that corner over there?" I pointed across the street.
"What the fuck dude, are you're whacked or something?"
I stood there in disbelief, this guy was oblivious. He entered the store and went to the beverage counter. I stood there watching for a minute or two. I wasn't sure what he was doing.
He came back out. "Fuck they have no coffee!"
"Told you," I returned to finish pumping gas. A couple of minutes later Mandy started barking, 'Dude' was coming up to the truck.
"Where is everybody?" as he looked to the north along the southbound lanes of the empty freeway.
Now he wakes up and smells the coffee... so to speak. "No idea dude. I've been up since 5:15 and didn't notice anything wrong till almost 7:00." I held out my hand and introduced myself. "I'm Marc Dietz and that's Mandy."
"Hey, I'm Trace Evans."
"Good to meet you Trace. I'm going to drive around the city and see if I can figure something out, let's meet up later for a beer and I'll tell you what I find out there today. Have you got a weapon? You probably should have one."
I reached into the truck, "Hush Mandy." I wrote my cell number and my address on the back of my business card and gave it to him. Reluctantly he gave me his.
I was so stressed but after meeting Trace I was confident that I would meet others.
I was so wrong! The loop around the city was just as barren as the short stretch of freeway near my house.
I work for a medical conglomerate. We buy up Doctors practices and after a year or two we rape them for resources, well I don't but home office does, it's a brutal business. I stopped at the office which is in the medical plaza near the large Presbyterian hospital and found my office empty. While I was there I even checked the security system logs. No one had come in or out in over nine hours, and the last badge the system read was the cleaning crew.
At this point I was scared that I would find more of the same everywhere I looked. It was 09:30, well into the business day. I walked with Mandy across the parking lot to the hospital. The ER entrance was closest, so that's where I went. Two EMS vans were in the driveway rear doors standing open and engines still puffin diesel smoke. I pulled Mandy's leash close and entered the ER entrance. The door automatically slid open as it was supposed to. I was dumbfounded, this emergency room was one of the busiest in town and it was empty of patients and staff. It took us several hours but Mandy and I walked the entire six-floor hospital, patient rooms, labor and delivery, the nursery, ICU, staff areas, even the kitchen and still nothing.
I was feeling awfully discouraged. I once thought that being the only person left alive would be cool after seeing Charlton Heston in "Omega Man" as a kid. The reality of it was not cool at all.
It was 13:00 now and I was hungry. I remembered the Cafeteria had wrapped sandwiches that still looked fresh so we headed there.
I un-wrapped a roast beef sandwich and tossed one to Mandy. Gone in three point two nano-seconds! I ate mine a bit slower. Since there wasn't anyone around I took Mandy's leash off and stuffed it in my coat pocket. I grabbed as many of the sandwiches that I could carry. "Come on Mandy, let's go for a ride."
We got to the truck and Mandy jumped in as I looked for a plastic Wal-Mart bag. I have a ton of them... usually. I make a halfhearted effort to recycle them. At last, I found one under the jump seat with a roll of toilet paper inside, leftovers from the last camping trip. I put the roll back under the jump seat and dumped the sandwiches in and guarded the bag from Mandy's bottomless stomach. Satisfied, I turned the key and click...click...click. Oh fuck, now is not the time for a dead battery. Too many things going on at once, I think I'm going to lose my mind.
I sat back and stared out the side window... and then I had an idea. "Well Mandy, I think we should go shopping." With a true smile on my face this time, I stared at the brand new Dodge trucks on display at the dealership on the corner opposite the hospital. Come on Mandy, we deserve something nice and new. She didn't know anything except that I was carrying a bag full of roast beef sandwiches and she was not going to leave my side. I swear I do feed this dog! Mandy and I crossed the street and walked among the pretty new trucks. I was a happy man. I scanned all the choices and picked three, wrote the stock numbers on my hand with an ink pen and went to hunt the keys in the show room.
When I got my current truck a few years ago, a couple of my friends made fun of it saying it was a 'butch lesbian's truck'. I was less than amused. The trucks I had my eyes on were more 'manly' I thought as I chuckled to myself.
The keys were not as hard to find as they were to get at. A visit to the service department to get a crowbar made short work of the large locked built-in key box. I found all three sets of keys so my biggest issue was, between the three identically equipped trucks what color did I want. "Well Mandy, charcoal, dark blue, or khaki?" She looked at me and cocked her head. I know she said, 'I want another sandwich.' "Yea you're right, the charcoal one." With the correct set of keys I got the door opened for her, she jumped into the back seat. She watched me like a hawk as I placed the bag of sandwiches in the center console. I turned the key and the Cummings diesel roared to life, Nice. The day had warmed up so down went the windows, which pleased Mandy to no end.
It was now 14:30 and after another quick stop at the QT it was back onto the freeway. I had a thought as I passed the wet line. Hmmm liquor... I need a stiff drink. I turned my new truck around and fished my phone out of my back pocket.
"Trace, I'm at the liquor store. What's your poison?"
"Crown for me."
"Ok got ya covered, come over to my place about five or whenever. I will stop and get a couple of steaks to toss on the grill. Then we can get drunk and hope when we wake up tomorrow that it had all been just a bad dream."
"Damn." I thought to myself, "This truck drives nice." I stopped at the store and found the biggest best-looking steaks I could find. Salad fixins, potatoes for baking, what looked like fresh bread and a cheese cake... Done.
After I got home I got to work on dinner. Barbeque coals were perfect, mesquite chips added for smoke and flavor. Potatoes baking, salad ready and the table set. A variety of drink mixers in the frig, ice in the freezer, and about twenty bottles of liquor. A man with a full bar is a happy man you know. Trace showed up just before five while I was out checking the steaks. Mandy met him at the gate chewing a tennis ball.
"Hey Trace, steaks just went on just a bit ago. How do you like yours?"
"Medium rare for me."
"Then they are done... The bar is fully stocked, go help yourself. I will be right behind you."
By the time I got the food to the table he was on his second crown and coke.
I sat down and began fixing my plate and my potato. "So what did you find today?" I asked.
"Not a god damned thing. I went to all the usual places I go and it's all a fuckin ghost town. I looked for Jennifer most of the day but she is gone too."
"Jennifer is your girlfriend I take it?"
"Yea we were getting married this summer in Cancun." It seemed to me that he was on the edge of an emotional breakdown.
After only a few bites of my steak I ended up just picking at my food, "Man, I'm sorry. I guess I'm lucky in that respect. I've been single for two years so I have nobody besides Mandy."
The conversation that evening made us realize that we weren't really that hungry after all. It turned out that Mandy had a great dinner.
"Where is the bathroom?"
"Down the hall first door on the right" I slowly got up and cleared the table.
We drank heavily into the night. Trace passed out at the table. I was nearly there myself but I managed to get him onto the sofa. I pulled a blanket out of the linen closet. I was about to cover him with the blanket when I had a horny moment, I noticed his shirt was pulled up exposing his tight fuzzy belly. I covered him up quickly and went to bed.
The next morning I was up making breakfast. Trace started moving. Soon he too was up and off to the bathroom. He walked back from the hall. "You're a god damned faggot aren't you?"
He must have noticed the male calendar just inside the office door. "Well I like guys, what does it matter?"
"I don't hang around fags."
"Sorry, but by the looks of it you either hang out with me or you hang out alone. The choice is yours, just make it fast. I'm going have breakfast and sit outside by the pool."
He stormed off and I didn't see Trace for about a month. I still keep my cell phone charged and with me always, I keep trying to call people I know in the off chance.
One afternoon it rang, it was Trace. He was hurt and called me for help. I didn't even think about it and rushed to where he was. He had been attacked by a big dog. It bit him several times. It served the bastard right for that faggot comment.
He was a bloody mess when I got to him. It looked like he was able to kill the damned dog with some kind of pipe. I started to pull his pants down. "What the hell are you doing faggot?"
"Damnit Trace, I need to see how bad it is and I can't do it through your jeans." He had nasty bites all over his extremities. "Dude, I'm going to have to get this cleaned up, you're still bleeding too. I need to get you in the truck and over to the ER." The hospital was just a few blocks away. I had to carry him to the truck and he was white as a sheet. I was relieved he had passed out on the way. I got him into the ER and onto an exam table; I took his pants the rest of the way off and noted that he was going commando, I shut that part of my brain off and started cleaning the wounds. Several puncture wounds were deep and bleeding, I chose to put a stitch in four of them.
I was rummaging in the med cabinet looking for an injectable antibiotic when he woke up. "Where are my pants faggot?" watching me load a syringe. "What are you doing?"
"Your pants are ripped and blood soaked over there in the trash." A bit of evil flashed in my thoughts. I pointed at his hairy ass. "I couldn't find a veterinarian for medication so you will have to do with human drugs. I'm giving you an antibiotic as long as your monkey-ass isn't allergic to vancomycin."
I was a medic augmentee in the guard and have had experience with his type. I stuck; no correction I stabbed his ass with the needle and injected him, he let out a howl. "Sorry I'm not your type... but I do love your fuzzy butt." I slapped his ass cheek after I removed the needle from it. He did not like that at all but it made me feel better. "Seriously Trace, you had several really deep wounds that would not stop bleeding; I put a stitch in four of them. They will have to come out in a week to ten days. The bites on your lower leg aren't bad but they will need to stay clean and dressed. If you will stay here I will go find you another pair of pants before I take you back to your place."
"Hell no you will run off and leave me here."
"Trace you're the asshole here, not me." I shook my head, "I don't know what you're your problem is, I've already seen it and I thought it was a little small." He answered with a long stream of obscenities, "Fine wrap the blanket around yourself if you're that bashful and lets go together to find you some pants."
I called him one afternoon about two weeks later to remind him that the stitches should be removed and to tell him that I was moving following a water main break in the house. That was a month ago, he finally came around. For several reasons I decided to move into one of those uptown yuppie apartment high-rises. Trace called me again and decided to take an apartment next to mine a few days later. We used the floor below us as a larder full of freezers and dry goods. He is still an asshole but I've grown to like him a lot. I dare say that it feels a lot like love but if he ever heard me say it or if he read my journal he would fly into such a raging fit.
He healed well from the attack and now carries a pistol with him at all times. We get along great now, he still calls me faggot but with a smile. I call him a rug-munchin-ape-man and throw plastic bananas at him. I sometimes pull the hair on his arms, legs, chest whatever I can grab between my fingers. He yelps and he slugs me playfully. We get to laughing and it's all good, but I can't dwell on him too much otherwise I get turned on in a bad way.
One hot summer evening I was lying nude at the pool and to my surprise Trace joined me, 'looks like he may be lightening up' I thought. About an hour later I started the coals in the BBQ beside the pool, Trace walked up behind me a few moments later with an apron, "here, don't burn your dangly bits any more than they are." I laughed and took the apron and put it on. It felt like a hospital gown with my bare ass hanging out.
That night we ate outside at the pool and ended up getting really drunk. I passed out and woke up in the middle of the night back in my bed with Trace nuzzling my neck spooning me, him in his underwear. I really don't know what happened before that and it really didn't matter, waking up in his arms with his slow steady breathing at the nape of my neck would stick in my memory for years. We have both seen each other dash to the bathroom with morning wood but I had never felt his pressing into my back. He stirred and woke, got up and went to pee. I thought he would go back to his apartment after he was finished, I was wrong. He climbed back in bed behind me pulled me close said good morning then nuzzled my neck again and fell back to sleep. I was shocked and slowly moved my hand up to his arm and pulled him in tighter.
We never spoke about it but it has happened several times since and not always following a drinking binge. I know in my heart that we shared something special and even though it's not a sexual thing it is what keeps me going.
This morning I woke up to Mandy barking and raising hell. The building was on fire and the floor we lived on was full of smoke. I got out of bed and was instantly alert yelling Trace's name at a full run. Trace was in his apartment and still in bed, the smoke hung thickly in the air. I dragged him out of bed by his feet, his head hit the floor I didn't have time to be gentile. I got him standing and alert in the center hall when the fuel tanks on the generator exploded. I was badly hurt by falling debris; Trace was hurt too though not as seriously as I was. Mandy was dead under a pile of rubble. The building was collapsing and we were trapped.
Trace moved us against the wall and held me close. He tried to keep the debris off of us. I saw the signs of substantial internal bleeding and we both knew I was dying. I just lay my head on his hairy chest.
"I love you more than anyone I've ever known. I love you so much it hurts."
He stroked my face gently, "I know. I love you too buddy." and kissed me.
"Mister Dietz, can you hear me?"
I came to with some bitch shining a bright light in my eyes.
What the fuck? I couldn't move and I started to panic, I rolled my eyes all over trying to make sense. It looked like I was in a hospital room. Where did this woman come from? Trace and I had been alone for over two years. We both had scoured the city looking for another living person with no luck. I noticed someone in the bed beside me. It was Trace and he was looking at me smiling. I blacked out again.
What seemed like hours later I woke up again and saw Trace sitting in the chair between the window and my bed watching me. My voice didn't want to work but I managed to croak out. "What is going on?"
"I don't know buddy, but one thing I do know." He held up a newspaper and showed me the date. "As impossible as it sounds, I don't think the last couple of years really happened. Jennifer is here now talking with the doctor."
Our caseworker came into the room at that moment carrying her laptop. "Good afternoon gentlemen, I need to get some information from you both." She was an older lady, maybe 55 years or so. Before she started questioning us she seemed to remember something and reached into her white coat pocket. "Oh, I think this is yours, the EMS driver said you were holding this when they got to you."
Shocked, Trace and I stared in disbelief. Trace slowly reached up and took it from the woman.
It was my journal. Very tattered, smelling of smoke with bits of rubble in between the pages. Trace flipped through it, the look on his face told me it was the genuine article.
Jennifer came into the room. She got Trace into a wheel chair and pushed him out to sit in the courtyard while I slept.
When I awoke, Trace and Jennifer were back. Jennifer was fussing with Trace's clothes and then went to the bathroom.
I said, "Wow Trace she is beautiful. I'm happy for you that she is here."
"Yea she is awesome. She and I talked for hours I told her everything and showed her your journal."
I was panicked. What was Trace doing sharing my private writings without my consent?
He noticed my panic stricken expression. "I have known about your feelings for me for a long time, I'm sorry we never talked about it. You always respected me and let me off the hook every time even when I knew all you wanted to do was talk about how you felt. Jennifer came out and asked me if I shared your love. It scared me, but I could not deny that I love you too. She asked me if I ever had sex with you. I told her that I had thought about it, but I was too scared to try." He said with a thoughtful smile.
'Oh God' I thought, Tears streamed down my face, Trace reached out and wiped the tears away. "God I have never felt so emotionally bare. Trace, what really happened?" I asked.
"I don't know... but somehow I'm sure it really did happen the way we remember. And you know I wouldn't change any part of it, I have grown up a lot thanks to you."
Jennifer walked in with the nurse. "Hello Marc how are you feeling?"
With effort I replied with a barely audible voice, "I'm better I think. I can move now and the doctor says the tingling in my hands and feet is a good thing. It's good to finally meet you, Trace has missed you so much."
Jennifer held my hand, "I read your journal and I feel that I've known you forever."
I felt panic swelling inside but squelched it the best I could, "This is awkward! So how do I get an invitation to your wedding?"
She leaned over and kissed my cheek, "You already have one, and we would love for you to be there."
I smiled and croaked out a response, "Ok but only if I get to kiss the bride and the groom."
They both laughed and each kissed me on the cheek.