(Or, A Reluctant Father’s Guide to Child-Raising in a Post-Apocalyptic World. Explanation.)
How I ended up with a rifle was a bit of amazing luck. I had grown up with guns in the countryside, due to my dad and family friends heading out once a year to shoot at ducks when the season opened.
Since moving to the city, the only time I saw something gun-shaped were replicas sold at comic book conventions. The nearest real gun would have either been in a firearms retailer, or at a shooting range, both of which were rare in inner-city suburbs.
I had wondered if there may have been stores in the CBD that sold rifles and ammunitions, but the city’s centre had been all but cut off from me since Zero Hour.
If this disaster had happened in the United States, I imagined that it was a completely different story. Accessibility and availability of personal weaponry had caused the deaths of thousands of people every year. I’m sure the complaints stopped now that actual monsters were roaming the streets.
The rifle that I had in my possession was a very happy accident.
The accident was three blocks away from the house. The chaos of Zero Hour had lead to people jumping into any transport and hightailing it out of the city. This had lead to instant traffic snarls and jams. Road rules turned into guidelines, and then finally disposed of as people embraced anarchy to find any route they could to the main arteries out of the city. Blockages formed as more cars flooded into the system, hemorrhaging off roads, verges, over median strips, over parkland, tramlines and pedestrians. The road system pulsed, shuddered, and stopped, and people abandoned their vehicles and took off on foot.
Three blocks from the house one vehicle had a different fate. It was a 1975 Monaro and had been driving the opposite direction, into the city, and stopped by a telephone pole. Inside was a silver-haired pensioner trapped by the steering column. I could only speculate at claimed his life, though the significant portion of the engine block where his legs should have been gave some clues.
On this particular day it was overcast, and I worried for Sam and my safety. I was about to leave the wreck and work my way through the permanent car park back to the house when I glanced in the back seat. There was a long leather bag, and I yelped in recognition. I had a crowbar for defence, and used it to brake the window.
Back home I fed and changed Sam, and while he was gambolling around the living room I laid my new prize on the rug. It was a .22 bolt-action rifle.
A story started to play in my mind. I imagined the pensioner listening to the confused reports of Zero Hour on his AM radio. His moment had finally arrived. With his vorpal weapon in hand, he leaped into his stallion, and charged into the city to enter his role of vigilante mercenary. And met a telephone pole instead.
Inside the bag was an oblong lozenge made of cardboard. I slid it open like a drawer, and saw the neat circles of one hundred bullet rounds.
Sam appear at my shoulder with a half-chewed rusk. “Gonne,” he said.