As his foot crunched in the gravel between the tracks, Edward stopped and waited. It had been more than six months since he’d seen another living soul, but he’d run into one of them just a few days before. He kept his weight steady. His right palm gripped against the stock of the rifle started to sweat. He eyed the windows of the building, looking for movement. Nothing moved.
He quickly took two more crunching steps and stopped again. Edward was tempted to call out, but voices carried and there was no sense alerting anything that hadn’t already heard his footsteps. Still nothing moved, so he finished crossing the tracks to the cement walkway.
Everything looked clear and dry. He carefully leaned the rifle against one of the roof supports and slipped off his shoes. After tying the laces together, he hung them over his shoulder and picked the rifle back up. He momentarily juggled it from hand to hand, taking the opportunity to dry his palms on his pants.
The light was beginning to fade and he needed to find a room, preferably without windows and a single door he could lock and barricade, before night fell. Edward approached the nearest door in sock feet, as silent as he could manage.
It was dark inside. Electricity had first started failing within days after everything went to hell. Some places, powered by hydroelectric had managed months of power before their mechanisms began to fail. The last of Edward’s own working batteries had died out weeks ago, and he hadn’t been able to find any more. Entering the building took several long minutes as he stepped forward into shadow and then waited for his eyes to adjust. By the time he was a few feet inside, it wasn’t so dark anymore.
Most of the windows had been boarded up on the inside, which meant that someone had secured it at some point. But the door had been wide open, so unless that someone had retreated to and was holding up in some deeper room, it wasn’t likely that any living person was inside.
Safety was important, but he didn’t have time to check the whole station. He made his way down the first hallway and found a supply closet. It wasn’t big, but he could see a small rectangular shape high up on the far wall he guessed was an air vent, and the wire shelves on the left and right would provide good support for barricading the door. Opposite his closet was a boarded window, and if he needed he could use the shotgun on his back to blast a way out. He stared into the room for a minute, occasionally looking left and right down the hall in either direction. Edward shifted his weight to his right foot, then patted his left foot on the floor a couple times.
He slipped into the closet, turned and very slowly shut the door. Carefully he knelt down and placed his rifle on the floor, then unslung his pack from his back. Reaching in with his left hand he quietly rummaged around for a candle and a lighter. At this point his flash light was little more than a club, but he’d found a box of fifty disposable lighters long ago and had kept them.
Producing a candle and a lighter, he flicked the lighter to life and lit the candle. On his left was a shelf of cleaning and janitorial supplies. Quickly his inventoried it in his head, taking note of there was nothing to eat or drink, but there was a bottle of plain Clorox he could use to clean some water later and number of other chemicals. There were buckets on the bottom shelf he might make use of tomorrow, and in the corner were three mops he could use to bar the door. He found a stack of paper cups, possibly for a dispenser next to a drinking fountain somewhere in the station, and took one to use as a candle holder, which he did and set it on the same shelf at chest height.
On the right was a shelf of office supplies. Some pens, a couple pads of paper, a stapler. Nothing he could really use.
He looked up and saw the dark rectangle on the wall opposite the door had indeed been an air vent. There wouldn’t be any heat or air conditioning, but it made him feel better about locking himself in a room if it wasn’t air tight.
Edward grabbed up the mops and wedged them into the wire shelves across the door. It probably wouldn’t hold long if trouble came, but the noise should wake him up. With that done, he moved his candle down to a lower shelf, moved his rifle into the corner the mops had occupied, and pulled his sawed off shotgun from his pack and placed it on the shelf with the stapler.
He sat on the floor and leaned against the back wall of the closet, then went searching through his pack for something to eat. Edward came up with a water bottle still half full and one mostly full that represented the last of his clean water. He also discovered a granola bar at the bottom, which was a surprise since he thought he’d run out last week. He unwrapped and ate the bar, as well as a small bag of peanuts, and drank the half full bottle of water.
Less hungry than he had been, Edward blew out the candle and settled on the floor curled in a fetal position. Using a t-shirt from his pack as a pillow, he closed his eyes and tried not to think too much about tomorrow’s trip in to town for supplies. For now, he was safe in the station. Still he spent a long hour listening for noises in the night before drifting off into a fitful sleep.
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/gali_367/ / CC BY-NC 2.0