Today I began the laborious process of setting up something like a semi-permanent… base? Colony? It’s hard to feel like either of those words is justified when I’m still the only person using them. One might ask why I didn’t just keep living in my apartment (god, I wish there was anyone around to ask me that).
As much as it’s a fairly decent place, it just doesn’t seem practical to me when I’m going to lack the support of Earth’s infrastructure. Without people to do farming for me, to purify water and generate power, I’m going to have to do all of those things myself. How long do solar panels last, anyway?
I wonder what the smallest population is that could sustain itself. Five hundred? Are there even that many people left in all the world?
Am I the only one?
Huan didn't come inside with me last night, but once I got out onto the street he found me in fairly short order. As before, I made the first part of my trip a mission to get food for him, this time from a nearby convenience store. Can dogs eat several-day-old sandwiches with partially rotten meat? Yes, as it turns out. They can. Course, my old dog used to bury things for weeks before digging them up and eating them, so I wasn't too worried. Once Huan was fed, he kept along beside me for my daily adventures, and thank god he did.
I found something a little better than rolling around a hard-wheeled grocery cart, one that threatens to fall over and dump its contents if I pull from the wrong angle or strike any obstruction. Before I started moving anything, I went to a toy store and found one of those wagons with the high sides and a more rugged suspension. While it can’t hold quite as much, it also doesn’t rattle around like it’s going to explode or threaten to dump everything all over me.
I found something else useful in the toy store: a harness and bridle. Oh, they’re toys, made of plastic and designed for plastic horses. The size similarities are so close as to be almost disturbing, and at present it’s held up well enough under light use. I wonder if I might be able to copy the pattern with something other than coarse nylon rope that scratches and chafes everywhere it touches.
I didn’t bring very much. Fit it all in one wagon, in fact. My clothes are almost all useless now, for one. Maybe I’ll have time to learn how to sew better and figure out how to make something eventually. When I have safety, stability, and company.
It was getting on in the day and was almost evening when I made the trip, and I knew it probably wasn't the best time to be walking into an unfamiliar (and quite suburban) part of the city. As I got close to the house, I noticed Huan starting to tense up, as if he was worried about something I couldn't see. Of course I saw it just fine when a pack of mangy dogs emerged from close by. Not a large pack, mind, maybe six animals, smaller and leaner than Huan, and a few inches shorter than I was.
Still pretty terrifying. They didn't rush right into attack the way I would expect, though. Instead, they surrounded us first, a prowling mass of sharp teeth and claws. My heart pounded in my chest like I was gonna have some kind of embolism, and the scent. God, I've never smelled anything like that in my life. Or, I've smelled dog before, but it didn't used to be that frightening. Why doesn't Huan smell like that?
Instead of attacking, they started barking, growling, and making other animal noises. Almost as though they were having some kind of conversation. I'm not sure where the idea came from, but the instant I thought it I couldn't help but look at the way they moved and see something different about it than any other predators I've ever seen or read about. Sure, they were probably just nervous about what Huan could do, standing beside me as he was in a defensive, fighting position.
Even if I had been able to fight, It would take at least a minute to untangle myself from the harness. Surely the sign of weakness and struggle would be an invitation to attack and a grisly end afterwards. I would have to fight without moving, if it came to that. After a few tense moments, the largest of the animals moved in to fight a brief, snapping contest with my new friend. The other dogs just watched, though their eyes were also on me. Somehow, I knew that to interfere would be to invite them to attack.
After what couldn't be more than a few seconds, the big dog broke past Huan and came straight for me, frothing at its lips. Unfortunately for the dog, I was ready, my back hooves braced against the concrete. I might not be very coordinated yet, but I've kicked forward plenty of times, like when that case of cans fell on my other leg.
I delivered a kick with every drop of adrenaline and fear in my body. In the contest of hooves vs teeth, it seems that hooves win. The dog went flying, sprawling several meters away. When it finally limped away, it was trailing blood and broken teeth from its mouth, whimpering all the while. The others soon followed.
Huan had been the one to do the real fighting, and he had several nasty scratches to show for it, though nothing more severe. He limped along after me the rest of the way. When we got there, I went inside and brought a first aid kit, and cleaned out his wounds. Honestly, he didn't look that bad. It didn't seem like the animals were really going for a kill. I don't know much about dogs, but none of what I saw seemed like typical behavior. He wasn't willing to come past the fence into the house, so I set out all the slowly rotting meat in the fridge for him and waved goodbye. I hope he's okay out there.
I transferred everything into one of the bedrooms in the new house. Well, house might be a bit modest: small mansion might be more accurate. Amazing, it’s only been five days and already I’m claiming everything I see for my own. Wonder if I’m really all that different from the animals after all. I’m sure there are predators doing that exact same thing all over Los Angeles. Only, I’m not a predator anymore, am I? Shame, meat was always a convenient source of food in lean times. Restarting a vegetarian society will be far more difficult, assuming there’s any society to restart.
Is that it? Am I assuming what happened to everyone now? I’ll admit, that option does have some minor appeal. If everyone changed, it means I wasn’t selected for no reason to have every familiar aspect about myself taken away.
Why? Why would anyone do this? The selective removal of humans and (seemingly) nothing else seems to demand an intelligence or will is behind this somehow. The changes to my body only make it more baffling. I wonder where everyone went… I refuse to accept that they might simply have been erased. There weren’t bodies… that has to mean they were taken somewhere, right? What would someone want with all the humans on earth? Why leave a few horses behind?
The water system is no longer working, of course, and apparently the cistern had been flowing to help water the palatial lawn. I shut down the sprinkler system. From what I can tell, the water flows into the house as well, because the taps still work in here when they don’t seem to anywhere else. I took a wrench and shut off the gas, though I don’t have the dexterity to do anything about the water-main, not yet. I need some kind of tool for this stupid hoof thing, something I can use to regain some of the precision and grip like a hand. Something to start thinking about.
I also need to make a trip to transfer my fresh food here from the fridge back at work. It will be an enormous pain to pack everything up in coolers. I’ll save the bother of talking about my struggle with every single thing from now on. You can… probably safely assume a great deal of struggle. Using a keyboard is still pretty much impossible, for instance. Wonder how big the keys would have to be to strike them accurately with hooves. Too bad I’m not some sorta mad scientist; maybe then I could’ve made some sort of boot that could separate into a mechanical hand at my command and work just as well as a real one. I’d give Tony Stark a call if the phones weren’t down (or he existed).
As much as I picked the house for all its many sustainability features, it didn’t come with a HAM radio set installed like the truck did. The simple solution would be to drive the truck here, but again I think that highly unlikely. Getting a drivable vehicle will be a priority for me once the necessities of life are taken care of, but I don’t think I’ll ever have a prayer of driving a semi-truck. Maybe I can convert one of those Smart Car toys into something quadruped friendly.
I’ve noticed a few other strange things about this body, all of which seem to reiterate the fact that I am not an Earth horse. My spine comfortably bends in ways that should probably break it, and I can even sit up on a chair the way I used to. It isn’t entirely natural; the way I seem to want to sit is on my haunches, like a dog, but I can do either without discomfort. My strength seems… difficult to easily quantify. There are times when I struggle to pull the wagon, and other times I kick a door open so forcefully that it gets torn off its hinges. I don’t seem to feel tired regardless of how much work I do, then it gets dark and I suddenly have difficulty staying awake. I wish I had a doctor who could speculate about what is causing that. Maybe while he/she’s at it, he/she can tell me how I can get my body back.
Oh, I spared some of the precious water for a brief shower. I'm not really sure what I smell like (if it's horse, I've never actually been around one before, so I wouldn't recognize it anyway). Cold showers are awful and I don't feel like I got nearly enough time. More than that is I've been using my mouth for more and more and I'm sure as heck not going to use it to spread soap around. I'll glue a rough sponge to a stick next time I try it, or just use standing water like
the animal I am.
I’ll go shopping tomorrow, for the gear to get my radio working again and for some better-fitting clothes besides. I will probably forgo a top for the time being, and just see what sort of shorts I can modify to wear without bunching up when I walk. It isn’t as if there’s anyone around to complain about my modesty, and wearing something will easily identify me as unusual to anyone who notices me, even if I don’t see them first. Should avoid getting hunted that way, I hope.
UPDATE: I was fiddling with a hand radio before bed when I noticed strange static coming from one bandwidth. The signal is far too faint to identify or pinpoint. Tomorrow I will take the radio with me and see if I can’t find the direction. It’s probably nothing, just something left transmitting when everything fell apart. I shouldn’t get too excited, and I can barely stay awake… in the dark…