Word Count: 1022
Writing: 1 hour
Editing: 12 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 12 minutes
The smell of rotting flesh was something that accompanied breakfast in his family like a steaming cup of coffee and a piece of fruit. Not that the Abece’s were murderers or kept rotting flesh around the breakfast table itself, the meat was a ways off, tied to the fence that surrounded the perimeter of their farm.
Some of the old books Davey read showed worn pictures and told magnificent stories about ancient people traveling the Earth, attempting to explore every nook and cranny. Most people nowadays—his father included—say that the books claiming to be “history” are nothing more than fairy tales. A past made up by fools for fools, that’s what they called it. The only thing that mattered was the book of Scientology now, all hail L. Ron Hubbard. There is no debate when it comes to its teachings. After all it was the religion born of the apocalypse.
Davey however, could never really get on board with the idea of Scientology. Of course that would never be heard coming from his mouth, to say such things meant death. He preferred the history books he’d collected over the years. Though his father didn’t agree with their teachings, he was an open minded man and told Davey so long as he never strayed from the Scientologist path, he was welcome to read whatever he pleased. So he went to church, confessed regularly to trivial matters, and secretly thought about what the world had really been like before the apocalypse, if that’s even what it truly had been.
His oldest book held the copyright symbol with the numbers 2025 next to it. He’d marveled when he first found it on the internet, after all it was almost one-hundred fifty years old, and bought it immediately. The day it arrived he asked his father to be off farming duty for the afternoon, promising to work later the next day to catch up. His father agreed and the second he saw the courier beyond their fence he dropped his tools and ran to the gate.
The book had a hard cover that looked like it once had a picture on it, but that had faded into time years ago. However, the inside seemed almost perfectly maintained aside from the deeply yellowed edges as if the book had never been opened. It told stories of the world falling into war before the outbreak. Of how ancient human societies reached an age of information, where anything seemed possible. New inventions were flying onto and off of the shelves every day, people cared less and less about their fellow man and more and more about possessions.
The book talked about a disease that had been developed five years prior, it was a mind control agent that heightened all human senses and increased strength. A Super Soldier Serum that would allow men to turn their enemies into mindless drones with incredible strength and use them to their advantage. The serum got out and infected the human population before it was perfected. Scientists were still working out the mind control sequence, and as a result it turned the men and women of the world into vicious killers. Anyone not already infected became at risk of death or sickness, the serum was meant to pass on through blood or saliva to the infected soldier’s comrades. It worked like a charm on every civilian it came in contact with.
Then came the fences, though of course that had been generations ago, his father, and his father before him had always known the fence around the farm. After all the decades of fighting off infected that roamed the open world like packs of murderous animals, it was hard to see the wire mesh through the sun-baked human bones.
His father had taught him as soon as he could speak about the fence. It was the only thing that stood between them and death, and had to be maintained every day. If infected approached they were to be shot to death in the head, collected and brought to the fence to be strung up. There was no way of telling if hanging the bodies was what had protected the Abece family for so many years, but they were still alive, so they kept in with tradition. They also didn’t have the money to spend on high-tech protection like the walls of the city’s or some of the more well-off farmers across the state.
It took Davey some years to get used to the smell of the dead infected. Some days, when it was hot enough, you might be farming and hear the flesh sizzling just over your head. They smelled like baskets of rotting vegetables after a summer storm at first. Rancid, but also with a sweet, almost blueberry note. Then, it was the worst thing you’ve every fathomed, the rotting vegetables times a hundred. And without the sweetness. That’s why Davey figured the infected stayed away, the smell.
“You wanna load up the truck and take some of these vegetables to the church with me in an hour or so?” Davey’s father asked, snapping him away from his thoughts.
“Yea pa, that sounds good,” he said taking his last bites of the eggs before standing up and walking to the sink. Davey rinsed the dishes quickly and took a long gulp of the hot black coffee.
“I guess I’ll run out there and check the fence quick before we get goin’. You need me to do anything else while I’m out there?” The young man asked his father as he added the empty coffee mug to the drying pile of dishes.
“No, just hurry back,” his father said without looking up.
“Yes sir. You mind if bring a book with me for the ride?” Davey broached the subject lightly, sometimes it was okay, other times it wasn’t, all depended on his father’s mood.
“That’s fine.” Davey smiled and without another word headed out of the kitchen and toward the fence. He thought about which of his books he would bring as the familiar smell of something like blueberries filled his nostrils.