As I ran for my life, the air leaving my lungs, my weak legs thrashing forwards and backwards as the polluted wind smacked my sweating face, I had to accept the fact that I might not make it out alive. The flaming buildings continued to burn beside me, bringing a great amount of heat and gas into the already polluted atmosphere. The melted cars planted on sidewalks and random parts of the cracked road. Debris had fallen all over the ground from the perishing buildings above, raining down like ash. The sky was glowing orange, smoke covering the sun's rays and making the air incredibly hard to breath. The only sound heard for miles was the sound of my feet thumping the ground as I ran to safety as well as the flickering of the huge flames. The whole town, abandoned. Except for me. I was the only person left behind during the apocalypse. I wasn't able to escape with all the others. I now had to try and survive on my own.
I ran and ran until my legs gave out and I fell to the ground hard, gasping for breath that would only poison my lungs. I would take anything to be able to breathe normal air again. The smell of smoke permanently embedded into my nostrils, coating the inside of my throat in a thick coat. I slowly got back onto my feet and quickly walked the remainder of the way to my bunker, the place I now called home. I climbed down the rickety ladder, pieces of sharp wood poking out of the rungs. One of the pieces found it's new home in the palm of my hand, redness and swelling surrounding the new injury. A splinter was nothing to me. I closed the hatch that separated the outside world, or what was left of it, from my bunker, and walked down the short, dark hallway leading to the metal door welcoming me home. The walls were cracking, barely staying together, but still managing to hold out until I could find a way out of this never ending suffering. The metal door, however, looked completely unfazed by the events that occurred above. I pushed the heavy door open with all my strength and was finally back in my temporary home, or for however long I lasted. I felt safe again. Or as safe as a bunker can make you feel.
Moments prior to the sprint back to my bunker, I had been in search of food, water, and any possible survivors. I failed to find anything. Well, except for the scraps of old food as well as the remains of what used to be people I saw everyday on the street. Their bones rotting, covered in dust, ash, and burn marks. The building that used to be the town supermarket was my usual food hunting spot. This time, however, something felt off once I arrived. I had the strange feeling that I was not alone, which made absolutely no sense because I was the only one left. Or so I thought. My fight or flight reflexes were heightened more than ever, leaving me feeling on edge my whole raid. The food supply was becoming extremely scarce, the food located in the broken fridges now spoiled, each raid ending with me coming back with less and less. I was starting to eat conservatively and not eat as much to save for later, hoping I might be able to live a little longer if I saved up. Maybe this was one of the reasons why I felt so weak. All my muscles aching with excruciating pain, all of my strength nearly gone. Before I could keep searching for food, I felt the floor begin to shake violently, looking up to see the walls crumbling beside and above me. Chunks of the ceiling plummeting down like a hailstorm, bringing clouds of dust as it crashed to the unstable ground. I knew I had to get out of there as fast I could. I would not die like this. Dodging the falling obstacles, I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, making it out just in time before the whole building completely collapsed. I leaped out of the door just as the walls caved in, leaving the once supermarket in a pile of lost memories and ruins. The dust from the building was sprinkled throughout my hair. I hated being outside of my bunker for too long because of the potentially dangerous conditions as well as the bad air quality. To avoid exposure for too long, I decided the best option was to run back to my bunker, hoping to make it there before passing out from complete exhaustion. Seeing the whole town in ruins everyday broke my heart, but it sadly became my new normal. The new way I viewed my home. I would never get back the life I had before the apocalypse.
No matter how hard I tried.
I frantically began searching through my scarce supply of food, looking for something to keep me satisfied for the rest of the day. I decided on a piece of bread, the last piece of bread there was. I ravenously ate, the breadcrumbs crumbling down like snowflakes as I stuffed the large piece into my mouth. I enjoyed the food for as long as I could, letting myself swallow it moments later, giving myself more energy to keep going. I didn't want to give up hope, but each day as I went about my new life alone, in danger, scared, it became hard to keep that hope fresh and alive. My hope died just like the city did.
My filthy body and matted hair reeked of a pungent odor, the feeling of sweat smeared on my entire body as I walked and moved around. I decided the best idea was to bathe in the only body of water left, Lily Lake. Luckily, it was located right near my bunker. I wasn't able to bathe or clean myself very often as a result of the unsafe conditions of the water. However, I couldn't stand the smell of myself any longer. It had been two weeks and I felt it was time to finally bathe in the dirty water. The water was definitely not safe to drink, but was perfect to at least wash myself off. I grabbed a pair of slightly cleaner clothes from the pile I had next to my so called bed, and headed towards the lake. While I was running out of the collapsing supermarket, I twisted my ankle, the bruises peaking through my skin as the pain intensified, causing me to limp pathetically to the water. I climbed up the ladder, the splinter pushed deeper into my palm as I grabbed each rung causing me to flinch, opened the hatch, and immediately smelled the polluted air fill my nose and lungs again. The sweet smell of destruction. I closed the hatch once I climbed out and limped over to the lake, gushes of dusty wind blowing, pushing and jolting me every which way.
I undressed, slowly submerging my figure in the cold, watery atmosphere. Cleaning myself the best I could, I always looked around just in case someone was around, even though I already knew the answer. As I was about to step out of the water, feeling and smelling much better than before, I heard a loud crashing sound coming towards the direction of my bunker. I lowered myself deeper into the murky water, looking around slowly searching the perimeter for possible signs of movement. I calmed myself, reassuring that the wind probably was guilty of the crash. Still on edge, I began to slowly come out of the water, allowing myself to be fully exposed to the seemingly vacant world.
I was wrong.
A second crash followed, but louder than before, forcing me to spring back into the water. My ankle screamed in pain as I strained every muscle to conceal myself from the mysterious cause of the noise. Now I wasn't so sure that the wind caused this one. Or even the first one. Multiple other crashing sounds followed, causing my heart to begin to pound out of my chest, my body shaking like every muscle, every cell in my body was vibrating. From amongst the shadows, the silhouette of a human shocked my eyes. I wasn't alone. For how long have they been here? Have they been with me the whole time? The silhouette moved swiftly, moving scraps of discarded metal to cover the entrance to my home, attempting to infiltrate it. I saw as he stepped inside of the hole, the hatch swung wide open, allowing the intruder some time to pull the metal pieces near the entrance, blocking whatever creatures were left outside. So nobody would find it. Hiding the evidence of possible life and shelter.
I swung into action once the hatch closed, limping out of the cold water, shivering as the temperature from the water collided with the hot smoky one located all around. Chills covered my figure as I quickly dried myself off, clothed myself, and limped toward my home. I had to protect it. It was all I had left. What if they were trying to steal my home away from me? Or maybe, they thought they were the only one left as well?
The hatch swung open with a loud bang, the movement from inside the bunker ceasing. Closing the hatch, I hurdled down the ladder, and pushed open the door to find a boy around my age standing in front of me, in my home. Frozen with fear. Food and other supplies overflowing in his mangled hands. His face petrified as he just stared in amazement at the sight of another human being. It had been so long since either of us had contact with another one of our kind. All of the items dropped from his hands, falling to the ground. He slowly backed away, scared of what might happen next.
"Who are you? Are you human?" he asked completely out of breath, his gasps for air matching his every step back.
"Yes I am, are you?" My voice, shaking, seemed to calm his nerves just a little bit. He was still unsure, his attack reflexes heightening.
"Prove it," he replied as he reached for something to lean on, grimacing in pain.
"I was here when the first phase of the end of the world occurred," I began to explain, flashbacks replaying in my mind, reminding me of all the feelings again. All the fear, terror, and agony. "They looked and acted like humans, but everyone soon found out they weren't. They tricked us into believing they were like us, fooling us all. Transforming our world from what it was to what it is now. The werewolves, snakes, and fire demons all disguised themselves as humans to trick us, before they took over the place we used to call home. I remember hearing the scream, the piercing screams, of all the civilians begging for mercy, but there lives being cut short anyway. I remember seeing the buildings as they were lit aflame by the fire demons, the ripping sound of teeth on flesh, the running, the panic, I remember everything. Everything." By this point as I was telling this story, tears were streaming down my face, agony filling my mind as the wounds were reopened, exposing the nightmare I tried so desperately to forget. I never could forget and never would.
"I thought I was the only one left," he replied softly as his body relaxed and the tension disappeared. As I got a closer look at his face, I couldn't help but think that he looked so familiar. It was hard to tell if I knew him or not, dirt and blood covering his facial features and body from head to toe. I don't think he recognized me, but I knew I had to know him somehow."I'm Peter." The sound of his name created a feeling of home I had forgotten existed. I instantly walked closer to him, embraced him in a hug, sobbing as his confused composure embraced me as well, hesitantly.
"It's you! I can't believe it's you!" I exclaimed, feeling nearly not as alone now that he was here.
"Um...not to be rude or anything, but I don't exactly know who you are," he laughed awkwardly, stepping back and breaking the hug.
"What do you mean? You don't recognize me?" My heart felt broken, shattered into a million pieces. Betrayed. How could he not know? "It's me, Melody....your sister," His eyes widened as he processed this new information. Seeming like he still didn't know me at all.
"I'm sorry...but I don't have a sister," he sounded so sure of his reply, as if our lives had never even crossed paths. As if we didn't grow up together in the same house, same town, same world. I felt my heart ache as all of the unanswered questions filled my head.
"Yes you do! We grew up together in the same house. Mom always cooked our favorite food, tacos, on Tuesday so we could always call it "Taco Tuesday". Dad always took us to the park near our house when we were young and we would play on the playgrounds all day until we saw the setting sun. He would take us fishing on the lake as we got older and we always caught so many fish together. You always were there for me when I needed you most. I need you right now. I need my brother back." I fell to my knees, sobbing into my hands, tears coating my palms. What had happened to him that made all of his memories just disappear? He must have hit his head during the apocalypse, causing all of his precious memories to fall out of his head. I would never have my brother back.
"You're starting to freak me out," he began trying to back away from me even more. "I'm really sorry, I just don't remember you. I wish I did, but I would be lying if I said I did. A lot has happened and I don't quite remember every detail, but sometimes I get flashbacks of everything that occurred and what happened to me, which puts me in a state of shock. I hate even thinking about any of it."
"It's ok, you don't have to remember me right now, but we need to stick together if we want to escape the nightmare we're living in right now," I pulled myself together, stood up, and looked him in the eyes sternly as I said this to him. "How long have you been here? Or at least tell me what you remember."
I could tell by his expression how hard he was trying to piece all of the pieces of his memories back together. "I think I've been here as long as you have, I never got to escape with some of the others. The only other thing I can remember is the moment I was crushed by the ceiling of a building, I don't know which one, but after that everything became a blur. It feels as if I have no memories left to remember. They're all gone. If what you're saying to me is true, then that event must have been the cause of this."
Was he in the supermarket when I was there? Was that why I felt so on edge? Is that the ceiling that crushed him?
Is this all my fault?
From above the bunker near the hatch, we heard the sound of falling rubble. I rushed over to the ladder, looked up at the hatch, and to my horror saw nothing but darkness. We were now both trapped. The little covering above the bunker had fallen in, pressing it's heavy weight against the top of the hatch. I tried with all my energy to push open the hatch, but it was no use. In that moment, I knew there was no hope left to find. It was only a matter of time before the shelter swallowed us whole, leaving our decaying bodies gasping for air as the oxygen levels grew thin, leaving us lifeless in a world that was already too far gone.
No. Way. Out.
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Wow! The ending! Wonderful story! Really enjoyed reading it. And amazing first start! Keep writing. Waiting for more of yours.... Would you mind reading my new story? Thanks.
thank you so much! and yes I will check out your story as well :)
I really enjoyed your words, but the paragraphs were a bit chunky. In the future, you might want to consider breaking up paragraphs to make it run smoother. Welcome to Reedsy! I really love this first story and look forward to more ^-^
Thank you for the great advice! I look forward to reading more of your stories as well.
You're welcome! I hope we can all be friends :)
"The only sound heard for miles was the sound of my feet thumping the ground as I ran to safety as well as the flickering of the huge flames. " Sometimes, long sentences need a good look at the order you put things. For example, "The only sound heard for miles was the flickering of the huge flames as well as the sound of my feet thumping the ground as I ran to safety." The original working has the protagonist running toward safety AND (as well as) the flickering of huge flames. the bruises peaking through my skin - peeking The ending...
Thank you so much for the advice and I wasn't able to edit my story in time before it closed. I will take this advice and apply it to my future stories. I didn't really think about how the air was better in the bunker, but I will specify more in my future stories. I hope my story is still good for the contest.