A Practical Man

A Future Vision, Part I

John sat on the train with an apple in his pocket and wondered why the world had ended. It had been a nice world, with shiny cars and skyscrapers that gave you vertigo if you went up to the tops, but now it was gone.

John was a practical man, but that didn't mean he wasn’t susceptible to bouts of fancy every now and then. Take this current state he now found himself in – he hadn't awoken that morning thinking about the old world. In fact, he hardly thought about it all nowadays. It was painful and confusing to think about all of the people he once knew, and all of the places he used to go.

Yet his thoughts kept straying to the apple in his pocket, and he wished he could eat the entire piece of fruit, though it would be foolish. He wasn't sure if apples could grow anymore, what with all of the nuclear fallout. It looked like snow outside his rusted old train car, but he knew better. Another man on the train had gone out in it, and within hours that man had blistered up badly and began to moan in pain before vomiting to death right here in this passenger car.

John had been afraid to touch him at first, but eventually the smell had become bad enough that he’d had to move the body far enough that he could kick it out the doorway at the end of the car. He sighed, remembering the dead weight of the man, and how he’d been sweaty and tired by the time he could come back and sit in his seat.

It was his favorite seat. He sat in it every day on the way to work, and now he sat in it, slept in it, and ate in it. Oh that apple!

He had lived alone, a confirmed bachelor. Women just weren’t interesting, and men were brutish bores. His cat had liked the couch better than he, and the only time it showed affection was at feeding time. But that’s just how cats are, he supposed. And mostly it was the reason he kept it. They were kindred spirits, neither wanting nor needing affection but for a brief pat on the head, or a nudge on the shin before work, as if to say, “I appreciate you being here, human, now leave.”

John wondered what time it was. He wondered how many feedings he’d missed, and if his cat, who he had not named, was still alive. Wondered if anyone in his building was alive. It was a serviceable apartment on the second floor. Any higher would have made him feel unsafe. What if there was a fire, and he had to jump from the window to safety? He might break an ankle or leg, but he would survive a drop from that height, he was sure. He’d wanted the first floor, but surprisingly, the apartments there were much more expensive, and he’d had to weigh his safety and the balance of his bank account. The bank account had won. His act of defiance because of this was keeping an outlawed feline.

He liked the solid weight of the apple in his pocket. It felt like security. He could go a few more hours before the thirst and hunger emanating from his core would be unbearable, and he would have to eat the apple, an act of bodily pleasure and mental pain.

Perhaps one day trees would grow again, when the world was once more suitable for life. John knew, though, that he wouldn't be around to see it. He was, after all, a practical man.

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