Doomware

Doomware by Nathan Kuzack Read Free Book Online

Book: Doomware by Nathan Kuzack Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nathan Kuzack
symptom of depression, prompting the addition of antidepressants to the list of items he was eager to find during his searches of the city. The end of the world could be such a downer. Who’d have thought it?
    He checked his watch. It was 10:30 a.m. All this trying to think was just a delaying tactic, and he knew it. It was no use, however; the rain wasn’t showing any signs of abating. He turned from the window and started getting his outdoor gear together.
    * * *
    He went in a direction he hadn’t gone in for a while: north along Alexandra Road, then left onto Grove Green Road. Dogs barked intermittently in the distance. Former domestic pets ran wild now – those that had survived. And they weren’t alone. The genetic anti-ageing of non-endangered animals had long been banned, as had animal cyberneticism, but that hadn’t stopped black markets thriving in both. Some people simply hadn’t been able to bear the thought of being separated from their four-legged friends, meaning the city was now dotted with a small, and mercifully ever-dwindling, menagerie of zombified pets.
    He walked with his hood down (it was too restrictive, both visually and aurally), but with a baseball cap on to protect him from the rain, which was halfway between a drizzle and a downpour, its trajectory perfectly vertical due to the lack of wind. The sound of it was preferable to the city’s silence or the dogs’ chorus, even if it did increase his vulnerability, and therein lay the unavoidable trade-off: fewer zombies on the streets versus a greater chance of not hearing one approach. Sometimes the sound of rain could be more than merely distracting: it could be nerve-jangling too, dripping and echoing in the innocuous stillness of the city in a way he could never have experienced before the apocalypse.
    Grove Green Road seemed to stretch on for ever. Now he remembered why he didn’t come in this direction very often: there were fewer shops this way. He really ought to try more houses. Despite everything, he still felt uneasy about breaking into other people’s homes, even though there was no one to know about it, let alone complain. The reminders of lives suddenly erased in mid-flow made some houses as eerie as the Mary Celeste – either that or they tugged at the heartstrings in ways he liked to kid himself he was inured to. As stoic as he’d become since the calamity, it was hard not to notice a child’s jigsaw puzzle left half finished, or the remains of a party not yet cleared up, or a handwritten card – many happy returns, love so-and-so – so certain of a future that wasn’t to be. Picking over it all just felt wrong. It was sifting through the detritus of lives people had been cheated out of. Stealing from the stolen from.
    You have a conscience, he thought. Don’t feel bad about it.
    But there was another reason why he preferred shops to houses: they were less likely to contain decomposing bodies – festering, fly-harried, rat-gnawed, bird-pecked masses, the stink of which alone was enough to prevent him from searching a house properly, or even from entering it in the first place. Often they were barely recognisable as human, and he chose not to regard them as such, though this demanded a constant mental effort that was draining on him. Most of those he saw were lying in bed or sitting in cars, though some were contorted into strange poses, frozen in place by rigor mortis, as if something terrible had gripped them in their final moments. Once he’d tried wearing an old World War Two-era gas mask in an effort to combat the smell, but the noisy, claustrophobia-inducing contraption had been more irritant than aid.
    Presently he came upon one house whose front door was, for some reason, wide open. There was no food in the kitchen whatsoever, but he found some toilet rolls and a couple of paperback books he liked the look of in the downstairs toilet. In the dining room a circular dining table was laid out neatly with crockery

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