It took ten days to get round the animals. Long before the end of it I realised it was not realistic to keep doing so and those animals I could release I did, including those at the pound. There would be casualties but I just had to not think about those.
It was at the end of the second week, exhausted and angry at having to look after a whole town on my own, that I decided I would no longer leave IOUs to shopkeepers. I was owed and big time if anyone ever came back. It was beginning to dawn on me that no-one was going to return. Perhaps there had been a major nuclear accident and everyone was deep underground in bunkers. If I was going to survive I needed to take action.
It was then that I walked into the bookshop and took from the display this expensive leather bound journal. It did feel like stealing on that first day but since then I have helped myself to numerous bits and pieces.
I also decided to venture out of the town and see if any of the nearby villages had suffered the same fate. I was still able to use the bowsers and refilled the car. It was good to be zooming along the highway, no traffic to contend with and the liberation of driving fast.
The first village was a quaint, touristy place all boutique shops and cafes. I knew long before I got to the main street that it was deserted. I parked the car parallel to the kerb in defiance of the sign that said to park at an angle. I had thought of stopping in the middle of the road but I decided there was no harm in taking precautions.
Nothing and no-one. Dogs barked and I went on a search to let them out. Covered in doggy licks I ran back to the car trying to ignore the desperate pleading for me to take them with me.
I drove back and forth across the area all day searching for signs of human life. Once I caught a glimpse of something red behind a farm house but on closer inspection it was a half finished scarecrow.
Home again in the late evening, depressed and ravenous. I stopped at the supermarket and filled a trolley with microwavable food, chips, chocolate and other naughty food. A case of beer and half a dozen bottles of wine and I stomped out without thinking about paying (that would teach them).
I tried to block out my despair with an evening of booze, curry, exotic ice-cream and my favourite DVDs. Alcohol always works as an anaesthetic, numbing mind and body. I fell asleep on the couch and woke late in the morning with a shocking headache and nausea. A day in bed, why not? There was no work to go to, no-one to visit. I could go back to bed and with a bit of luck I might die there in my sleep.
I didn’t die of course and as Hamlet says, sleep knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. I woke to a new day and a new resolve to solve the problem or die in the attempt. I would need to travel further afield to find out what was really going on and I would need to be equipped to handle all sorts of emergencies. I decided I needed a gun.
Of course I had never held a gun, never loaded a gun and had never, ever shot one. My first point of call in my search for a gun was the library. No point in getting a gun if I couldn’t use it. With the car piled with books that may or may not be of use I set off for the only shop in town that knew would sell guns.
Yes, chained to the wall, rows of guns. I searched for the key, whatever had happened to the people they had left everything behind, keys to safes and cars and cash registers. They had left food on plates, television sets on etc. There had been fires too across town presumably from stoves left turned on with cooking on top. I didn’t investigate any of these, I’m afraid of fire.
It was not easy choosing a gun. The library books weren’t much help and I grabbed all sorts of leaflets about gun products. In the end I took two, rifle type things and tried hard to match up the correct ammunition for them. It had occurred to me I should go somewhere in the bush and practise but in the end I lost my nerve and put the lot in the boot.
I would need camping equipment, first aid and medicines, blankets, warm clothes, cool clothes, hats and sun block out cream, foods that would keep, maps, books on survival, books on snake bite and how to change tyres on cars.
The collection of stuff at my flat was getting so big I knew it would take more than a car to hold it all. I needed a van, or perhaps a bus. Why not go the whole hog and get one of those fancy Winnebago things with its own toilet. There was a caravan shop in town.
The thought of shopping for such a luxury, expensive vehicle was quite thrilling. I would take my time over it, enjoy it, there wasn’t much else to enjoy. At least planning took my mind off other things like the fate of the pets I had let loose or abandoned, and the all pervading problem of where everybody was. But for half a day I was going to pretend I was buying a Winnebago for a sight seeing trip.