• Published 2nd Jul 2015
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The Last Phoenician - Razzle Dazzle



This is how the world ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.

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May 25

Monday, May 25

Dear Journal,

Yesterday I said I was going to raid the grocery store nearby. Well, I did, but not for one person.

Yeah, that’s right. I found another survivor, which is great, because two is always better than one. Especially when the world has ended.

Despite how game-changing this is, I’ll start from the beginning. Last night I filled up both Mike’s bathtub and mine with water. This morning, water came out of the tap, but it was just a trickle. The pumps were failing, and by the end of the day I knew there wouldn’t be running water. I filled up some bowls and glasses with water with what was left before I ate. If all else fails, the canals should have water for another couple weeks before it all evaporates.

For breakfast, I had half of a head of lettuce and fed the dogs some of their food. I checked my phone and the reception was all over the place. Guess that’s going out too. I called all my contacts one last time, even my parents’. I was about halfway down the list when somebody answered.

It was one of my old friends, Jessica Miller. We met in high school. Dated a little, and even though it didn’t work out, we stayed friends. Her voice was deeper than I expected, but that was probably a result of the failing cell towers. Here’s how the conversation went, to the best of my memory:

“Jessica? Can you hear me?”

“Yeah, but barely. Oh my god, I thought I was alone.”

“So did I. Listen, do you still live in the house on Presidio?”

“Yeah. You’re coming over?”

“I might as well. We need to team up to look for others.”

“Others? Are you sure we’re not the only ones?”

“There’s no way to be sure if we don’t look.”

She paused. “Your voice sounds different.”

“So does yours.”

She paused again. “Get over here.” And then she hung up.

Well, I thought, I know what I’m doing for the rest of the day. I just hoped she wouldn’t freak out when she saw me like this. Would she know it’s me? Maybe. I’m still driving the same car that I was in high school.

I drove over to her house. It didn’t take long. The traffic lights still worked, but I didn’t stop for anything. I got there and could tell just from driving down the street that she was a horse too. All of the other houses had either broken windows or destroyed doors with suspicious hoof marks in them. I stopped the car in front of her house, got out, and knocked on the door. I heard a voice call out. “Scott? Is that you?”

“Yeah.” I waited as she came to the door. Her voice was a lot deeper than I remember. When she opened the door I could tell why. He was a stallion. He had a gray coat and a short brown mane with lighter highlights. And his eyes. They were this deep russet that was so beautiful.

“So,” he said, “You’re a mare.”

“Yeah, it’s been a bit difficult getting used to that and –” I paused for a second “– other things.” I really didn’t want to tell him about my parents yet.

“It was hard getting used to being a stallion too. Doing that and trying to survive is all but impossible.”

We talked for a little while before he showed me his setup. He had pillaged canned food and bottled water from his neighbors and holed up in his house. After I told him about my setup he offered to come live with me. And I don’t know why, but my heart skipped a beat when he said that.

We put some food, water, and other things he didn’t want to leave behind in the car. He was a bit surprised when I got in and started driving, but after I explained how I did it he sat down and enjoyed the ride. We unloaded the supplies together and put them in the closet with the rest of it. With him now safe in my apartment, I could start on the things I had planned to do today. First, I wanted to build a radio broadcast to attract survivors. When I told Jessica about this, he stopped me.

“There’s no room here for survivors,” he said. “This is a one bedroom apartment. It can barely hold two people.”

I agreed with him. With all the things we had to store, this apartment wasn’t cutting it. I suggested we move some things to Mike’s apartment, but he thought it would be better to move now when there was two of us.

The question is which house? There are hundreds within just a few blocks of us. While I didn’t think choosing was a big deal, Jessica did. If there are more survivors, we could set up a colony. So we need to find a house that would make a good colony. We talked about this for quite some time, and decided to go all the way down to Queen Creek. People have just started building houses there, so there would be room to grow and space for a farm. He liked the idea, and so did I.

What followed was the best hour of window shopping ever. We could rule out some neighborhoods that weren’t near farmland, and eventually we found a good one.

The lights in the model homes were still on, which piqued our interest before I remembered that they stay on all the time. The few groups of completed houses around them were all empty too. A smaller number of unfinished ones had materials scattered around, probably put there Friday so that they could use them Saturday. We drove around the newly paved streets a few times. He thought this would be a great place for a colony of survivors. There are some houses to live in, some room to expand along the finished streets, and area for farmland. The houses even had solar panels and everything!

So we had a winner. Since thirty of the houses had solar panels (thank god for the energy-efficiency craze), there were plenty of options. We finally settled on a one-story house with five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spare room, a huge garage, and an empty backyard that would be a perfect place to plant some of the seeds I had. Somebody lived here; there were family photos on the walls and in the bedrooms. After another two hours of moving things back and forth, we had emptied my apartment of any supplies and moved them to the new house. Even after we had organized the supplies and put all their photos in a closet (they were really creepy considering we were technically breaking and entering), it was still the afternoon.

Instead of sitting around doing nothing, we went and raided the Walmart down the street. We took the canned food, dried fruit, and bottled water back to the house one car trip at a time. It became a game after a bit. We’d run up and down the aisles throwing everything into shopping carts, then racing each other to the car. It sounds stupid and childish, but sometimes the stupid, childish stuff is fun. Eventually we got it all, but we were exhausted. It was fun, though. For the next few hours we just sat on the couch together. We had to sit like animals, though. It’s kinda how a dog lies down. Or the Sphinx. If you’re reading this from the distant future, does the Sphinx still exist?

I rested my head on his back and fell asleep curled up against him for an hour. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to get enough of him. I always want to be with him for some reason.

After I woke up I realized that I completely forgot about setting up a radio broadcast! The CB radio I took from Dad’s house had a range of seventy-five miles, so from where I was in the Southeast, it should cover the whole city. I just recorded a simple message and set it on a loop. That should be enough to get survivors coming over here. If there are any.

We ate a simple dinner. We split a can of green beans and shared a bottle of water. Fancy, I know. Hopefully we can set up a garden at some point. Even though we filled up an entire room with all the crap we looted from Walmart, it won’t last forever. And with the possibility of new people coming over, we need to get self-sustainable fast. The solar panels are a good start. There’s no way of collecting water other than taking it from the canals, since rainwater is too scarce and the water table’s too far down. And those won’t last either. Our best bet is to go to Saguaro Lake and use the water purifier to clean it. But that takes gas, and it’ll go bad in six months. I could steal a diesel car?

Maybe. At least I’m not alone.

-Scott Smith

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