The day was like most, hot, humid and crawling with the bugs. They seemed to layer everything including the cars long abandoned. The yard was bare, eaten to the root. What wasn’t burnt well, I guess everything was damn near burnt. If anything started to grow you would have to act quickly to get to it. Martha didn’t have the energy nor the desire to race against the locusts or whatever people were calling them now. Lethargic and apathetic, she stayed within the relative safety of the farmhouse. A fan was blowing directly on her while she lay on the couch, she wore as little clothing as possible it was sweltering. A loose white t-shirt and Bob’s boxers was her daily outfit. Both were stained with sweat and salve. The thick brown salve stained everything it came in contact with, but it helped to sooth the bites.
The air conditioning was long since out of commission, the fan was the only source of air flow. Martha didn’t, no couldn’t open the windows, she would let the bugs in again. She made that mistake a few days ago, that was why she was laid up on the couch. Roughly two-hundred bites on her legs and arms had made her swell, she could barely walk. Bob had pumped her full of antihistamine. Her arms and legs were returning to their normal size finally. She had barely the strength to waddle to the bathroom or grab something to eat. Bob had left a cooler by the couch with water and coke. It seemed he did care for her a little after all.
A rumbling sound outside alerted Martha to the time. Six o’clock, Bob’s rounds were done. She swung her legs down onto the floor hoping for some momentum, but didn’t get any. She struggled to stand, he would be angry if she was still laying in the same place he had left her. Moving around would help her recover, but she was in a mood. Right now she didn’t give a shit if she ever got up off this couch again, but she didn’t want an earful from him. She saw him lumber out of the truck with his gun. She could feel the heat coming from the flame gun. Bob was careful to not get too close to the house, but he needed to clear a path. It would allow him to get inside with minimal scooting past.
Martha could see the tree catch on fire briefly then the door slammed. The sprinklers came on full stream and the flames were extinguished. Steam rose off the branches, there were a few bright embers still visible, but the sensors would catch them if they flared up again.
“Martha! Bring me the damn spray!”
Martha grabbed the bottle, it was too heavy for her in the state she was in.
She pushed it on her hands and knees. Bob grabbed it like it weighed little to nothing. He sprayed the walls and the floor, hitting every one of the little bastards with the aim of a sniper.
Bob put the bottle back where Martha got it, his boots and overalls came off and went on the hook by the door.
“How are you feelin’?” Bob stood in the doorway of the kitchen in his ratty boxers and white tank. Martha was sitting at the table, her face white and covered in perspiration.
“Getting better slowly What about you?”
“Much like every other day. Hot, dirty and disgusting.” He kneeled in front of her. “Let’s take a look at those bites.”
His big hands inspected her wounds. His rough callouses scraped at the delicate skin. Martha tried not to wince; he was trying to be gentle. It was rare that she received this much attention from Bob. She didn’t want to do anything that would stop him from touching her.
“They’re healing well. Let me see your arm.” He grumbled. “These need some more salve. We have some?”
“Yeah. I’ll go get it.” She tried to get up, but her legs shook and she fell back onto the kitchen chair.
“Nope, stay here.”
He groaned, his knees cracked as he straightened up.