For those of you that read the first part, I do apologize for the abruptness of that chapter. In fact i only posted the very first part of the chapter to get a response. Here is the rest of the first chapter, and I hope you enjoy!
“John…” Where was that? Who… I… can’t see anything… everything… dark… can’t talk… or feel, smell, hear, see… am I… dead?... What happened?...
“John…”ALEX! I’ve gotta… snap out of it… is she… hurt? I’m… so tired… “John.” Who is that? Tell them to stop... I’m going to… take a nap… “John… don’t…” Don’t? Don’t what? I want to sleep… “John… don’t die… us…” I’m not dead? Then why is everything dark?...Wait… see shimmer… dark light… go find out…
“John? John! He’s coming to! He’s alive!” said a voice.
“Well let him have space! He needs it” Those voices are familiar.
“Keep your voices down! They’ll hear us!” Who?
It took all of my strength to focus on my vocal cords and force them to work. “Who will? What happened?” Suddenly my back erupted into pain. I almost screamed out, but a hand covered my mouth. What is going on? I took my focus from my voice to my eyes and opened them. Alex was holding my mouth. She had tears streaming from her eyes, and she held her other hand to her mouth, gesturing to me to be quiet. We waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally she lowered both of her hands. She was smiling. I craned my neck to look around. What I saw I had never expected. It looked as if I was in my room, but one wall and part of the ceiling caved in. Dust was everywhere. Three others were in the room. My dad stood by the shattered window, gun in hand. Mom kneeled next to another person, and it looked a lot like…
“Mike?” Mom turned to me and told me to shush, she was working. I guess it’s a nurse thing. My mom turned back to the body of Mike, and she wrapped bandages all around his back. I got a glimpse of it before it was covered in white gauze. It was cherry red and black in some places. It should not have been like that because Mike was the whitest kid I know. In fact he was so white it’s the running joke that he was the reason I squint all the time. So why was he so red?
She didn’t even turn to me to answer, “Deep burns all over his back. The heat burnt his clothes and his skin. The red isn’t skin, its muscle. The black spots are what’s left of his skin.”
That disturbed me. I don’t know why, but I could pretty damn near guess why. I reached up behind my head to where to constant burning sensation was. I expected to find smooth skin, and instead came to bumps all over. I shivered at the thought of what my back could be like. “Mom?” I asked.
She was still working on Mike when she gave me my answer. “Second degree burns. Bubbled skin, redness, but not as bad as Mike. He needs a Hospitals attention.”
“Why can’t you help him?”
Alex butted in, “She can, but she needs the supplies.”
“I’m not going to risk it.” My dad sternly said, “Not my family.” He’s seen some crazy shit as a cop for about a decade, so whatever’s spooking him now is starting to spook me.
“Dad, what’s going on?” He didn’t even answer as his gaze was dead set on something outside. Instead it was Alex who once again filled the gaps.
“Raiders. They started appearing once things went to hell. Taking whatever’s left after the flash, killing what already isn’t dead.”
“Flash? That was only last night!”
“No John. You were out for just over a week.”
No way was I out for a week! “Okay, why haven’t they found us yet?”
“Even how quickly people started killing others, there still is no organization. But something is drawing the worst of it to the hospital. It’s the only place where we can get the proper treatment for both you and Mike.”
“Okay, let’s go then.” I started to get up, then a bout of pain wracked my entire body from head to toe.
“John! It’s not as simple as that!” My mom said.
I was angry now at my own inability, “Why the hell not!”
Dad responded in a stern voice, “We can’t just walk up to the front door and ask for meds. It’s not like it was before the sky rained shit on us!”
His finality disturbed me, “We’ve at least got to try…”
He hesitated, “Not until you can move.”
His answer confused me a bit. But it was his smile that worried me.
“You need to be able to run if things go to shit. And you need to be able to take the kick of a gun.”
It was now Moms turn to be angry, “You can’t seriously considering going there, are you? John can hardly move and Mike is hardly alive! And I can’t lose you! Not like this!”
Dad was calm when he answered, “When he’s ready, we’ll go. And I have an idea on how we’re going to get in. But for now, we all need to rest. It’s getting dark, and who knows what might still be out there. Alex, do you know how to use a gun? I can’t take watch for another day.”
She nodded and walked up to take the pistol from my dad, and stood by the window. Both my parents walked over to a mat and lay down together, becoming completely silent minutes after. It was then I decided to try. I pushed myself up to a sitting position. Every inch of the way felt like Satan was tap-dancing on my back with metal cleats. Alex almost immediately took notice and tried to set me back down, but I pushed her away. I pushed a little harder than I meant to and she landed on her butt.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…” Those words sounded familiar…
Alex looked haunted. “I think we need to talk.”
I glanced back at my parents to make sure they were asleep. “Alright. We’re somewhat alone.”
She rocked nervously and her eyes were diverted, probably trying to come up with something to say. I tried first.
“What happened that night?”
She looked like she was slapped in the face. “You… don’t remember?”
I didn’t understand her confusion. “Of course not. I blacked out almost instantly.
The haunting look returned. “Oh, that. Well, I don’t really know. No one here does, actually.”
“Tell me what happened.”
She paused to gather her thoughts. “Well, I woke up when you threw me to the ground. Everything was so bright, but I could see your face. You looked like you were in so much pain, and then just went limp. It only lasted a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity. A few moments passed and then everything shook. I heard a crash and I saw Mike thrown through the window. His back was steaming and smelt like… like… a barbecue. I knew he was in horrible shape. The walls started groaning and part of the house collapsed. Luckily it wasn’t on our side. Your parents appeared and helped you off of me. Your heavy, you know that?” I clocked in at nearly 200 pounds at my age, so yeah.
“Your mom tried the best she could with you and Mike. Turns out your parents just walked into the house when all this happened, and they didn’t get burned. Your dad ran to get weapons and your mom with medicine. They worked so hard the last week. They’ve barricaded the house and kept raiders away, but I don’t know for how long. I was helping your mom with you and Mike when… when…” She started to sob.
I grabbed her shoulders and shook her. “Alex, I need to know.”
She sniffled and whimpered but eventually wiped her tears away. “An older man was walking around outside. He was telling us to repent, that God was wiping the Earth clean of all evil-doers. And then that’s when it happened.” She paused and shuddered. “A few raiders walked up to the man. They talked but we couldn’t hear what they were saying, and one of the raiders… killed him. They just shot him in the head.” If she broke down earlier she was truly devastated now. And I could do nothing but put my hand on her shoulder. “How will we survive?” The question will forever remain in my memory, I was sure of it.
“Come on,” She looked at me with pain-stricken eyes, “We’ll find a way.” I thought for a moment. I wasn’t sure If I should’ve mentioned that I remember a fraction of that night, but I needed answers. The decision as to whether or not that would’ve been a good time was answered for me. We heard a scream in the distance. Movement behind me signaled that my dad heard the yell, and he rushed to the window.
“Get down!” he hissed.
We obeyed and Alex gave him the gun. His back was against the wall and only peeked around the corner. He said nothing.
“Dad, what’s wrong?” No answer
“Dad!” He turned to me sharply in alarm.
“They’re raping her…” The words hung in the air. “I’ll take the rest of the watch. You kids get some sleep; I’ve had enough for awhile.” That was bullshit, and we all knew it, but I couldn’t argue. Alex was already helping me down to the ground again, and my eyes were already getting heavy. The last I saw that night were Alex’s eyes.
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you…”
The next morning came as a surprise. I opened my eyes to see that Alex had fallen asleep next to me, her hand rested on my chest. Dawn was just breaking over the horizon, and sunlight streamed through the broken window. Dad leaned against the wall, his bleary eyes drooping.
“Morning…” I smiled. He said it as if it were any other morning like… before.
“Morning dad.” A groan filled the room. It came from Mikes prone figure. “Mike? Are you awake?”
No answer, then, “Not much more alive than you are, I guess.” I laughed because he had no idea how close to the truth he was. “How long was I out?”
“Just over a week, like me.” His eyes shot open in alarm and he tried to get up. Any scream that might’ve come out was muffled by my dad’s hand.
“Shh! You hear that?” His sentence was punctuated by the sound of boots walking on the upper floor. “Raiders…” He checked his pistol and pulled back the action. “You kids stay here. Alex, take the rifle that’s under what’s left of John’s bed, give my secondary pistol to Mom and stay here. Protect John and Mike… I’ll check it out.”
Alex and Mom immediately got to work and Mike gave me a quizzical look.
“Why are we in your room? And why does it look like it’s gone to hell? And Raiders?”
I sighed. “I’ll say a few words, try to understand. Apocalypse. House, safe. Us, hurt. Raiders, murderers. Get it?”
He snickered, “yeah right. And you’re going to tell me what happened last night between you and Alex, right?”
I snarled and rolled to my side, showing him my back.
“Damn! You mean… We’re really…? Fuck.”
I rolled back, “Yeah now shut up and let my dad take care of business.”
By now Mom and Alex had already taken up positions on either side of the room training guns at the door. The obvious shake in Alex’s gun told me that she wasn’t ready to take a life… and I hope that none of us are.
I hope that Alex knows what she is doing with my son…
I know that my pistol has about a dozen rounds in the magazine. I brought a spare mag just in case. The bullets are hollow point so they’ll tear the living hell out of unarmored Raiders. Dear god I hope those Raiders are unarmored. I stalked down the hallway making no noise whatsoever. I stopped at an open doorway and heard voices inside.
“Definitely. We’re also supposed to take prisoners for slaves.”
“Sounds good… Hey, I thought this was a pig’s house.”
“Where’s the goddamned guns?”
“Might’ve been on duty. Poor bastard.”
“I heard it’s also a nurse’s house too. Wouldn’t it be nice to be patched up by someone who actually knows what they’re doing?”
“You know what, quit your yappin’ and do your searchin’,”
I decided to step out into the open. Two Raiders, armed but not ready. My gun raised and I pulled the trigger twice. One Raider fell to the ground screaming in pain. Both his kneecaps were shattered. Before the other could get his weapon out, I had mine trained between his eyes.
“Now tell me, who’s this boss of yours?”
Two shots echoed down the hall, and then a scream followed soon afterwards. Everyone in the room tensed up. Some talking could be heard in the hall, and it dragged on. I wasn’t sure who it was that was getting interrogated, but I was sure it still wasn’t going to end well. Sure enough, voices started to raise, and a single gunshot rang through the hall. The after silence was deafening. Then came footsteps to the door. Both Alex and Mom raised their guns, but Dad appeared with more guns than he left with.
“We need to pack up and leave, now!” He started to gather what little we had now. Mom helped up Mike and started walking him to the door, despite his protests. I was helped by Alex, and she gave the rifle to Dad. He already had a makeshift sheath to put these guns and ammo, and we were well on our way. I told Alex to stop and pointed my attention at Dad.
“What is going on, did you kill them?”
Dad stopped suddenly and took a deep breath. “They were here for us. Someone knows about us, and they’ve set up camp in the hospital. They were going to take Mom and maybe Alex and kill the rest of us.”
“You still didn’t answer the whole question.”
He paused, “I killed one. The other I made sure he wouldn’t walk or make noise. He’s also chained down. If we’re lucky he’ll starve to death and none will know the wiser…” I stared at him in disbelief. He sighed, “I’m sorry son, but this is the world we live in now. There are no rules to this new society.”
We continued out the door. The land looked so much different now. All the grass was dead or dying, some buildings crumbled to almost nothing, others nearly intact. Dust and debris littered the ground, everything was broken. But the worst part came next. Charred skeletons lay down on the sidewalk. They couldn’t take the immense heat when they were out in the open of whatever caused this world to become a living hell. Jewelry and belt buckles were melted into the sidewalk. Skeletons were even holding on to the steering wheels of cars that sat idle in the streets. How in this Hell did we survive? No food, no water, and now no home. How will we suvive?
Thanks for reading! Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated.