Reggie Koch stopped pedaling and coasted down the small incline in the road that led down to the docks. He sat up in the bike’s saddle and lit a cigarette with both hands, one holding the lighter, the other keeping the wind from blowing it out. He was always doing crazy crap like that, riding with no hands, driving cars with busted brakes. He laughed at his own recklessness. But hey, who gives? Everybody’s gotta die someday, right?
When he got down to the docks, it was empty. Not surprising. Few people braved the east coast anymore since 9/11, let alone Bayonne, Jersey. Plus it was the weekend, so even more likely that no one would be here. He got off the bike and leaned it against some crates. He tried not to make any noise. He knew there could be some cops around, the good ones anyway, the ones who tried to keep some order. Pitiful idiots, really. Why bother? This place was a dump. Anyone dumb enough to live here deserved anything that came to them.
He was doing it again. He kept trying not to look at the city. The city. It freaked him out every time, and every time he came back here he swore he wasn’t going to look again. But Reggie was looking, out of the corner of his eye. That small crazy part of him wanted to get a glimpse again. With a sigh of frustration at himself, he turned fully to look.
Nothing had changed. The ruined skyline, the complete darkness of the city, it was so weird. Like a ghost town — no, ghost city? Was that even a word? He remembered what it all used to look like when he was a kid, the Twin Towers, the Statue of Liberty, and all the other buildings he didn’t know the names of, all gone. Flattened by some nutso jihadis flying airplanes into the city with a nuke in their carry-on. Millions dead.
“For Allah,” they said.
Yeah, right. What the hell happened to the world?
Thoroughly creeped out once again, Reggie shook his head and rubbed his face with his hands, as if that would wipe away the image. He pulled out his phone and checked the time – 2:37 am. He caught a glimpse of the date just before shutting it off – October 20, 2016.
“Huh,” Reggie said out loud. “Totally forgot it’s my birthday tomorrow.” He put his phone back in his pocket. “I don’t feel twenty-two, I feel fifty-two.”
“It’s the radiation, idiot,” said a voice behind him.
Reggie rolled his eyes. Here’s Johnny.
(The word prompt today was “Weekend.”)