Author: Paul Cesarini

Lee tapped twice, zipped his fly, picked up his rifle, then went back to work. He could’ve used one of his three remaining disinfectant wipes in his med kit to wash his hands, but decided not to. Med supplies were way too low and way too valuable to waste on personal hygiene. Besides, he knew he had a rare treat waiting for later that day: a shower. A real, actual shower, complete with a bar of soap he “borrowed” from the makeshift supply depot they created. He found the shower in a mostly intact house about two blocks away, next to what might’ve been a barber shop at one point. The house must’ve had well water or something. Even the toilet worked, though toilet paper had become a commodity so scarce it was rationed by the square now. The shower had quite a view, too, since part of the bathroom had been blown apart. It was now a walk-in shower by default. There was no hot water, of course, but it didn’t matter. A shower was a shower.

The sink worked, too, but he wasn’t sure the water was potable. It started off kind of brown but cleared up when you let it run for a few minutes. Tablets should take care of lingering impurities, he thought. He was determined to bring some with him tonight, to try it out, but knew those were also scarce.

All this of course assumed he would still be alive by tonight. Somehow, he had gotten used to the uncertainty of it all. The fear, the waiting. The long stretches of boredom, interrupted by quick blasts of fire and insanity. The cycle of mundanity and violence wasn’t something you should be able to get used to, but somehow he did. He missed his parents, his cats, even his neighbors. He wasn’t sure if any of them were still alive. If he dwelled on that, it was a bottomless pit and out of his control. Instead, he focused on the small things – the things he could control.

Tonight, it was a shower. He could control that.