Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic thriller.... view prompt


Historical Fiction Fantasy Thriller


"for I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil cos you're with me. Amen." it has been over 70 years, but here I am, still reciting the psalm. The dark days were indeed dark; it did things to many of us, which still haunts us till date. Children listen to the stories with bated breaths, while it has only become a subject of discussion in the universities, but do they know what happened?

It started with fire gutting the tropical regions of the world, the wildlife, the forests. It moved gradually into civilization; it was like there was an invincible hand with a torch setting every place on fire. Industries started burning out from the inside due to the heat. It was the rainy season, but for some reason, the weather had other plans. A few months later, an unknown virus struck the world. Bodies started piling up until the death rate spiked; This was the begining of the dark days. Movement was restricted to try and curb the virus; with everyone holed up in our houses, we watched it escalate worldwide. Food became scarce because no one was working, factories weren't operational, clean water was being exhausted. Panic was on the rise along with armed robbery.

I was 23. a boy growing into adulthood. I became a man one morning. I was with my mom and my other siblings-two sisters- in our three-bedroom apartment. We cleared the chimney, left it open to allow another air passage- the heat was becoming unbearable- electricity was down too. It was my turn to go out for supplies, even when it wasn't my turn, I accompanied anyone going out. My mom made sure we sewed nylons inside our jacket, so anyone leaving to get supplies would have them turned out. We used gloves and maks as well because the virus was already airborne. This time everything had changed; the number of soldiers patrolling had tripled.

I came back home to find my mom in a heated conversation with a soldier, the area was having more cases of the virus, so they were evacuating the healthy. She waited for me, but the soldiers sent us in separate trucks, we fought to be together, but all we could do was watch each other fade into the wind amidst tears. My life exploded right before me. I had slept in the truck, but I woke up to a camp, an expanse of land with just a building right in the middle surrounded by thousands of tenths. I was among other young boys; we came down to see dozens of young guys like us getting flogged. I thought to myself, "this is my last day as a free man."

Punches welcomed us to the lower belly. The commander tried to mask his cruelty with a friendly tone, but his message was clear. He pointed his finger to his left side; what I saw scared me, and I wasn't the only one. The other boys with me exclaimed loudly; he took the sight in with smiles and a deep breath, basked in it, then he spoke with a practiced concern, "please don't run or, our dogs will bring you back." the memory still haunts me till today, watching dogs fight for a bite on a man's flesh. I saw it several times just as I saw replacements come in every day. We were grave diggers by day and test subjects by night. 

It was a research facility where the virus was supposed to be studied, but it became something else- a nest for soldiers and scientists that have gone rouge fighting for survival. My mom had tried to teach me the psalm, but I couldn't go beyond the first statement, now it is the first thing I say every morning because staying here was like waiting to be slaughtered. I fantasized about the real world or what it was before hell visited earth. it always kept me going throughout the day. "number 32341, 41678, 33244, you're graduating." '33244', my number came up after a year and 200 days. It was bound to happen. We all know what happens to the graduates- they come out of the big house in body bags. 

We all called it the big house; we stayed in tents outside, which makes the building enlarged in our minds. The dome-shaped roofs made it intimidating; this is my first time in the building, and probably my last. It was more beautiful on the inside. Framed pictures and paintings complimented the white wall. The people here were in lab coats with SR Research inscribed on their uniforms. I was getting ready for my procedure when I heard a noise. Someone came out, and she looked thrilled, holding a vial in her hands. I stood there trying to guess what it was, the cure, or another virus? The commander came, and she just nodded at him; this was the first genuine smile I've seen from him. I was glad when I returned to my tenth. This is the first time anyone came out of the big house alive. the commander threw a feast, which confirmed my suspicions; it was the cure. Even those of us in the tenth got drinks. The night seemed promising for what happened next.

Gunshots awakened us. We were about to have new leadership. An unknown soldier came and shot the commander at point-blank range; he fell to his face without as little as a smile. The new government started testing the cure; people died while they experimented with different vaccine strains; it took two years, but the scientists discovered the best vaccine strain. No one knew what day it was, but then after a long stretch of days, the soldiers gathered by a campfire, they would check their watch and then shout at the same time. The soldiers left us out of this luxury and every other amenity- what time it was, what the days were, bath and sex. nothing was assured, today you're alive, tomorrow, you might be in a hole. 

Once, I tried to remember my family; their faces have become blurred from the strange events I experienced. The new masters were generous enough to give us the vaccine, but it was for sport. You had to wrestle to get the vaccine for yourself. There was a sandpit where five of us were to fight for the cure, winner takes all- vaccine and freedom. The other four lose their lives. I was out, didn't know what to do, but I wanted to see my family more than anything. I searched, but the new world was different; the old names don't matter anymore; it was like going back in time. Empty can drink, abandoned cars with infested by weeds, half of the buildings have collapsed and have become home for birds.

I still hope I can unite with my family. How did all this start? No one knows. I only know my story.

September 25, 2020 23:13

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.