Douglas Tries to Leave East Post

Douglas Tries to Leave East Post

A Story by Stan

a scene from Surviving the Fog - Howard the Red


Douglas Leaves East Post


It was an irritating kind of day.  I was already running late, but Jean caught me as I was leaving for the office.

“Be sure to talk to Douglas.”

“Why can’t you talk to him?”

“I remind of school.  He would rather you talk to him.”

Oh, yes, talk to Douglas.  That would make my day.

When I got to the office there were people waiting for me.  It wasn’t any more than the customary collection of complainers, but I had less patience than usual, and when a hapless outsider called me “Mayor,” I sort of exploded.

“Don’t call me that, d****t.  I’m not the Mayor, I’m the Town Manager.”

I had been Mayor of Petersburg, but that was in the past.  I had no authority to make laws any longer, though I could make a few rules for the purpose of enforcing the laws.  The Town Council here at East Post was constantly questioning my rules, and thinking of that irritated me more.

After getting rid of the chronic complainers, I grabbed what I needed and went looking for some more outsiders.  I knew I shouldn’t be thinking of them that way, because the town needed decent people as citizens, but I wasn’t in the mood to be charitable.  I found Nick, Claire, and Tyson working on a new cabin.  They were industrious, and I appreciated that, but the cabin was located where it would block the view of other cabins, and I knew I would get more complaints.

“Claire, I brought your gun.”  I handed the Kel-Tec to her.

“What about mine?” the two men chorused.

“Sorry, guys, but the Council wants to wait another week before deciding about you two.”

“What the hell for?” Nick asked.

Heat spread through me, but I tamped it down.

“I don’t know,” I replied as calmly as possible. “I said you were okay, but that’s what they told me.  They decide.  I told you that.”

Behind her husband, Claire was hiding a smile.  Nick was probably irritated to know that his wife had got her gun back but not him.  Personally, I thought it would be a good idea if we only allowed women to carry handguns; even up the odds, sort of.

“But the Chief is going hunting the day after tomorrow,” Tyson whined.  “I wanted to go with him.”

That’s another thing that irritated me; the way people called Mike, ‘Chief,’ even though they weren’t with us that first terrible year when the Fog congealed.  Still, I didn’t correct him, because Mike’s renown added gravitas to my authority.  Just knowing I had his backing caused most people to respect the rules I made.

“There’ll be another time,” I said.


I was on my way to Tonya’s cabin when I saw him, limping in that off-center gait he had because of his handmade prosthetic.  He had his duffle bag slung over his shoulder, and he was using his spear as a walking stick.  There was no sign of his rifle, so I assumed it was in the bag, unassembled.  His Rugers was probably in his pocket.  He scowled when he saw me; probably had been planning to skip town while I was away.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” I asked.

“Anywhere I want.”

“Not today, you’re not.”  I leaned down so my nose was inches from his face.  He stilled in the deadly way he had.

“Back off, Howard.”

If I was irritated before, I was downright pissed now.

“Douglas, there is no way in hell I’m letting you leave today.”

“You’re not letting me?”  Very deliberately, he lifted his hand and slid it into his pocket.

I didn’t care.  I was steaming, by then.  “No, because two weeks ago, you promised to babysit Cathy, tomorrow.  Jean and I are spending the day with Annie and Mike.”

Puzzlement, blankness, and then memory crossed his face.

“Well, s**t.”

“And you know how Cathy is with anyone else.”


“So, don’t think you’re getting out of it.”


“Guess you’ll have to make up your bedroll again.”  I was mildly pleased by the thought of the trouble he would go through.  “And don’t forget the zombie puppet you stick on the end of your stump.  You know she loves that.”  He had lost a foot and an ankle to the Fog.

“I said I would do it, I’ll do it.”  He was grinding his teeth by then.

“Better get a haircut before you leave.  You’ll get lice.”  I threw that at him just to be nasty, and then I walked away.

“Day after tomorrow,” he yelled, “and then I’m out of here for good.”

Disgusted, I waved over my shoulder without looking back, but I hollered, “Whatever.”

I didn’t tell him I was going see if Tonya’s beer making project had been successful.  There are friends, and there are friends.  Douglas was the kind of friend I would want by my side if I got into a killing fight, and my daughter would be safe with him, but he wasn’t the kind of friend I wanted to share a beer with.

It irritated me to know I would miss him.

© 2014 Stan

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Added on July 13, 2014
Last Updated on July 13, 2014
Tags: Stan Morris, short story, young adult, new adult, post apocalypse



Kula, HI

Speculative Fiction writer. Born and raised in California, Educated and married in New Mexico, Lived in Texas before moving to Maui, Hawaii. Operated a computer assembly and repair business before r.. more..

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