It seems a shame to waste an opportunity like this, Evan thought, momentarily questioning his already questionable personal value system.
Looking around one last time to make absolutely sure he wasn't being watched by anyone close enough to do anything about it, he wrestled the dead man from behind the wheel as respectfully and gently as a lean boy of twenty-four could move the bloated body of a middle-aged man from a thankfully undamaged car.
He'd already fished through the dead man's pockets to find keys and a packet of cigarettes. Having dragged corpses from cars exactly four times, he was confused and surprised to have always found the keys either on their person or, even more conveniently, waiting in the ignition.
The four who had already been dead were less effort to deal with than the one who had only been almost dead. Almost. Ninety-nine per cent of the way there before Evan had arrived. Some opportunities came at a price, and some prices were higher than others. Still, he was never one to waste an opportunity, especially now that he was alone.
With his past life and everyone in it gone, Evan was most definitely alone. He realised, as he tried not to breathe in the odour of the decomposing corpse, that it affected him less now than it had in the beginning. In fact, he'd grown accustomed to it quickly enough that it had almost worried him. Almost.
Although he'd never felt a particularly strong emotional connection to anyone he knew, he had experienced a mild, dragging melancholy when they were no longer there, for a short time anyway. These things happened though. So it goes.
With the body out of the way, Evan threw his backpack onto the passenger seat, walked round to the driver's side and was about to slide into the car and start the engine when he saw a lone figure walking in his direction, not looking nearly apprehensive enough given the situation.
His experience so far had shown him that anyone who wasn't obviously terrified was potentially terrifying, so he ducked down low behind the open door of the car, hoping to avoid any sort of confrontation, or worse—any sort of conversation or expectation. He'd been doing well enough on his own so far and wanted to keep it that way, at least until he had a better handle on whatever the hell was going on in what was left of the world.
The footsteps were coming closer. Steady, determined. Evan's legs started to cramp from crouching on the ground. He wanted a cigarette. He wanted whoever was walking towards him to fuck off. Then the footsteps stopped and the street returned to silence.
He leaned back a little, just enough to see through the window of the car without sitting up higher, and saw the source of the unnervingly steady steps. Through a cloud of his own breath against the glass, he watched. The person was maybe a couple of inches smaller than him. They looked to be wearing clean, seasonally-appropriate clothing. Probably of reasonably sound mind, then.
Evan didn't admit to being scared very often, not even to himself, but the people who sent a real shiver of fear down his spine were the ones wandering the streets without sweaters or coats, too delirious to have paid any mind to the lingering chill of springtime, dazed and lost in their own madness, alone. The ones who had given up.
The ones who made his stomach churn and his heart leap into his throat though, they were often more sensibly dressed, but with blood soaked into their coats and planks of wood with nails in the ends held firmly by hands with raw knuckles. Those ones traveled in groups. In packs. This person fell into neither of those categories.
Willing his legs to stop aching, Evan saw the lone wanderer turn from the pavement towards the front door of a house. They stopped, took their hat off to reveal short, dark hair, and stood for a moment, head bowed, hands held softly palm-to-palm, as if praying.
Then they took a bunch of keys from their pocket, unlocked the door and walked inside, closing it behind them with a sense of gentle reverence that Evan couldn't help but notice.
He took this opportunity to climb into the car, start the engine and drive off as fast as he could, deciding that remaining undetected was irrelevant as long as he could put a decent distance between himself and his previous location, and keep the direction of his departure unknown.
Had he stayed where he was for a few minutes longer, he would have seen Jac Etienne opening their parents' garage door and driving a dark blue estate car into the street, turning the wheel with hands it took all their reserves of strength to keep from shaking.
YOU ARE READING
Car ThievesScience Fiction
In the world of the immune, survival is taken, not given. The year 2027. Edinburgh, Scotland. Disease has swept a deadly path through society. A nightlife mogul with a violent past, a sadistic drug dealer, an artist craving companionship, a privileg...