The Elder bugs tasted the best, Itchy thought. When you couldn’t get crickets, that is. Toasting them like so many pine nuts in his banged up aluminum frypan, he fancied he could hear little screams as their legs shriveled and they made popping noises under the lid. Their chitinous wing cases sometimes got lodged between his teeth, like so many popcorn hulls. But the flavor, crunchy and al dente, kept him going. A steady protein supply, and plentiful in this time and place.
He didn’t know his own name anymore, just the things that people called him. The name Itchy stuck, ’cause all he ever did after the flash was scratch. Lots of nasty scabs he had. When they got nice and hard, he picked and peeled them, just like normal people used to peel the diaphanous skin from their sunburns. Put ’em in his pocket. Save ’em for later, for the desperate times.
Normal people were hard to find now. He had fallen in with a group of wanderers, on a time. They had welcomed him in, and had given him his benediction. But, boy, they all got real sick after a while, getting blue and bloated, with cracks and open sores. He thought he would get it too, and so he ran. Collected useful items along the way, things that seemed to have rained haphazardly out of the sky. A wavy-edged lid from an aluminum can was his knife. A curved lens from someone’s pepsi bottle spectacles served as his fire starter. The pot and lid from a collapsed cabin. Leather shoes, still smoking a bit, and a little too small.
He tried remembering how old he was, but he had no reference point. Further and further he got from the old city, and he began to find houses still standing, country type homes isolated on backroads or in the bush. In one of these, he found some good tools that he could carry, and, as he was taking his leave, he spotted a calendar hanging on the kitchen wall.
In the month of July, 2027, someone had circled the 3rd, and penciled in Bad news today. This might be it for us.