Chapter 5 Part 7
They spent the night in the house catty-corner to Dell’s new maison. Panda thought it was perfect for her. Smaller than Dell’s choice, it was a single story Ranch with all the amenities. It had raised garden beds in the back, a full pool and Jacuzzi under a gazebo, and several citrus trees at the far end of the property. It, too, was gas powered and was furnished in simple, elegant style. Even the color palette was not offensive. It was done in teals and taupe. Let Dell furnish her empty home to her heart’s delight. Panda was going to be very content to stay in this house and change nothing.
The first thing she did was grab the broom and sweep away the prior resident. Something about occupying a home with the dusted remains, jewelry and shoes of the former occupant in a pile in the driveway was just too weird by any stretch! Later she would go through the closets and get rid of whatever was personal like framed photos and the clutter of someone else’s life.
Best of all was a deep freeze in the garage that was fully stocked with free range beef and chicken. Whoever owned this home was as ‘green’ as possible. Panda felt a huge surge of relief: for once things were going to be handled for her. She really did not need to do any prep work to make this house into her idea of a home. She could imagine herself living here pretty much as-is for many years to come.
She found two good steaks in the fridge and lots of fresh veggies and a bag of salad. They had a simple dinner of steak and veggies grilled on the Weber Genesis she found on the back patio. Dell had discovered the wine cellar portion of the pantry and had selected a very nice Sonoma red for dinner. They both showered and then wore some of the clothes that Dell had shopped for that were still in bags in the back of her Cayenne. You could still catch a faint whiff of death in your nostrils that Panda hoped would fade over time.
A married couple had lived here. She could tell that it was the wife who had been home that morning. The husband was no doubt blowing in the wind outside a downtown office building. Together she and Dell loaded their arms with the clothing, shoes, and belts from the man’s closet. She didn’t feel right about going through another woman’s clothes so she loaded up all the wife’s things as well.
She actually had no idea what to do with the stuff. Burn it? She opted for shoving it all in her truck and dropping it into a Salvation Army donation box at the shopping plaza up the street.
Utterly insane, but nothing else occurred to her. She knew they were going to have to think about garbage management. A burn barrel was going to be a must. They would both have to make sure they thoroughly rinsed all cans and bottles to avoid that awful junkyard smell. They could just start a pile in the alley for that kind of thing. And a mulch pile for the garden.
But for the first night in her new home at least, she was content to sit in chaise lounges with Dell and enjoy a bottle of wine.
Dell said, “How many people were there? I mean, what was the population of the earth?”
Panda replied, “7 BILLION last year.”
“Wow.” Dell said. “How much do you think that weighs? I mean, 7 billion people must weigh like 4000 tons or something.”
“At an average of 100 lbs per person, actually...that’s 700 BILLION POUNDS.” freaked Panda.
“Just like that. GONE. 700 billion pounds of people.” Dell said with awe.
“That means the earth is 700 billion pounds lighter in an instant.” mused Panda. “I wonder if it will cause earthquakes just from the relief of pressure on the Tectonic Plates.”
Dell ignored the remark about the German pottery or whatever but pondered the sheer volume of weight loss for a bit and then quipped, “Someone should call Jenny Craig!”
*** Day 4
First thing in the morning they had eggs and bacon and then hopped into Dell’s truck to go to IKEA. Panda had gotten the house keys from the woman’s purse and locked the front door when they left. She knew that was probably kind of silly but already the house felt like hers, and she wanted to keep it safe. There might be marauders some day. She didn’t think it likely that whoever had emptied the zoo would target them specifically—considering he or she could find them in this giant empty city—but she didn’t want to take the chance of leaving it unlocked. Old habits die hard.
Later she would move her computer, clothing and personal treasures over from her old place. For now, they were on a mission to furnish Dell’s in the full IKEA style. What FUN!!!
IKEA was in West Sac adjacent to a Super Walmart. Dell made a mental note to never set foot into a Walmart again as long as she lived. She wasn’t going to need to be shopping for bargains anytime soon. They drove right past it and swung around to the front of the IKEA.
As they pulled right up to the front door and parked, a Delta Breeze stirred up the ash of about 80 people and for a moment they were blinded by a choking dust. In a city of 3 million piles of dust, the Delta Breezes were going to be a serious problem. The bottom of a bowl in a deep valley, Sacramento was notorious for trapping air and smog in the hot summer months. When there were wildfires in the surrounding areas, your skin and eyes could burn for a week. Burnt human was going to blow and blow and cover everything in grit and grime for years to come. After the stench of just one rotten human body, Del thought she could learn to live with grime and soot in the air.
Peering up at the glass fronted restaurant that overlooked the parking lot of the two story building, Dell saw something that made her gasp and give a little scream of astonishment.
Panda looked up and saw what Dell was seeing.
There, standing in the window jumping up and down and waving at them with both hands, was a little girl.