Stadium: A Short Story

BOOK: Stadium: A Short Story
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Contents

Stadium

Copyright

STADIUM

Also by Scott Moon

STADIUM

by Scott Moon

Copyright © 2016 Scott Moon

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

STADIUM
by Scott Moon

The sun rose and the sun fell. Beneath it, the corpse of the Great Society stretched from sea to shining sea. Again and again, light and dark chased eternity as the strongest died first.

Noonday sun revealed a faux beach swerving around the stronghold like blood-drenched sand art. The creek had been a river, had been more than three fingers wide before geological changes formed a low mesa. The chorus from
Oklahoma
blasted from loudspeakers, reminding Kathy of a community college play where half the actors were in high school and the other half were bankers, farmers, mechanics, and housewives from town. A tear rolled over her sunburned cheeks, a tribute to the last day she had believed Guymon was a city and not a town of fourteen thousand damned souls.

Pictures in her mind.

Memories.

A water tower standing one hundred and thirty feet above the town, a single red light blinking at night to warn small engine aircraft, ridiculous because all the planes in the county had been crop-dusters and crop-dusters only flew during the daytime.

Wind turbines turned ten miles from town, blinking their lights in silent communication with the faded blue water tower. Some of the turbine blades still slashed at the summer sun, generating electricity that went nowhere. There was water in the tower, but the town had been ransacked not long after she built her first fence and only a fool would go there just for tap water, a shower, and a flushing toilet.

The public address speakers crackled as they had during football games. After an uncomfortable pause, another musical,
Grease
, echoed across the land, drowning the sounds of desolation and wind gusts full of red dust. Once, during her life of middle-class ease, she complained of the feedlot stench from the edge of town — manure by the ton, which still smelled better than the beef packing plant. Her sixth-grade teacher had taken Kathy's class to the plant once. All Kathy remembered was ankle-deep blood being hosed from the killing floor.

Those odors were gone. A chemical potpourri of dry, distant death remained.

Ha! I'll call it the Triple D.
She laughed and it sounded like busting a gut at a funeral or a wedding or an execution.
Dry. Distant. Death.
She worked the words into the theme song of
Grease
.
 

She tipped a white, red, and blue can to finished a beer that should have made her gag, then flung the can over her shoulder for luck. She had a small bladder that shrank as the gate to the outer fence squealed on its hinges during the pause between songs.

Panic did nothing to ease her bodily needs. Running made the problem worse. None of that mattered until she crossed the no man's land between fences and found wide open the gate she thought she had welded shut. She cursed. She should have kept her killers in no man's land. She couldn't afford to be soft. Two of the Dobermans had been police dogs. All of them were territorial and protective.

Kathy Korea, former PTA boss and soccer mom turned end-prepper, held a Mossberg 500 in both hands and unbearable pressure in her bladder as the desperate mob swarmed toward her one-acre stronghold. She’d been a Girl Scout, thespian, and third runner-up for homecoming queen in the last generation where such things mattered. Now she had tear grooves for what she was about to face even if she convinced herself sorrow had dried up like the rest of her dominion. Small, mean, without discipline — they taunted her with high-pitched howls and rhyming chants. At one hundred yards, they seemed to roll forward like banshee dust balls, knocking each other down and fighting over scraps. Crash down, lunge up, run forward like monsters across creek beds and lonely parking lots.

At twenty yards, she saw the letter jacket of the lead boy and his goons, but most of the survivors were younger. She heard crying. She heard cursing. She heard the wind crashing the gate to the outer fence open and shut.

For one second, she bent her knees, thought of making a puddle between her feet, and cursed. This far into the apocalypse, she drank a lot of beer. Clean water had gone the way of Oklahoma City and Dallas. She groaned, clenched the shotgun, and refused to surrender her dignity despite her greasy unwashed hair and sunburned face. A frightened dog might piss herself in terror, but she wasn't that kind of desperate bitch. The pain of her pride forced a whimper between her teeth. She ignored the warmth, real or imagined, running down her leg as she sprinted toward the chain-link fence to wrestle the gate shut, slung the shotgun over her back, and fought the wind like it was a god.
 

Shut the gate. Lock the gate. Don't listen to them.

All children are liars. They aren't dying. They’re already dead.

K. K. leaned against the fence and waited until the little savages slammed against it, catapulting her several steps forward. Months ago, when the siege began, she showed fear. She screamed, cried, begged, and pleaded. That was then. What was now was discovering the gate open right when she needed to relieve herself. Using the momentum of the chain-link fence, she popped forward, found her stride, and walked toward the inner fence where her guard dogs scrambled near the inner gate and whined without barking.

Shit happens.

She laughed, not liking the pitch, tone, or melody of her outburst.

Piss happens!

Behind her, a new voice calmed the horde of refugees, then spoke through the wind-touched silence. "A mother protects her children."

K. K. turned only her head. "I saw you."

"But you can't see me now. Turn around and look at me."

K. K. took a breath, held it, then let it go with her eyes closed. "I took care of my children. Now leave me alone."

She opened the inner gate, entered, and closed it. Seven Dobermans, a Mastiff, a Great Dane, and a Wolfhound mutt loved her all over. "Calm down, boys. I'm coming." She shrugged the Mossberg into a better place on her back. "Don't jump. Momma needs to pee."

#

The end of humanity could not have come at a better time for Kathy "K. K." Korea. She had lost faith in humans, society, and husbands. Her father and her husband had been construction foremen, and bastards, but that was before the crisis came gliding down from distant skies. She smirked. Her handsome high school crush had probably been leaning forward to make a one-dollar donation to a fake redhead's fake college fund when the Armageddon Clouds reached down from the stratosphere. She shuddered at the memory and clenched her teeth at her abandonment.
That son-of-a-bitch.

Her dad, no doubt, had been leaning back in a chair beside Martin Korea, as though that made it classier to be on pervert-row watching a single mom with VD twirl her tassels.

That was what happened when your babies went to college and your husband bought a Porsche instead of a truck. Thoughts, memories, and guilt mixed in her head as she picked a book at random. Inside the library tent, shelves were made of plywood and cinder blocks. The books and the air smelled musty and perfect. She selected a second and third book, then backed out of the room, zipping it closed and checking the seals.

The
Mother
wouldn't care about K. K.'s books. She would burn them to warm that horde of rabid children.

Go to hell! Just go to hell and leave me alone!

K. K. mixed water that tasted metallic — despite her best filtration routine — with cheap beer and sipped as she pretended to read the first book. Stretched out on a three-sectioned lawn chair, she tried to relax on the screened-in porch, a stained mosquito tent. Titan, the Great Dane, and Balrog, the mongrel Wolfhound, slept near the fifty-yard line. Furry bellies courted skin cancer as they napped. Dead dogs might show more energy.

Words meant nothing to K. K. as they drifted through her vision until she closed the book, which turned out to be the owner's manual to a pick-up that no longer started.
Nice choice, K. K.
She snorted.
Functional literature for the end times.

Beyond the end zone were two chain-link fences, twenty feet high and topped with rolls of razor wire. She glimpsed one of the Dobermans scratching at the bottom of the fence, yelled at it to stop digging, then sipped her water-beer. An hour passed. None of the other black and brown guard dogs appeared. There were few places to hide between the inner and outer fences, even with dusk minutes away. Normally, her killers patrolled like professional treasure hunters, stopping to piss every twenty-seven feet.

She put aside her drink and her book as she stood thinking of the Mother and her angry, hungry children. They had been running for the open gate as though they expected it to be open.

She slung the shotgun over her shoulder and checked the batteries to her flashlight, all the while breathing like it was her first time.
Think, think, think,
she thought.

She stepped into the no-man's land between fences topped with razor wire.
I did this.
She inhaled deeply, slowly — then exhaled. A super moon dominated the horizon. Goose bumps blossomed across her freckled skin as anxiety and guilt trembled through her middle. Moving forward without turning on a flashlight, without unclenching her teeth, she found the first dead Doberman. Neither her work nor her planning had protected the dogs. What did that mean for her?

Coyotes yipped and squealed atonal songs of fighting, fucking, or whatever feral things did just over the horizon. A distant engine revved and spotlights cut the faraway landscape as ATVs ran the lupine death orgy into creek beds and killed them. K. K. stopped, held her breath, looked right and left with only her eyes, then turned a slow circle, shotgun in her hands now, flashlight tucked under her armpit.

The sound of motorcycles and four-wheelers might as well be machine guns and rocket launchers or the blast engines of alien invaders for the tension they inspired. Confusion tangled her thoughts as though she'd never heard of a combustion engine or conceived of the violence their riders might wield against her.

The Mother and her brood fled the lights.

K. K. heard them. During the darkest hour of the night, she felt the dust of their panicked flight on her face. The strangers on ATVs killed many things that night, always in the distance, always with screams and howls. K. K. sat in her tent listening, watching, waiting for the end.

When the strangers roared away on their machines, she hugged herself and sobbed.

Things would be better in the morning. She would check the perimeter, look for holes in the fence. Feed her dogs.

#

Day followed night and night followed day. K. K. slept standing and forgot what she was doing many times. The Mother's brood screamed and howled as though she had been on a four-wheeler chasing them through the night and day and night.

In places, there were bodies clinging to the fence.

Singin' in the Rain
struggled free of dust-caked speakers. It was a normal day for the sound system. The volume varied and there was a crackling sound that promised the end of the public address system.

The children could never reach her. They scampered around her Oklahoma panhandle kingdom — small creatures with dirty mouths and mean poke-a-trapped-animal-with-a-stick faces. On the horizon, washed in the light of a Harvest Moon, they trod upon each other as they cavorted across a landscape as dry and red as a ten-mile scab.

From the high ground of her fortress, they might be adults. Distance worked magic on the little scavengers with faces painted like aboriginal warriors. In the circles of her binoculars, the agile young forms of goblins danced with maniacal freedom through gullies and jagged fracking mazes that had made the stadium the highest point in the small town suburb. Man-made earthquakes had not brought the end times. Contributed, perhaps, but no one held the drilling companies responsible. The end came from the sky. And who was left to care?

K. K. chewed an expired power bar and washed it down with metallic water.
Stay away.

The spotlights and swarming all-terrain vehicles bothered her. How many were there — a dozen? No, that was last week. This group seemed larger until the squadron of straight-pipe engines idled down and went dormant in the cloud shadows that tiger-striped the midnight landscape. She hadn't seen technology beyond her fence for months. A beam of white brilliance erupted like the lightsaber of a titan, then bounced and shuddered as off-road vehicles chased something.
Stop holding your breath, K. K. Just stop it.

BOOK: Stadium: A Short Story
5.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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