I figure it must have been around June. I was at my usual spot, which of course was on the roof of my library sprawled out on an old lawn chair with a book and my M40 Marine Corps sniper rifle. I had never been a fan of guns or violence, but desperate times do call for desperate measures and I’d say that these times are rather desperate. I was a much bigger fan of the book I was reading, which was none other than Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut. You’d think I’d have no interest in reading a book about the end of the world, but Kurt has a way with words.
The sky was blue with big beautiful clouds scattered across the sky. Mother Earth didn’t really waste any time rebuilding herself after the scourge of man was no more. All the bombs had fucked the weather up for the first couple of years, but by now the air felt cleaner and worthy life was finding its way back to all the places that had been taken from them. There were birds everywhere and all sorts of life was now wandering the streets of New York. Of course, you might run into one of those drug induced savages, whom I had affectionately refered to as Garth’s. I never really liked country music and it’s good to try and have some humor these days. But even the Garth’s were becoming less and less, mostly because they were running out of people to kill, so they were all just killing themselves off or dying off from starvation. They rarely caught anything besides humans to eat because they weren’t smart or skilled enough to even open a can of beans, let alone catch some sort of animal. They weren’t all gone of course, and we always had to be on the lookout for anything. I didn’t trust anyone besides James and Father McNulty. I hardly even trust myself anymore.
Still the sun was warm and at the age of 24, I was starting to find little bits of peace here and there. I loved my home. The great thing about where I live is that the library doesn’t really attract the attention of too many post-apocalyptic survivors and even before it all came crashing down, the average person didn’t care to even read a single book in year. Now they were all mine and I loved every second of it. My brother and I had sealed off most of the entrances so no one would be able to sneak in without our noticing and he being the mechanical genius that he was, had fashioned a few generators to a few solar panels, so we had electricity. It wasn’t much, but we didn’t really need all that much. I had also started myself a nice garden across the street at Bryant Park, so we had plenty of good food.
So I sighed and carried on with my book as the clouds would block the sun here and there as they would drift overhead. Then breaking into my little realm of serenity came the sound of the roof access door opening which was on the other side of the building. I couldn’t see it from where I was, so I calmly placed Kurt on the chair and picked up my rifle. I walked towards the side of the door with my gun up to my shoulder and listened to the sound of the door closing and footsteps beginning to make their way towards me. My pace grew slower and quieter as the opposing footstep grew closer. As my heart started to race, I began to hear a strange noise. At first I thought I might be going mad, but as I listened on I accepted the noise to be something that was real and not just the madness of my mind. Whoever was there was whistling an old Clancy Brothers tune.
“I swear to God,” I yelled placing the butt of my rifle on my right foot. “If you don’t start announcing yourself, I’m going to actually shoot you McNulty.”
Around the corner walked a tall grey haired man, dressed in jeans and a black button down shirt. He looked to be old, but not in the least bit frail and I can assure you he wasn’t.
“John,” the man said almost chuckling. “Don’t forget who taught you how to shoot that gun of yours.”
You couldn’t see it, but Father McNulty was heavily armed and was always ready. He had been a chaplain in several of the countries that the U.S. had been warring in before the end. Needless to say, the man had seen the human capacity for evil and violence and like every true holy man, knew the manner that could properly deal with such predicaments. I walked over to meet him and embraced him with a strong hug. He had this theory about how important a good hug is, especially now since there was almost no one left. He said even the slightest embrace of another person can do wonders to save your mind and soul. He said it’s a comfort that nothing can substitute. He was right of course, as he usually was.
“So what brings you over here today Father?” I asked as he firmly grabbed my shoulders.
“I came over to see if you and your brother could help me fix up the wiring for my generator,” he said as he looked around the roof. He was always looking around at everything, half to makes sure nothing was going to jump out and surprise him but also to just sit in awe of the wonder that is life. “Is he about?”
“No, he went out to see if he can find anything in the grocery store down on 34th street,” I said as we walked over towards my lawn chair paradise. “He should be getting back soon”.
It was just then that we heard someone yelling from down below. We couldn’t make out the words at first, but after a few seconds it became perfectly clear.
“JOHN!” yelled the voice. So McNulty and I ran over to the ledge of the building and looked down onto the street below. There was my brother James running for his life from what looked to be another person.
“What happened to your gun?” I yelled down to him with a bit of a laugh.
“I forgot to reload it,” James yelled back sounding very upset. “It only had one shot in it!”
“Why don’t you use it now?” I responded as he grew closer to the building.
“Because I already used it,” He yelled back. “Don’t be a fucking dick and just help me out here!”
“What’s the magic word?”
“Go fuck yourself!”
I raised my rifle up to my eye as James got to be less than a block away from where we were. I rested the barrel on the ledge and looked through the scope. This Garth was a particularly ugly one. His face was scarred and bloody and he wore nothing but a pair of gym shorts. The thing was drooling and foaming and looked as though it was near starvation. I took the shot which landed right between its eyes and put the sad creature out of its misery. The shot rang out through the empty streets and James ran right into the library without even stopping to look behind him. Father McNulty mumbled a little prayer for the dead savage and we went down into the building to meet James.