(Continues from Humaling)

The embers had all died out. Time had snuffed humanity’s funeral pyre. Wiping the sweat from my brow,  I sipped the cold water I’d collected in rain barrels. Without treatment plants, the reservoir I used to get my tap water from gave me the runs. So I knocked over a store which outfitted survivor types. Now I had a lifetime’s supply of tablets to treat my water.

A comet shot across the sky. My wireless picked up a signal. After six months of radio silence, I finally heard another human voice.

“….szzt…do you read me? I say again…This is shuttle…szzt…”

“…streeeeeeeep…it’s an alien world down there…shhhzzzzt….”

“…Then why does it look like Kan…szztrrreep…”

“…ping…pewpew…szzt…get off the air. I’m trying to make first contact, and you’re spoiling it…”

Or had I picked up an old radio program instead? Well, I might as well reply. There was no one else alive on this mud ball except the blackbirds and I. Since those featherheads had no interest in my stories, it was time I found a new audience. I pressed the transmit button and picked at the logo of my previous employer with my free hand. Some idiot had slathered stickers bearing the hideous rings all over the radio’s housing.


“….sszzzt…hi who’s this? Are you a high ranking military official?”

I shrugged, but the voice couldn’t see me. Since I was the only living person left, sure why not? “That depends on who you are and what your intentions are.”

“….screeezzztttt…coming in for an emergency landing…szzt…shhhhhreeeem….”

Shading my eyes, I scanned the sky for a bright streak. Indeed, it appeared to be falling, and unless my eyes deceived me, the comet headed my way. Wonderful, I’d just gotten my cottage squared away for the coming winter.

“If you bulldoze my house, I’ll nuke you.” I could too. I had a world’s worth of nuclear warheads to play with and a girl’s got to protect what’s hers.

“….sszzt…roger that…szzt..tak–erraaahhhhhh….sszzt…evasive maneuvers…”

“I appreciate that. I’ll have a welcoming committee standing by.”

Yeah right, a welcoming committee of one would be standing close by and ready to defend me. I trotted over to a box and snapped open its locks. Inside lay an assortment of guns I’d taken during the early days when I’d feared other survivors. Except there weren’t any other survivors and I’d gotten over my fear. Still, I’d kept the firearms just in case.

I pulled out one of the larger ones because size does matter when you’re a petite brunette. Working by feel, I loaded it up with a fresh magazine, clicked off the safety and fired. The gun barked in my hand, and its butt slammed into my shoulder. But I’d braced myself, so the recoil didn’t send me flying. It had the first time I’d fired it six months ago, but that was then, and this was now. During the intervening months, I’d taught myself gun safety and practiced hitting the broadside of a barn.

I was no sharpshooter, but if these spacers tried anything, I’d perforate them. Clicking the safety back on, I set the gun to stitch a triple burst when next I fired it. I closed and latched the gun box and dragged a modified ghillie suit over it. Snagging my go bag full of emergency supplies, I saddled up the deaf mare who’d watched my antics from the paddock. It was time to meet my visitors.

to be continued…

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