Lesbian With Machete Seeks Same for the Apocalypse
**The following short story is dedicated to dwellers of suburbia who, like myself, are basically screwed should the apocalypse hit**
Wanted: Normal human being (female) to go get cat litter. Bring Your Own Machete.
It turns out, we really weren’t prepared for the apocalypse. Oh sure, we watched all the zombie movies, talked about how we’d shoot anyone that came for our fucking canned beans, pretended we had a prayer of rigging up a generator to power our goddamn lightbulbs, and even had some sort of a plan to walk across the Canadian border if it came to it, but the apocalypse was nothing like we thought. It was a fucking shitshow. On day one, everyone bought out the water, milk, bread and toilet paper. That made sense. But by day three, you couldn’t buy a cheeto, bag of frozen vegetables, or case of overpriced fizzy water. Entire aisles of the grocery store looked like they’d been hit by a hurricane. It’s not like water wasn’t going to come out of the taps or food grow from the ground, but when the apocalypse hits, people go fucking nuts.
The thing about people is, they’ll do the opposite of whatever you tell ‘em. Tell ‘em not to panic and all they want to do is scream and cry and wet themselves. Tell ‘em they can survive through “social distancing” and they’ll throw a fucking Fuck the Pandemic orgy. People don’t know they’re up to their knees in shit until it’s too late. That’s why it was a joke, in the beginning, to take Instagram photos at restaurants with funny dog face filters and Corona beers. Because the apocalypse is always fun in the beginning. Until it’s not.
And that’s when shit gets scary. You wouldn’t believe how quickly Joe from Accounting turns into fucking Jack from “Lord of the Flies.” Week four and he’s wrapping barbed wire around a baseball bat and roaming the streets just looking to hit a home run. Was that your car? It’s his now and he decorated it with Barbie doll heads like some fucking weird cannibal.
By the end of the first month, it didn’t matter that all our infrastructure was still in place. Electricity still traveled through the power lines. The Internet still connected the World Wide Web. Fuck, all they had to do was turn the lights back on at the universities and colleges and life could have gone back to normal. But when the apocalypse hits, people go fucking nuts. And when they go nuts, that’s when all the sudden you find yourself practicing with a machete in your backyard just because you need cat litter. Because fuck picking that shit up with your hands.
After the second week of the apocalypse, all the Petsmart employees went home. Because fuck getting killed for some vegan ass dog food when you’re a teenage douchebag. But they padlocked the door and barricaded it, too, because some asswipe thought once the apocalypse was over he could come back and start making bank on selling clippers for Mitzi the Shih-tzu again.
My problem wasn’t the padlock, it was the five miles of fucking Mad Max: Thunder Road it would take to get there. After fucking anarchists burned some of the refineries down, there was no more gas for gas stations, and that meant no more cars. I’d gotten pretty good with my machete, but I needed a wingwoman on my hike. A woman, because men are assholes and I didn’t need to worry about whether I was going to get raped trying to get my shitty cats something to shit on. So I put the ad up on Facebook, because when the apocalypse hits, the only thing left is fucking Facebook.
The chick who answered the ad looked young. And when she turned up at my door, she looked rough. The thing about the apocalypse is, maybe she was, like, a graphic designer or an intern or a marine biologist or some shit before, but now she was just kind of dirty looking. Soap disappeared after the first three days of the apocalypse, so I wasn’t looking so fresh either, but still. We weren’t fucking savages. She could have cleaned up a little.
There wasn’t much to say to her when she knocked on the door, so I just unsheathed my machete. It was damn near the same length as my arm and definitely the best thing I’d looted from Home Depot before some asshat set it on fire. She nodded and hefted hers. Let’s roll.
“Are you from this area?” she asked as we walked. Her voice was light and kind of musical.
I grunted. “Nah. My folks are from upstate. You know. I moved here for the job and all. I don’t know, maybe after all this I’ll go back.”
“To your job?”
“No, to upstate. You fucking retarded? Why the fuck would I go back to my job? Some asshole destroyed all the computers. Everyone else stole chairs to use as firewood. There is no job anymore.”
She winced, so I felt bad. She was young, after all. She didn’t know. She didn’t know how fucking nuts people got.
I tried to make her feel better. “You? Got any plans after all this?”
“Maybe start a food blog. Write about avocado toast and deconstructed tacos.”
I stared at her. Who the fuck starts a food blog after the apocalypse?
She laughed. “Joking. No, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Find something, I guess.”
I looked around. The street looked deserted, but you never knew. Bastards could jump out of anywhere. I once saw a dude come out of a garbage can, and that was only week three of the apocalypse. I hefted the machete over my shoulder to disburse the weight a little. I’ll admit: strictly speaking, the welding goggles on my head were not actually practical, but when you fucking fight a granny for a pair of goggles in Home Depot, you wear those fuckers everywhere like a goddamn trophy.
“So cats, huh?” the girl asked.
“Yeah, two of them. I mean, they’re little shits—I mean real bastards—but I love them.”
“I had a cat once.”
“Yeah? Was he a little shit, too?”
She frowned and crossed her arms. “No, she was sweet.”
“Ah. You got lucky.”
I heard a can rattle like someone kicked it and spun around, looking for the source, but there was nothing. The girl didn’t seem concerned. She didn’t even look to see what made the sound. Her machete was slung behind her back, not in her hand. I didn’t think she’d been out much since this all started.
She sighed. “I wish things weren’t like this. I can’t believe this all happened so quickly. Now it feels like another lifetime.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, me neither.”
She tucked some strands of her black hair behind her ears. I decided maybe she was Korean. She looked like she could be Korean. She was pretty, if you looked past how dirty she was. She asked, “Do you think it will end soon?”
I shook my head. “This? Fuck no. I watched a dude disembowel another dude with a penknife for some air freshener. That kind of fucked up, you don’t come back from. This is life now.”
She sighed and kicked at the ground with her dirty white Converse sneakers. Her skinny jeans had rips in them, but maybe those were from before the apocalypse. “I thought so. I just hoped… Honestly, I just miss Netflix.”
I thought about the last time I watched Netflix. Goddamn piece of shit “Nailed It! Germany.” What wouldn’t I do for a piece of their fucking shitty cake now? But the stores didn’t have eggs, and you couldn’t make cakes without eggs. I looked up at the sky. “Look, I’m not asking because I care, but you got someone waiting for you at home?” It was dangerous for her to be out with me. I could be anyone. You heard all kinds of stories. When the apocalypse hits, people go fucking nuts.
But she didn’t do the smart thing and tell me about all the big, strong men who would come after me if she went missing. “Nah. I got dumped right before the pandemic hit, so it’s just me. All alone.”
I whistled. “Fuck. Bad timing.”
She sighed and shook her head. “It’s probably for the best. She…had commitment issues. And the timing just wasn’t right…” Yeah, sure, okay. “How about you?”
“Nah. Commitment issues.” Probably. Fuck. Don’t we all have commitment issues? But also, this area. No one is in a relationship. They go on dates, they don't date.
“Oh. Well I guess on the plus side we don’t have to do online dating anymore. Bonus.”
She waited for me to laugh, maybe, and when I didn’t she was quiet for a while. I was glad. I fucking hate walking through suburban neighborhoods. You think those rich fucks won’t pull you into their McMansions and murder you for a can of tuna? They fucking will. They fucking will.
Eventually I relented when the silence stretched on for too long. “So you got a type or something?” Look, five miles is a long way to walk without anything to say.
The girl looked at me, surprised. “Uh, I don’t know?”
I stared back at her, kinda also surprised. “You don’t know? How do you not know? Tall, short, fat, thin, there’s gotta be something you like.”
She scrunched her face together. “I don’t know, tall?”
I was tall, but that was irrelevant. “Okay, give me more. You like butch chicks, femme chicks, neither? Chapstick? Lipstick?”
“Maybe kind of butch? I guess? I really don’t know. Does it matter anymore?”
I squinted at her. I was going to say something about how she didn’t know a lot of things when some asshole came out of a house. He was wearing some black, dumbass motorcycle helmet and waving something that looked like a butcher knife. Dumbass. Machete beats butcher knife like rock beats scissors. I won’t tell you what happened next, because you don’t want to know. I think that chick didn’t either, because she fell over and vomited like she was drunk. Guess she didn’t watch enough zombie movies before the apocalypse or something. When she stopped puking her guts out, we kept walking.
“I can’t believe that just happened,” she said. She still looked a little green. And haunted. But that wears off after a few weeks in the apocalypse.
It really bothered me, this smudge of dirt on her cheek. It was so easy to get off. Fuck, we’re in the apocalypse, but have some self-respect. I licked my thumb and rubbed it off her cheek for her. After I touched her, she rubbed the same place. I said, “You haven’t been out much, have you?”
“No. Before everything… Before, I ordered a lot from Uber Eats and Grubhub. And like, Blue Apron. I didn’t have to go out for a long time. I stockpiled.”
I stopped and stared at her, startled. “Are you a college student?” Jesus, I was with a fucking minor?
She shifted her weight uneasily. “No, I graduated a few years ago. Now I’m entry-level. I mean technically I had a few internships in college, but it's not like that makes me mid-career.”
“Oh.” I waited a beat, then said, “Well, that’s nothing. If you want a fucking can of beans, you have to fight twenty fucks like him. That’s just how it is now.” Fucking apocalypse.
“Well, thanks, I guess. For…protecting me from him.”
“Oh. Yeah. No problem.” I kind of blushed. Because I hadn’t realized I was protecting her, but yeah, sure, maybe I did. Probably she didn’t notice I was blushing though because I’ve got a tan now and it’s probably harder to see when I blush. It was a weird winter.
When we got to the Petsmart, it was pretty well vandalized. Someone threw a shopping cart through the sliding glass door to get in, so the padlock didn’t end up mattering. All the beta fish were gone and most of the hamsters. Who the fuck wants a beta fish during the apocalypse? People take the weirdest shit during the apocalypse.
We walked to the back of the store, where the cat litter was. I preferred Arm and Hammer Clump & Seal, but when you’re desperate, you’ll go for anything. I ended up with the Arm and Hammer Super Scoop because some assholes took all the good stuff. That’s the fucking apocalypse for you. Some fuckwad takes all the good cat litter. I hefted it over my shoulder. “Anything else you need?”
“No.” She looked kind of wistful, like maybe she was hoping avocado toast was in one of the aisles. There wasn't. There wasn't shit in those aisles anymore but a few scratching posts and a leash here or there.
“Okay, then let’s go.”
We walked back out. There was a Chick fil-A next to the Petsmart and I gave it a sad look. I fucking missed fast food. Now I was eating Kraft singles on Triscuits. That’s not in the movies, either. You’ll eat weird shit when you have to. I watched a girl put Reddiwhip on salami.
The girl pointed to my machete. “You’re pretty good with that. Did you, uh, use it before?”
I swung it around, just to show off a little. “Nah. But I used to play a lot of video games.”
I nodded to hers, “Have you used yours?”
She flushed. “Oh, no. I had this from a camping trip. You know, used it to clear brush. Once. I mean, the one time I went camping. I think camping isn’t really for me, you know? It’s just very…rustic.”
I snorted. “I fucking hate camping. I’m not going to shit in the woods.”
“Right!” she agreed, laughing. She had a nice laugh. Really nice.
Our laughter drew the attention of a stray dog. Well, it wasn’t a stray. It had a collar on, but its owners probably kicked it out to save food. It came up to us, wagging its tail, some golden lab or some shit. I wished I had food to give it, because I love dogs, too, as well as cats, but I didn’t, so we patted it on the head and kept walking.
“You know what else I miss?” the girl said, smiling. Her eyes were dreamy. “Starbucks. And Sunday brunch. I miss those little cake pops from the bakery downtown. I miss horrible first dates and conversations about The Bachelor with my coworkers.”
I picked at the end of my belt. “I miss my motorcycle. And the evening news. And kids actually playing on playgrounds like normal fucking human beings.”
“Oh, so you want kids?” Her eyebrows rose.
I looked at her funny. “Fuck no! Who the fuck wants kids?”
“I could,” she said, rubbing her chin. “With the right partner.”
“Oh yeah?” I challenged. “And how are you going to find her? OKApocalypse? Armagedditon? Love in the Time of Pandemic?”
She stuck her chin up defiantly. “If a flower can bloom under difficult conditions, why can’t love?”
I shook my head. “Most people just want to fucking survive.” I was tired. Fuck I was tired.
There was the sound of an explosion and something rocked the ground. I threw the girl down and lay on her, protecting her. We stayed there for a minute, waiting to see what would happen next, but whatever had caused the sound remained far away. After a moment, it felt awkward to be touching her like that, so I got up and brushed myself off.
“Was that a car backfire?” she asked, looking into the distance.
You can blow up a car by turning its gas tank into a Molotov cocktail. That’s what it sounded like to me. And if that was the case, I didn’t want to be anywhere near the pyromaniac asshole who was making cocktails. I grabbed her hand. “We should run.” Well, jog. Because fuck running. She didn’t resist, so we jogged for a few miles. I didn’t let go of her hand because when the apocalypse comes, you don’t know what’s going to happen.
When we got back to my house, the girl waited awkwardly for a minute on my step like she was waiting for something. “Well?” I said. “What? What do you want?”
“Are you going out again sometime?” She wasn’t looking at me. She was looking down at her shoes, like there was something to see there other than the dirt she hadn’t cleaned off.
What the fuck kind of question was that? Of course I would fucking have to go out again. I had to fucking eat, didn’t I? I told her, “Yeah.”
“Can I come?” There was something about her voice. Like maybe the question was about something else.
“Yeah, okay.” It was nice to have a wingwoman, but I didn’t want her to think I was too eager.
She smiled. “Awesome. Hey, um, by the way, what did you do…before?”
I was closing the door already, but I stopped. “I taught elementary school.” When the apocalypse hits, people go fucking nuts.
Apologies, I can't find the photo's origin to credit it!