Boone Dawson’s motorcycle rolled to a stop. He turned off the engine and gazed at the crooked sign in front of him. It had once belonged to a suburban shopping center. Now, it was covered in spray-painted letters.
“Hope City,” Boone read in a low voice. “What kind of fucking moron names their town Hope City?” Shaking his head, Boone turned the bike back on and maneuvered it carefully through an obstacle course of rubble. Twisted shards of metal, power poles, and old wooden planks littered the streets.
As Boone’s bike crawled it way toward the center of town, he spotted people huddled close together around small fires. Their clothes were ragged and covered in dirt. Their faces were devoid of hope. But all Boone cared about was what they were holding in their hands. He hadn’t eaten in days, and these people had no doubt found food among the rubble of this old Midwestern suburb.
The savory smell of canned meat filled Boone’s nostrils. He smiled. Canned meat. Boone hadn’t eaten canned meat in more than a year. Salivating, he dismounted from his bike and stepped deliberately toward the group. Rocks crunched beneath his heavy boots.
Memories of Sunday dinners at his grandparents' home flooded back. Potted meat food product. Pickled pig lips. Spam, of course. And on special occasions, pork brains in milk gravy.
To his surprise, the others welcomed him openly. Perhaps they recognized a kindred spirit; or safety in numbers. Boone joined them -- the six men and three women -- and crouched in front of the fire.
Gratefully, he took the offered portion, served up in the can that had kept it fresh for decades, and spooned some into his mouth. Moments later, he was retching the vile-tasting sludge onto the ground.
He couldn't understand how the others were enjoying this foul concoction, until he looked at the can.
Preferred by nine out of ten post-apocalyptic survivors.
Opening: Ryan Mueller.....Continuation: anon.