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Moonlight On The City
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

The night is cool and sweet, the night is like a soothing hand on a fevered brow. I push myself painfully out of the nook in which I have spent the day, really nothing more than a niche between two walls. It is so narrow that I can’t turn round in it, but that’s all to the good. Nothing can surprise me from the back here. It is a good hiding place, and I shall use it again if I can.

I eat quickly, putting the empty wrappers and cans back in my rucksack for later disposal. It would never do to leave them around for them to find. I get the food from the warehouses in the suburbs, because those were spared the waves of looting that did for the shops. All the food is canned, naturally, but there is a lot of it. Afterwards I push the heavy rucksack back into cover where it joins my sleeping bag and other equipment I will not be taking with me tonight. Everything should be safe here for me when I come back. I smile tightly – at least I can guarantee that nothing will be stolen.

A heavy yellow moon hangs pregnant over the eastern skyline and over the great sprawl of the city. The buildings and the streets are all blacked out, naturally. Once, at this hour, they would have been ablaze with lights, so many lights that one would hardly have been able to see the moon. But that was then.

The overturned truck still partially blocks the intersection past the fallen traffic light. It had been on fire during the day, and although the fire has gone out I can still feel the heat coming off the metal and se the huge black burned circle on the road around it. I skirt that circle carefully. The road surface will still be soft, and I don’t want to leave footprints. They can be smart sometimes.

I jog-trot for almost an hour, moving quickly but smoothly, sticking to the shadows. Even a month ago I would have expected stray dogs and cats, survivors of the Troubles, around me; but now there is nothing. The streets lie before me, littered with wreckage, and blocked by rubble, but silent. Even the corpses are gone.

Down past the shattered windows of what had once been a line of premier clothing stores, I turn left. Until now I have been relatively safe. Seldom indeed do they come this way any more. But ahead lies the bridge, and beyond the river they are always around. More than once I have seen them wander the streets there in broad daylight, looking strangely and deceptively helpless in the glare of the sun.

I wait in the shadows and watch the bridge. I watch for the slightest hint of movement, any indication that one of them might be lying in wait in the shadows, ill perhaps, or even dying, but still dangerous. Oh yes. They are dangerous until they are dead. Sometimes they’re dangerous even after they’re dead.

I wouldn’t normally be going across to the other side, especially on a night like this, with the moon near full and lighting everything up like day. Under most circumstances, I would think my actions suicidally stupid. After all, I can find everything I need on my side of the river, where it’s – comparatively – safe. On the other side there’s only danger. I have not stayed alive so long by courting danger. But tonight I must go, because I’ve had a message on the radio I’ve been using to try and contact others. There is someone over there, someone who needs my help to get away.

How long have I waited for this? Testing the airwaves, seeking for a response over the radio, any response; I’ve dragged that huge heavy ham radio set everywhere I go, and I’ve taken mad risks to secure batteries and spare parts for it, many times. Yes, in the early days I found a lot of people on the air, even if far, far away, on the other side of the country or even of the planet. But as time went on, more and more of those voices fell silent. For months now, I have been, even on the airwaves, alone. And now – and now, to meet another person, a living, breathing human person, after these months alone; what more could one ask for? Anything is worth risking for the chance.

The moon is now high over the horizon, no longer yellow but a clear milky white, and the road over the bridge is naked and exposed. There is no way I can cross it without being seen. But the underside of the bridge is sunk deep in shadow, and the river is not much of a river, nowhere more than shoulder-deep – perhaps less, at this time of year when it hasn’t rained for months. I shall have to take a chance.   

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:Living Dead
Type:Short story
Rating:7.5 / 10
Rated By:182 users
Comments: 11 users
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