Danny made sure to check both ways before crossing the street, just like his mama told him too, God rest her soul. The softness had gotten her, and Danny’s brother and two sisters, how he escaced – this long, anyway – without getting sick was a mystery.

When he saw no cars coming (not that he expected any, most people didn’t have the necessary limbs left to walk let alone drive) he crossed the road, running up onto the sidewalk, making a quick left, nearly missing a middle aged man that must have been sitting behind a parked car, hidden from Danny’s view.

With a great deal of effort the man got up and started walking towards Danny. The whites of his eyes were a soft, suttle grey and had a large patch of spider web-like weaving radiated out from a spot just behind his jaw line, one of the first signs of the softness.

“Ahh, kah eee,” the man grumbled with lips and mouth that seemed to function only partially. He held a gun in his hands, the grip towards Danny, indicating that he wanted him to take it. The gun was a six shooter, rusty and old, looking as if it had been a prop in an old western movie.

“Kah eee,” the man repeated.

For a moment Danny thought about taking the gun, if only for his own use. In a time after civilization, Danny always had found it curious that at every turn you could find either a gun or bullets, and many times both, but very few seldom worked.

Not thinking any more about it, Danny took the gun. He swung open the cylinder to make sure it was loaded. Six bullets, fully loaded. He raised the gun over his head and fired a single shot, the echo bounced off the brick walls of the tall building and rattled windows in the alley’s.

As the man saw a smile creep across Danny’s face, he dropped to his knees and put his hands together in front of him as if to pray. Danny pointed the barrel at the mans forehead.

“Ank ooo,” the man said with a jaw bone that had turned soft and muscles that had started to fall away from what left of the bone. “Ank ooo,” he repeated.

Danny’s mother had made him promise that when the time had come that he would not let her suffer in the way his sisters and brother suffered. He always secretly wished that he would get sick before her so he wouldn’t have to go through with it, but in the end it was her that had gotten sick first, but in the end he was unable to do it.  Then one morning she was gone, apparently to go off to do what Danny couldn’t. He never saw her again.

For a long time there was nobody left in the world that cared for Danny, and nobody that he cared for either, no friends, no family. That was until he saw the girl across the street, the girl he was on his way to see.

The man continued to kneel before Danny, a tear now rolling down his cheek, and even though Danny knew that in this man’s condition that it was impossible, he could swear that he was smiling up at him with eyes that blissfully cried thank you, thank you.

Danny pulled the hammer back on the six shooter, got a better grip on the handle and braised himself for the recoil of the shot.

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