Time for a blog hop. In case you’re wondering, it is when a group of authors get together and post a short story on their respective blogs. Then they link to the other writers’ websites so the readers can discover new stories and authors they may not have known about before. Sort of like a literary pub crawl.
Here’s my contribution, an odd little tale inspired by living in the time of Covid-19. Be sure to visit the other authors participating in the blog hop and read their stories. You can find links to them all at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!
A Day In The Life by James Husum
I find myself in a strange environment. The outside world is going crazy over some flu-like virus. Inside is the only safe place.
I’m in a short hallway. A turn at the end to explore later. I’m going to hunker down here for the moment. If the environment inside is as crazy as that outside, it isn’t safe to move around.
I stay there for hours. No one else seems to be around. My hunger grows and compels me to forage for food. It is dangerous but I must move from my current zone of safety.
I step into the chamber to the right, look around. To my good fortune it appears to be a food preparation area. At least I won’t starve right away. I find the pantry and open it. Lots of ramen noodles, mac n’ cheese, cans of stuff to make sloppy joes, baked beans, and a couple of cans of chicken vegetable soup. The fridge has most of a case of soda, three beers, some cheese, and a box of chocolate chip cookies. I grab a beer and take a swig. My mood lightens with this small comfort.
An opening on the far wall leads into an eating area. Big table, a few chairs around it, chandelier to light the room up.
I heat up ramen noodles in the kitchen, then eat at the table. I make a fort under the table, draping the tablecloth over the edge on one side. Nice and cozy. I figure the chairs around me offer some scant protection should something happen upon me during the night.
The next day I wake up late. Sunlight brightens the room. I get out from under the table, stretch, try to work out the kinks.
After a breakfast of beans I plan out my day. I vow to explore the rest of the dwelling I’m in. Better to know what could harm me than not.
I start down the hallway, turning left at the end. Almost immediately there is a shorter hallway going to my right. I can see three doors at the far end of the hallway I’m in – one to the left, one to the right, and one straight ahead. There’s another one on the right hand side just after the break for the side hallway to my right. Too many possibilities. Any of them could hold sudden death. I need to take care.
I decide to check the shorter hallway to my right. Wouldn’t do to have something creep up behind me by neglecting to check it out.
I check a door to my right. It’s a closet. A few jackets, a hoodie, some spare light bulbs.
The door in front of me goes to a small bathroom. I realize then just how badly I need to take a dump. Beans always give me gas. I do my business. Only a little less than a quarter of a roll of toilet paper. That can be bad. I wash my hands, check under the sink. A plunger, and another roll of toilet paper. Well, that will help some.
I go back to the hallway and cautiously head down. I get to the door just after the break for the hallway to the bathroom. I put my hand on the knob, a little nervous. Things have been going well so far. A little too well. I don’t expect my luck to hold out forever.
I twist the knob and pull. It’s a small utility closet. There’s a water heater and furnace in there, along with a bucket, mop, and broom. Handy if I need to clean up anything.
I’m doing well with things to the right, but at the end of the hallway I decide to go for the door on the left. I approach cautiously as it is slightly ajar. I peer into the room through the crack. It seems deserted. I gently push the door open, and it groans on its hinges like the springs on a whore’s bed. Only without the steady rhythm.
I’m relieved to see a bed, and a dresser. I still had a crick in my neck from sleeping under the dining room table the night before. I test it, spreading out and relaxing for a moment. It feels luxurious. The pillows are a little flat for my taste but you can’t have everything.
A thought occurs to me and I immediately roll off the bed onto the floor, face down. I check beneath the bed to make sure nothing lurks beneath it that could come out to get me, or no booby traps that will shoot spikes up into me while I sleep. Nothing but a pair of old, plain slippers.
I rummage through the dresser drawers. Socks, underwear, shirts, pants. All look to be my size. That’s good as I’ll need replacements, should this crisis go on longer than anyone expects.
I close the door. I just got up a short while ago, but I lay down on the bed again to relax and contemplate my future.
Some time later I open my eyes. I must have fallen asleep. Guess I needed it after the previous night.
I decide to finish my explorations. I listen at the door. The silence is deafening.
I crack the door open and look into the hallway. No one there.
I go to the left. I look all around the door frame, but detect no tripwires that will shoot poisoned darts out of the wall at me. I go in.
A desk holding a computer. Next to it was a two-drawer filing cabinet, a printer sitting on it. A bookcase holding books on writing, business and a few biographies. A whiteboard hangs on the wall, filled with squiggles, numbers, and charts. Another corner of the room holds a small drafting table, a chair, and half a dozen pencils.
Several pieces of paper on the drafting table caught my eye. Cartoon animals – a cat and mouse chasing each other, a rabbit slapping a hunter, a coyote being flattened by an anvil. Whoever did these had a good eye and steady hand.
One door left to explore. I stand in front of it, breathing in and out, feeling my pulse quicken. I grab the knob, twist and push.
I’ve found the treasure room.
Floor to ceiling bookcases line three walls, stuffed with books and movies. A large flat screen hangs on the remaining wall. A stereo system sits under it. A short sofa faces the TV, a controller perched on the arm. The sheer monotony of being alone and isolated now have a release. I can keep myself occupied for a long time. The world outside can go to Hell. I don’t need anything or anyone more than what I have here.
Except for the toilet paper.
I scan the shelves, seeing many old friends – Bradbury, Heinlein, and many others. TV series and movies galore. I’m in Heaven.
I select a volume of Dickinson’s poetry and settle in on the couch to read. Life is good.
A bell sounds in some other part of the house. I look up from my book. Soon a knocking follows it. Reality has caught up to me.
I leave my safe haven.
The bell sounds again. I face the entrance to the abode. Someone knocks on the other side. I open it.
“Dad? What took you so long? I was worried about you with all the Covid-19 running around. I brought you some supplies so you can shelter in place.”
My daughter comes in with several bags and sets them on the kitchen counters.
“I got you some food, some cleaning supplies, and this.” She pulls out a twelve pack of toilet paper. “This was the last one on the shelves.”
“Thank you, dear.”
“So how you doing? Going crazy from the isolation yet?”
“Nah. I’ve got my library. I’m going to finally be able to catch up on my reading. Might even do some more writing. And doodling. This virus scare is the best thing to happen in a long time. I finally have a valid reason for not seeing anybody.”
“You always were a hermit. Look, I’ve gotta run, but I’ll call you every day and check in on you, okay? And if you need anything just tell me and I’ll run out to get it for you.”
“Thanks. But I’ll be fine. I can make an adventure out of almost anything.”
“I’m sure you can. See you later. And don’t forget to eat.”
“Yes, dear.” I close the door after her. The rest of the world is learning to ‘self-isolate’ and practice ‘social distancing.’ They must find new ways to socialize and keep themselves entertained. They have to learn how to use their imaginations all over again. I never lost that ability. They are thrust into a brave new world where they aren’t sure how to navigate.
I just call it Thursday.
Be sure to check out these other stories:
1. Trail Of Carnage by Jemma Weir
2. A Phoenix In Hell by Sabrina Rosen
3. Friends Of The Deep by G. Craddock
4. Collateral Damage by Nic Steven
5. A Ghost’s Life by Barbara Lund
6. A Startling Revelation by Bill Bush
7. A Hiding Place by Gina Fabio
8. A Family Reunion by Katharina Gerlach
9. Better Off Alone by V. S. Stark
10. A Day In The Life by James Husum <<< You are here
11. Nothing To Show by Elizabeth McCleary
12. Super Grammy (Radioactive Breakfast Cereal) by Vanessa Wells
13. Bone Killer by Juneta Key
14. One More Time by Karen Lynn