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The Ride - Uriah Wolf

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The Ride

The Ride

Copyright 2014 by Uriah Wolf

Smashwords Edition

"Now that's what I'm talking about man. Finally, some drink beer till you puke on your shoes rock!" Eddie punched the volume button until the dashboard rattled and then drained the remainder of his beer before throwing the can out the window for emphasis. The classic am/fm radio was about the only thing left on Eddie's Chevelle that hadn't been upgraded or customized.

As for the station of the hour, and the day, that's another story altogether. Some speed freak quarantined himself behind a barricade of cars and sandbags at the radio station building in Bangor a few months back. Overnight the dead air that once belonged to 100.3 WKIT became the howl of The Rat Hole FQU2. Cue the snare drum, canned laughter ensues. It wasn't my kind of music but it beat silence or listening to the other's cry at night. It also beat finding something to talk about when we had all talked each other to death. We tended to keep the radio tuned to The Rat Hole more often than not, back at camp or in the car.

Our other choices at camp are some old lady chatting to herself in frenchy frog from the other side of the border, or the reverend Martin Mathews, also known as the Jesus freak. When The Rat goes off air we wind up listening to the old bitty reading out of cook books because we know the score already. No one needs to be reminded that this is the end of times, and no one wants to listen to some asshole blame it all on the gays and the baby killers.

The Rat usually wakes up around noon and spins whole albums at a time; sometimes he'll play a set of mixed songs and cut it with some of the old commercials that had been recorded before everything went to hell. He makes up his own pseudo-commercials too; Come on down to The Rats used car lot. I got everything but the keys and the pinks. Just don't mind the smell in some of the older models. More snare drums, more canned laughter.

Every once in a great while The Rat will toss on some Dr. Demento stuff and sing along, most of its goofy but some of its kind of disturbing considering everything that's happened. Then when the mood takes him, he'll get high and rant about blaming the government and alien conspiracies, kind of a bummer. Once he even started telling a story about his brother; it ended in sobs and dead air, that was hard to listen to but its only happened once so far.

Right now the flavor of the hour is an old Citizen Dick record, hearing it at ear bleeding volume makes it almost bearable, but to be honest I'd kill for some pretenders or some Tom Petty. We all have our bends I guess. Eddie's bend is shitty rock music and cut off t-shirts. He's one of those proud grease monkey guys who used to turn a wrench for a living before everything ended. Eddie's the kind of guy who yells at the television during a football game; the kind who wouldn't think twice about cat calling at women on the street.

We all know an Eddie, right?

Well maybe not anymore. Getting to know anyone is hard these days and maybe that's the reason we don't just tolerate the Eddie's of the world anymore, we celebrate them because they aren't sick, dying, or, dead.

Eddie's wearing the same stained flannel shirt he wears every time he goes out for supplies. The sleeves are torn off to show the marks we've all come to refer to as bird pecks. Eddie's arms are covered in the dark purple gouges from where the plague took hold in its final stages; they're all scarred over now of course. The pearl sized boils that once covered his arms have long since drained leaving crags and canyons that run up and down his thick arms like dry river beds.

Eddie came from New York, the state not the city. He said he had headed up north once the quarantine fell apart down there. By his account and Sam's reckoning of when it all began Eddie was a stage three survivor. Sam says that makes him lucky but when I look at his arms I don't imagine that luck had much to do with his survival.

Unlike Sam, Eddie doesn't try to hide his marks. He wears out and proud, summer or winter, like a badge of honor. It fits his bullshit tough guy standards, but moreover it kills off any questions about whether he's had the plague or not. No one we meet on the road has to look at him and ask if he's still a carrier or not, the answer is obvious. As for me, my scars are there but they're harder to show off. The worst of the bird pecks hit me, well...in the ass. They cover my back and go down to my thighs, but the worst of it starts from the small of my back and runs down and around to the front of my thighs.

I don't know about Eddie being lucky but I do know that after the first stages of the plague the worst of the physical symptoms took a hold of my digestive tract and presented on my derriere. Would words like crippling diarrhea, high fever, and bone pain, put it in perspective? Sure. Would the concept of spending four months sitting on hot coals and pin pricks explain what it was like to try and sit like a normal human being? Absolutely. After weeks of antibiotics, rich food, and sleep, that's what I had to look forward to, that was my hell during the recovery phase of N1H6, I'm sure Eddie had his. From the gravel in his voice I assume the plague set in his lungs worst of all.

So I was a stage two and Sam was a stage one, by his reckoning. It's hard to judge a thing like time now though. Sam's bird pecks are all over his face and well, to be honest, you can tell that he wasn't all that handsome of a guy to start with. He keeps his face covered up most of the time though so you rarely notice it. By the way he acts though I've wanted to ask him on more than one occasion if he doesn't rate stages based more on where someone got the marks than when. Ellen is almost certain she had the plague Christmas three years ago and if that's true then she would be a stage one but Sam told everyone he thought she was a stage two as well. All her marks are on her stomach and her boobs. She never makes a big deal about it but when I