The day had seemed just like any other. He'd gone to work, wished he was anywhere else, and left as soon as he could. He wasn't in any hurry to get anywhere specific, he just hated his job. It was understandable, after all, his job was boring. So he left as soon as he could and he started driving.

He wasn't in any hurry to get home. He wasn't in any hurry to get screamed at. She would probably be drunk by now, and walking in to that was too difficult straight from work, so he just drove. Things had gotten worse lately, and he was spending more and more time just driving.

He never went anywhere important, he didn't even usually go to the same places. He just wanted to be behind the wheel. Driving around, with the windows down, it was the only time he really felt like he was at peace. He could just listen to the sounds of the city, and feel the cool evening breeze in his hair, and sometimes he'd end up home before dark, and sometimes he wouldn't. It didn't really matter, she wouldn't notice either way.

So he drove. After a while, he turned left. A little later, right. It didn't matter. He wasn't going anywhere, he was already where he wanted to be. Eventually he'd give up and go home, maybe she'd still be awake and maybe not, but for now, he just wanted to drive.

So it wasn't really all that unusual for him to end up in a part of town he hadn't been to before. It wasn't a big city, but it wasn't a small one anymore either, and sometimes he ended up in neighborhoods he didn't recognize. He just kept driving.

The people in their yards here didn't look any different from the people in the parts of the city he was familiar with. On the porch of one house he saw an old fat woman sitting on a porch swing, slowly rocking back and forth. In the yard of a small blue house he saw two small boys chasing each other in circles. For a minute, he smiled, but then he was past them and the feeling faded.

It was like that a lot lately. He'd think of something, and after a moment or two, the feeling would fade away. He was aware of it of course, it wasn't anything to be concerned about, it was just the way things were. Ever since the plague had come, lots of people had that kind of problem, it wasn't anything unusual. It didn't interfere with his work, and it didn't make his home life any easier, so he figured it was a push.

He turned his truck onto a road he was familiar with, one he'd driven down many times before, and decided that maybe it was time to head home. Maybe he should pick up some dinner on the way, she certainly wouldn't be in any condition to have anything ready when he got there.

He didn't blame her. It was the same everywhere. Things were different now. People had lost themselves. Even when he got upset about it, the feeling faded fast enough. It was just the way she was now. He could stop her from getting the alcohol, but who was he to begrudge her that? She wasn't hurting herself, and not everyone could handle things like he was. Not everyone had the same things to handle. If it made life a little easier on her, well, what sacrifice it if it made life a little harder on him?

Still, it was late by the time he drove home, and the food he brought with him was cold when he put it in the fridge. It wouldn't have mattered, she was already asleep, so it would have been cold before she ate any of it anyway. Luckily, it seemed like she had spent most of the day in bed, so he didn't have to carry her this time. He tucked her in, and decided to go back downstairs.

He made his rounds, just like every night, checking the doors and windows, and locking up the animals. Finally, he stood at the foot of the stairs, with the bedroom above him, and the front door to the house behind, with his hand on the light switch. He didn't stare at anything in particular, he just stood there, and after a few moments he nodded his head, and turned off the light.

As he pulled the truck back out of the driveway he rolled down the windows. It was important that he feel the wind in his hair. The feeling might fade, but as long as he kept the wind blowing through, he was able to hold on to that sensation. So he rolled down the windows and he rolled down the street, and the wind blew in his hair.

He thought about turning the radio on, but he just wanted to listen to the wind and the silence, so he kept it off and rolled on. He passed small houses, and restaurants, dark storefronts, and empty parks, and he kept driving.

It wasn't long before he reached the edge of the city. He hadn't left the city in four years, but tonight seemed like a special kind of night, and he didn't even slow down as he drove past the sign. He didn't have to look up to know what it said. Everyone knew what the signs said.

Unincorporated Area Ahead. No Patrols. Do Not Enter Without Sufficient Petrol And Supplies.

He didn't have either, but he didn't plan to be out long, so he wasn't concerned. Besides, out there, he could get up some real speed. Then he'd really feel the wind in his hair.

The highway had been something special once. The kind of thing that kept a country alive, like veins filled with travelers. Four years, a little more, and the highway had fallen a long way.

The billboards were discolored and faded, he couldn't even tell if they advertised restaurants or rest stops. In places where there had once been rails on the sides of the road, there was wild growth, like nature had slowly begun to invade what man had left behind. The roads themselves were still straight and level, nature wasn't strong enough to undo that yet, so he hit the gas.

He wasn't planning to be out long, but he wasn't in any hurry to get back, and since so few people used the highways between cities anymore, there wasn't any traffic to slow him down. He went faster and faster, and the wind whipped through the cab of his truck. The little calendar he'd stuck to the glove box began to dance. The plastic bag in the back seat holding the clothes he still hadn't dropped off at the dry cleaners crackled and snapped in the wind.

He drove faster.

The food wrappers he'd left in the floor of the car got picked up by the breeze and blew around for a minute before getting sucked out the window.

He drove faster.

His hair whipped around and tears streamed from his eyes. It was almost too cold now, with the crisp night air blowing through the windows, but the feeling didn't abate, and so he drove faster.

That's when he remembered.

He had just gotten home from work. He was so proud of what he did for a living, every day, he'd go in and find ways to help people. It was the kind of work a man could be proud of. He'd just gotten home, and he walked in and found his wife lying on the floor in the living room. He wasn't frightened, not right away, because he was sure that nothing bad would happen to them. They were happy together, and he was proud. Not the kind of pride that brings men down. The kind of pride that lifts them up.

So he wasn't frightened, because he didn't have any reason to be. But then he called out to her, and she didn't answer. He shook her, but she didn't wake. That was when he first felt fear. He remembered then. The feeling. He tried to call an ambulance, but the phone was busy, so he put her in the car himself.

On the way to the hospital, he knew something was wrong. There were people everywhere. Car accidents, and traffic jams. People on foot, with tears in the eyes. Something was wrong. He tried to call their parents, but they didn't answer. He tried to turn on the radio but all he could find was music, no news. Something was wrong.

They did eventually figure out what it was. They found a cause. They found a cure. But not fast enough for his wife, his parents, or her father. So in the end, he'd moved in with his mother in law, and he quit feeling, because feelings hurt, and she'd started drinking. Helping people didn't seem right anymore, so he got a boring job to pay the bills, and his days were reduced to working, tucking her into bed at night, and those brief periods of time in between when he was driving.

People had been too frightened to leave their places of comfort for a long time after that, and by the time they did, people didn't travel from city to city much anymore. Things were different now, the highways were the smallest part of it. People had lost themselves. Even those who survived the plague didn't all survive the years that followed. Life was back to normal, but people weren't, and so while children played, adults sat, and slowly rocked back and forth.

Eventually he did make it back into the city. He didn't run out of petrol, and he didn't need supplies. He just headed home, and pulled his truck back into the driveway.

After he turned off the engine, he sat their for a minute, thinking about his wife. She had been so beautiful. He had been so proud. Perhaps it was the wrong kind of pride after all. For a moment, his lip curled into a grimace. New tears began to well up in his eyes.

But after a moment, just a moment, the feeling faded, and he headed inside for the night.