The story opens with an image of him wandering through the empty aisles of an office supply store. He was searching for the letter-sized printer paper. While he didn’t own a printer—there was no electricity at his cottage—he preferred to write on something substantial. High-quality printer paper always felt more resilient than the paper of his neglected leather-bound journal.
While browsing, he happened across a section devoted to fine-point permanent marker pens. There was a notebook and one pen of each brand set aside for testing. He flipped through a few pages of neatly printed names, scribbled signatures, and lines of varying weight and direction before deciding to pick one up. For his purposes, the most important quality of a pen was how much it bled through paper. He liked to practice blackout poetry. He liked working from the extant rather than starting with nothing. He enjoyed working with obscure novels, the kind you’d find in a rundown thrift store. But they often had cheap, thin paper and he didn’t like having to choose between one side of a page and the other. Once he’d gathered his supplies, he’d journey home to his cottage. It was not all that far away, but very much secluded. It had a long driveway, unpaved and surrounded by trees. To him it seemed to constrict much like the muscles of one’s esophagus as he moved nearer and nearer to the front door. He was living in the postscript of an apocalypse, though he wasn’t sure if the entire world had come to an end, or just his.