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Apathy, Chapter 21 Zed

April 10, 2019

The neighborhood was dark, and it had been weeks since the street lights had worked and about a week before they came back on. Marco and Malcolm walked through the silence. Scuffs of their shoes echoed through the homes, except for one empty lot that sat in the rubble. The evening was gaining ground, which didn’t help hesitate their dissent. Marco held tight to the backpack strap that slung over his chest- the backpack contained a few weapons, both practical and eccentric, that the two were dying to use despite being queasy from their previous adventure.

Hours before their dissent, Malcolm and Marco walked into a half burnt down Marie Callender’s. It was smokey, but mostly intact- especially the kitchen. The two were hungry, so they had hoped to find something. The building smelled of charred wood and food that had gone bad. Marco checked out the kitchen while Malcolm made his way into a walk-in refrigerator that was still cold. He searched through empty boxes and found nothing but a giant sealed bucket. Desperate, he flung the heavy thing into the next room and plopped it down on the floor by a prep table.

“I found something!” Malcolm yelled as he attempted to open the sealed bucket.

“The hell is that?” Marco asked holding a discarded half-bottle of whiskey.

“It’s food! I just need a… something to pry it open.”

The two searched the room. Marco found a tool that looked like a cursive ‘Z,’ but Malcolm yelled at him to stop fooling around, so Marco put the thing in his bag and decided that the best thing to do is to break through the side of the bucket. Malcolm agreed, and he found something big and lumbering to smash against the bottom of the plastic cylinder and pickles of all sizes came pouring out- the two feasted.

It was at this time when walking into the empty neighborhood that Marco felt that it would be good to be able to protect himself, so he held his cursive ‘Z’ weapon that he named Zed. There was a crash, and a groan from a house from up the street and the two felt that it was best to hide. They ran towards a house and plopped their backs against it as they had seen on TV and video games- they truly felt alive. Malcolm pulled out a small aluminum bat that he had named Bruce and nodded to Marco, who had no idea what he meant until Malcolm started to run from cover towards the house that emanated the noises. Marco eventually followed to be stopped short in the essence of violence.

A middle-aged man, holding a gun, pulled the collar of a bald man out of a garage and into the middle of the street where the bald man was flung to the ground. The middle-aged man yelled a couple of obscenities before focusing the sights of the gun on the bald man’s head.

Malcolm yelled, “STOP!”

A gunshot rang out, and the murder weapon now focused on Malcolm who was thirty feet away from the carnage.

The middle-aged man looked at Malcolm with a squint, from a distance, and asked, out of breath, “You one of them? Huh?”

“I uh… no, I mean!” Malcolm scrambled to find the words.

“You’ll find that the rest of the bald faggots are dead in the house!” A voice came from the building, and Malcolm flinched.

“Faggots?” Malcolm asked with shock. “You shouldn’t talk like that.”

Marco felt at a loss just standing there ready to be shot when a couple of fake-ass sounding pops echoed through the air, and most of the people involved with the conversation fell to the ground. Screams rang out from all corners of the neighborhood, which was their cue to get the fuck out of the area. Malcolm ran, and Marco followed behind. The two ran in and out of front yards and backyards until finally making their way into a building that Marco claimed was his home. The house was cold and quiet; there hadn’t been a sign of life in it for weeks.

Malcolm sat down frustrated and said, “I ain’t no faggot.”

“Nobody took that seriously, man…”

“What the fuck?! What was that?” Malcolm asked as he sat down on a recliner.

Marco looked down at his hands and saw Zed and felt a little sad that he wasn’t able to use his new instrument of pain when he said, “I don’t know. I mean, we’re alive.”

“Yeah, alive like a couple of faggots! Who is going to define who I am? I AM GOING TO DEFY MYSELF GODDAMNIT!” Malcolm’s body made short quick bursts of twitches.

“Let’s just stay here for a while and… we’ll… recoup.”

The vile of the evening rang over the two as if they were the cause of it. Malcolm wished that he had been. The room was quiet when Marco wished he could watch TV or listen to music.

“I miss music,” Marco made a mistake saying out loud.

Malcolm looked at the kid with disdain and said, “Gay ass shit, what’s our next move?”

“I’m here following you!”

“Damn straight! What kind of transportation do you have?”

Not more than a mile away sits a gated community. A community that remains, not in shambles, but in unity. The people had corroborated and found common ground where they can, in a series of messages and bird calls, identify hostile forces and friendly people just looking for a place to find refuge. Other communities like it exist, and they have thrived in the social and technological failure because of their pre-existing communication with their neighbors. The failure that we’ve seen is a failure of based on naivete and greed.

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