Another short respite from the withering man. Flash-fiction horror about the tiny pleasures.
“Stop! Why are you doing this to me?”
I try to ignore the screams as I throw some bacon into the hot skillet and pour myself a glass of whiskey. There’s so much screaming, these days. I walk over and shut the window, even though that accomplishes exactly dick.
Sometimes it makes me so angry that I’m not bloody desensitized to it all already. Other times I’m just happy to still be rational. To still have some scraps of my humanity. Humanity is hard to cling to, lately.
All I can say is thank the Lord for bacon! The rich, savory scent fills the kitchen. I just sit there and drink it in. I don’t even need to eat it. I can just rest my weary-as-hell ass on my stool and let the aroma wash over me. Of course you can’t get good bacon anymore. Not like you used to. But I’ll take it. Nowadays, you take what you can get.
Bacon has always been there for me. No matter how shitty it got. I remember sitting in a shelter with my brother Elton. Every few seconds there was a loud bang outside, and we wondered. If it would be the last. If next time the walls would finally crumble. The Powers That Be in government thought bombing would solve the problem. Idiots. Even then, we all knew that wouldn’t work.
“Jeffrey,” said Elton as he crawled out from under a table, “I was going to save this, but this might be, you know, the last time we..”
“Yeah,” I said.
“So here we are. What the hell, right?” He reached into his bag, and pulled out a plastic package. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
“Oh you magnificent bastard,” I said. “Have I ever told you I love you?”
“Nah,” he said. “Probably because you’re a dude.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I bet you’re right. Let’s fry that shit up.”
We didn’t care that the portable gas burner gobbled up a good amount of our meager oxygen supply. I don’t reckon either of us expected to make it out of there.
“Jeffrey,” Elton said as we scarfed down the salty goodness. “If I don’t make it, tell my wife I love bacon.”
He didn’t make it. Neither did she. I chuckled whenever I think about it. That’s weird, right? But so many memories are all bad. At least that one has some good in it. The little things matter. Even now, when things have gotten much, much worse, the little things matter.
I remember back when folks used to joke about an upcoming zombie apocalypse. It’s not so funny, now. When it first started a lot of people thought it was a zombie apocalypse. We were conditioned by the media, I guess. Oh man, if only it was that simple. Shoot them in the head, light them on fire, hit them with a cricket bat. Zombies are easy. Zombies make sense. What we got instead…
I bite into the bacon, and close my eyes in ecstasy. The blend between the crisp on the outside and the still-tender fat was marvelous. One of the nice things about making your own bacon is that you can cut it as thick as you like. I hated growing up on a ranch, but it turned out to be a Godsend. I’m still here, after all.
It’s gone too quickly. It always is. I fight the urge to heat the pan up and fry up another round. But who am I kidding? That’s a fight I never win. What am I saving it for? I wait for the skillet to grow smoking hot, then toss a few slices in.
“Jeffrey!” it screams as it hits the hot steel, “what are you doing? Why are you doing this?”
I grit my teeth and stare out the window. It’s dumb, I know. Of course the neighbors will hear. The walls aren’t sound proof, and the screams are loud. Hopefully they didn’t hear my name. It would be a damn shame if they moved away.
Eventually the screams die. There’s nothing left but sizzle. I think it happens when it reaches a certain temperature, but that’s just a guess. Nothing bloody stays dead anymore.
I don’t figure I’ll last much longer. Something will get me. And then…who knows? Any number of things could happen. There’s no predicting it. I don’t know if what comes back will still be me. Some of them talk, but the things they say…I sure hope those aren’t still people in there. wouldn’t wish that on no one.
Maybe I’ll sprout wings. I’ve always wanted wings.
It’s going to happen. I’m resigned to that. Some of the other survivors have hope. Hope is for idiots. No, I might not have hope. But at least I have bacon. The little things matter.
Even now, the little things matter.