Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Small Talk

Polite conversation disappears when you need to conserve your language. I’ve been communicating with Mike the construction worker I saw across the street when the soldiers were still below. We can’t shout to one another. He’s too far away, and my building isn’t secure. Calling attention to myself with the sea of undead below me is not on the “to do” list. We communicate with each other by writing things down and holding it up for each other to read. I have half a dry erase board I ripped from the wall in the conference room, he has a almost fully used easel pad. With his writing surface slowly running out, we can’t spare any niceties.

I have talked with him for the last week, on and off, a couple of messages a day. We trade stories about what we have to eat and drink, and how we have secured our areas. I tell him I want to come over to him and his group, but he may as well have a base on the surface of Mars. The chances of making it across that zombie laden road below are very, very low.

It’s been three weeks since I came here and holed up. I slept almost the entire first week. I would get up and stumble to rest room, or fill my water, but mostly I slept. I couldn’t leave with my side the way it was, and my body just wanted to shut down anyway. It’s funny, I am normally an insomniac, but I had no issue sleeping at all for a full week. After three weeks of inactivity, my head and shin are fine. My bullet wound was really just a graze, it did no permanent damage, and it is scabbed up quite well. I can move just fine and feel ok, if not a bit tired and hungry.

I woke up depressed and alone. I contemplated killing myself. Go out quick instead of a painful starving or dehydration death. I stopped myself when I thought about my wife. I made a promise to her, “till death do us part.” My interpretation of that does not include death at my own hands.

I find out from our conversations that Mike has 21 people in his building. 14 of them were his crew that is remolding the upper floors. The rest of them are people that came to him looking for help. He says they have enough food to get by, but water is running scarce. He has no way to get any water, and since it hasn’t rained in days, they don’t even have any water from the buckets on the roof. I tell him I have 40 gallons of drinking water in my office alone, not including the rest of the offices. “Doesn’t do me any good over there,” was his only reply.

I break into each of the offices on my floor looking for supplies and useful items. I find some chocolates, batteries, a whistle, a new bag, and lots of other useful things. I knock the lock of Regina’s office. Regina is the president of central processing, and probably one of the most important people on our level. She is at her desk, dead since the beginning I gather. She has her scissors on her desk, and it looks as if she opened her arms with them. She sits in her executive leather office chair. On her mahogany desktop sits her blackberry, and her laptop, below her on her expensive carpeting there is a large patch of dried blood.

She was a stone cold terror in the office. People would see her and walk the other way. The people that worked under her lived in daily fear that she would confront them. I couldn’t imagine her doing something like this. Then I remember that I considered doing something like this. I look at her disgusted. In reflection, I was probably more upset with my weakness than with hers. I storm out of the room and decide on a plan.

I take the bolt off of the industrial size paper cutter in the back office. The paper cutter handle is two and a half feet long and has a nice handle on it. It is the perfect makeshift machete. I grab the cart the water sits on, it’s got slots for 16 bottles, 80 gallons. There are 5 bottles in it. The rest of the offices on my floor fill the cart easily. There is more water here than the Shedd Aquarium. I take the cart to the stairwell and I march each bottle downstairs to the lobby. I don’t run into anything during the 17 trips up and down the stairs, the lobby is clear too. It looks like the soldiers cleared it out for a base of operations. I set the cart up in the dock area and retreat upstairs. I am too tired tonight to even consider it, but tomorrow morning I am making a break for the East Wabash building.

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