Albie wrapped the rags around his neck and mouth and shivered. The smoke from the fire smelled of something dead and gave off little heat. He got more warmth from the people gathered around. He longed for quiet as the noise pounded into his head. A group on the corner was beating on cans and rusted sheets of metal, shards of glass rained down from the vacant building above and someone in the corner was moaning. Albie kept his eyes lowered and shoved his hands deep into his pockets.
Just yesterday, the sun was shining as he kissed his wife goodbye and left for the office. Everything had been one long night since. His office was an empty lot like the whole east side of town. At least that was what he heard. It was forbidden to go to that sector so there was no way to know for sure. Albie wondered about Jeff who used to be in the office next to his. Did he survive? He used to keep a picture of his family on his desk. Pretty wife and two tow-headed daughters grinned in front of a brick house in the burbs. He would rather think about times at his old job than Sarah. That opened up a desolate pit of pain that was best avoided. People whispered about an apocalypse. Albie figured he was in hell.
An old man shuffled forward, breaking all the rules. He looked each person straight in the eye until they returned his stare for a second. He patted this one and that one on the shoulder as he wandered around the alley. Fool! He will be dead before morning, Albie thought! Sure enough, the old man wandered into a dark corner and after a scuffle, he was just gone. Crazy Mary cackled and rocked, pulling her cardboard up around her. Albie wondered once why no one bothered her, Then one night he saw a fat man reach down for a piece of her makeshift house and screamed when a flash of silver drew a dark line across his hand. Albie stayed well away from Mary’s wall after that. Her cackle ran shivery fingers up his spine.
Albie’s fingers closed around the crumbling piece of paper in his pocket. He had rubbed it for so long the ink was gone. It didn’t matter. He knew the words by heart.
Ten words from Creative Copy Challenge