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What if a trans guy at the end of the world
A post-apocalyptic short story by Tom Brinton
He pressed a square of TP against the bead of blood left by the withdrawal of the needle from his inner thigh, pretty much the only place he still had enough body fat to manage a subQ injection, and pulled up his briefs and jeans and buckled his belt. On his way out of the bathroom, he grabbed the pull-up bar and cranked out two, three, four, five reps.
Then he went into the bedroom and gave the duvet a shake, snapping it straight on the mattress, and he picked up his socks and soiled underpants and tee-shirt and tossed them into the hamper. Then he walked down the hall into his study and he opened the closet and he took down the Gun Storage Solution (which he couldn’t think of without a mental TM) that he kept on the rack above the clothes rod.
The windows in the study were closed, and the little girls who had jumped on the trampoline in the yard on the other side of the fence were silent. They were silent, and they lay limp in the yard on the other side of the fence. So did a grownup man, dad-bodded and balding, their father, and so did the dog, a big lab mix. There was starting to be a smell, but the storm windows mostly kept it out. He opened the Gun Storage SolutionTM and took out the .38 and carried it into his bedroom and rummaged around in the drawer with the bras he no longer needed but hadn’t bothered to give away yet for the box he kept in there. He checked the loads in the .38 and he filled his jeans pockets with extra hollow-points. Then he laced up his Skechers.
On his way out the door he grabbed his backpack and a bottle of water, tucking a fold of cash into his pants pocket because sometimes that was still worth something, and slid his sunglasses onto his face. The .38 rode in a holster on the left side of his belt, butt forward for a cross-body draw. He had never drawn it to fire before. It hadn’t been allowed at the range.
Then he walked past the rotten soup of the swimming pool—there was probably a body in there but he didn’t want to check and know for sure—and the rancid dumpster, and turned onto the lane, and made his way past the health center and then the other health center, because Florida, both of them cordoned off and sandbagged with corpses, and out to the main road.
On the way to the Winn Dixie he turned down a side street towards the church. It wasn’t his church, but his girl had dragged him there a time or two, saying they were open-minded but needed more exposure to people like him so they could expand their love circles, or some nonsense like that. He didn’t know what he expected to find there. His girl was dead and most of the churches had gone to a virtual worship practice anyhow. To flatten the curve. Virtual worship. Christ, the end of the world had been stupid.
The smell hit him when he pulled the unlocked sanctuary door open and stepped into the narthex. Ripe and rotten, and a swarm of flies. He coughed up water and bile, and then dry-heaved until he could stumble back out onto the porch.
So virtual worship hadn’t been enough then, at the end.
He made a helpless, hysterical yawp-sound—a laugh and a cry and a gag, all at once. He swung the door on its hinges, trying to create a breeze, and batted away the juicy, almost spherical black flies that buzzed around his head and face, sampling his sweat, dappling him with the remains of their corpsey feasts.
From the front of the church, near the pulpit, there came footsteps. Hesitant. Tentative. Shy. He drew the .38 and stepped forward, hammer cocked, finger outside the guard, barrel down. His Skechers made no sound on the hardwood as he edged his way up the aisle, through the shafts of light streaming through the dirty windows. Through a side door, probably the one leading to the pastor’s office, came a white-tailed buck deer, its antlers still just forks, its limbs slender, its eyes huge and limpid.
They stared at each other. He could feel, very distinctly, the way his tee-shirt stuck with sweat to his hard chest and hollow belly. He could smell his rank armpits and the oil of his .38 and the fireworks smell of the range and the earthy smell of the white-tail—leaves of grass and sun-soaked fur and healthy ruminant shit.
There was no other life.
Tom Brinton is a community college history professor with side interests in fiction, the body, gender, and the end of the world.
Copyright © 2023 by Tom Brinton
Published by Orion's Beau
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