(This is the first chapter of my postapocalyptic – novella, Spark.)
Dog didn’t know how to be quiet. Man knew it while hitting. Whining did still not carry as far as barking. He wished they wouldn’t have heard. That they’d just drive on.
He sat on the couch and tried to stay still while dog pulled and whined. He could feel the cold metal on the collar against his palm and felt sorry for the dog. He’d give it both lunges from the next deer. If they just could find it.
The car stood still in the crossing. He was afraid to move as long as the lights were pointing to them. A still standing shadow was rarely recognizable as a human being. He kept on hoping that the men in the car were the same as last week. The very same who searched the house last time. That they would still think the house was empty.
Lights absorbed and twisted through handmade window glass casting partial prisms to the wall. Small snowflakes were casted from the rooftop while man kept breathing slowly. Inhale through nose, small pause, exhale through mouth.
Bit by bit dog relaxed. Man couldn’t still let go.
The steady sound of a V8-engine turned to a brief growl when the driver pressed the pedal. The car turned to the right and passed by the next door house before vanishing behind the hilltop. Then he could let the dog go. He saw the car lights glare further on the road.
Dog licked his hand and he regretted that he ever did hit it. He pat the dog behind the ears. They’d been here for too long.
He thought about the dog. Normally it wouldn’t have bothered about cars at all. It had acted kind of funny the whole night. When they were gathering the traps it had sensed something and ran away. Man had stood on the top of hill staring at the crystal clear new moon sky and listened the wind howl in the cables of the old radio tower. After couple of minutes it had returned and sat by his side. Like it too was looking for the scene.
All the traps had been empty. One more sign for them to leave. If the small rodents were gone, food would be almost impossible to get. After couple of months, when summer would really be here, the game would return, too. If somebody else would not hunt it all while they’d be gone.
Man had watched towards the city. He’d seen few lights gathered here and there in the dark. Apparently sun had shone at the daytime, since there was enough energy to burn. At the northwest he had sheen a big glow of lights from Drottningholm. The Royals kept their land well-lit. He didn’t have a slightest clue on where they’d get their energy, but it surely seemed endless. Night after night, when it was otherwise dark everywhere, it kept on glowing. Since it was new moon he’d to watch his steps more carefully on the way down.
He got up from the couch and went to basement. Before litting the candles he checked the windows. Papers were still tightly taped to the frames. No light should escape.
After gathering his stuff he balanced his backpack and attached the bow to the left side tube. He wished he’d succeeded with it this time. The earlier bow had gone broken while hunting and he’d lost the rabbit. Before getting up the stairs he spoke few words to the house. He killed the candle by blowing it. It could be the last time he’d be here.
When he got to the garden he locked the small basement door. He hanged the key to the nail under the patio and walked silently cross the yard to the almost collapsed playhouse. He lowered the backpack against the wall and stepped bowing inside. The grave was still intact. Playhouse had worked as a mausoleum. He had a brief thought that maybe the first mausoleums were built for just that reason. To protect the by-gone relatives from the beasts around. He kneeled besides the grave and laid his hand on the wooden cross. He had made it himself.
After saying goodbye he got up and checked that there was nobody outside. The black shadow of the dog was layered to the bushes. It lay on the ground waiting silently.
Man got out from the playhouse, closed the door and picked the backpack before heading towards the road. Bamboo wind chimes on the next door patio clattered when they crossed the road and walked between houses towards Bredängen.