tagNon-EroticRegression to the Mean

Regression to the Mean

bySciGuy©

I tripped climbing inside through the broken window, fell face first on outstretched hands into the broken glass and metal debris.

"Son of a fucking BITCH!" I yelled, furious.

I heard something, and turned quickly on full alert. She was cowering into the corner near some toppled shelving. Her hands were empty. I saw her frantic eyes searching for an escape route and started breathing again, unknotting my muscles.

"You don't have to be afraid of me," I said quietly, "I won't hurt you."

I hoped she wouldn't bolt. It had been days since I'd talked to another human being, and I was lonely. I looked at my hands. Thank God I had found the leather work gloves. I pulled them off, but I was unhurt. A bad cut under these conditions could be fatal. I brushed away a clear spot on the floor, and sat down cross-legged, staying alert to the street. I looked my companion over. She'd been pretty, once. Early thirties, blonde, green-eyed, dressed in expensive but badly torn clothes, and filthy.

"I'm not a soldier," I said, guessing that she might have been a victim of the rape squads, "Besides, I'm too old for that sort of thing."

I smiled. She calmed a little, her fists unclenching, but immediately stiffened as a distant string of automatic rifle fire drifted in from the wasted streets.

"That's too far away to worry about," I whispered, listening for any other sounds. Nothing. I changed the subject, trying to get her to relax, "Have you found anything to eat in here? I'm awful hungry."

She revealed a can of peaches that she had hidden behind her, held it up, "I can't open it," Her voice was lifeless, unemotional.

"I've got an opener," I said standing up, "Let's move into the back, away from the street."

She shied away, but her eyes didn't show fear now. Anger? I fished the can opener out of my rucksack, held it up to show her. She looked at the enticing picture of the sliced peaches on the can, licked her lips. She nodded, didn't move.

I went in first. In the darkened storeroom we were out of sight from the street but I could still see out. It was trashed, like everywhere else in this godforsaken city. We found a place to squat and I cranked open the fruit. The smell was maddening. I grabbed a slice with my fingers and wolfed it down, then handed the can to her. She did the same. I passed her some of my stale crackers. We shared the food silently and sat there for a bit, dozing, not hungry for the first time in days.

It was getting dark. I got up and checked out the devastated room. There had been a small explosion back here, and the blackened roof had partly collapsed against the rear door. Mortar round or a rifle grenade, I guessed. Anyway, nobody could get in without making a big racket. Perfect. The toilet tank in the tiny restroom was cracked and slowly dripping, I propped my canteen under it to fill. She got to her feet warily when I returned, holding a short length of shattered 2x4. I gave her a wide berth and dragged some noisy sheet metal scrap into the doorway to act as an alarm.

"We should stay here for the night. We can take turns watching while the other catches some sleep," I offered. "In the morning I'll clear away this crap. Maybe we can find some breakfast under it."

She sat back down, pulled her jacket closer around her and stuck her hands into the pockets, her eyes on me, her face hard. She sure didn't talk much. I sat down in a place where I could watch the ruined storefront by the last light of a cloudy sky. I took off my ruck but kept it close, extracting my dirty sweater to pull it over my head. It grew quiet. After a while I fell asleep.

I awoke with a start, suddenly realizing she was very close to me in the dim light. I reached for my ruck. I felt her hands on my crotch, the sound of a zipper. She pulled my cock from my pants and stroked it. I started to get hard.

"See, you're not too old," she said. "If I get you off, will you give me the can opener?"

"No, I need it. I'm sorry. You're welcome to join me. I'm trying to get to Pennsylvania, I have family there."

She rose up over me suddenly and I saw the terrifying flash of a large knife held high in her hands. I fired five times with the .45 automatic I had concealed under my ruck. The big gun boomed surprisingly loudly and the muzzle flash splotched my night vision with balloons of light. I scrambled away, not knowing if I had hit her. When I could see again, she was gone. I cautiously checked the front room, nothing.

Son of a fucking bitch! I started shaking, and got sick to my stomach. She was going to kill me for a goddam can opener. What the hell was happening to everybody? I thought about staying for the night, but I knew I had to get far away from all the noise I'd made, fast.

I reloaded the pistol, got my canteen, and left quickly, picking my way through the rubbish into the street. It was starting to rain. Great.

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