The apocalypse isn’t all bad. It’s ninety nine percent bad but there are a couple of good features it has to offer. I don’t have to sort out my recycling anymore. I don’t have to wait in line at the bank because there are no banks and even if there were everyone is dead, so no lines. I don’t have to endure tedious small talk at parties anymore because there are no parties because everyone is dead. Various other things that all end with “because everyone is dead”. Who was it that said that hell is other people? Mike Dunleavy? Whoever it was that said it they’d be jazzed right now because that particular hell has been greatly reduced in size.
One positive feature that I hadn’t considred but would have assumed to be in place had you asked me about it is the chance of me walking in on Martialla having sex being entirely eliminated. Pre-apocalypse the chances were already very slim because she was a married lady with her own home and we’re both adults, it’s not like we were college dorm mates. And post-apocalypse? Forget about even those slim odds. No way. That’s what I would have told you about it had you asked.
I went into the Texaco/main office/our Paradise command center to ask Martialla something about something and what did I see but her and the Grungeman engaged in a spirited bout of skanko-Roman wrestling. It was awful. It was like seeing a mangy frothing rabid wombat attacking a plucked honking goose and the both of them being beaten with a flappy walrus-skin rug with one tusk still on it. It was all I could do not to throw up right on the spot.
I’ve seen Martialla nude before of course. You know how us girls are with our nude pillow fights. Back in the old days it was fine, nothing to get excited about of course, but she’s an athletic sort so it was fine. Not the kind of thing you’d want to see, but also not the kind of thing that would make you want to pour bleach into your ear to scrub away the memory. All I’ll say is that the apocalypse has not been kind to her and she wasn’t working with a lot to begin with. And the guy? He was just a big ball of guts and flab and rashes and the palest skin I’ve ever seen. And I say that once having been in a hot tub with Julianna Margulies and Rose McGowan!
I mastered myself enough to barf out words instead of other stuff “What the hell are you doing?”
At the sound of my voice Grunge-o jumped up and off (and out) of Martialla and sprinted away like it was the starter pistol at a track event. He was just gone. He didn’t try to cover himself or get dressed or anything. He was just barefoot bounding away like a deer, a deer with his penis flapping in the wind. I believe it was Dave Attell who declared that to be the true face of fear. Something along the lines of –
“The guy gets up and he starts running with his penis flapping around in the air. He doesn’t even try and cover it cuz he’s so afraid screaming. This guy is afraid. Cuz that’s what fear looks like, a man running around with his dick flapping around in the air. If you walk out of here tonight and you see a man running down the street with his dick flapping in the air, run with that man cuz there is some scary stuff coming the other way.”
I think Dave Attell said something like that. As her partner disappeared into the compound, Martialla just pulled on a shirt and started massaging her new foot like it was no big deal.
I threw my arms out “What was that?!”
She glanced in the direction her new friend had run like the devil himself was after him “Oh, he’s skittish.”
“Not that!” I gestured at the ground where there had been a sex act only moments ago “What was . . . this?”
She smirked “Did you parents never have the talk with you Ela? You see when a man and woman go on a date they go to a fancy restaurant and the man orders a steak and the woman orders something called a salad, and then afterwards they engage in a special kind of hug and then the man loses interest in the woman.”
“Shut up Martialla, you know what I mean.”
She rolled back into that awkward overturned turtle/pants putting on pose that you only see in jeans commercials “Well the subtext of what you mean is generally ‘why am I not the center of attention, Martialla!’”
I frowned at her “You’ve really been coming at me heavy with the zingers lately.”
She pushed her hair back carelessly as she got up/finished dressing “Dying is very liberating. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone but it gives you a certain perspective.”
I looked at her for a moment “So was it any good?”
She threw her head back in a full belly laugh “No it was awful! I don’t know what was going on back there, it felt like I was doing the splits at the beach, in the wet sand I mean. The grey stuff at the edges where you can’t even build a sandcastle because it won’t stick together. But it was nice to feel someone’s skin against mine for a minute you know? To have someone hold me.”
I also looked at the direction he had run “Hmm. So what’s his deal?”
“He says that his name is Paul Calhoun. You were right, he claims that he was frozen, but not from our time. He said that he was put into stasis in Twenty Thirty-Four because the world was being overrun by necros as he called them. The way he described them sounded like nano-zombies to me.”
I scowled “What the fuck does that mean?”
“I’m thinking that if you get too many nanobots in your blood or the ones you have inside you go crazy or something you could technically die but they would keep your body alive stumbling around, you know, like zombies. Like zapping a corpse to make the muscles twitch. Or maybe the nanobots overwrite your brain with their own programming so you just wander around trying to make more nanobots to infect others. Like that episode of the Smurfs where they all turn purple and bite each other.”
I looked at my arm as if I could see the nanos swimming in my blood “How is that possible?”
She shrugged “How is any of this possible? I’m just saying he said there were zombies and they had robots parts, but for the record I don’t know how much stock to put into anything Paul says. I think he was a kid when this all happened and I don’t know how much of what he told me is just trauma brain making stuff up. All he really remembers from his life before is watching TV and that there was candy and pie and it was the best. He really hates it here. He had convinced himself those memories were a dream and he was never actually frozen until he saw us. I think he’s pretty messed up.”
“So naturally you had sex with him.”
“Well when you say it like that.”
First – my most bitter failure as a writer is not coming up with a better line for Martialla to describe having sex with Paul. I used to always steal the line from Seinfeld about alien probing but I figured I should stop that.
Second – I grabbed that picture years ago for an TTRPG thing and I don’t know where it came from. I tried a google image search and found nothing. Probably it came from deviantART? I’m sorry gods of attribution, I made an effort.