"Bert? Are you awake, Bert?" He lay there for several minutes in silence, listening. The bedside lamp flickered into life. Ernie stared at the space where Bert should have been.
"Bert?" called Ernie anxiously. "Bert, are you there?" He climbed out of bed slowly, his mind racing. He'd never woken up without Bert beside him. The comfortable feeling he usually garnered from his friend's presence slowly drained away from him. He pulled on his dressing gown and tiptoed towards the bathroom.
The shaving light in the bathroom was on. "Oh silly Bert, you're so forgetful" he said out loud. He turned towards the combination bath and shower. The curtain was pulled shut. Horrific thoughts flashed across his mind. He began to imagine seeing dark shapes lying behind the curtain. "Bert? Are you in there, Bert?" he stammered. He crept slowly towards the tub holding his breath. His fingers closed around the curtain, its thick waterproof nylon felt damp underneath his fingers. He tore the curtain back, popping it off its rail. The tub was empty.
The plastic bag descended over his head in a moment and was pulled tight against his throat. Elbows and fists flailed wildly at the unknown attacker. Ernie's frantic screams for his companion faded as the blackness drew into his vision.
Ernie lay in the dark. He could hear voices. They sounded familiar. Bert's Voice? He raised his head slightly, the murky black room swimming in front of his eyes. The smell hit him, the warm stench of fetid food, decaying animal corpses and faeces washed over him. He retched several times before spewing thick, bloody vomit over himself.
"Hey... Hey! That's somebody's stuff you're puking on there buddy" a voice growled from the darkness.
"Oscar!" cried Ernie. "Oh thank god it's you, Oscar. It's been horrible. Bert's gone, Oscar."
"Gone where? He dropped by but he's gone home now, if that's what you mean."
"Oh..." Ernie trailed off, his thoughts in turmoil. "So why am I here?"
"I'd love to tell you, I really would." Oscar played with something that gleamed in the half-light of the rubbish cave. Ernie strained to see what it was. "You should be more careful Ernie. You haven't made any friends with that positive attitude of yours."
"But I just try to..." Ernie was cut off as the shard of glass thrust into his neck, his throat filling with fluid. Oscar's leering face loomed in front of him as he drowned in his own blood.
"Never trust a hobo, Ernie, my boy. We'll do most anything for junk."