unnamed story (Part 6)
Meanwhile in Columbus… of all the people mentioned thus far Abigail, or Abby as she was known to her friends (and Abs as she was known for a very short but intimate time with Clay), was taking the situation with the most grace. I’ll spare you the “How did she come to realize the awful truth” and skip ahead to the part where she decides that if all the people are gone then somebody needs to let all the animals out of the zoo so they can fend for themselves.
Now granted, skipping ahead sort of defeats the purpose of writing a book instead of a short story but what do you expect from a paragraph that started with “Meanwhile in Columbus”? That could be the worst opening line of a paragraph I’ve ever written so the faster we move on the better.
Plus, you already know everything you need to know about Abby from the fact that her first instinct was to try and save the helpless animals at the zoo. Of course, that also shows that she might be a donut short of a baker’s dozen but honestly I never trusted that thirteenth donut anyway and as we’ve already established she is blonde, younger, petite, and perky don’t you expect a little bit of this type of erratic behavior?
The problem she was having was that letting animals out of a zoo is trickier than you might suspect. Between the locked cages and high walls it was damn near impossible to just throw open a door and have all of the grateful animals pour out into the street.
That was not going to stop Abby. Besides, with nobody around what else was there to do?
She watched a video on how to hotwire cars, the internet was still up, taught by a mid-aged man who looked like the last person you’d suspect of knowing how to hotwire a car. Any attempt to describe him would totally mess up your image of the last person you’d suspect of knowing how to hotwire a car and if, for example, I mentioned he was black you’d suddenly feel like a racist.
She watched the video because she thought if she needed help springing the larger animals from their enclosures she could just drive car after car into their fences until they gave way.
A good plan theoretically but if you’re familiar with the layout of the aforementioned zoo it is simply not feasible to drive a car to the majority of the exhibits. (Not that it would make you feel indebted to me to keep reading or anything but I did actually look at the Columbus Zoo website just to make sure that what I wrote was accurate. That’s the kind of commitment I have to you my dear reader. Actually I was relieved to find that Columbus had a zoo because either way I was going to say they had one. )
All of this just leads up to the inescapable conclusion that it’s much easier to worry about how to get an elephant out of a zoo then to deal with the fact that everyone in the entire city has disappeared so that’s how she was going to spend her time. (Honestly I did not double-check to see if the Columbus Zoo has elephants but what’s a zoo without elephants right?)
Denise usually enjoyed driving when the roads were empty so you’d think she was in heaven… but she wasn’t. In fact, although she didn’t believe in hell this certainly must be a taste of what it would be like. Except without the fire and being poked by devils with pitchforks. The loneliness and helplessness was spot on.
Her GPS was still working but she decided not to use it. With all the roads empty she could drive upwards of ninety miles an hour even through residential neighborhoods so all she had to do was basically head east.
Eventually she hit Interstate 65 and started down towards Indianapolis. By the time she hit the outskirts of the city the windows were down and she was moving between singing whatever song was on the CD she was listening to, crying to herself and randomly insulting everyone she’d ever been close to at the top of her lungs.
None of these were as therapeutic as she’d hoped.
She was actually a little disappointed that Indianapolis looked fine. In her head she had imagining it with grass growing up between every crack in the road and burned out buildings and even the odd tumbleweed making its way down the main drag.
I guess that’s a lot to ask from entropy with only a few hours to work with.
She pulled into a gas station and filled up her tank and then when into the empty store and filled her back seat with bottled water and beef jerky. She didn’t particularly care for jerky but if it was good enough for the Indians, and they seemed to do ok without power and the internet, she’d have to learn to like it.
She got back into her car and got onto 70. This should take her directly to Philadelphia and, if traffic remained light, she would be pulling up to Clay’s front door by midnight.
And traffic did remain light, at least up until Columbus where she assumed the intense hallucinations portion of the nightmare had kicked in because there was in fact another car moving on the road and that car was following an elephant as it lumbered along. (You’ll note that I’ve really double downed on the Columbus Zoo having elephants. If it turns out they don’t the whole plot becomes unrealistic.)