Toby slipped on the thick leather jacket. He flipped up the collar to shield his neck and cheeks. Next came a second pair of jeans, buckling them over the tails of the jacket. Gloves and construction boots were necessary. He looked out the window as he donned the ski mask. He watched the undead shuffling on the street corners before flipping goggles to protect his eyes.
He couldn’t risk getting a speck on him. He was the last man who could do the job.
He followed the undead through the windows of his house. Two windows on the west wall, then the one next to the porch. Four of his former neighbors shambled along the driveways. Their eyes were blind, noses turned up to sniff. Maybe they could smell him. Or maybe they smelled Mr. Tibbs.
Scuffling rose behind him. Toby whirled and saw the basement door shake. He rushed over to it, but the button was depressed. It was locked. He heard his sister – his former sister – groaning down there.
He frowned at her through the door. She couldn’t do this job anymore.
“I’ll take care of it,” he told her. “Even though you know I never wanted it here. Do you know how dangerous it is?”
The deck door slid open quietly. There was a little whoosh of air, and then the saddest sound left on earth. A keening, churning whine. As much as he hated these things, it made even him feel a little sorry.
It padded around the plastic deck furniture. It arched its spine, so that when it walked between their legs it would rub its sides. Mr. Tibbs was a self-petter, but that wasn’t enough affection. Even self-rubbing, it looked so damned pathetic.
Toby drew a plastic sheet from the living room and closed the door. No sense in letting dander get inside. This was going to be an allergic nightmare as it was.
“I don’t like you any more than you like me,” he said down to it. It didn’t seem to dislike him, but cats lied with their faces. “This just doesn’t feel right. And you're not eating the food I throw out here. What's wrong?”
When Toby didn’t immediately pet the little bastard, it keened again. It sounded almost human. Kickably human. The kind of humanoid sorrow that’d haunted him up in his safely boarded study the last three days. His wonderful, hypoallergenic study with the view of the wonderfully silent, dander-free undead.
The plastic chair creaked as he squatted into it. He laid the plastic sheet over his chest and lap, hands flattening it into place over his jacket. When it was ready, he patted his thigh. Mr Tibbs quirked its wretched head, then began to climb into the last lap on earth. Even now, there was a little affection left in the world. But only a little. He’d kill the bastard if it got any hair on him.
Dedicated to Marshall, the cat that inspired this piece. Rest in peace, little guy.