Every Sunset's Glow

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Rosie thought losing her house was the worst thing about the move. It turns out that her life is thrown into chaos when a scientific experiment went wrong. Now she is forced to flee into the desert with her cousin, Michael, and her sister, Trinity.

Submitted: September 06, 2016

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Submitted: September 06, 2016

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Every Sunset's Glow

CHAPTER ONE

Every morning I would try to think about what I'd do today. This morning I stared out into the attic window and watched the moving van park onto the street, waiting for the next load of our precious things. The last load.

Moving was my worst enemy then. Glaring at the logo on the metal shell became my full-time job. I did nothing, for this evil company was protected by the strongest force a kid could face: My parents. Shaded by my mom and dad, the movers could not be touched.

  I will never forget that day. It will repeat in my head as long as I live.

But it was for a good cause that we were moving. Last night the television reported a dangerous radiation outbreak in a failed lab experiment. Afraid of the future, my mom declared we move to a safer state. Yeah, right.

I don't believe in disasters. Giving up our house for it was insane. As soon as Mom called the movers, I glanced at my sister suspiciously. Trinity made a gesture clearly saying, “I don't like this”.

I let my apricot hair dangle down the side of my face as I hugged my knees in deep thought. Finally, I got out of my small bed beside the attic's triangular window and slowly walked down the ladder and into Trinity's room. Her bed was littered with marigold strands tangled in a mess, swaying with the ceiling fan's layers of soothing wind.

Trinity's room was full of boxes, labeled with unusual titles. “Minions” and “Wands” were only two of them. She insisted on purple walls and softball sheets. Dirty carpet and several ruined bed supports hinted her destructive personality. In a way to communicate it, Trinity is often classified as cuckoo.

Not to me, though. She is the only one who is against this move in this family, other than me. We have a plan to get our house back, but it includes acting as if we were okay with moving away.

My younger sister stirred and her small pointy nose was just visible behind her hands, continuously rubbing her gray eyes, eyes we shared. Now they swam with worry. “Today? Are we going today?” she asked. I shuffled random boxes away and nodded.

“Then...could..? Could we really do this, Rosie?”

“We have to. Our home depends on it.” I stopped and shoved off the covers. “Come. We have to get ready”.

Trinity sighed and got up.

. . .

The air was crisp and cold, and left the wooden door's handle freezing to the touch. With a clack it shut, leaving me without the warmth of inside. My mother was talking to a mover, pointing to his clipboard and shaking her head. Finally she noticed me walking down the stone path in our front yard, which would be for the last time.

Usually, my mother was cool, collected, not a care in the world as she briskly did her job as a secretary for a large business. Today was different, and I could tell with the little giveaways. She hurriedly erased all the traces of stress, but not fast enough. My mother looked tired. She pursed her lips together and tugged at her brown hair, which was dark as cocoa. Finally, Mom shifted foot to foot awkwardly. She was a bad actress.

“Honey I know you like this house, but I've bought a better one. There is more room, and a pool-”

  “I'm OK with it.”

“Really? You good with this? Alright, get in the car. Your father is picking up Michael.” She sounded excited at my words, as if they were the only things holding the move back. A large stone sunk in my stomach.

Yet another thing tugged at my brain. Michael. He was my cousin, and another to agree with stopping the move. His family wanted to help with it. 

Smiling, I took nothing but my confidence into the car. That was a mistake

. . .

It took another hour before Trinity was ready. It turned out she decided to sleep in, and then take one last look at our house in case our plan did not work. Finally the three groups were ready to go. In the light of a new day, two cars were in pursuit of a moving van, which drove ahead and caught the sun's rays, dazzling all as we set off into a new life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 2

The next two hours were extremely slow. Driving along the street was not going to stop the move. Finally our mini-van stopped for a rest break. Finally the plan would go into motion.

The old yellow adobe walls’ paint for the restrooms were peeling and held two rooms: A rest room for boys and a rest room for girls. The roof was simply cracked cement. At least it was usable. For the next 50 miles there would be sand and some random bushes, so why not go now? We were already well into the desert, so even from in the car I could see the heat radiating in the distance when our group got off their vehicles.

I slipped my gaze from the front of the car and onto Uncle George's pickup truck. I could already see Michael’s hair from here, which was curly, brown, and a lost cause to any brush no matter how many tugs or pulls. Michael gave the signal by swiping his sister Darla's glasses.

“Hey! Michael! Give it! Mo-------m!”

I managed a smile and noiselessly opened the door. With a small thud I was on the pavement and before anyone could notice, I made my way to the back of the car. The mini-van's trunk was opened by Trinity and according to plan, she should hand me the wrench...

“Well?” I said impatiently, holding out my hand.

“Well what? Do you want gum or...?”

Ice seeped up my spine, and I realized what happened: Trinity forgot the wrench! Without it, I couldn't flatten the tires and manage to falter the move long enough to convince my parents to stop this. Our eyes locked, and like a mental text, my sister figured out her flaw in the fate of the plan's success. At least she acknowledged her mistake with a shocked face.

“I'm sorry-”

“Don't! Come and help me find something like a wrench out here!” My voice was hoarse with regret. Why didn't I say anything? What could I have done?

No harm done. I told myself. We can still find a better tool... I think.

I turned to the desert around the rest stop. I set off to find something that could serve as a wrench, leaving Trinity to fetch Michael. She said she thought he could help. I was rummaging through some bushes when he and my sister appeared with the same determined face. “OK, where I'd be if I was a wrench in the middle of a desert?” said Michael.  He checked under a rock the size of his fist.

I smiled and pointed in a random direction. “I haven't looked over there. Go ahead and check to see if you find anything.”

I turned back to the bush and kept digging away at the leaves.

Just as my hands began to bleed, Trinity yanked me down behind the bush.

“Hey! What's the big-”?

She put her finger to her lips as if to say 'Be Quiet'. Turning back to the rest stop, Trinity peered over the bush. She frowned and made herself smaller in an effort to be unseen from the other side of the shrub. 

I got up carefully and looked around the brush. Where the cars used to be was a single white van-wait...What? Where are the cars? Did they leave us without knowing? No...they would never... and whose car was that? Still...I shot a glance at my sister. Why had she pulled me down if there was nothing to hide from?

Then I saw it: At the edge of the bathrooms, a dark figure, the outline of a man hidden in the shade of the strange white van spoke to another unseen character, who seemed to be in the car. His deep voice was excited and seemed to hold on every word:

“I believe we have completely evacuated the city. All of the citizens are safely in our grasp. Once we have perfected the radiation beam-”

“Don't- I already know the plan! Do you take me for a fool?”

The second voice, a jagged, sharp voice resembling a knife startled the figure and he started mumbling several apologies. By chance the sun's rays caught his swaying over-garment and revealed the edge of-

No, not just a covering I corrected myself. A lab coat. These men that must have stolen my parents (didn't they say something about capturing citizens?) were some sort of scientists! And it seems they have been working on some sort of laser. One that sounds dangerous. Maybe they are going to test it on....

My throat suddenly went dry. I heard Trinity gasp on my right. These people are doing something horribly wrong. 

I felt something brush against my arm and I didn't dare breath. They found us! I closed my eyes and tried to convince myself otherwise. It's just a twig, it's just a twig, it's just a-

Something tapped on my shoulder and I just had to look. To my relief, Michael’s hand retreated back and then he was there by my side.

“Dang you, Michael! You scared me half to death!”

“Who are these guys? Where are our parents?”

Either the frantic worry in his voice caused it, or one of the scientists was studying the perimeter, but the two men saw us. I heard Trinity scream and turned to see the man in the lab-coat grab her by the arm. I noted his orange spiky hair and dangerous grin.

“Leave her alone!”

I looked at Michael, but he had not said it. The voice was mine. I charged at the man and scratched at his face. Michael ran over and pulled at his legs. Trinity's kidnapper shook us off easily.

I got up quickly and kicked at his legs until the scientist yelped and let go of my sister to examine his leg. Before he had recovered, Michael pushed him over and the man was sprawled on the floor.

“Run!” Michael yelled, and the three of us fled into the desert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

We ran for what seemed like hours. My breath became ragged and I saw Trinity cradle her arm, wincing every time she touched it.  Michael’s face became red as well. Finally, we slowed and looked back to make sure we were not being followed.

Endless desert. Every way we faced was just the same: sand and shrubs. Michael had a worried expression as he began to look around for civilization, even a shred of shade would be fine, in vain. Trinity plopped onto the sand and I examined her arm.

It was red and bruised were the man had grabbed her. She cried out when the sun began to soak it in it's steaming glaze.

“What will we do now?” Michael asked to cut the silence.

“Get the essentials for survival, I guess. We can't grieve forever. We need shelter, food, water and with this heat, shade.” I shook my head as I replied.

A few minutes later, Trinity got up, so we continued on looking for shade. Finally, I caught sight of an upright, open tree with cream puffballs for flowers and shouted in my joy. I was tall but easy enough to climb that we could be safe for the night. Michael recognized it as a willow acacia. We all huddled under it, drenched in sweat and tired enough for a nap.

The sun began to set. I knew this place would be dangerous in the night. I forced my eyes through its lids and pried opened my sealed lips to whisper a warning to my companions. I told them of my dad's stories in the desert of scorpions and coyotes that he told me before he left me for good. Michael glanced lazily up at the tree's branches and got up.

Climbing up the tree was not too hard, but the silence made every branch seem higher than I could reach. The loneliness in my heart from the lack of Mom hung at my chest like a bowling ball and I found myself holding my breath, and let it go. 

I found a curved branch hanging down surrounded by smaller ones to form something like a small bowl. I ripped the thin, long leaves off the tree and piled then relatively neat onto the branch bowl. Then I let myself fall into the makeshift bed, too tired to care whether Trinity or Michael had found spots in the tree.

. . .

I woke to a hand over my mouth. I glared at Michael, but he made a 'hush' signal. Behind him, my sister stared out of the bottom branch like her eyeballs were glued to whatever was out there. OK... I thought.

With a soft hint of a thump on the branch, I jumped from above onto a nearby branch, as close to Trinity as the tree would allow. Trinity gestured over, and I looked to see...

A strange being stood in the shade of night, staring dully ahead. He looked human enough so I opened my mouth to call him over. Trinity smacked her hand on my mouth and pointed fearfully. The man started to limp away. He's hurt! Why don't Trinity and Michael trust him? Then the man stepped into the soft glow of moonlight.

I was horrified! The man had green rotting flesh and had clothes falling off in large patches. Most of his limbs were useless so the man hobbled along humorously. Worst of all, his eyes stared ahead, glazed and dead-like. I could not believe what I was seeing. A zombie, here in the middle of a desert!

Trinity nudged at me. I turned gratefully, because the burden of seeing such a pitiful creature disturbed me. The three of us huddled at the highest branch all night, praying that the zombie didn't find us.

. . .

By morning the zombie hurriedly stumbled away. Michael climbed down the minute it's back was turned. I grabbed at his arm worriedly. “What are you doing?!?” I hissed.

“That thing's got to have come from somewhere, because zombies don't just live out here! Besides, don't you want to see what it's up to?”

I glanced at where the zombie had left. He did have a point. Maybe this thing could lead us to shelter, or the scientists who stole the town's residents. Both would be great.

Finally I slipped down the tree and Trinity hopped down with me.

We followed the man-or zombie, I guess-down a canyon. At first we thought the zombie was going to jump, but it turned into a narrow path leading down into the ravine. You would not have sighted it from afar; it was too well hidden.

Trinity hesitated at the edge. “Do we have to? I mean, who heard of anyone following a zombie?”

“Yes, we do. Either this or stumble around the desert with nothing.” Michael’s reply was snappish, and Trinity backed away to look down the ravine, then tripped and fell. She fell down the ravine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4

All I could do was stare helplessly as my sister fell to the canyon below. She began to scrape at the side of the ravine closest to her. Finally she grabbed hold of a root that was sticking out of the cliff side. Her cry rang out and echoed against the rocks when she was thrown against the ravine walls.

Michael was the first to react. He ran down the trail, not even pausing when he got snagged on rocks and branches. Finally, the small path made a sharp turn and then he was under Trinity. Michael stopped and made a thoughtful face.

“What are you doing? Trinity let go! Michael will catch you!” I yelled to release my frustration of watching my sister struggle.

“No!” Michael's denial was surprising. “Don't do it! The fall could hurt you!” He had a point, seeing as the distance between him and Trinity was over 20 feet. If she jumped too far to the side...or Michael did not manage to catch her... No. I couldn't accept what could happen.

“Aah!”

Suddenly, Trinity's grip wavered and gravity seized it's chance. Now Michael had no choice. He had to catch my little sister on a narrow path overlooking a cliff. I shut my eyes in time to hear a gasp. Did she...?

All I could see is darkness. I won't look down on Trinity's small, broken body on the bottom of the cliff. Except...did she fall? I opened my eyes and saw Trinity crying and sputtering thanks, holding on to Michael as he pulled Trinity up. He had barely caught hold of her hand before there was no hope of catching her. Finally, I helped pull my little sister up.

 A groan echoed across the canyon. The zombie had made it to the bottom miraculously unaware of our noise. If he did hear it, he must not have cared. We made our way down the sharp stones of the hidden path, down to the bottom of the cliff. I took note of how the deeper we went, the hotter it seemed to be. Didn't I learn something about trapped air in school? Oh well, it doesn't matter now.

Finally, we reached the bottom. The path stopped at the clearing on the floor of the canyon. It was darker but warmer at the bottom, at least in the morning. The clearing seemed to have been inhabited at one point. We saw cages full of dry dung, a house that had long decayed into ruins, and a trailer who had not been affected other than flat tires and a bit of dead weeds.

“No one is home...” Trinity's voice was heartbroken.

“It's okay, this could be a shelter for us.” Michael was trying to be reassuring, but I could tell he was thinking of all the work it would take.

“Well we better get started by picking a shelter.” I said.

We immediately canceled the idea of sleeping in a goat farm (Trinity recognized the smell from a horse riding camp she went to that had a goat farm nearby). It was too smelly and too open, and we didn't feel the need to sleep on dung inside of a cage. The house seemed good at first, but we found no roof and floor. The house was just old walls in a certain fashion to be mistaken for a shelter. That would not do. Finally, we came to the trailer. Up close, we could see the fading letter of The Yellow Jay, which must have been the trailer's name. The Yellow Jay was big and had four small rooms, a bathroom, closet for storage, mini bunk bed, and a kitchen with seating area. The furniture was long gone, and there were cobwebs, but the door had a lock so it was good enough.

We looked around for pillows or at least something comfortable to sleep on, when we found a shed behind the goat farm. It had a brick wall beside it that looked as if it would collapse any minute. The inside was huge and had a dirt floor. The was a big saw in the middle of the room we were in. Sawdust was all over the table the saw sat on. The walls were gray and dull, and the barred window was high up. There was another room filled with wood, which would come in handy.

“This is cool, we have firewood and building supplies! We could use the saw, too!” Michael was like a wound up spring let go, bouncing around with excitement. I let him do that and picked up a jar on one of the shelves in the other room. It read 'Peaches' on the front but was full of dust and nails. Hmm... I took it with me. When we came back out, holding as much as we could, I realized how late it was. The sun was already setting! “We need to hurry and find food, guys, or we'll starve.” I said.

Trinity rushed back into the shed, ready to gather more. Unfortunately, she tripped over a crack in the floor. “Are you okay?” I asked, helping her up. “Yeah, I'm fine, but look!” She pointed to what she tripped on.

At first, I though it was nothing but a crack in the floor. As I got closer, though, I saw it was more than crumbling concrete. It was a trapdoor of some sort. A piece of rope, seemingly meaningless, on the floor must have been it's handle. Michael pulled it and lifted the heavy slab. Trinity and I peered down and saw a collection of strange items.

One was full of gauges and wires, a maze of engineering that must have been very important. Another had a blank screen and a pole like a metal detector attached to it, except it had something like a thermometer on the end. In other words, I could have been looking at a book of alien language and that would have made more sense.

Michael took one look at it and gathered as much as he could up. Trinity and I figured this stuff must be important and picked some up too. I was the last one out of the shed and the first to sense something was wrong. I turned around to look at the room with the trapdoor when I heard moaning.

“Survivors!” I yelled and ran back inside. “Wait, Rosie! Stop!” Trinity moved to grab my arm, but I was too fast. I just got inside when the door closed behind me. I heard muffled yells on the other side of the door. The moans started again and I turned to see-

A zombie outside the window. It clawed at the bars, but could not get in. Luckily I had heard it and didn't have to have it find us later. I turned back to open the door. It wouldn't budge.

“Hey! Let me out!” I yelled through another window facing the Yellow Jay. “Rosie! Are you okay? The brick wall beside the shed collapsed after you and blocked the door. There is no way we will be able to dig it out before nightfall.” Michael answered. “That's alright!” I said. “It's pretty safe in here! Just watch out, there is another zombie behind the shed.”

Michael nodded at me and told Trinity to run for the trailer. With them gone, I sat down and waited for the sunrise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5

I had no choice but to sit on the dirt and do nothing. I watched the zombie try to get inside but luckily it's brain rotted as much as it's body, so it could only reach for me. I held my breath every time it stopped and thought for a moment. I feared that at any moment could give the zombie the time to think up a successful plan.

Finally I just stared at the ceiling and thought about sleep, but with the zombie there and the chance of it getting in. I shivered at the thought. Just as I was drifting off, though, I heard sound outside of the door. It was as if something was scratching at it. I held up a piece of wood and pointed it at the door, ready to swing and stab with it if need be.

Then the rocks outside gave way. I took note of how the zombie at the window was gone. The door opened and I saw Michael! I quickly stepped outside. At first I wanted to be happy, I was free after all, but I felt something nag at me from the back of my brain. “It's night!” I whisper-yelled. “Why did you come for me now instead of in the morning! It's dangerous out there!”

“What? Not even a thank you?” he said with a small smile.

“What?!? Well fine! Thank you, Michael.”

“WATCH IT!” Trinity appeared running at full speed just as I caught the sound of a soft growl behind me. I spun around and was face-to-face with the zombie from the window. My quick-minded cousin pulled me back as the undead scratched at empty air. Then Trinity was there, swinging away at it with a broken pipe.

Finally the zombie made a sound between a growl and a whimper, and limped away, deciding its meal was not worth the trouble. No, I thought. Not it. She...these creatures are people. Still, something in my mind said was and I hated myself for it.

We made it back at the Yellow Jay without further conflict. After making sure it was safe, the three of us made a system. Two of us would sleep and the other keep watch for an hour, keeping time with the nearly forgotten watch on Michael's wrist. It was a long, slow, and boring job keeping watch, but we all felt safer doing it.

Finally it was my last turn. It was 5:00am and the sun was rising. How beautiful it is, I thought. So comforting. I woke my companions up and we looked out at the sun, each worrying, thinking, and for me at least, planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 6

“Hey!” I said, pointing down to the depths of the well. “Look! I found water!”

The well was nestled behind lots of scrap metal and wood, and was half full. It fit in with its surroundings perfectly, having been made of sandstone and recycled wood and metal, both being found everywhere here.

“Cool!” Trinity was already hustling over, sweat pouring out of her like a hose with a leak. She leaned over the sandstone and peered into the well. Then she sighed contently. “This feels wonderful. It's dug so deep, the well is cool inside, and the water and mud are helping plenty, too!”

Michael walked passed us, arms full of lumber. “Nice! We can use the mud to cool ourselves and the water to quench our thirst!”

The last couple of hours had been work, work, work. None of complained, though, since we knew what laziness would cost us. I used a tumbleweed as tinder and surrounded it with sticks, like a teepee. Then I set it on fire with the help of Michael's watch and the sun's reflection pointed directly at the tinder. I told Michael to gather firewood and Trinity and I had been searching for anything useful. We were both ready to settle into a permanent nap when I found the well.

Luckily there was a bucket attached to a rope in the well. I began to fill it and sent Trinity to find an empty water bottle (and clean it) to store water in. Just as I turned back to set the bucket down, my eyes sensed movement. I looked up to see something retreat into a pile of metal scraps. I came closer, carefully.

I noticed something under the sheets of metal as I got closer. It was a wooden doghouse that had a thick, wooly blanket on the floor of it. It was pretty big, made for dogs like Doberman, German Shepherds, maybe even Great Danes.

I started as a soft growl came from inside the house. I crouched and peered inside the doghouse from a distance. Inside I saw a small dog cowering against a corner with teeth showing. He looked like a Chihuahua, but was slightly bigger and had a broader chest. He had floppy ears and was completely black and looked more scared than threatening. Weird, I thought. The dog seemed to have two shadows.

Then a small snout poked out from behind the black dog. It was another small dog, even smaller than her friend. She was the color of the sand, and had thin ears that were perked up in curiosity. The second dog looked like a Chihuahua.

  “Shh...” I said, longing to pet the dogs for comfort that I hadn't had for days. “I won't hurt you.”

At my voice, the smaller one tilted her head. The black dog didn't move, but the growling softened. I reached inside, pressing flat against the sand to look as friendly as possible. The black dog sniffed my hand. He seemed to ponder a bit at my smell, and then I took it as a chance to scratch his head and behind the ears. The dog looked relaxed, eyes dropping in complete trust of me.

The smaller dog looked at her companion, and then walked over to me, tail wagging. I pet her too, and for a while it seemed my world was okay. Just me and the dogs.

Then I remembered my companions and called out to them. “Michael! Trinity! Look what I found!”

Michael got there first and looked inside the doghouse. “Whoa! Wh- Why-How?” He looked completely bewildered at the sight of the dogs. “How did they survive?” He wondered out loud.

Trinity came over with a plastic water bottle in hand. She froze when she saw the dogs. She made a sound that was a cross between a wheeze and an “ooh”. Then she rushed over and squealed, petting the dogs like they would disappear any moment.

I explained how I found them. They- or, rather, Michael (Trinity was too busy fawning over the little survivors)- asked what to do with them, and what use they would have as pets. We discussed keeping them, then the three of us argued over names; until we agreed that we would keep them.

We agreed to name the black dog Oscuidad, which Michael learned was Spanish for Darkness or Shadow in his classes. We also agreed to call him “Ozzie” for short. The sandy dog's name would be Gina, inspired by Grain, as in “grains of sand”.

Ozzie and Gina seemed to like there names, and came running when we called them. We saw lizard carcasses inside the doghouse, which answered our question of how they survived. They ran surprisingly fast for such short dogs. We loved them instantly, but still wondered why the owners of the goat farm didn't take the dogs with them.

Suddenly Gina barked and ran past the junk pile. “Gina!” Trinity yelled, running after her. “Stop!” I yelled, “You'll get lost!” She ignored me. I sighed and followed them.

.  .  .

We ran past cacti and rocks, following the ravine, which went steadily downhill. Gina stopped often to look back at us, and then ran ahead when we were close enough. I caught up to Trinity easily, and saw Ozzie behind us, with a grumbling Michael trailing behind.

Finally, after a few minutes of running, the ravine jutted to the left. There was a house squeezed between the walls of the ravine, with only a few inched of room between it and the walls of the ravine on either side. It was made of a dark wood, and had random walls of bricks scattered around by it, as if someone was planning to build something to the front and side of the house, but gave up and let the desert claim it.

Gina finally stopped and curled up by the porch. Trinity and I looked up at the house, slowing by the walls. I scanned the area, looked for threats or people that could help us. There was no one.

Michael walked past us and up to the front door. Ozzie sat by Gina, panting and looking pleased with himself. Michael knocked the door. No one answered. We let go of our held breath. Michael tried to open the door. It was unlocked.

Puzzled, Trinity and I walked into the house, following Michael. Inside was a large living room, filled with antiques. A china tea set was presented in a wardrobe to the right with glass drawers, and to the left was a cramped table and chairs. There was a small, broken window by one. There were rugs all over the wood floor, not quite covering it, but spacing out the large rugs in different parts of the room. There were no windows except the one at the table, facing the front porch. Then again, what would there be worth looking at? Ravine walls? The room led to a fireplace and a rocking chair.  There were doors by the wardrobe (which led to a small empty kitchen), the table (A small bedroom with barely enough room for a bed and a painting of a forest), and to the left of the fireplace (which led to a bathroom). Whoever owned the house was into antiques, but didn't have enough space to put them all.

Which explains why there was a trapdoor in the floor leading to a basement. We cautiously went down the ladder. The only light came from a small opening by the ceiling, which was barred. The walls were sandstone, and covered in shelves of books and antiques, varying from glass sculptures to silks and tapestries. At the far wall, under the barred window, the bookshelves stopped to give room to a contraption of some sort.

The gizmo looked like a large engine with knobs and buttons, with the occasional lever. It was faded green from its age and had the bio hazard-warning sticker on it. We could not make any sense of it.

In front of the gadget was a book tossed on its spine, as if someone had dropped it and ran. Michael stepped forward and picked it up. “Radiation-Resistor” he read. He flipped through the pages revealing designs and equations surrounding the machine. “Hmm..” Michael said. “This 'Radiation-Resistor' must have been invented here, since this book had lots of written ideas on how to make it.”

I thought back to when our parents were kidnapped. “Maybe that is why...I got it!” I said, thoughts whirring through my head at speeds that I could barely process. “Remember that scientist guy was talking about kidnapping citizens to test their radiation beam-thingy?” Trinity and Michael nodded. “Well, what if the person in this house found a cure to it? What if the scientists found out and took them away?” Confusion cleared from their faces. My sister and cousin were nodding as I explained. Then Trinity scrunched her face up in thought.

  “I still don't get it,” Trinity asked. “Why didn't they take the Radiation-Resistor? Didn't they need to destroy it?”

“I don't know, Trinity. Maybe they needed a back-up in case something went wrong?”

“Things did go wrong, Rosie! There are zombies in the desert!”

“I-”

“Everyone is gone! They didn't even get a choice! Isn't that wrong?!?”

“Trinity..”

“We are all alone...” Trinity's voice was quiet. “We have no one in the middle of this stupid desert!” The last part she spat, and she spun around so fast to get out of the basement that her elbow knocked over a box.

Cans rolled out across the floor. Food. Beans, veggies, soup, tuna, fruits, all kinds of meals, perfectly preserved in the little cylinders of metal. Trinity stopped to look at them, completely forgetting about storming off.

“Food...” Michael said, thoughts wandering. “What are we waiting for? Pick it up!” The spell was broken, and suddenly gleeful shrieks were slipping out and arms greedily snatched up the food. We counted up a month of two-day meals between the three of us.

“Wait.” I said, “Why would we carry the can back to the little old Yellow Jay when we could live here? Someone could sleep on the bed, one on the rugs (Quit complaining, Trinity, they are soft enough) and someone will always be keeping watch.”

“You're right, Rosie, why not live here? We could cycle through sleeping places every hour.” Michael said. Trinity nodded her approval. “We can cook the cans over the fireplace, too!” she said, beaming.

“Then it's settled.” I said, smiling. “We'll live in this house.”

We only lasted 3 weeks there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 7

The first thing I saw as I fell through the haze of sleep was my mother’s face. My ravioli dinner was weighing me deeper and faster than I would normally fall. She was following me. I could see her, smiling at me. She's glad I escaped. I thought. When the scientist-people took our family, they didn't take us. Mom's happy that happened. I didn't feel like I pulled the thoughts out of nowhere, either. As soon that entered my mind, it felt like I knew what I was talking, er, thinking about.

Mom...

She did not make it.

My eyes watered even in my dream the more I thought about it. She was probably a zombie by now. Did that mean she was...gone? Zombies are undead, after all. Would she recognize us or try to eat us if we met?

Could we save her, or any of the zombies?

My mind wandered back to the basement. The machine combated radiation by sucking it inside itself. Could it pull the radiation off zombies? Would that leave them as people without the body parts that they dropped as zombies? Would it kill them? Maybe it would cure them.

I was flying with possibilities and ideas that I soared over my weariness. I was being pushed up as well, by another force. The world was shaking in my head. No. I thought. Someone's shaking me awake.

My eyes opened to see Trinity yelling at me. “WAKE UP!” She was so loud it was dizzying. “WE'RE UNDER ATTACK! ZO-”

Before I could register what she just said, I heard a crash and saw Michael pushing himself off the now- broken wardrobe door. He didn't seem to mind the cuts on his arm, because his eyes were too filled with terror. It looked like he ran into the house and fell against the wardrobe in his rush.

“THEY'RE COMING!” he yelled.

“What's happening?” I said, hearing the panic seep off my voice.

“Zombies! They are EVERYWHERE!” Trinity replied, eyes darting to the window at the table.

“What?!? We haven't had trouble with them for weeks! Why tonight? Why a horde NOW?!?” Michael went into the basement, ushering us to get inside.

“I don't know,” Trinity said, voice dropping to a whisper as growls echoed off the cliffs. “But I don't want to stick around to find out, okay?!?”

I got up off the floor so fast I nearly fell back down again. Trinity steered me to the basement, where Michael was hurriedly but delicately stuffing parts of the radiation-resistor, the instruction book for it, and the leftover cans of food into a box. He then sealed it with packaging tape, which he grabbed from a shelf.

Michael scooped up the box and put it in my hands. “What? Where are we going?” He looked at me for a second, maybe judging whether it was worth the time for. “We are getting in the Yellow Jay, and roll it off the other path in the ravine on the way to the house.” “What path?” I said, straining to remember another path in the ravine. “The one you completely missed when you were casing Gina.”

“GINA! OZZIE! WE FORGOT THEM!” Trinity cried, disappearing up the ladder. Three weeks ago, I would have chased after her, saying to leave them behind. Now, I saw my little sister as a girl who could take care of herself. After all, what toughens up a child more than facing the zombie apocalypse? In the middle of the desert, I might add.

Instead of doing as my old self would, I looked at Michael and said, “Cover me?” He nodded. We left the house with no sign of Trinity except the trail of dazed undead, who snarled softly.

We ran, Michael in front to swing at any zombies who came close. I was close behind. Going uphill with a heavy box in my hands was not fun. As we went along, I spotted the path Michael was talking about. It was small, the river, which ran here long ago, must have had a small tributary running off it. The path had clearly not been walked on in a long time. Long, dry grass nearly hid it entirely.

Finally we emerged into the clearing with the goat farm. Trinity was leading the dogs inside the Yellow Jay and they were not liking it one bit. Michael stopped a few meters away from the trailer, scanning the area while I got inside with the box, and nearly tripped on a can of nuts and bolts.

The floor was covered in the things we took from the shed I spent a night in. I avoided them the best I could, but I till managed to knock over a few things. I set the box down on the kitchen counter, only to have it slide away as the trailer swayed suddenly to the left.

“Whoa!” I yelped, and landed on Trinity, who was clutching the armrests on her chair. I groaned when the box landed on me.

“Sorry!” Michael said as he walked into the trailer, tossing a brick aside. “I had to get this trailer going somehow.

The trailer lurched again, free of the brick stopping it. “Waa!” Michael yelled, falling onto a jar of screws. He groaned, saying a little more than a simple 'ow'. Trinity glared at him. “Rude.”

The Yellow Jay rolled on its three wheels, one we attached to it's front in case something like this happened. We realize now that did not help with the bumps at all. It flew over the ground, and we could hear the zombies groans come and go.

“We need to steer this thing into the path!” Trinity said, running into the side of the trailer, ramming it and indeed steering it right.

“What if the trailer's too big!?!” I yelled, trying to look out the side window.

“We'll deal with it later!” Michael yelled back over the noise of rushing wind. “Right now we-”

His voice was cut off by a crash. I barely saw a large dent in the side of the trailer before everything was chaos. I felt myself in the air, clutching the box like a child with her blanket. I saw the trailer rolling, but my senses dulled like even they were stunned. Cans and jars were hitting me all over. I could almost see the bruises bloom over me, and certainly felt it. I was hearing screams, and I was sure one of the voices was mine. I was hurled into the side of the trailer, heard a crunch as my back hit it, and all went dark.

. . .

Pain.

It was as simple as that.

The feeling consumed me, filled me, was pouring out of me. The pain was most intense in my head and ribs, which hurt so bad I could only breathe and still feel pain. The box, which sat on my stomach, was miraculously not damaged since I used my body to protect it. I eased myself to a sitting position, which took many pained breaths and more than one reminders from my body that it wanted to shut down.

I looked around, my eyes detecting the night sky. It had not been long since we crashed the trailer. The moon had barely moved at all. I heard short breaths to my left and saw the limp body of Trinity. She was breathing, at least.

“Trinity!” I hissed as loud as I dared.

I saw the glint of gray eyes. “What...” Her voice trailed off, too weak to finish a question. That worried me.

“Trinity, We have to get up. It's still night and the window broke.”

“I....noticed.” Trinity raised her arm, which was filled with cuts and pieces of glass. Horrified, I rushed over to her, before I remembered that I was hurt. My ribs howled with pain and my head throbbed. I strangled the urge to break down and cry.

I forced myself to remove some of the glass out of her arm and nearly blacked out again. By the time I finished, Trinity whispered “Michael...” and I swerved to look around for him. I saw him and almost puked. He was face down, in a small pool of blood, and not moving. I felt tears coming for my cousin. My head hurt more, if that was possible.

“Is he okay?” Trinity asked, and I knew I had to be the one to check. I stumbled over to him, past glass shards and bolts scattered across the floor. As I came up beside him, I could almost see his pain. His leg was speckled with bolts, which brought bruises and mostly blood. I saw a tooth lying on the floor, and his mouth open as if still in shock.

Suddenly, his back rose and he hacked. I jumped, not sure if it was from surprise or relief. “Michael!” I said, and then regretted it from the chorus of snarls that responded. “We have to get out of here!” I said more urgently, gently nudging him in the arm.

He looked at me so slowly that I wondered if he was hit in the head, too. Then he got up, keeping weight off his bad leg. I let out my breath, though I didn't remember holding it.

I felt the pain being replaced by adrenaline once I realized what we had to do. We were going to have to run for it whether we liked it or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 8

Trinity helped me up with her good arm, and Michael used the walls of the trailer for support. I was still holding the box. No one spoke, as if we were worried that we would pass out from talking. I tried to wrap up Trinity's arm with my sock, but she waved me away. Michael then used my shoulder to lean on once we got out of the trailer. He spat on the sand, making it red in the dawn's light. The trailer was on its side, and we found out why it got a dent. It crashed against a building.

The building was an adobe-style double-story mansion. It was so big, it disappeared into the ravine walls. There were no windows, which I took as strange because of the heat here. The zombies we were running from were far behind, which filled me with such relief that I almost sighed. Then my ribs sent a wave of hurt and I couldn't. 

We went inside, through a pair of unlocked, half-open doors. There was nothing inside. The walls and floor were completely bare. In the middle of the house was a large gaping hole, big enough to easily fit a horse. The walls of the hole were smooth, and there were metal rungs that led dig underground.

“Well.” Trinity gasped. “While we're here.”

I nodded, which I quickly regretted doing. We descended, and I was first. I felt sorry for Michael, who had to hop down with one leg. Soon the air was filled with our huffing and puffing. Then I felt my foot touch ground.

I swiveled around, and gasped at the sight of machines. Hundreds of big boxy computers, with so many buttons and wires that I couldn't see the guards in the hallway until I just about walked into them. I covered my mouth and didn't dare take in a breath, but luckily their backs were turned.

The guards wore similar gray outfits and each held a pistol. They also wore the same bored expression. The two men blabbed about salaries and crazy people, so I sneaked back behind a computer.

I waved my comrades over as soon as I saw them touch ground. They wore the same bewildered expression that I did. “What is this place? Why are there so many machines?” Michael asked softly. “Why would it be hidden in a desert? It can't be good.” “Maybe these people are doing something dangerous, so they couldn't be near people?” Trinity answered quietly. “Well, I stand by what I said.” Michael whispered. “Shh. We can be heard. Besides, don't you want to hear what these guards say?”

“Why should we hide at all? We can go back to civilization!” Trinity said, looking excitedly at the men.

“What exactly got us into this mess in the first place, Trinity? Scientists did. Evil ones, at that. I bet anything that this hidden lab is where they are making the zombies.” Michael replied. “Now, listen! They could say something useful!”

The guards were in the middle of a conversation.

“You know the worst part Earl?” one said.

“What? They didn't pay you 50%?” another, Earl, asked.

“That wacko didn't pay me 1%!” The first one yelled.

“Uh, Rob, don't they have cameras here?” Earl said softly. “I don't think you should say that so loudly.” I glanced at the ceiling; worried that someone could be watching. Indeed, there was half a dozen above the spot where we at. I gulped.

“No! So many people quit, I think it's just us two! No one's there to check the cams!” Rob shrieked. “I'm done here! I don't wanna be part of this thing!”

He threw down the pistol, which Michael eyed hungrily. I squeezed his arm. No need to put yourself in danger when it will be gone soon. Earl ran after him. “Rob! Don't you remember Rule 12? 'No one leaves before alerting the boss first?'”

Rob paused. “Fine.” He stormed off, leaving Earl to guard the hallway. Earl sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose and shaking his head. Michael took that chance to crouch forward and pick up the pistol. He sneaked back, pointing the barrel down.

Earl then looked up. His eyes widened, and he ran after Rob. “Wait! Rob! The rule said you had to swear to secrecy! I don't think that-” His voice trailed off as turned a corner.

We got up carefully to make no noise and looked down each hallway. No one was there, just as Rob predicted. We finally decided to follow the guards, because they knew where they were going. We could pull it off, if we were quiet enough.

“What was that about?” Trinity asked, now that there was no one nearby.

“I don't know, but at least we learned that the scientist-people aren't doing so good at getting volunteers.” Michael replied.

I said nothing, focusing on following Earl. There were so many hallways; it beat even the office complex my mother worked at. That was saying something.

The hallways stopped at a large room with a high ceiling. There was a large glass dome in the middle of the room, and lots of machines encircled it. A lot of people were inside. Normal people. In fact, I thought I saw Uncle George in there somewhere. We took cover behind a computer. Trinity hopped up and down. “So they didn't turn everyone to zombies!”

“Why would they in the first place?” I asked.

“Remember why you moved? A failed lab experiment? Maybe they made a mistake!” Michael said.

“Then what are they trying to do?” Trinity asked.

“I don't know, but they should get arrested.” Michael said, checking the rounds on his pistol. “Kidnapping, violated labor laws, etc.” I stared at him. “What?” He said. “My dad's a cop!”

“HEY!” Someone yelled behind us. We whirled around to see Earl running at us. We entirely neglected to check where he was!

“Um.” Trinity said, easing Michael up to his feet with her good arm. “Where's the bathroom?” She gave a guilty smile. “On second thought, we'll be going now. Bye!”

She dragged Michael away and I ran after them, ribs displeased and hurting. Earl roared and charged at us. He was alarmingly fast, and even if we were at full health we couldn't of stood a chance against him. The guard grabbed me around my waist, which made my lungs seem to explode. I screamed.

The next couple of seconds were blurred out for me. I remember fighting like a wild animal, biting, scratching, tearing up anything I could reach. Finally I felt my fingers close around metal, and a thud when I threw it down on my attacker. Then I found myself on the ground. Earl was limp, but still breathing. I didn't look at him, terrified at what I would see. Earl's pistol was in my hand, but I know I did not use it as it was traditionally.

Trinity and Michael looked at me with stunned expressions. They were not afraid, because they knew I did what I needed to. I got up, my pain reduced to a dull ache.

“So now where do we go?” Michael asked. “Now that we don't have a guide?”

“Somewhere where you'll never see the light of day again.” a voice snarled.

My blood turned cold. It was Rob! He appeared from behind a computer. “I saw the whole thing! You'll pay for that by being out newest test subjects!” He looked gleeful, probably thinking of his next pay raise.

Michael raised the gun. Rob's eyes flickered to it. “I bet you don't know how to shoot it!” Michael calmly removed safety and fired at the top of the dome, which didn't even make a scratch. Rob took that chance and lunged at Michael, throwing him to the ground. Trinity started beating at Rob's head and I wrestled the pistol out of his fingers. Then I slid Michael out from underneath the guard.

Rob fought hard. He had the strength advantage. We had a weapon. Still, only one of us knew how to use it, so naturally Rob went for Michael. Rob pushed back Trinity, who was back in a second and now biting at his arm. Michael jumped onto him, elbow first, and knocked the air out of his lungs. I went for the face, scratching it and looking for something to knock him out with at the same time. Rob used him other arm to grab me by the back of the neck, which renewed my injuries, and tossed me away, and I hit the ground on the stomach. Double ow. I heard Michael scream my name and then saw him kicking at Rob's face with his good leg. Rob's face slammed into concrete, making his nose bleed more than Trinity's arm had. “Ew!” yelped Trinity, who release her hold on his arm.

Rob was still, probably knocked out, but we didn't want to risk it. Sure enough, but the time Trinity and I stood behind Michael who picked up the gun, Rob stood up fast. His face was red and the blood on his nose redder. His eyes were wild and face twisted into a triumphant smile. Then he saw the pistol and the smile dipped into a frown.

Even sitting down and having a gun trained on him, he was scary. Rob held his hands up slowly. “What do you want!?” he spat. “Our labs have nothing kids like you want.”

“Except our parents and, I don't know, our town back!” Michael yelled.

“Yeah, why did you need them anyway?” I asked.

“Don't ask me. I'm just here to secure this place of trespassers like you. I can't answer that.” Rob's eyes glared at the floor.

“Then lead us to someone who can!” Trinity yelled.

“Alright, alright, geez.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 9

Rob led us upstairs to a control center. It was full of screens, which were blank, and a large window viewing the dome. There were two men in it, sitting at computers. One was bald and had bushy black eyebrows. The other had orange hair that stuck straight up. He looked scared all the time. I recognized him as the scientist who grabbed Trinity’s arm back in the rest stop. They were the two guys we saw in the van.

They saw us leading Rob at gunpoint and froze. “Hey! Put the gun down!” The one with the bushy eyebrows said, while Orange Hair looked at us carefully. I recognized that voice. It was the one with the edgy voice that I’ll never forget.

“Wait.” Orange Hair looked at us one by one, finally stopping on Rob. “You are the kids from the desert, the ones that escaped us. Rob…you got beaten up by kids?!”

Rob made no move to even acknowledge him. He turned to Michael, Trinity and I. “Meet the rats behind all of this: Harris Wrey,” He gestured to Eyebrows, “and Edgar Conquest.” He nodded to Orange Hair.

“Michael, can you keep an eye on these guys while Trinity and I discuss what we should do with them?” I started to led Trinity to the door.

“I want to have a say in it!” he complained.

“Then who is going to watch over them? Rob?”

“Good point, but when you guys come back tell me what you decided!”

“Alright”

Trinity and I left Michael to guard our hostages. Funny, just weeks before, I thought school and moving would be the worst of my problems. Then, I was battling zombies and survival, not to mention evil scientist-people. Taking hostages and crashing trailers. No big deal.

I laughed softly as we sat down on the stairs. 

“What's so funny?” Trinity asked. I told her what I was thinking about.

“Wow, you're right. I didn't really think of our adventure that way...So, what should we do about our...friends in there?”

“I think we should...” I thought for a moment. Why did those scientists want to make zombies? What is the point? “I think we should hear them out before we make any rash decisions.”

“That sounds...reasonable, I guess, but they still get to punch them for kidnapping our parents, right?”

I smiled and got up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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