Bottlecap

Inspired by “I Am Legend” and “The Road”, this is a flash fiction piece about life and companionship.

This was the second body I had come across in the past week that hung from above, swaying slightly in the cross breeze that blew through the abandoned house. The limp body was slowly rotating. A quiet creaking in the rope fibers, stretching from the clockwise motion, was the only sound I could hear. I was completely alone, slowly forgetting the sound of my own voice. Yet I felt calm, for the past month I had grown used to it, with only my thoughts to keep me company.

Pulling out my knife, I cut down the body and fumbled through the pockets of the worn hunting jacket. A few coins, some crumbled kibble and a bottle cap. Nothing useful but I kept the coins and the bottle cap anyways. After a quick search through a bare and dusty kitchen, I went downstairs to see if I could find anything else. With the windows boarded, the basement was completely dark. My nostrils rose in response to the damp, mouldy scent that grew with each step down the concrete stairs. Standing at the base of the stairs with my back against the wall and the steps to my right, I pulled out my flashlight.

The unfinished basement was entirely empty except for a single metal pillar, barely four inches in diameter that stood in the middle of the room, seemingly supporting the house’s entire weight. Turning my flashlight towards the far corner, I noticed a wooden door with two cracks splitting across the otherwise plain oak. It was closed and the knob was missing, and I felt a faint gravity towards it. I stood for a moment, thinking, before setting off across the cold concrete floor. I was so fixated on the ragged cracks that I failed to notice my feet tracing through a puddle. Pausing to shake off my wet ankle, I glanced back toward the stairs which lay a dozen paces away. I stored the mental image, an escape route.

Next I reached over my shoulder into my backpack, grabbing the metal baseball bat that had served me well before. My knuckles turned white and my forearm muscles quivered as I hesitated, inspected the cracks, and listened for a sound from the other side. Only silence.  I stretched out with my left hand, still clasping the flashlight, and pushed the door, quickly stepping back as the heavy oak groaned. But it only opened an inch before catching.

Blood pumped through my veins, carrying adrenaline in preparation. I flexed my hand around the taped grip of the bat and pushed hard with my left foot this time. Now the door swung open, banging loudly against the inside wall and sending vibrations through the concrete floor and into my feet.

A loud growl and bark responded to my intrusion. I turned my flashlight towards the sound and the light reflected off of a pair of glowing eyes. The beast charged towards me, claws scraping along the rough floor. I raised my bat above my head, ready to strike, but a thick metal chain restrained the attacker a yard short of me. The barking continued, rough and strained, overpowering the immense pounding in my chest. I swallowed my fear and breathed again, relaxing my raised arm and letting the bat drop to my side.

Snapping ferociously at the air between us was a young golden retriever with a soft, golden coat but a ghastly bald head with sickly sores and a scarlet mouth that dripped blood where there should have been saliva. At its feet sat a loaded rifle and part of an empty whiskey bottle, the rest of it was strewn across the floor in a million fragments. I calmly raised the bat above my head and brought it down in a swift and precise motion. Silence reclaimed its realm.

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