Last of the Breed
Copyright© 2020 by Wendell Jackson
The morning sun felt good on Roberts back. He’d been longing to chuck all his problems back there with his fellow crew men and women, and now he was doing it. In the coming days he might miss one or two of them, but hopefully not for long. He was now living the life he’d always wanted. A vagabond, out to see the world. Or what was left of it.
Some where there were others, he knew that by the occasional plane that flew overhead. Though he hadn’t seen any for a while. There were other people somewhere, it was just a matter of finding them. The path he was taking was a highway, strewn with vehicles. Abandon cars and trucks all sitting along the road and sometimes blocking his travel. The dead were now just piles of white bones, sticking up out of tattered clothing worn at the time of death. It was a constant reminder that a worldwide war had taken place, and there might still be some carrying on the fight.
Taking in the surrounding country side and the peaceful setting laid out before him, it was hard to think of all the dying that took place. Only the birds and beasts of the field, had survived intact. There were dangers, now. Mostly from animals that had feasted on the dead humans. The easy meals had all been consumed and now they prowled, looking for more. Robert had been surprised once by several large pigs, and had to climb atop one of the vehicles lining the highway shoulder. He was on the verge of killing them, when they lost interest and moved on.
Most nights on the open road, he found either a comfortable high-end car, or one of the motorhome’s that had become the main travel abode for sight seers and tourist. The motorhomes were his favorite, especially if he could toss out the dead driver without too much trouble. There was also a supply of food in each one, which he enjoyed and didn’t have to delve into his supply. He didn’t dare open the refrigerator, lest the place be fouled with rotting stench.
When he spent the night in a town, he chose a motel or apartment building. There were some empty rooms that didn’t contain the remains of the dead. A few rats running loose were some things one had to put up with around the larger towns. Dogs and cats seemed to be keeping the rat population down. He was leery of the once family pets, as they also had fed on the dead.
Fire was a problem, somehow flames got started in the towns, burning large portions before strong weather fronts extinguished them. With no one to put out fires, they continued to burn in many places. The industrial sites suffered heavily from the fires, and continued to burn. The charred walls left standing were monuments to a dead civilization.
Robert continued his journey on foot. Many horses come up along pasture fences to greet him. A horse, he decided would help span the distances. Stopping at a farm with several healthy-looking mounts, he found a saddle and now was riding with a pack string to carry extra supplies. Most nights he stayed at places that could accommodate his remuda. Many nights, he spent camping in the country side, where the smell of burnt buildings and homes was but a whisp in the air.
Taking care of the horses, were time consuming. Loading and unloading the packs at each camp site, kept him busy and his mind off the void of human companion ship. Just when it seemed that he had his life under control, he heard a voice cry out to him. Robert was passing some homes, each sitting on several fenced acres. At first, he thought it was his imagination, playing tricks on him. The voice called out again, and he focused on a girl waving at him from a window in one of the houses. With eyes wide with surprise, she called out for him to wait, to stay right where he was, as she was coming out.
By the time she reached Robert, he had dismounted and caught her in his arms as she ran to him. The girl wasn’t so small as he first thought. She was young, but in her early teens. She clung to him, sobbing with her face buried in his coat. When she finally stepped back at arm’s length, she announced that her name was Yawny. She repeated it several times, till Robert said it back to her. She smiled then, saying she’d given up hope of ever hearing her name spoken again.
After taking care of his horses, he joined the girl in her favorite house. Yawny was beside him the whole time, afraid he might slip away. He spent the night there with Yawny sleeping with one arm over him, making sure he would be there in the morning. The place was stacked full with loot, gathered from the other homes in neighborhood. Robert was surprised at the amount she had accumulated. It was all fine work if one was going to stay put, but Robert was going to keep moving. Yawny was going to go with him, her days of being alone were over.
Yawny had been living with her parents, when they came down sick. They didn’t die right off like most. Somehow their bodies were able to fight off the bug for several days, before succumbing. All her friends had died, so there was no one that she could turn too. She went looking for others, but to no avail. So rather than give up, she began gathering supplies for survival. Like Robert, she had seen the planes crossing the sky. So, she knew there were others still alive. Yawny never gave up hope of finding someone. When Robert came riding by, she saw the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. When Robert offered to let her ride along with him, she jumped at the chance.
It was easy to add another horse and saddle to the string. Yawny turned out to be very good with a horse. Robert let her keep some of the extra clothing she packed, thinking she would adjust what she was wearing as they rode. He could see that she was upset about not bringing all her dresses and gowns. He made her a promise, that as she needed clothing, they would find more. There were plenty of clothing stores that hadn’t burnt down, so she didn’t need all her baggage. Robert didn’t foresee an occasion for formal wear, but knew the Ballgown had special meaning to the girl. It was the one item that she owned before the die off. The dress she had hoped to wear to a school dance.
The first night, they camped in a grove of trees. A smooth flowing stream next to it, provided water for the coffee pot. Heated over a small camp fire, the coffee was a welcome morning brew. The image fit in with the adventure he was looking for. There was now a need for a camp tent. Something to keep mosquitos off them. After the sun went down, they sat inside enjoying a military ration meal. They had found the rations in an outdoor store. Robert also grabbed a couple bottles of whiskey and added a few jiggers to his coffee. When he retired for the night, he wrapped himself in his blankets and took another long pull on his whiskey bottle. He was very relaxed and comfortable, feeling a warm glow when sleep took over.
During the night a very young female body, moved against his. He was flushed from the alcohol and when Yawny laid against him, he forgot about her youth, and explored her charms. Unaware that it was Yawny in his dream, he took her as a woman. She was willing and helped his fumbling hands free her sleeping garments. In the morning, he woke with a vague feeling that he’d made love to someone. Reality came to him in a rush as he realized Yawny was snuggled in the blankets with him.
A naked Yawny lay snuggled against his left side, her left arm over his chest. Robert came fully awake, with the realization that he’d had sex with an underaged girl. She woke as he sat up, and gave him a wonderful smile. Robert was beside himself with guilt and began apologizing. Yawny asked him what he was apologizing for, and Robert explained that what he’d done during the night was against all laws.
Holding a blanket to cover her nakedness, Yawny pointed out that there was no law. The world had changed, and now the law, was what they decided it to be. She also stated that maybe they should dress and be on their way, unless he wanted to make love again. What he wanted was to think it over in his mind, and free his conscience of guilt. Was it really like Yawny said? Up to them to decide what was right or wrong. He would be making that decision again the next night, and he already knew what it would be.