He slept late the next morning. Angus nudged his hand, which was hanging over the edge of the bed. Opening one eye he looked at her. “What do you want?” he asked. She gave a small woof and looked toward the bedroom door. He got up slowly and walked through the house. It stunk like an ashtray. Now he knew why he shouldn’t smoke in there. As he walked past the bathroom, he saw his face in the mirror. Staring for a moment he said aloud, “Sean.” He didn’t look the same, hadn’t shaved or bothered with his hair. “I’m Sean.” he said to his reflection, reminding himself of his name. He stared a little longer and then letting Angus out the door, he looked at the list of things he needed to do. There was a lot of work ahead. He actually felt a little better. Having something to concentrate on was going to help. Cold water from the fridge and leftover chicken for breakfast got him motivated. The first thing he would do was to get out an old hand pump he had and fit it with a long hose. No electricity was going to make it hard to get gas for the vehicles. If he had a long enough hose he could hand pump it from the underground tanks at gas stations. He had never harmed another person in his life but felt like he might have to protect himself if he ran into others. So he strapped on his 22 pistol and loaded the 12 gauge for the ride into town.
In the truck, Angus rode on the passenger side with her head out the window. They drove slowly, checking out the county side and houses for signs of life. He tried to prepare himself for seeing dead bodies but then realized that most people who died probably did so in their houses. The virus was so awful that you couldn’t stand up or move much for the last week. Arriving in town he drove to the nearest hardware store. Pulling right up to the front doors he stepped out and looked around. Nothing. Not a sound except for birds chirping. A large window in the front of the store had been broken out and he stepped through it into the darkness inside. He left Angus in the truck because of the broken glass. Grabbing a shopping cart Sean filled it with flashlights, batteries, plastic hose, and a large side cutter to snap locks and all the plastic gas cans in the store. The store had a gun section so after busting open a cabinet he grabbed 12 gauge shells and 22 long rifle bullets. On the way out he swept up the entire display of disposable lighters.
Driving to the gas station he fixed the hose with clamps to the hand pump he had brought, snapped the lock off the underground tank cap and lowered the hose into the gasoline. Standing on the pump legs he began to pump. The pump was built like a bicycle pedal set up. You grabbed each handle and turned the crank like peddling your bike with your hands. The gas came right up the hose and poured on the ground. Putting the other end in the gas tank of the truck, he filled it up. After filling up all the gas cans he pulled up the hose and packed everything back into the truck. From there they drove to the local truck stop out on the interstate, and checked out the tanker trucks. He found a diesel tanker and climbed up the ladder in the middle of the tank to opened the hatch. He watched the sun reflect off a full tank of diesel fuel. Nice. Climbing down, he found a small motorcycle and loaded it into the back of his truck and headed for home. Doing everything yourself takes a lot of planning ahead.
After putting all the supplies in the house he chained Angus up to keep her from running after him and rode the motorcycle back to town. This time he only carried the 22 on his belt and a back pack filled with a water bottle and heavy rubber bungee cords he’d had in the garage. Riding up to the diesel tanker he shut the bike down and set it on the kickstand. Pulling open the driver side door to look for the keys he stepped up and the smell of death hit him square in the face. Stepping backward, his foot hit open air and he fell to the pavement, landing on his butt. The driver had died slumped over in the passenger seat of the truck. Walking into the station, he took several deep breaths of air through his nose to clear away the smell and focus his mind. He had never had to deal with death like this before. Funerals were one thing. This was completely different. Inside he found foam earplugs, rubber gloves and four cans of spray air freshener. Back at the truck he shoved the earplugs into his nose, put on the gloves and opened the door. Climbing up he grabbed the driver by the arm and pulled him out to the ground.
Even with the plugs in his nose, the smell was awful. He searched the pockets in the drivers clothes but couldn’t find keys. Standing up and glancing into the truck he saw them on the floor. He went around and opened the drivers door again and used the air freshener to hose out the cab. After letting it air out a few minutes he used more air freshener and did it all over again. Then he lifted up the motorcycle and strapped the front wheel to the grill bars on the front of the truck. Lifting it up by the back wheel he strapped that to the bars and shutting the passenger door, he climbed into the cab. The 22 pistol chafed his leg when he sat down so he laid it on the seat beside him. Keeping the plugs in his nose he started the truck. Years ago he went on a cross country trip with a friend of his, the two of them switching off driving his buddy’s semi. It was the one and only time he ever drove a big rig. This one was an older model with a manual clutch which was lucky. The smell was still bad but tolerable as he pulled out of the truck stop. Killing the rig a couple of times until he got used to shifting and clutching he headed down the road toward home.