I survived another day, despite what you may’ve expected. I didn’t starve, though that almost seemed like a more pressing danger than anything else so far. Despite my expectations, the lights are all still on. I guess whatever automated equipment they use to keep the grid running can go twenty-four hours without human intervention. How long will it take for all the fuel in all the world’s emergency generators to run out? Another day? A week?
There were no visible changes to the situation when I woke up. Reality did not revert to its proper form as I slept, much to my chagrin. No cars had been moved, nor had any fliers been dropped by the millions from aircraft to litter the streets. I don’t own a TV, but I have plenty of neighbors who do. I found an unlocked door, and found that most stations have stopped broadcasting already. Of those that remained, I saw only signs of automation; old television shows and reruns and scheduled broadcasts. None of the news or local channels were broadcasting, though I spent nearly an hour scanning all of the remaining channels for signs of life.
I decided sometime early this morning that finding someone else alive is my first priority. Even if they think I’m a freak, even if they dismiss me as an animal at first, or consider my new form to be somehow responsible for what has happened, I have to try. The thought of being alone in the wreckage of a dying city, watching the weeds sweep in year after year to crack the streets and rust devour what civilization built; I can’t watch it alone. Maybe if I had kept my body I could’ve. I didn’t.
So I considered for a long time: if there were other survivors, scattered so that, say, one in a million had survived the strange culling, what were the chances I would wander into them by sheer chance? Very, very small. With such low numbers, low enough that I had seen no evidence at all they existed, it was possible we could all live together in the wreckage of LA without ever meeting each other, or spread to the vastness of the country where the chances of encountering each other shrunk even further.
Infrastructure is failing. It won’t vanish overnight, but I know that the delicate web that upholds a technological civilization cannot survive such depopulation. To keep a pale imitation of a first world economy going would probably require a million people. Does that mean we’re doomed to agrarian life? Is this the planet’s revenge for all we’ve done?
I can’t get ahead of myself. I have no idea what’s happened, or why. Only that some power, beyond anything I’ve ever suspected, is clearly at work here in California. The Internet suggests that either something similar has happened worldwide, or else something about local network connections requires close monitoring to function. Some quick searches around the net did suggest that sites located overseas were much less likely to still be up. The number of errors I encountered this evening was far higher than from this morning.
Granted I didn’t try very many. I’m grateful I spent the time and energy getting my laptop able to respond to voice commands, or else it might have been all but impossible to use. Maybe if this mess doesn’t fix itself, I’ll have to make a keyboard more suited to hooves. Of course, if things don’t go back to the way they were, there might not be much reason. It’s been two whole days with no evidence of a single human being in the city, or any changes to the net. If this was a localized disaster, surely someone on the internet would’ve been talking about it. As with the television, those few changes I did notice seemed far more like scheduled posts than active human activity. No post I saw anywhere had a single comment posted since yesterday morning, though again my search could not be exhaustive. It’s a shame all the evidence I might use to pinpoint an exact time is about to disappear.
Maybe if I had my fingers and knew what I was doing, I would try to make a backup of some of that. Time is the enemy now. The power grid is going to fail soon, and when that happens all contact with the world outside my city will be severed, maybe forever. I took the time this morning to copy a simple message to a few of the sites I frequent, as well as the others I could think of that allow user-submitted content. This simple message read: “If anyone is alive to read this, you are not alone. I am in Los Angeles. If you see this, call ASAP. Phones will not last long. I may be reached using my cell number…”
I would carry it with me the rest of the day, as well as making calls to my mother and brother whenever I got a chance. I left messages begging them to return my calls, or if they couldn’t get through, then to come to LA and join me here. Is there any chance any of my family is still alive? I’m not sure. Maybe whatever left me here has something to do with my blood.
Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with anything. I don’t know.
A little browsing took far longer than it should’ve, but it didn’t take long. I’m no computer whiz’, but I’ve always good with my hands. Machines, particularly diesel engines and trucks in general. That’s what I do at the garage, since I’m the only one there with that kind of experience.
This unique knowledge gave me an insight I might’ve otherwise ignored. If anyone remained with any knowledge of how radios worked, it was quite possible I could get in contact with a CB radio. I know of (marginally illegal) systems with the power to easily reach out through the entire city and much of the county beyond. How hard could it be to turn something like that into a signal beacon? There are survivors. I know it in my bones. I don’t know if they’re like me… for their sakes, I hope they aren’t.
I refuse to accept any other alternative, except perhaps that I’ve gone completely insane. If this is a delusion, it seems to be holding up supernaturally well against scrutiny.
So ignoring the possibility of insanity for now (something to worry about when things have settled down a little), I decided to devote myself entirely to be as conspicuous and noticeable as possible. I will get myself discovered. I will NOT spend the rest of my stupid, tiny horse life alone. Who knows, it may not be impossible to reverse this. Maybe there’s someone somewhere who knows how this awful situation got started, and what we can do to put things right.
I walked to the garage, mostly because I’m sure we have a truck waiting for service there with far more than the legal wattage of radio transmitter. Walking is awful, and not just because I still haven't learned to do it properly. Even dressed (or my best imitation of wearing clothes), my body doesn't just let me ignore what I'm missing and pretend the new stuff isn't there. I'm a quadruped now, so it's all moving around all the time. I know from experience that a fall or two isn't going to hurt me that badly, even if walking around makes it impossible to pretend I'm still human.
I couldn't begin to drive the truck, with its complicated pedals and shifting column and my own limbs shorter than a little kid’s. I could, however, use a screwdriver and some clippers. I disconnected the antenna, ran some extension to the third floor window, and stuck the antenna outside to hang there. This particular truck had the makings of a pirate radio rig; enough for me to record a few seconds of audio and put it on loop. Connected the truck’s battery to the grid while I was at it; no sense in forcing the thing to idle away and fill the garage with carbon monoxide.
I recorded a simple message, saying that there were survivors and the address of the garage as a meeting place. I said that I’d be coming and going around that area, but I would leave a note about my whereabouts if the transmission went down and I relocated. Turned the speaker volume up so loud they were sure to blow out if anyone actually responded, and turned the thing on a cycle through all frequencies (even the two civilians are supposed to have a license to use).
Yes, I did all that without hands. No, I don’t know how the hell I managed it. I’m still tripping over myself when I walk. Still struggling to accomplish even basic tasks. I tried to microwave myself a hearty beef stew for lunch, and found the smell almost set me to heaving. Meat. Apparently tiny horses don’t do the meat thing. Too bad. Maybe when I’m through struggling I can fight through the instinct. Bet it still tastes damn good.
Brought a sleeping bag and a few other supplies to the building in short trips, so I could set my headquarters up in the manager’s office. Figure if anyone hostile is listening, I’ll at least be behind a thick locked door. Granted, I’d probably be safer if I stayed hidden… if my survival was some sort of accident, revealing myself so openly has all but guaranteed whatever force caused it will come for me.
Maybe they’ll take me away to wherever they took everybody else. I suppose that wouldn’t be so bad. At least I’d have company.
Barring that, I’ll focus on finding survivors. It’s good to have a goal. Tomorrow I’ll try to get more familiar with this body; maybe figure out a way of carrying more than what I can wrap around my neck or hold in my teeth at one time. Damn is a mouth good at getting things done, though. Guess millions of years of newborns using their mouth to explore as much as their hands had good reason for doing it.
Please, if there’s anything like a God out there, at least let me find somebody. I don’t care if they’re the most awful jackass in the world. Anything would be better than this awful silence.
Note: Instead of thinking about my disgusting new body, I drew a radio.