February 14, 2024 –12:00 AM
Here in my cool, concrete cocoon, marking the days on the wall with pink chalk is the only way to mark time now that the power’s out — Happy Valentine’s Day!
My name is Placido Sanchez, and I’m sitting hunched over a rickety card table in the basement of my modest house, scribbling this in a dog-eared notebook with a pencil, squinting as I write by the dim glow of a kerosene lantern, purchased from the mall.
Ravenous, I surrender to a voracious hunger, a need to feel full, under a guise of normality. There’s comfort in routine, no matter how mundane; at first, I devoured perishable food — milk, ice cream, cold cuts, cheese, fruit, and vegetables — stored in the freezer, running on a propane-powered backup generator that lasted a mere 72 hours, before switching to canned and freeze-dried provisions, my last resort after the bombing that obliterated my family and everything else. I’d been reduced to eating tasteless, canned food that had been sitting untouched for months, on the verge of rotting, scarcely fit for human consumption, but a source of sustenance, nonetheless.
I can’t bear another can of bland, baked beans; my stomach growls loudly in protest. I yearn to taste fresh meat. I lick my lips in anticipation and sigh. I kick the last unopened can across the floor. It lands with a loud, hollow clang against the massive pile of empty cans, bottles, and boxes that are strewn in the corner.
Julia’s remains are a perfect distraction from the incessant boredom that plagues me, a bountiful feast to engage my senses. I had been consumed by her passion long ago. Now, my beloved Julia would be consumed by my insatiable hunger. She would have wanted it that way; it would bring us together again, body and soul.
With a heavy heart, I slice pale, pink meat into thin, translucent strips with a knife, also from the mall.
My tears run down Julia’s cheeks as I set them down on a dish of fine bone china. I chew each morsel slowly, relishing the poignant flavor of my meal — fresh off the bone. My wife’s thighs contain the sweetest meat I’ve ever tasted.
I shove the dish that Julia never got to see aside and wipe my sweaty hands on my tattered jeans. I already devoured the succulent meat on her rump, arms…