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Apocalypse Later

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The apocalypse hadn't been that long ago. A few weeks maybe.

So of course Zigzachs had to go and get himself trapped under a pile of rubble like a goddamn idiot.

He'd been lying here for days, or at least it felt like days. He'd been scavenging supplies when the upper floor of the building came crumbling down on top of him. Ha, he laughed to himself. Figures. He'd been drawing the short end of the stick ever since he'd been born.

His throat was raw and his tongue felt like a dry sponge sitting in his mouth. He'd tried calling out, even though he knew no one would come.

Nobody ever came.

He was tired and hungry and thirsty and cold. He was so cold the tingling numbness in his fingers had worked its way all the way up to his shoulders.

He closed his eyes, and prayed that he wouldn't have to wake up again.

 

Zigzachs burst into a fit of coughing.

Something wet was dribbling down his throat and he choked, sitting up and sputtering as something cold and hard thumped him on the back.

What.

Waking up felt like having an entire goddamn building fall down on top of him; his throat felt like sandpaper, his stomach felt cramped and painfully sour, both of his arms felt like they'd been run over a table saw, and his chest hurt from trying to empty his lungs of the piss-warm water being poured down his throat.

His eyes were heavy and sticky with sleep when he opened them. Some small vaguely-conscious part of his brain was thankful for the dim light; at least it wouldn't make his headache any worse. He looked up. His vision was slightly blurry but there was definitely a person leaning over him, and half of their face was just totally fucked. Like it had been run through a meat grinder. More than once. The person had scraggly dark hair that smelled like cigarettes and motor oil and dark circles under their eyes like they hadn't slept properly in at least a decade.

The stranger pushed two small pills into Zigzachs' mouth, and he didn't quite have the mental wherewithal to question it, just swallowed when a bottle of lukewarm water was held up to his lips. A couple of calloused fingers then found their way into his mouth, lifting up his tongue, tugging on it a little, then putting it back where it belonged. The taste was a nasty mix of axle grease and hand sanitizer.

The stranger put the bottle back up to Zigzachs' mouth. Zigzachs tried to reach for it, but...

Nothing happened.

So he tried again.

Still nothing.

"Wh... What?" he croaked, letting water dribble down his chin and onto the blanket covering him from the waist down.

"Drink," was all the stranger said, and Zigzachs was so tired he couldn't do much but comply. His arms hurt so badly.

Mid-way through the bottle it hit him. Like a goddamn train. The rubble. The building had collapsed on top of him. He couldn't feel his arms. He stopped drinking and looked down at the bloody bandages where his left arm used to be and screamed. But his throat was too dry and his mouth was full of water and the sound devolved into a string of painful coughs. The stranger's cold hand rubbed soothing circles into his back and they held the plastic bottle back up to his mouth.

"Drink."

The corners of Zigzachs' eyes were wet. He blinked away the tears and reached for the bottle.

Nothing happened.

Again.

And Zigzachs wanted to scream and cough and cry all over again.

Instead, he let the tears fall silently as the stranger tipped the bottle past his lips.

Only once Zigzachs had drained the entire bottle did the stranger seem satisfied. They set another bottle down next to the futon he was lying on and turned to walk out of the room. Zigzachs finally got a good look at them; the sleeves of their t-shirt were rolled up, exposing what remained of their left arm. It was missing up to the elbow, replaced with shiny metal and black wire cables.

Zigzachs laid back down, slowly. He was still crying, even though the shock was beginning to wear off. He looked back down at what was left of his arms, just to make sure. Make sure that they weren't still there, that this wasn't all just some fucked up fever-dream brought on by dehydration or whatever else made people's brains conjure up crazy shit like this.

The stranger came back in, carrying a steaming mug with a plastic straw and a TV tray. They helped Zigzachs sit up, folding a blanket behind him. Everything hurt. Zigzachs realized he was probably bruised all over from being buried under that pile of rubble. He just wanted to go back to sleep. The stranger set the tray over Zigzachs' lap and placed the mug in front of him, holding the straw towards him. When Zigzachs hesitated the stranger said,

"It's soup. It's warm, drink it."

Zigzachs new they were probably trying to be encouraging, but in reality they just sounded impatient. He leaned forward and winced when the movement pulled on the muscles in his arms. The soup didn't really taste like much, mostly just salty. But the stranger was right; it was warm, and it was nice. The noodles sometimes got stuck in the straw, and they made obnoxious slurping sounds when he tried to get them out. He could've sworn he saw the stranger smile a couple of times at the look of determination on his face. When he was done the stranger set the tray and mug on the ground. Zigzachs was tired; he never thought eating could be so exhausting. But he felt warm and full and... happy. Cared for. In a way he hadn't felt in a very long time. Zigzachs swallowed,

"Thank you."

The stranger smiled, lopsided and slightly hidden, almost like they were out of practice.

"Don't mention it."

Zigzachs smiled in return.

"What's your name?"

The stranger's smile faded and they looked away, like they were weighing the pros and cons of giving an answer.

"Glumanda. You?"

"Zigzachs."

They were both silent for a few moments before the stranger--Glumanda--helped Zigzachs lie back down. Glumanda pulled the blanket up to Zigzachs' chest, careful not to touch his bandaged arms. They picked up the tray and mug off the floor as they went to leave, mechanical hand pulling the door closed behind them.

"Glumanda?"

The door stopped.

"Why me?"

There was a long silence. Zigzachs was afraid he might start crying again. Finally Glumanda said,

"We'll change your bandages in the morning. Get some rest," and closed the door.