He had a regular heart, not broken. Whole. Left untouched since birth, Carlo’s heart pumped more than blood through his veins. Whenever he left the house – those rare occasions when survival meant sacrifice, as it often does – Carlo’s skin pulsed a sickly red, the dawn of a new day reflected off his body as if he were the sun, and the world around him the entire galaxy.
Carlo’s brief encounters with life outside meant that he had to train himself to breathe. One, two, three, inhale. One, two, three, exhale. A simple process, but for Carlo, breathing was the most difficult task. His lungs were pure, like his heart, and his throat untainted by pollution, untarnished by anything except the oxygen recycled and pumped through his fortress.
It was a great fortress, and mighty, a home which withstood tornados and thunderstorms, and once even a hurricane which ravaged the rest of the Eastern Seaboard. Carlo’s Castle, as it had become known to any who were left living (Carlo), was home to three creatures, one of whom was our great hero. Beside him at night slept a ferocious skunk – whose smell did not effect its owner’s senses – and down the hall slept a girl, no older than seven, who fell asleep long ago, and sleeps through this day. But for the warm exhalation of breath every few moments, one would assume that she had passed on from this life into the next.
But Carlo was not so pessimistic, and it was indeed this very girl who drove Carlo out into the world once a month. He cherished his monthly missions to retrieve water, and oxygen, and the medical supplies necessary to pump through his daughter’s veins, so that she could live and thrive even if she would never be aware that Carlo was a hero to her life. She would hopefully awaken one day, fresh, anew, and full of zest for a life she would never know fully, or understand completely.
For now, Carlo held his breath. He knew he had limited time before the haze which surrounded his fortress, his castle, would invade his system and take over forever, not allowing his blood to pump through his veins a moment longer. He often wondered just how many others were out there, breathing, bleeding themselves, but knew deep down that he was alone.
Carlo stumbled into the local clinic, plucking out the necessary supplies from the cabinet. He would soon have to move on to the next town, as this location was beginning to look sparse. The emptiness of the halls, the beds, and the little closets like this one left a cold rock of senselessness within him, something he did not enjoy feeling.
But for now, his daughter would sleep peacefully for one more month.