The State of Nature


Kevin awoke and there was no music from his alarm clock radio, only dead air. Lucky for him, the blaring of a car alarm from the street below was loud enough to wake him. He lurched out of bed aware he was running late and hurried into the bathroom. He turned on the shower and was about to step in, when he heard the noise of a cart being pushed across the floor of his apartment floor. With the shower still running and some water dripping onto the bathroom floor, he slowly creaked out of the bathroom and peered into his living room. There was a man wearing pajamas placing his TV in a pull cart. It was his neighbor, Hank.

“Hank,” asked Kevin.

Hank looked at him, grabbed his baseball bat sitting next to him on the floor and swung at Kevin’s head. Kevin fell backward into his bathroom door dodging the blow. Hank did not say a word and stalked into the bathroom clutching the bat. Driven by malice, Hank cranked up the bat for a fatal shot to Kevin’s head when he suddenly lost this balance on the slippery bathroom floor and fell on his back.

Terrified, Kevin entered fight or flight mode; Kevin’s brain chose fight. Next to the bathtub was a glass candle he had left from a bath a couple nights before. He grabbed the glass candle and hurled it at Hank’s head. It broke over Hank’s skull and chucks of wax and glass fell to the bathroom floor. Hank grunted and dropped the bat in a daze. Without hesitation, Keven picked up the bat and smashed Hank’s torso, kneecaps and head with the bat. Hank was clearly knocked unconscious, if not dead.

Kevin’s chest rose frantically with each breath. He had never been in a fight, nevertheless knocked someone unconscious. He put on his bathrobe, grabbed his phone and called the police. There was no service. He figured he better put Hank in a secure place in case he wakes up. He tied Hank’s hands to the toilet plumbing with rope. He reached for his cell phone, no service. He ran to his computer and tried to get online. There was no access. “What the hell is going on,” he thought. He opened the door to his bathroom slightly and watched Hank lying motionless from the cracked door. He wondered what had possessed him to steal his TV and other belongings in broad day light.

Kevin lived on the third floor of his apartment complex. He looked out the window and was amazed at what he saw. It was a scene from a zombie outbreak film. From his apartment window, he could see his parking lot where his car and other residents’ cars sat. Nearly all of them had been broken into. Glass from shattered windows littered the parking lot. In the distance, he could see smoke emanating from what he assumed was the grocery stored down the street. On the street adjacent to the parking lot were a line of businesses. There was an upscale restaurant, a Starbucks and other retail stores. They all had smashed windows and looked vacant. There was a car billowing smoke, sitting right in the middle of street. He looked at the businesses and there were bodies sporadically strewn across the entrances and sidewalks. It was a scene of anarchy—not the idealistic Noam Chomsky promoting anarchy indicative of a classless, utopian society. Not the kind of world your privileged libertarian friend gets off to. This was a brutish wasteland.

Kevin spied a police officer casually strolling down the street looking in all the businesses. The police officer’s car was parked a block or so away. Kevin opened the window and screamed, “Hey, Officer…Help!” The officer looked at the third story window. “There was an attempted burglary, I need your help,” Kevin said.

“Ok, stay put, I will be right up there,” reassured the police officer. “Are you armed,” asked the police officer. Kevin indeed was armed. He had a pistol with ammunition under his bed but it was unregistered. He had received it from his libertarian friend, Marshall. “No,” replied Kevin. “What a strange question,” he thought.

Relieved, Kevin stood at the bathroom door keeping an eye on the unconscious Hank while looking out the peephole of his apartment until the police officer arrived. Finally, the police officer arrived. He entered and asked Kevin to have a seat on his couch in the living room while he fills out some paperwork. He opened his notebook and grabbed a pen from his breast pocket.

“So, is there anything else of value in your apartment,” asked the cop.

“Well, there’s my PC, that’s about it… my guitar. Most of it is on that cart right there already. You see, my neighbor, Hank tried to steal those things from me.”

“Ah, I see that,” assured the police officer.

“Do you need to see my license,” asked Kevin.

“That won’t be necessary.”

“What do you mean that won’t be…” The police officer interrupted and pulled out his pistol and aimed it at Kevin.

“It’s not necessary because I’m pointing a gun at your head, son,” said the police officer.

Stunned, Kevin sat on the couch stoned with fear. He had never been in a fight, nor had a gun pointed at him: two new experiences in one day. The police officer then began loading Kevin’s PC, TV, Xbox and guitar onto the cart Hank had wheeled in earlier. He pointed the gun at Kevin while trying to lift the heavy objects onto the cart.

“Now, is there anything else? You got a gun…ammo,” asked the police officer.

Kevin could not think; his heart was pounding. He knew he had a pistol with ammo under his bed but he bet the police officer wouldn’t find it.

“Uh…no I don’t have anything else.”

“You better not be lying.”

Kevin mustered up whatever courage he had and asked, “Why are you doing this?”

“Why not,” retorted the police officer.

“What is going on?”

The police officer lost attention and gave one more cursory look through the rest of the apartment. He went into the kitchen and opened the fridge to find a six-pack of beer. He grabbed the six-pack and put it on the cart. He opened one beer and chugged nearly half of it in one gulp. He then concluded it was time to leave. He slowly wheeled the cart out the door. Before leaving, he coldly gazed at Kevin, pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger.

It clicked without a blast. The gun wasn’t even loaded. “What are you going to do,” asked the cop. Kevin sat motionless. His feet felt like they were in cement blocks. What was he supposed to do? He couldn’t attack, or god forbid, kill a cop. The police officer left the apartment with a chuckle and pushed the cart down to the elevator. A sociopathic grin ran from ear to ear. He was no longer a police officer sworn to protect and serve. He was no longer human; he was an animal poisoned by his own selfish desires.

Kevin sat glued to the couch for what seemed like an eternity. His brain raced trying to figure out what just happened. He came to the realization that he had to get out of the city. Then he thought of his girlfriend, Annie. “Where was she,” he thought. He looked at his phone, but it still had no service. He had to find her.

He watched from his window as the cop put all his belongings in the cop car. Once the cop car left his sight, Kevin dressed, picked up his car keys, grabbed his pistol and ammo under his bed, and left out the front door. He cautiously walked to his car in the parking lot. Each step emanated a crunching sound from the glass on the street. He found his car. Like all the other cars in the parking lot, his 1998 Ford Taurus had all its windows smashed in. Glass was everywhere inside the cabin; it was in every possible crevasse. He tried to remove as much as he could but figured he was vulnerable on the street. Someone had tried to jumpstart his car to no avail; wiring dangled underneath the steering wheel. He started the car and slowly left the parking lot leaving tire marks in broken glass.

He assumed Annie was at work on the north side of town. She was a server at an upscale brunch type restaurant. That day she most likely had to open the restaurant, which opened very early: 6am. He decided he would head there first. In the distance, he heard the engine of a sports car speeding off and uneasily shifting gears. He heard the din of car horns and the piercing sound of distant car alarms. Despite this, there were very few cars and people on the streets. He came to stop light and sat in his Taurus, observing the scene.

Just like the area close to his apartment, nearly all the shops and stores had their windows smashed. In front of the stores lay bodies in pools of their own blood. Suddenly, an SUV (a Tahoe to be more specific), roared around the street corner and sped past him entering the intersection without a second thought. As the Tahoe passed, he saw the driver’s face—it was the look of a crazed man. He looked high on some kind of stimulant. His eyes were popping out of his skull and he was sitting forward, right next to the steering wheel bouncing slightly. The man slammed on the brakes in the intersection and the white reverse lights on his Tahoe flickered on. The seemingly drug-crazed man was coming for him. He wanted whatever Kevin had to take. He didn’t know what Kevin had, but he knew that he wanted something and he was going to take it.

The Tahoe started to reverse when it was T-boned by a Hummer heading the opposite way. Glass exploded from the collision, showering the intersection like confetti. The Tahoe spun and slowly tipped over. The Hummer stayed upright. A teenager left the Hummer wielding an aluminum baseball bat. He eyed Kevin, deciphering a plan of attack and approached the Tahoe. Meanwhile, the man in the Tahoe crawled out of the passenger side window. The man was halfway out of the vehicle when the teenager swung the bat at his head. The sweet spot of the bat bashed in the side of his temple. There was a ping sound as if hitting a line drive in little league. A few squirts of blood shot out of the man’s head like a spray bottle. It then turned into a slow drip like a leaky faucet. The man was dead. Without hesitation, the teenager rummaged through the Tahoe’s backseat looking for whatever goodies he could find. He grabbed a tub of half-melted ice cream, shoveled a handful into his mouth and tossed it into the passenger side of the Hummer.

Kevin was shocked but beyond the “frozen in cement” phase. He put his car in reverse and slammed on the gas pedal sending his car backwards and out of the situation as quickly as possible. The teenager glared as Kevin left. Then the teenager retrieved his bloody bat and continued combing through the Tahoe for other trinkets. Kevin did a three-point turn around, and headed the other direction. He then drove up a perpendicular street, avoiding the intersection. “That boy just killed a man for melted ice cream,” he thought.
He snapped back to his original goal: find Annie and get the hell out of the city. He sped through the streets running red lights when possible and safe. He didn’t want to stop knowing that other SUVs and Hummers were on the streets. He didn’t want to imagine what else was out there. They would surely see him as prey and easy pickings. Finally, he made it to Annie’s work.

He saw her car parked in front of the building so she assumed she must be somewhere inside. He made his way into the restaurant clutching the pistol in his right hand, ready to fire at anybody. There were dead bodies strewn across the inside of the restaurant. Some of them looked like staff, and some of them customers. He saw one of Annie’s coworkers, Jeffery lying face down in blood. He had met Jeffery when seeing Annie on her lunch breaks. He knew Jeffery liked Annie, but Kevin always played it cool. For a second he thought, “good riddance, prick” but was sickened by the idea of being happy for another man’s death.

The bar was emptied of all the liquor and the bartender was lying behind the bar, bloodied and beaten. He checked every dead corpse in the restaurant in fear that one of them would be his lover. After a thorough investigation, he could not find Annie anywhere in the dining area. With his pistol raised, he entered the kitchen to find a similar scene of death and bloodshed. He finally gained the courage to yell, “Annie?” Nobody answered.

He yelled out once more, “Annie?” He heard movement from the manager’s office. He pointed his gun at the entrance.

A shrill voice said, “Kevin, is that you?”

It was Annie, she opened the manager’s office and walked out to greet her boyfriend. She was carrying a pistol of her own and her server uniform was covered in blood. He rushed towards her and embraced her in a hug. Tears streamed down her face. “Baby, it’s horrible,” she shouted. “I was opening for work and this guy, you know him, Jeffrey, he…he tried to rape me.”

“Oh my God, are you Ok?”

“I maced him. Then it was like…all hell broke out. I was in the kitchen and I heard gunshots in the dining room and then I heard screams. Then I heard more shots.”

We saw it on the news before everything went dark. It is in the water; there is something in the water, it’s like a terrorist attack or something with the government. Nobody knows how it started. It’s making everybody…go crazy. It’s like something is just shut off inside them. No laws, no norms, no morals, no decency; they kill, they rape, they steal.”

“I know, I saw it, a police officer robbed me, I’ll tell you later,” said Kevin.

“They don’t care about anything or anybody, just themselves,” sobbed Annie. “You haven’t drunk any water yet have you?”

“No, I haven’t,” reassured Kevin.

Kevin placed his pistol on the blood stained kitchen workspace. He grabbed her and gave her a passionate embrace.

“I’m so glad you’re OK, we need to leave,” he said.

He leaned in and kissed her soft lips. Her breath smelled of alcohol. Her lips were cold and loveless. Her hug seemed fake and empty. He looked behind her into the manager’s office. The office was littered with incredibly expensive wines, liquors, deserts and everything anyone could ever desire. He then felt the cold barrel of a pistol on his forehead. He slowly moved his head and saw his beloved Annie holding a pistol to his head.

“What are you doing? Annie, wait… I love you.”

“Huh, that’s nice” she snorted.

“Wait, he cried.”

Kevin’s body fell lifeless to the floor, like a sack of potatoes. His body made a loud “thud.” She hummed a tune, took Kevin’s gun and ammo and headed back into the manager’s office to gorge herself. For that fleeting moment, she won. She had everything she could ever desire, all to herself. The moment quickly passed and she needed more. She put Kevin’s gun and ammo, the expensive bottles in a bag and took Kevin’s car to find more desired things. Their lives were solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Original Author:

20 Comments on 'The State of Nature'

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  • Commented on August 28, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    The concept of this idea was very good, and I only wished there was more put in to compliment the the concept. If you have anymore things in mind for this story, I don’t think anyone would mind if you wrote more.

    The only problems I saw were mainly things that I personally see as bad but aren’t entirely. Mentioning a zombie movie is nice and meta, but it tends to cause people to not take the story seriously. So that kind of remark is not good to have unless you are going for a comedic route. Also, there is no problem with similes, but I always get annoyed when I see two sentences like that side by side. I try to give out a rule of thumb that is “always keep metaphors separated by at least 1 full sentence. Again, not an exact rule, but it makes the paragraphs look better.

    So all in all, a great pasta. 4/5 bro.

  • cheyenne
    Commented on September 3, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Annie’s got a gun..

  • Commented on August 28, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Really fun idea, and I would have enjoyed seeing how more characters would have reacted to the circumstances/changing agent.

    The similes are a little funky though. It’s pretty easy for me to imagine how a dead body falls. I can also pretty clearly see how a sack of potatoes fall. They don’t seem the same, unless this guy’s body falls and then settles in potato-sized chunks. If that’s the case, I’m pretty sure he has as many tumors as a potato has tubers.

    Blood squirting like a spray bottle is another interesting one. I had to pull out a bottle of Windex to check that simile. Still slightly unsettled, especially if we’re talking about a spray bottle set to spray and not stream.

    Oh similies…they’re like a bag of turnips in a nozzle.

  • Commented on September 4, 2015 at 1:27 am

    I quite enjoyed this pasta, the zombie apocalypse theme is one of my favorites. I really like how you included lots of detail, vague stories are something I can’t stand. The similes were a little odd, but I think the rest of the story makes up for that. I give it a solid 4/5 :)

  • Bill
    Commented on September 10, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Looks like a refrence to Hobbe’s leviathan. Especially the ending quote “their lives were solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

  • Commented on September 7, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I like the story 10/10

  • Commented on September 8, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Very good pasta I like the unique concept and I feel like you disclosed just enough about the disease to make it interesting and make sense. One thing that totally threw it off for me was the “wait he cried” all in quotation marks. For such a dramatic, stand-alone moment I’m surprised you missed that in editing. Otherwise everything was written and well-established, the ending was maybe just a little bit expected. 4/5

  • Commented on August 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I love this. Great concept!

  • Commented on September 15, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    honestly I was shocked that Annie did that my whole mind was…just wow

  • Bess
    Commented on November 17, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Hilarious! It wasn’t until I got to the Hobbes’ quote at the end that I understood the title… Loved your take on social contract theory

  • Commented on December 6, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Thanks for reading, folks! I’ll address some individual comments below.
    @Bill and Bess…Yes, I’m so glad you got it!
    @LilypadsandElephants and others…In hindsight, this piece certainly needed more editing before submission. I apologize for not doing more.
    @BlakeDatch…I appreciate your advice.
    @millieredbird, Erwinblackthorn and a few others…I like to keep my pastas short and sweet. However, I do see your point so maybe I’ll consider more depth and background if I decide to build on this concept.

  • Commented on August 31, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    0_0 WTH ANNIE WHY DID U DO THAT?! This story is brutal….

  • Commented on September 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I really liked the story and everything that was going on. I feel like the only things that have to be fixed is punctuation and a couple other small things. And the story could have gone on longer if you wanted too and honestly the ending wasn’t the best of endings but it was great after all.


  • Commented on September 6, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Very nicely done, for a short piece. I imagine this cool concept would benefit from additional plot expansion and character development. I found that the few technical issues and over-used phrases didn’t bother me too much while reading, since I was so into the story. Thanks for writing.

  • Sophrosunyx
    Commented on September 12, 2015 at 1:58 am

    It’s a great concept but the writing and ending are just awkward. I think the same ending would be okay even, if the story had more elaboration or was longer. Without a build up, the betrayal means jack.

    The whole being in the water and having him take a shower kinda bothers me. People generally don’t drink their fill while bathing, but a lot of people don’t drink much tap water period. So how potent is this drug, does it have to be injested orally, etc.

    Again, great concept but the story just falls flat for me.

  • roguewitch71
    Commented on September 20, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    @ cheyenne-…her dog day’s just begun…(yeah i know it’s “janie’s got a gun” by aerosmith

  • Commented on October 18, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I really wish there was more to it! The Pasta was great though and I really want to read more

  • Commented on December 2, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    I love this concept. I’d like to see it developed more in future stories, perhaps other people living through this apocalypse. I would absolutely read a sequel!

  • Commented on September 4, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I feel the biggest problem was that the story was just too short to really get where it was intended to go.
    Not enough depth or detail

  • Commented on September 4, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I enjoyed it but felt it was just HERE HAVE SOME ACTION and no depth. No true descriptions. No punctuation, either. It was very ammature.

    Needs improving but the idea was good.

    4/10, sorry to be a harsh critic!!

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