Reggie and Bobby Vs. The Apocalypse

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Reggie, a former family man wanders the woods hunting squirrels in order to survive. Reggie meets a young boy named Bobby, who disappears after Reggie feeds him - a squirrel. Reggie once had a son and although standoffish at first Reggie misses Bobby and spends a week looking for him.

By the way, the world has ended.

Submitted: July 24, 2015

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Submitted: July 24, 2015

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Reggie and Bobby vs. the Apocalypse

TROY DIGGY BARLOW

That son-of-a-bitch, god damn squirrel. I had him in my sights and then he was gone. They’re getting quicker I swear. Just like the rabbits did. Just like the dogs before them.

The sky is black as hell, probably why hunting these damn squirrels is so tricky. Light comes from lightning and flashlights, sometimes the moon when there isn’t much dust. But I don’t dare go out in the sun. That’s when the Droids work. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first, a name.

Before this mess my son called me Reggie. That little shit. What kinda no good, dirt of a kid calls his Dad anything but Dad, or possibly Pop, defiantly not Daddy though. He was a prickly son-of-a-bitch. Did he ever give his mother a hard time. Homework; gimme a break. Chores? You nuts? He lived for the bush, just like his old man, me, Reggie.

 

“Hey Mister?”

 

I turned sharply. Haven’t heard a voice in weeks. Shit - months maybe. Not like I was scared though. The voice was soft, nervous. If a beaten dog got left outside for the night - without dinner, then got woken up with the hose the next morning, this kid is what that dog would sound like.

 

“Got any food?”

 

The kid must have been ten, maybe twelve. Dirty as all hell, skinny as all hell too. How he was still alive was the most astonishing. These days life was rare, human or otherwise. Food? Hell, I told you about the squirrel and before them - the dogs.

My rifle was still firmly clutched in both my hands. I approached the boy. He trembled as I did. In the bush, in these woods - hunger was fierce. A force of nature tugging at your gut, yanking the sucker up through your throat, “Feed me dammit,” my belly would cry. I’d heave over to the side, moan and groan, and you know what - eventually it would go away. Then the next day I’d go out, kill something, hell, I always found something - eventually, heck I got a moose nearly a year ago. Haven’t seen one since. Nor a deer, nor a dog, not even a damn coon, just squirrels, and then this kid.

 

“No food here boy, where’s your folks?”

“Dead”

“You out here on your own?”

“Yes”

“With no weapons”

“I’ve been running”

 

I believed the boy. The combination of malnutrition and nights - dusk ‘till dawn, running from one empty cabin to another, one abandoned pickup-truck to the next, it had turned the boy damn near into a skeleton, cheeks as hollow as the Gran Canyon. The Skin Peelers wouldn’t have much use for this little twig.

 

“There’s bad people out here boy, kid your age shouldn’t be on his own”

“I’m just hungry mister, I can’t run anymore”

“And why should I feed you son?”

“I figured… if you didn’t feed me… you’d shoot me”

 

I gripped my rifle even tighter. These days people ain’t people no more. They’re ghosts, ghosts of what humanity once was. Empathy is something this boy would read of in books and not understand the damn concept. The boy would only have been a small baby when the world went to shit. And in the decade since it’s got a whole hell of a lot shittier. But I keep to myself in these woods. I tried partnering up, I found a commune once. But they all went to shit. I keep to myself these days, I hunt the squirrels. I cling on to what little humanity I have left.

And I sure don’t shoot little boys. I’m Reggie, as my son used to say…

I tossed the kid a satchel, maybe half a squirrel left. He pounced on it like a sailor on 5-cent pussy.

 

“Name’s Reggie”

 

The kid didn’t look up. He gobbled up that squirrel carcass, guts and all. Heck, he must have been hungry.

 

“You got a name?”

 

The boy looked up at me, his face covered in squirrel blood, damn kid looked rabid, feral at least. Kid was so hungry getting shot between the eyes was a suitable alternative to going another night without a meal.

 

“Bobby” He replied.

 

Then he took off into the night. Thirty minutes later the sun came up. Smart boy.

 

Been a week since I seen Bobby. I even went out during the day once. Crept back towards the roads, the towns. But that’s where the Droids work.

I call them Droids cause… well hell, you seen Star Wars ain’t you? Damn things look like little R2-whatever’s. Never was one to go to the movies. The missus loved the matinee, my boy hell - not sure he ever once seen a movie, not even cartoons. He was fishing and hunting before he was adding and subtracting ones and twos.

The Droids must have been programmed for destruction. Complete desolation. They arrive, they demolish, they move one. Anything manmade they destroy, hundreds of them, they descend on a skyscraper, it’s a rubble of concrete a day and a half later. Two days later nothing but dust. It’s as though they were wiping us from the Earth - complete cities, gone. Every building, road, monument - any stain humanity left behind, they’re the Lysol bacteria wipe, sanitizing the plague that was once the human race.

But all this came after the real plague, the Skin Peelers.

And then Bobby showed up again. 

 

“Mister, can I show you something?”

 

Bobby led me deep into the woods. Damn kid woke me up, scared me half to death even. I sleep during the days you see. I’ve gotten pretty good at disguising myself as dirt and leaves. I was hesitant to follow the boy, it was day after all, but he was leading me so deep into the woods I stopped worrying. Nothing for the Droids to destroy way out here, except maybe us…

Bobby stopped. A carcass lay in the leaves. I didn’t know what all the fuss was about, just another dirt nap; that’s what my boy called it - the long goodnight, just another John Doe. This couldn’t have been the first Johnny he’d seen, but then I got closer, it wasn’t a John Doe, it was a Peeler.

 

“I thought they all starved?” The boy said.

I thought so too.

 

We called them Skin Peelers, or Peelers for short. They were the plague. Where they came from, hell, who knows? Hell might have been just as good a home for these peeling bastards as any. The infection that turned folks into Peelers spread globally; within a matter of months it was everywhere. Even the scientists couldn’t figure out where the damn thing started. They traced seven patients zeros, seven! One on each continent all found to have been infected within minutes of each other.

It started as a fever, then death, then reanimation then they’d bite you and if they got a good enough chunk, well, about twelve hours later, hey! You’re a Peeler too!

The skin was drooping off the Peeler’s face as it lay in the dirt, its body was useless, only the slightest movement in its eyes. Slowly, going from Bobby, to me, then back to Bobby, then back to me. The son-of-a-bitch was just as hungry as me and Bobby, but the kid was right - most of the Peelers had starved, it took about six months but after long enough their limps would just stop working. The muscles would tear apart. Like a dead plant, they’d just wilt over and die. Just like this son-of-a-bitch, Peeler.

And don’t you dare call them—

 

 “I read a book about Zombies once”

“These ain’t Zombies kid, they’re real”

“You know the Machines?”

“The Droids?”

“You say these aren’t Zombies, but you call the machines, Droids? Even I’ve read Star Wars comics Mister. Come, follow me…”

 

The boy led me even deeper into the woods, deeper until the sunset and an unusually bright moon shone its reflected rays upon a hut. A makeshift hunting shed in the middle of nowhere. This must be where he spent the week. Hell, at least he had a roof.

 

“Go ahead”

“What’s in there Bobby?”

“Go. You’ll see.”

 

The boy waited behind me. I inched closer to the hut. I hadn’t a clue what he had inside but I was fairly certain it wasn’t a trap. The boys mind was still sharp. I doubt he’d tasted human flesh. I’d seen those bastards, the cannibals, they don’t think, they don’t comprehend, they’re animals, driven by that yanking in their gut. And they’ll to anything to ease it. This wasn’t Bobby.

I swung open the door. My jaw dropped - same with my pistol, which I quickly picked up. There it was, a Droid. Mostly crushed but a Droid never the less. I turned back towards the boy.

 

“Where’d you get that Bobby?”

“A town, sixty kilometers up the highway”

“They probably got beacons on those things kid! It’s not safe having this thing around.”

 

I would have told Bobby that but hell I was fascinated. I’d never seen one up close. The Droids came years after most of the population was gone, or bumbling around with skin peeling off their faces. By the time the Droids arrived we’d seen so much shit we knew enough to keep our distance.

 

“We gotta get this thing outta here. The other Droids will come looking for it”

“I’ve had it here for over a month, no one’s coming for it.”

 

I looked at Bobby closely. The frail little boy who had managed to catch a Droid, someway, somehow…

 

“I set a trap”

“What do you know about trapping?”

“I was born in this shit Mister, it’s all I know”

“Please, call me Reggie”

 

My boy would have thrived out here. He really would. He wouldn’t need a rifle, just a blade. He’d hunt, trap, eat, and dance by the fires he’d burn under the stars. He was made for the apocalypse. I wasn’t.

The better I got to know Bobby the more I realized he wanted me to shoot him the first time we met. He didn’t need to ask me for food, he was able to trap a Droid on his own, this skinny-ass twelve-year-old kid. He wanted me to shoot him, he wanted me to put an end to it, or maybe he just wanted a friend.

 

“Let me show you something, Reggie”

 

Bobby walked in the hut beside me; he knelt over beside the mangled Droid and pressed a button. A hologram appeared.

It showed a planet, dying, but not like we were dying, the occupants of this planet had used up all its resources. The lakes had dried up; the fields in turn did too. The air was smog and the sun was weak. A massive ship the size of Texas left this planet and hit the stars. This ship crossed the universe for thousands of millions of years, until it found us…

From the far depths of our galaxy the ship sent the Plague, they were the ones who turned us to Peelers. They were the ones who turned us this way, they were the ones who allowed us to destroy ourselves, then they sent the Droids to erase the physical remains.

The hologram went blank. I still had so many questions. Like who or what the hell were these people, beings, aliens, whatever the hell you wanted to call them. And what exactly were their plans for the few of us that remained, although I had a pretty good inclination.

 

“We’re all we’ve got Reggie, each other. Humans are meant to be together. I can’t run anymore. In the little time we have left… I want a friend. I need a friend”

 

I wanted to grab the boy, pick him up and give him the biggest hug I could muster. My boy had never said anything remotely close to that to me, nor did I expect him to. But in these dark days, with my son gone in the dirt, I too wanted a friend. I’d be to Bobby whatever he needed me to be: friend, father, protector, but first – equal.

I held out my hand, he held out his.

 

“You got it Bobby, friends”

 

We shook hands.

Blood splattered up onto my face as Bobby was shot in the side of the head. I ducked down and slammed the shed door shut. I knelt beside Bobby, held him in my arms and watched the life drain from his eyes. There was nothing I could do, it was a clean shot, all I could do was comfort him in his last moments on this wretched planet and I did - but that wasn’t anywhere close to enough.

 

“Come out! Leave the rifle inside”

 

Tears poured from my eyes. They took him from me! How could I let this happen? How could I let my guard down, how could I be such a fool - my ignorance got Bobby killed and now I knew exactly what they wanted, and they weren’t gonna get it! Bobby’s flesh would stay on his bones. Mine would too. I would break from this hut; I’d wait ‘till night. I’d been hunting at night for a decade now, if I could shoot a squirrel in pitch-black I could shoot a couple deranged cannibals with a hard-on for my flesh, that’s for damn sure.

I poked my head up and looked out the window. A bullet nearly took my head clean off.

Shit – he’s a good shot. I couldn’t even tell where the bullet had come from. It had been a while since I was in a gunfight.

 

“Come out! Leave the rifle inside”

 

Bobby’s blood pooled in the center of the hut, I had no clue how many of them there were outside. Could be two, could be ten. I was quite simply… fucked.

But they weren’t gonna get my flesh, not Bobby’s either. I’d go out in a hail of bullets but I’d wait ‘till night.

 

A helicopter like no man had ever seen nor designed arrived above the hut. A strong spotlight shone on the roof. Suddenly the wooden walls burst apart, we were exposed. I grabbed Bobby and held him close, his body was cold now but he was still my friend, he was still my responsibility.

A beam shone down through the light and began lifting the crushed Droid up and into the sky. I grabbed the Droid and up I went too, Bobby in my arms, a beam sucking us into the sky and towards the chopper.

Below there were only two of them, hidden, maybe 50 meters away. Two! Christ sakes. I could have taken them. I could have killed two.

They shot at the chopper. These bastards really had lost it. The chopper fired a shot down into the bush; a fireball erupted nearly as high as the chopper hovered. They were fried.  

Serves the stupid buggers right. Wish I could have done it myself.

Higher and closer to the chopper the beam sucked us – the Droid, Bobby and me, I held on the best I could, we were almost there. I had no idea what to expect once we reached the chopper. But anything would be better than the foulness that waited below, and I had my friend with me, I had Bobby.

 

The only thing I hoped was that I wasn’t dreaming.

 


© Copyright 2017 Troy Diggy Barlow. All rights reserved.

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