It’s been 7 goddamn days since I have seen the sun. All I want to do is go back to the year 2012. I wish more than anything that I was one of the lucky ones, the ones who died quickly. I guess I have my wonderful genetic superiority to thank for that. Sarcasm aside, it’s what is keeping me from an excruciating death.
I’m sure many of the people who died would love to take my spot. Most people I see are the kinds who hope too much. They hang onto any glimmer of hope that one day the world will return to normal. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is no way it will ever happen. Ever.
The world, or what’s left of it, is just a massive whirlwind of chaos. It seems as though while humanity was busy getting pumped full of prescription meds to keep themselves going, the wilderness was getting ready for the disaster to come. We all have modern medicine to thank for this. Maybe if we would have let the lesser people die, as nature intended, then the few of us survivors might have had a fighting chance.
I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the hell is going on. Let me sum it up for you. I have no idea how long ago it was, but it feels like centuries ago. Nobody knows for sure what happened. Some of the educated people told me it was probably due to some asteroid hitting the other side of the planet, causing earth to fall slightly out of its orbit, or it was angled differently. I don’t remember exactly what they said, because that shit doesn’t matter to me.
Things were okay for a while. Countries tried working together to accomplish the common goal of survival. People went out of their way to help the cause. It didn’t matter who you were, where you were from, or what color you were; everyone wanted things back to the way they were.
Of course, this didn’t last forever. Nations started to panic when supplies were running short. Water was freezing and crops were withering away. I’m sure every leader was trying to save their own skin, but most of them tried to conquer others and gather resources.
Soon enough, the larger forces like the United States, China, Russia, and the United European Alliance started to annex other nations, kill their people, and take whatever they had. It was all about saving your own and to hell with anyone else. Nobody complained about it, as long as they weren’t in the line of fire. All of the righteous people, like the Catholics or the Buddhists, who always preached morals seemed to turn a blind eye to the ruthless killing of others to ensure their safety. It’s almost funny how everyone forgot whatever moral code they pressed so strongly on everyone else as soon as it’s their turn to abide by it.
Everyone was preaching the end of the world. To be honest I think everyone already knew it. Nobody had to go out and tell us. Everyone was on edge. There was talk of nuclear war on top of this disaster that already struck. Nobody knows for sure who fired first; everyone has their own story. The punch line is, each nation tried to wipe the others out to get whatever resources they had left, nukes went flying, and we entered a nuclear winter.
With the sun away for so long, almost all of the plants that ever called earth their home, have withered away and become extinct. With this happening, animals that ate plants slowly died away. Along with the plants and the plant eaters went an easy food source. With the easy targets gone, the predators moved onto alternative means to survive. That’s when shit really hit the fan.
Now about all that’s left on earth are humans and the mutations that were once part of the animal kingdom. The animals, I have no idea what they truly are anymore, come out when the sun sets. We are constantly hunted when the sun hides from the horrors of the new world. Of course thanks to survival of the fittest, we now have to deal with predators more ferocious than…. I’m trying to think of what we used to call them… Lions. That’s it.
In short, we’re already dead. It’s just a matter of time until we all get torn to bits, by insanity or the predators. I’ll be honest with you here, I was a bit of a hypocrite earlier when I hinted that anyone with hope is stupid. Obviously if I didn’t have that I would have blown my brains out a long time ago. My hope is a different kind. I know there’s no hope for humanity to recover and start over. What I hold onto is the hope of finding my wife and my daughter.
We were separated the day of the attacks. They went to Detroit to find some food, while I was on a neighborhood watch. I had to do this because everyone tried to steal anything they could lay their hands on. I was terrified to let them go, especially my little girl. Before they departed my daughter handed me a silver locket. She broke down and I almost did too. She said "here dad, so I am always with you.", my wife had the same one. As I watched them disappear on the horizon I couldn't imagine life without them.I haven’t seen them since.
I’ll bet they found their way to the Chicago safe haven. That’s what everyone tries to get to. It’s damn near impossible though because the sun comes out for a day or two and vanishes for weeks. You can’t travel in the dark, unless you want to die. I think whatever mutation was done to the predators, made them nocturnal.
The only way to survive is to stash up on any food and water you can find. It’s almost easier when you pass through smaller towns. The people there were a lot closer and pooled whatever they had together for communal use. I think the predators got to the people and left the supplies behind. Either way, it’s that and my ability to run off next to no food that has kept me alive.
I was in what used to be the city of Niles, when I first met the most unlikely of all companions. The sun had just gone down and I was finding shelter in an old convenience store when I saw a person walking in the distance.
“What the hell is this dumbass doing?”
You always find shelter by sundown. Always.
She couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. She was prancing along, almost completely unaware of the situation around her. I felt like yelling out and telling her to find some cover quick, but I have learned the hard way to never trust anyone. So I stayed hidden and watched to see what she would do, cradling my rifle in front of me.
“Come on…. Get out of the street.” I whispered under my breath, hoping that somehow she would hear and comply.
She made about thirty more steps before she turned around. As soon as I saw her make that move I knew what was going to happen. I have seen it so many times before. They start to run and before they make it 100 feet the predators shred them apart.
“Stay hidden, focus on your task. Don’t get yourself killed”, my brain was taking the logical approach.
“She’s just a little kid. Get off your ass and help!” My conscience was tearing at me to save her.
Without time to scream for help, she went into a full sprint, making a bee-line towards anything that could potentially save her.
“Don’t do it. Don’t,” but I knew I had to.
I saw the shiny black coat of the predator come racing down the street. It was a good hundred yards away from her, but that could be covered in no time at all.
“You stupid piece of shit.”
I sprang up, and shouldered my rifle.
I had become a pretty decent shot over the course of my journey. A shot from two hundred yards was almost routine when it came to self-defense or hunting. With ammo being so scarce, you couldn’t afford to miss.
I leveled my sights, hands at ten and two, with a predator lollipop. I held my breath and waited until the predator closed in to about 100 yards. Point blank. I could see the predator licking its chops, dreaming of the meal soon to come. It made one more large leap to take down its prey.
It always happens quicker than you would expect. You slowly squeeze the trigger until it gives way to the retention spring; you feel a slight punch on the shoulder, then pull your eyes back down to your target.
CRACK. Ring. A high pitch ring resonates in my skull.
When my eyes focused back on the target, it was lying on the ground squirming, trying to hold onto whatever life it had left. I put my arm through my sling and hoisted my rifle onto my back.
“Get over here, now!”
She slowly made her way to the building I was in.
“Holy shit, do you want to die?”
My words made her move faster, but not by much. I wondered if she really did want to die. Come to think of it, she didn’t yell for help when imminent death came running after her. I never really gave it much thought.
“You should have just let nature run its course…”, I whispered.
“What was that?”
“I was just asking myself why the hell I decided to waste a bullet to save your sorry ass.”
“Save me? I was leading it to a trap.”
“Yeah, alright. Oh, and did I mention, I’m Jesus Christ?”
“Look, I was gonna kill it with this.” She pulled a knife from her jeans. It seemed like she was trying to give off the independent tough girl attitude.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, put that down!” I raised my rifle to her head. I’ve seen this act way too many times before. People put themselves in danger knowing any decent person will save them. Right afterwards, they will rob and kill them. It’s common practice among most wanderers.
“Easy with that thing, tough guy.”
I really should have let that predator kill her.
“Put the knife on the ground and kick it over to me.”
“You know what, screw it. I don’t care. Take the damn thing”, she dropped the knife and kicked it over. “If you’re going to kill me, do it now. I’m tired of this shit.”
“I’m not gonna kill you. If I wanted you dead, you would be half way down that predator’s throat right now.”
“I already told you, I was leading it to a trap.” She scorned and folded her arms.
“Right.” There’s no way in hell she was going to kill one of those things with just a knife. While it was a large knife, I just don’t think that would have got the job done. I figured if she’s finally given up her weapon, maybe we could try to be civil. I decided, being the older of us, that I would try to dust off the manners and get on speaking terms.
“Okay, what’s your name?”
“Alright, good to see you trust me.” I said sarcastically. Kokomo, Michigan. Probably where she is from. I hate using city names. Honestly, what difference does it make if someone knows your real name?
“Well, Kokomo, I’m Dmitri.”
“Why would you say your real name?” She dropped her arms and raised and eyebrow.
“Because I don’t think the predators are going to trace me by my name”, I am probably the worst joke teller of all time, “and because it doesn’t matter at all.”
“Well, I’m still Kokomo.” She crossed her arms again and lifted her head.
I hate kids who think they have it all figured out.
“Good for you. Make your bed and get some sleep.”
“I don’t have anything to sleep on though.”
“Yeah well nobody does, get used to it, princess.”
Honestly, what the hell did she expect? We are in a world where you’re lucky to survive and she’s worried about comfortable sleeping.
“Grab whatever you can and get some sleep.”
She stomped off to another room to scavenge supplies. I just made do with the floor and got to sleep. It’s something I got used to.
The fact that she couldn’t sleep without some type of cushion made me wonder how she got by this entire time. There sure as hell aren’t many mattresses that can be found in the wastelands. Then again, it could just be another thing for a kid to bitch about.
I was drifting off to sleep when her voice pulled me back to reality.
“Great, I was waiting to hear about it.” I rolled over to my side and tried to cover my ears.
She came back to the room I was in with some newspaper.
“There’s more back...”
“You can have it, just do what you need to do and go to sleep.” I have no idea where she came from, or who used to take care of her, but whoever did had the patience of a saint.
“Fine.” I heard the paper fall to the floor and her feet scuffle off to the other room.
I must have fallen asleep before she came back. When I woke up she was curled up in a newspaper cradle. I almost started to laugh, thinking about all the trouble she went through to make it.
The sun was still down and probably would be for quite a while. All you can do is sit around and wait while the sun is away. That has got to be the worst part about the world now. You waste so much time waiting for the sun to come up and give the ‘all clear’.
I really enjoy how quiet the world is. It’s peaceful really. You will never experience the pure silence of a twice ended world. It's just sad to realize that this feeling of peace is shattered once you open your eyes.
Instead of trying to force a few more hours of rest I decided to clean my rifle. I stripped it in seconds, I could have done it with my eyes closed. The familiar cold metal and black grease was comforting. There was barely anything to clean having only fired one shot since its last wipe down, but you don't want to find your gun jamming with a predator bearing down on you.
A flicker of sunlight peaked over the horizon, I put my gun together carefully and slapped the dust cover shut in an almost ritualistic way. "Get up", I whispered to Kokomo. She wriggled around and ignored me so my boot found her shoulder. She stood immediately, "what the hell was that for!".
"Sunlight's rare and I've got ground to make up, good luck."
"You're just going to leave me?"
I couldn't just leave a kid out here she reminded me too much of my own.
We started on our way out of the city, "where we headed?" she said in a pompous pre-teen way.
"South, now be quiet"
I didn't want any unexpected guest hearing my new burden. Predators aren't the only danger, some of those that didn't die turned into sadists.They killed because they could; hell, they seemed to enjoy it, sick bastards.
Me and Kokomo were on the outskirts of town when I spied a house that had a munitions box on the porch. Kokomo's eyes were sharper, she was already bounding up the sidewalk. I half whispered half yelled "wait!". It was too late and she was too quick and too fueled up.
She held the box up with triumph "Dmitri, catch!" and tossed it weakly to me. The box clattered on the sidewalk and bullets spilled like rain drops on the pavement. The echo was deafening anyone with ears would know where we were. This kid was more trouble than she was worth.
"Jesus Christ, what are you doing?" I was on the porch now, absolutely furious.
"In the house, move!"
"Ouch!", I damn near tackled her through the door.As we both clattered inside I surveyed the room with extreme detail. I knew the room like I knew my gun, in seconds. The walls were pealing and the room was all around dull, obviously there were no light fixtures and the furniture was frayed. The living room once housed a happy family, according to the pictures. Now, it housed the scent of mildew and rotten wood.
"Stay here and shut up" I whispered frantically. I had to do my traditional house check to ensure no surprises.
My eye caught a shadow making its way down the stairs. My heart turned into an engine, adrenaline was my gasoline. I charged the figure, kill now ask questions later. It was a man in his mid 30's if I were to guess. He looked like hell. His beard was thick and stringy and his teeth were yellowed from years of neglect. The worst part about this man was he was holding a pistol.
I grabbed his arm, which docked the firearm and slammed it straight up into his nose. "Crunch" , his nasal ridge was now in pieces. "God dammit", he managed through clenched and bloodied teeth. I stuck the barrel under his chin. We both had our fingers on the trigger.
"Let go! I won't hurt you if you let go!" I struggled to say. He wouldn't respond, I had to answer for him.
The walls finally got the paint job they needed.
Kokomo was catatonic, her screams echoed through the house like an organ in a church.
I turned around showered in blood; I must have looked like an animal. She started sobbing and my instincts of a father kicked in.
"Relax its over, you're O.K. now." I tried my best to bring her back to sanity. She could only reply with muted sobs, but we needed to keep moving. I quickly ran upstairs carefully treading around the new corpse.
The upstairs had a single room just as dreary and dull as the floor below it. The room was barren besides a single cabinet pressed against the far wall. With curiosity growing inside me I ripped open the cabinet, I felt like a child unwrapping a present on Christmas day. Inside was a box of 9 millimeter cartridges and enough food for a long journey.
Seeing actual food almost brought me to my knees, it would be enough to get me close to Chicago. The shadow of death that hung over my day-to-day life seemed to be lifted and my mind raced to thoughts of my family.
"Kokomo you won't belie....."
The back of my head erupted with searing pain as my vision wavered. I went head first into the cabinet, tearing it off the wall as I slammed onto the cold wood flooring. The room turned into a sea of colors and splotches. As I lay there on my back my eyes pan over to a dark shape walking to me. I thought it was the reaper, and it was.
Kokomo sat on my chest and pinned my arms with her knees as if I wasn't already subdued. She had found her knife.
"Sorry Dmitri nothing personal." I could barely make out a locket hanging over my face as she bent over me with a cold steel blade at my throat. It matched mine. My blood turned to stone. I had been worried about the predators my entire existence, but not this one. I felt hot liquid all over my neck. It was a cold day, the warmth was inviting. I would see my family sooner than I thought.
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