Entry Eighty-four: Adam Mahoney, You Just Won!

[The next many entries are the current story I am working on. This is fourteen of who knows how many will be posted. Enjoy it while it lasts...]

Chapter Five

Adam sat in his car, hand on the key, ready to twist it forward and start the ignition, but he hesitated. He knew this was a turning point and he was getting ready to face a huge unknown. Besides the dearth of people wiped out, had the rest of the environment been altered? He was in no hurry find out but he knew delaying was not in his best interest. He started his car and backed it out of the carport. He had been driving the Volvo for years. He bought it used, with low mileage, and had planned on keeping it as long as it would deliver him from point A to B without a lot of maintenance costs. His plan had worked well and the comfortable predictability of the car made him more at ease, like an old sweatshirt or a favorite hat. He drove slowly, not sure why, but cautious seemed to be a better idea than reckless at that point so he heeded the inner voice. He turned left at the end of his street and started toward the closest grocery store, not yet sure if he was ready for a tour of his hometown, post alien invasion. His internal debate was interrupted by a high-pitched “ding,” the distressful signal that he was low on gas. “Oh great. Now what do I do?” He remembered at that moment he had intended to fill up the tank on his way to work the morning he received the note, but such memories were useless and a waste of time. The present had never had less to do with the past and his run to the store had just gotten more complicated.

He spotted the Olsen’s food mart and gas station ahead on his right so he decided to stop there and see if it was possible to procure some gasoline. Pulling into the parking lot gave him a sick feeling, seeing three cars lined up in front of the store yet knowing the owners no longer existed. Neither did Karl and Olga Olsen, for that matter. He had been buying gas and cigarettes from them for years and they were a critical, albeit taken for granted, part of his day-to-day existence. How strange to be pulling up to their business like nothing was changed. Oh, how that simple act belied the facts.

Adam drove to one of the gas pumps and got out of his car, uncertain how to approach the situation. He pulled the nosseled hose out of the holder and looked over the choices listed on the pump. Everything seemed to be working, helped by the 24-hour status of the store in normal times. He had to make a selection to start the flow of gas but he was unsure of his best option. He had a few dollars in his wallet and initially thought spending the cash would be the fastest and surest way to get started, but then he spotted the button that stated, “credit/outside.” He hesitated, ran that through his mind and quickly realized if he used one of his credit cards to purchase the gasoline, assuming it worked, he could save his cash. Then, common sense crashed through his brain and he started following the credit option to its logical conclusion. Once the computer inside the fuel pump validated his credit card number, it would forward it to the computer used by the credit card company that would log it in a database and at the end of the month print out a bill that would be ready to mail to him for his payment. Except there was no one in that far away city to put the bill in an envelope and there was no one to drop it in a mailbox and there was no one at the Post Office to route his bill and there was certainly no one in his small town in Georgia to deliver the bill to his empty mailbox. At last, Adam Mahoney had discovered a perk of being the last man standing on the face of the earth. He slid his credit card in the slot and waited to see if it would be validated. When the words “Select type and begin fueling” flashed onto the small screen, he smiled and, for the first time in his life, filled his Volvo with high quality premium gasoline.

All words and images ©2006/J. Colle

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