My eyes are opening up to the heat of sunlight shining in through the window on the right side of my bed. The warm touches are hitting my face and getting me ready for my daily routine. First, a full breakfast before working out. Next, a shower lasting at least thirty minutes or so. I never liked drying off with a towel. As I only enjoy letting the sun and air remove the water from my sun kissed skin. I reviewed my itinerary for the day. On the list is me taking care of business. As a young creative of course this means boring meetings. Knowing the only thing I can not, no, I will not do is miss my favorite show “HANNIBAL '' at 8pm. I grabbed my keys and headed towards the door. Thinking just as I’m reaching for the handle, I have an eerie chill. Something about today suddenly worries me. This is not like any other day or then again it could just be my nervousness from this idea I’m about to pitch to my new team. ”I'm just overreacting.” I tell myself as I continue heading outside.
I was getting through the day with ease and everything was going according to plan. I was extremely excited to see 5:15p.m. because I was making my last run and heading home. Now, I’m sitting at the light on 5th and Euclid looking around quickly. “BOOM”!!! No, no, no, no, no! I found my eyes fixed on the huge cloud of smoke coming from downtown. The highly populated area of Tower City building was being evacuated. The emergency broadcasting system hijacked my radio, warning everyone to stay away from downtown. I was sitting and watching the flood of screaming people coming from every direction. Suddenly, more explosions began to form the foundation in my reality. I found myself joining the masses attempting to speed off while trying not to run anyone over. Thinking Where do I go? What is happening? Where is my brother?
Shelter In Place! The government has issued a curfew and Marshal law is in effect. Bodies rushing to find shelter from unexplainable happenings. Our new reality gripped by fear has everybody in need of something. Survivors seeking medical assistance, food, while others including myself was searching for gas. Chaos has turned hard working people into desperate criminals. More explosions are happening as those that refuse to follow orders are becoming savages. Feeling like the world is ending. The need to survive resorts to anyone being able to get hurt. Society has collapsed and its members are only thinking about themselves and their family. People hurting people in the process of gathering supplies.
That car just had to be on E is all I can think about while heading for the nearest gas station. I abandoned my car somewhere on 30th and Coventry to search for a gas station without an “Out Of Gas” sign. I would not say that I am a procrastinator but my busy lifestyle doesn’t always allow for such mundane tasks. I never would have imagined that today of all day my car would be past E.
I am running down the street with an empty gas container. Peering eyes make me feel like an attack is about to happen at any moment. People lurked around corners, porches and bushes just to soon leave and find a safe place until some kind of news is revealed. Money is of no value. Instincts are the only facts known of how to survive. I pass people helping others while on the same block watch sneaky thugs trying to get everything for themselves.
I was stopped by a man about to leave with his family. He asked if I needed gas. I told him that my car was a few blocks away. He explained that all of the stations in the area were in fact empty then offered to fill my container. This gave me hope for society. I thanked him and wished him a safe journey.
Now, I was finally able to get what I needed and headed back to the car.
3 MONTHS LATER
Supplies are becoming harder to come by nowadays. I cautiously check as many vehicles as possible for anything I can find. The late evening is arriving. I’m strolling down Cleveland Heights streets in a hurry. My mind is wondering what new obstacles will come. I must stay alert at all times. Always looking around for possible traps and watchers lurking. Today, the roads seem just as empty as the abandoned buildings and stores in the surrounding areas . Where I assumed people were hiding. A strange sound behind me grabbed my attention. I looked back noticing two people moving fast in my direction from a distance.
I found myself staring hard trying to make out the figures heading towards me. Their screams echoing off the walls of the abandoned buildings. But a familiar voice is starting to become clearer as they approach. To my disbelief, it's my brother Terry and his friend Luke. How could they have known it was me? Were they just yelling trying to save a stranger’s life? It has only been three months and 4 days since the incident that changed my view of the world forever and I didn't even recognize his face. Having to fight and trying to avoid dangerous obstacles alone. Made me feel like the end is soon to come even while searching for the next meal would change anyone and I am not an exception.
I smiled! The relaxed feeling of knowing he was okay. We have never been separated for so long. I noticed they both were out of breath and still trying to scream for me to turn around. I was in the midst of asking if they were ok. But turning around to see what they are in such urgency for me to look at, led to a tan rusted old pickup truck full of dangerous people. Slowly approaching from the end of the street with guns and bats in their hands.
I yelled and told my brother to run through the forest across the street. I hate to leave him after just finding him again but his safety has always been my number one priority. I am sure I will find him again. Focus, woman! I moved quickly to the nearest cars and began searching for some way to defend myself. I found a Sig Sauer P365 9mm. I tucked it in the back of my pants. How do I lead them away? Looks like lady luck is on my side. I found the keys to a 1969 black and red Chevrolet. She had been sitting up and I’m sure the tank was empty but I have no choice. The truck is getting closer. Please, start. Please, start yes!
I quickly threw her into gear and sped off. I headed straight to the forest to find Terri and Luke. Unfortunately, this car was not made for off-roading and I notice the truck in my rear-view mirror slowly catching up. I come into a clearing and landed on a dirt road. These fools are shooting their guns hoping to create fear somehow. I should be frightened but my nerves have never felt calmer. So, I began to drift creating a dirt cloud allowing me to disappear. I remembered an old cabin in these woods somewhere near by. If I could park behind it, it would offer a great hiding spot after I find my brother and his friend. I jumped out of the car and began my frantic search for Terri. I finally caught up to them almost at the top of the hill.
I handed Terri the keys and told them to get inside of the vehicle behind the cabin a third of a mile east from where we were. I ran off to see how close the people were to us. It was a steep climb to the top of the hill. I started looking around for any of the people chasing us. I found one of the men from the truck walking in the open field below. He was bending over reloading his shotgun.
Now is the time. I pulled the 9mm from my pants within seconds this familiar feeling came about. Knowing the rest of the people wasn't too far away. A clean head shot in the moment of him standing up straight. I killed him. Watching his body hit the ground slowly as he takes his last breath. To me this was my first kill that I can remember. But I was emotionless, turning my back as if I didn’t just take a life. Feeling as if I don’t even know myself anymore at this point.
Running down the steep hill trying to get back to my brother’s location. I am searching for the trucks and its remaining occupants. I need to be careful and steady checking to see if I’m being followed. The closer I got I started to notice the truck. It is heading in the direction of the cabin. I hurried in the opposite direction. I needed to distract them. I squeeze the trigger hoping to lead their attention astray. I fired another round. That did it. I heard the truck headed back down from the cabin. He is safe, I told myself as I hid inside the rotted tree trunk. He is safe. I repeated to myself looking for a way in the night to get back to him.
BY: VICTORIA HALTON
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