The Ecphorizer

Not With a Bang, With a Whimper
Thomas G. Horti

Issue #07 (March 1982)

"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the noon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth,

After a nuclear exchange, The Boy and His Dog are not quite the same...

even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

Revelation, Chapter 6, 12-17

[quoteright]The small boy and the huge dog lie side by side in the warm dim half-light of the cave. The boy moans fretfully, and the sound bobbles hollow into the uncaring shadows. He moans again and painfully raises himself to a sitting position. The small blotchy face turns toward the dog, as he slowly, hesitantly reaches out a scabrous hand until it rests experimentally on the shaggy head. Except for a low rumble, the dog doesn't move or show awareness of the light touch.

The boy hitches himself a little closer. His other hand brushes against a small tag. Gently he eases his fingers into the bag, careful not to scrape his sores on the sharp little zipper teeth lining the opening. He pills out a scrap of blue ribbed corduroy, and kneads it between his fingers, unmindful of the slow flow of blood from his fingertips.

Suddenly thrusting the scrap at the dog with a cry, he stumbles to his feet. The dog is instantly next to him, supporting him with gentle pressure against his side.

"Fin' mo'er," he mumbles, his small toothless mouth making a caricature of the sounds.

The dog lifts his once fine head and looks at the bright hole that is the cave mouth through one partially open rheumy, puscornered eye. As the boy lurches forward, the dog immediately shifts forward with him, guiding him toward the light.

As they emerge from the cave, the dog lowers his head and closes the eye that isn't already puffed permanently shut, but the toy turns resolutely to the right, ignoring the sudden change from dim half-light to bright sun.

They toil through the scarred and unlovely remnants of hillside vegetation, the boy lurching, stumbling, and frequently falling: his companion patiently guiding, waiting for the boy to get up from one of his many spills.

Now the dog shows signs of uneasiness. He whines and tries to turn aside. But the boy, with sudden determination, scrambles ahead toward a small ravine cutting across the path. He is bleeding freely now from both knees and elbows, and bloody froth edges his lips.

He tumbles down into the ravine, lying still for many minutes. The dog has stayed at the edge of the ravine. He lies down now, his nose between his paws, the slit of one eye fixed on the boy.

Slowly the small figure moves. He crawls forward, stopping to reach out with sweeping notions, until finally his fingers touch blue ribbed corduroy. He can't smell the putrescence under the cloth, nor do his sightless eyes see the horror that was once the love and warmth of his world.

There is an end in the ravine. The world is silent now except for the weak mournful howl of a dying faithful servant. But who shall hear? 

A systems analyst for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Division, Horti wrote this month's grim little vignette on the post-bomb world. Does he know something we don't?

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