You know that old saying “be careful what you wish for?” I do. Maybe I should’ve tried to listen better. It seemed like the worst thing that could happen was being alone forever. I still think that. It’s just… that idea’s being tested now. I'm sure part of it just comes from being with someone new. You spend tons of time alone and you get to thinking that's the only way life ought to be. Then you add in somebody new, and they expect something completely different. It's an adaptation process for both of us.
Cloudy Skies has different priorities, I think that much is clear just in the “name” she chose for herself. Far be it from me to judge the coping mechanisms of someone with a history of abuse. What works for her works for her. I know we're just getting to know each other, but I want her to feel safe around me. I want her to feel like I care about what she has to say. That's why... well, you'll see.
It actually started off pretty nice. It feels like waking up earlier has been easier (I haven’t needed my alarm in three days), but Sky was up even earlier than me. When I woke up, it was to fresh omelets. Well, as fresh as omelets will ever be. They still smelled as good as I remember, and she was already eating hers, so…
I wish I’d been awake to see her cook. Maybe I could’ve learned something about how to use hooves if she can somehow break eggs without getting any shell into what we’re eating after only a week of having these stupid bodies. Granted, this might be one of the few refrigerators that isn’t at this moment filled with rotting food, thanks to having been on constantly since the Banishment. Since the Vanishing. Since the… thing that happened. Since the Event.
If we hadn’t both been sitting like children barely tall enough to reach the table, maybe we could’ve forgotten entirely about how stupid things had become. Well… and eating had been easier. I’ve been avoiding sit-down meals like this for this exact reason: I have no idea how to use silverware.
Cloudy Skies has a solution, and that seems to be extreme patience. You can use a knife or a fork with both front hooves together if you go slow. So she would make a single cut, then put the knife down and take the fork to pick up the piece she’d just cut, then repeat. When I asked her how she'd had the time to figure this out, she looked at me like I was crazy. I guess she hasn't been bending down to eat from her plates and bowls like a dog. What, you think I did that? Why on earth would I do that? Oh, cuz' I have no hands. That's why.
We talked about what we would do to survive. I told her about the plans I’d been making, about how I wanted to make some sort of vehicle we could drive, that way we could start transporting in supplies from all over. For whatever reason, the highways didn’t appear to be clogged with broken cars, so we ought to take advantage of that fact. Told her about the garden I’d like to start, and my eventual plans to explore the country searching for additional survivors.
Sky thought my ideas were okay, though she had one of her own I thought didn’t make much sense. She wanted to save some farm animals. She’s probably right that if we didn’t do something soon, all the work humans have been doing to domesticate them all will go to waste. Chickens could never survive in the wild, though goats and cows probably would. She talked about it like it was her humanitarian responsibility, like it had been tearing her up inside all week that she hadn't been able to go.
Sky is apparently passionate about… food? Animals? I can’t tell which, honestly. She hasn’t said anything that would make me think she was a vegan or even a vegetarian before all this started. Still, the thing that she thought was our most urgent goal was saving some farm animals.
I can’t say this didn’t completely baffle me. Farm animals? Most of which would be bigger than us, maybe stronger too? Does she even know how to take care of them? Or how much more food we will need?
Apparently she had thought about all of that. She grew up on a farm, or near one, or something… and she thinks we ought to have at least cows and chickens, for the milk and the eggs. She said that taking care of them would be her responsibility, but she needed my help to get them here. We needed to hurry, since they would already be in desperate need of food by now. I didn't argue, even though I thought it was dangerous to leave the city the same day we tried driving.
Did she know where we could find some? Yes, apparently. About thirty miles outside of the city. God only knew there was a farm thirty miles away from downtown Los Angeles.
Of course, walking was out. Thirty miles might be doable for experienced backpackers with a human stride, but not for tiny horses. Sorry, ponies. Sky tells me tiny horses are called ponies. When I asked her if ponies came in blue, she only stuck her tongue out at me.
So we couldn’t walk. More than that, we would need a way to get the animals back here. She said the cows could graze just fine on people’s lawns until she found somewhere to keep them, but that we would need to take care of the chickens. Apparently they aren’t picky eaters, so she didn’t think it would be a problem.
How, you ask, are we supposed to get farm animals thirty miles in just one day? Good question. I wondered about that too.
By truck, as it turned out. Sky suggested that, together, we might be able to drive one of those big animal transport trucks. One of us could sit on the ground and operate the pedals, and the other could stand in a seat and use the wheel and the shifter.
I pointed out that driving a semi-truck is much harder than just driving stick, that it requires special training and certifications and everything. Did I have any of those? No. But I had driven them around our parking lot back at the garage.
It didn’t matter if we went slow; even chugging down the highway at parking lot speed would be faster than walking. Maybe fast enough to get the animals.
I caved. Partly because I felt bad about all the animals that would be dying right now in the wake of humanity’s death. We would be able to help at least a few of them this way. Not to mention that, should we ever wish to return to anything like a normal life, we would need milk and eggs to bring back western cooking. It wasn’t as though chickens and dairy cows make for great company, but having them around would probably make things feel less dead (and more like the Little House on the Prairie).
I’d walked past a truck several times with one of those animal trailers. Had to break into the cab, but I know the little hiding places many truckers use to hide their spare keys. Took my laptop along for the trip, since we anticipated spending the night at this farm, and then coming back tomorrow with whatever animals we find. Also brought a radio, in case this long journey through LA and beyond would expose us to more survivors.
I’m not sure what steps others would be taking to find
humanity other survivors after the… event… but I’m pretty sure that, like us, just about anyone would want to. Being alone for the rest of your life is a terrifying prospect.
Sky operated the pedals and I took care of the shifting and steering. Naturally, Huan wanted to come along. Sky was more than a little nervous to have such a big dog around, but he sat in the back of the cab and stuck his head out the window, like he do.
Driving worked well enough at low speeds and with nobody else on the road, though I wouldn’t have wanted to try it on pre-event road conditions. Though it might’ve been worth it to see the look in the police officer’s face when they pulled over a pair of tiny horses driving a stolen farm truck.
The farm Sky knew about proved to be more than thirty miles after all, though not by much. North, in that part of the county I rarely visited. We listened to the radio and looked for signs of life the whole way (never broke 30, so I had plenty of time to appreciate the “scenery”). We saw and heard nothing the whole way.
We made it. Small farm was about a mile off a main road. I didn’t dare drive a truck on a dirt road, so we parked it on the highway and walked that distance. I left most of the farm stuff to Sky, though she needed my help more than once to lift something or open a latch or whatever. We fed the chickens, but just released the bigger stuff. They didn’t have pigs or goats, just maybe a dozen dairy cows, a few bulls, and a handful of horses. Some chickens. No sheep, which I think is a shame.
It was a surreal experience. I’m not sure if humans experience this when they go onto the farm, but… I swear those animals were looking at us. That doesn’t sound weird; of course they were. But… it’s very hard to explain. It felt like…
God, if I’d known animals were this smart, I never would’ve eaten any. I’ve seen pictures of animals before, and they never look like this. Never looked so… damn… smart. Like they fully realized the situation they’d been in and felt genuine gratitude that we had come for them and trust that we would take care of them.
I’ve heard about animals being loyal to their masters. Shepherds and sheep come to mind. We’re not these animals’ masters, though. Hell, we’re not even the same species as their masters. I half expected them to talk to us; would’ve just figured that becoming tiny horses would impart all the secrets of the beasts.
Well that didn’t happen. They made all the regular animal sounds, though I swear they were feeling the exact same emotions that people would’ve in their situation. This isn’t right. This can’t be right.
I had a dog growing up, and he was not this smart. Loving, loyal… but not like this. More of what I’ve seen from Huan, when we were attacked. Not natural.
The horses were just another level of surreal. It isn’t as though we have any use for bigger, stronger, faster versions of ourselves. They didn’t stick around like the cows after we let them go, and they didn’t talk to us. Course they didn’t. Horses can’t talk. They can’t drive trucks either.
I can’t say I was happy to be around them. I was afraid the stallions might try something; I’ve heard about how fierce and unruly some of those animals could be. Would we smell like horses to them?
Apparently not. I thought I smelled like a horse, but smelling an actual barn has convinced me that the alien “ponies” we’ve become are only similar to horses. It’s a much milder smell than the genuine article.
No power out here, and I want to save some battery for tomorrow in case the return trip takes more than one day.
Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.
Those chickens looked evil. I feel like they were planning something.