Low Batteries

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Cover image:Solen Feyissa on Unsplash.

Low Batteries

I make it a rule to always take a flash light with me, especially when I’m heading towards the ruins. It happens more and more frequently these days, when supplies are beginning to get hard to find.

At first it was no problem, not really. I just had to walk into one of the stores and make sure I kept the dead bodies out of my sight. If I went during the daytime, I was in with a good chance of not being tracked or hunted. The problem was that everyone had the same idea, and soon those stores were empty of all but short-life stock that had long since gone bad. Only the dead could eat what was there now, but they much preferred their food fresh.

I stayed alone, avoiding the gangs. I knew my life would be worth nothing if I joined up with one of the gangs; they’d take what they wanted and then toss whatever was left of me away. The dead would finish me off, eventually.

More important to me than food had been the collection of batteries. It was those that allowed me to go into areas that had almost been completely razed to the ground. My only time restraint was daylight. I needed to go out, get scavenging, and find myself a safe place to hide up during the night, all before the sun began to set.

Sunset was when they began to move in a formidable mass. You can’t kill the dead. I had seen that first hand when a gang that had been pursuing me found themselves hunted. Being alone I managed to slip through the net, hide away. Sure, they managed to do some damage; but a limb lost here, and a gunshot there didn’t do much to put off beings that had no sensation of pain.

Back then I even felt sorry for the gang. Not now. I don’t feel sorry for anyone or anything. Can’t afford to really because if I did I’d just give up even trying to survive.

I’d been making my way steadily towards the center of the city. It’s here that the destruction is greatest. Entire streets have been wiped out, leaving mounds of rubble, and so many treacherous pits. The dead are not stupid – all those zombie movies got that wrong. They fashion traps, covering up these cavernous holes so that people like me will fall into them and won’t be able to get out.

It’s in the rubble that the treasure can be found. I once came across a cupboard that must have once sat inside a kitchen. It was, miraculously, undamaged, and I found a whole selection of tinned foods that kept me going for several weeks.

I’m small, light, and sometimes that’s an advantage. If someone twice my weight tried to clamber down into some of these ruins they would bring the whole lot down. So long as I go carefully, and my flash light is working, I’m fine.

There is another reason I need the light. The dead don’t go back into graves. I mean, most of them that are roaming around never had graves in the first place. No, they too find places to shelter away from the sun in, and several times I have almost stumbled accidentally among them. Packed full, they are, with the dead all squashed together, making me think of them as nests.

I’ve still got food in my pack. Enough to last me a few days at least. But what I don’t have, and am in desperate need of, is batteries. The beam from the flash light was beginning to weaken yesterday, which forced me to confine my search to above ground. I never found any, not a single one, and I spent hours huddled beneath a rock, barely daring to breathe let alone to move.

I’m going to have to go underground; I’ve got no choice. How do you judge where you are if there are no landmarks to guide you? Think about it. Everywhere looks the same. There are no street signs, no buildings, just wreckage and rubble.

I think I’m in a promising place. There was a gas station around here somewhere and they used to stock batteries. I find a promising piece of rock and lift it aside, cursing as I make yet another cut in my skin. They’ll scent even a spot of blood, the dead will. I switch on the flash light, shine it down into the hole I’ve uncovered. I shove myself down into the hole just far enough to remove the next piece of concrete, the beam of light flickering on and off, but even when it’s on it barely gives enough illumination to see what’s down there.

Batteries! Please, just let there be batteries!

I pick up the flash light in my trembling hands. Maybe if I shake it, I’ll get a little bit more of a glow?

Damn fool thing to do, because the light goes out and I lose my footing. I’m sliding, throwing up dirt that makes me cough. So many rough edges rip and tear as I desperately try to find some kind of handhold in the dark. At last, my hand gets a grip on a thin wedge of concrete, and I’m dangling there by one arm when I hear something drop down, come to rest.

My flash light, and wouldn’t you know it, the thing switches on. Only for a moment, but that moment was enough. I’m dangling above a nest of them. Are they dead dead, or living dead? My fall has left me with many cuts and I can feel something wet running down my free hand to drip.

I close my eyes, count to ten. Silence and then there’s a hiss, a groan and movement. Teeth that grate against each other.

I curse my life, my fate, my flash light and the batteries... definitely the batteries. I’m hanging here and maybe I’m losing my mind for I have to laugh and laugh. Right now, in a way, I’m one of them – living dead, but soon... please let it be very soon; I’ll become one of the permanently dead.


Submitted: November 12, 2020

© Copyright 2020 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

Mike S.

Another spooky-gooder, Hull

Thu, November 12th, 2020 10:31pm

Author
Reply

Thanks so much for reading, Mike.

Sat, November 28th, 2020 10:39am

Joe Stuart

Yes, it's such a pest when you run out of batteries, Hully, but you certainly haven't run out of story ideas. In the scenario that you created this time, being permanently dead is certainly the best place to be. I was thinking, as I read the story, its a pity the protagonist didn't find one of those dynamo torches that generate their own power.

Thu, November 12th, 2020 10:52pm

Author
Reply

Haha! We have got a lantern that you wind up. The only problem with it is that it takes so long for so little light. Thanks, Joe.

Sat, November 28th, 2020 10:38am

Mark A George

Love the images you create, Irish Hulla. Nests of living-dead and dead-dead. Creepy good. Like your use of batteries as a thread to carry the story through to its horrifying end.

Mon, November 16th, 2020 3:55am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Mark. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Wed, November 18th, 2020 11:52am

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