He thought about the last days from time to time. Usually when he laid down and couldn’t sleep. When he looked into a sky where the stars were occluded by thick dark clouds. The braying of the dogs in the distance made him remember. They made him remember about Toby. He was a mixed breed. Large and black with sad eyes.
For a moment, he entertained the thought of what Toby would be like now. What he would be up to in his day to day. Always without him, however. When he imagined the what ifs, they never included him. He never wondered why.
He’d be out there right now barking and scrounging with the rest of them, he thought. Mud and dirt caked on his shaggy pelt, occasionally picking at scabs on his legs from fighting with the other dogs. Dried blood around the eye from one really bad one. Surviving.
Just like me, he thought. Surviving in this thing.
He remembered before. Days that were filled with fire and smoke. There was a silent chaos to what was happening. Like every day up to that point we were these little cockroaches scuttling around everywhere until someone woke up and turned the lights on overhead. Suddenly, everyone was running or playing dead. No words, no screaming. Just constant desperation. A mass scattering. It filled their heads like a fever, running and hiding for days on end. Never stopping for too long.
You could never stop to look at the bodies when you were moving. Some of them died with their eyes open and would just look back at you. Always with the same question hanging around their blank expressions. Why? Why me? He would dream about them sometimes and later try to imagine who they were. Who were they? Would they have liked him? What were their names?
Out there, people didn’t have names anymore. There was really no point anymore. Not with so few people around, their families gone forever. You were who you were and that was all. Shoulder the past and move forward to honor the dead. Defiance of your fate was your only real weapon. Life, he felt, finally meant something. To live.
Eventually, however, he knew that he would be dead soon enough. It was just a matter of time. Even with the Titans resting after the destruction of the cities, there were others out there who revered them. Traitors. They commanded strange powers and control over the faceless ones. Some of them moved and camped during the day and summoned the dark ones at night to hunt for prey. Traitors ate their own kind. Cannibals, they were called by many. But really, he thought, what choice did they have?
Most food had gone bad. Rotted. Unless you were lucky enough to find a place to farm your own food, hunt or collect your own rainwater, it was eat whatever you could or starve. Some couldn’t go through with it. They couldn’t trade their humanity for another day hiding in bombed out buildings or making camp in subway tunnels. Usually that meant one of two things; eat a bullet or death by traitors.
You didn’t want to die by traitor. Everyone knew that. They wouldn’t kill you–not right away. To make you last, many times they kept you locked away somewhere dark and confined. They’d give you only what they needed just to keep you alive. Feed you a little here and there. Scraps. Then they would come for you with a blade in their hand and take something from you. Something small at first, like a finger or toe. Over time, they would come back for other things until there wasn’t much left of you.
At what point do you cease being human? These were the questions that kept cropping up whenever he thought about the last days. Specifically, whenever he thought about traitors and their pets. The question was mainly directed at the bloodthirsty cannibals but also applied to the poor souls who had become their food.