"Chapter One" Contest Entry
Some people have indestructible personalities, the kind of personalities that not even the freakin’ apocalypse can destroy. We are such people, apparently.
“Wow, the highway sure does look pretty,” Jack says sarcastically, to my right.
“Yeah, right? The sunset really brings out the graffiti.” Henry laughs, clapping Jack’s shoulder.
“Stop it, you two. Don’t make me come over there.” I say, shooting both of them a look. Andrew is silent beside me. Like us, his personality hasn’t changed. He’s always been the emo to Jack’s ray of sunshine.
“What are you gonna do, Christie? You’re like a hundred pounds dripping wet.”
“Yeah, dude. What are you gonna do? Your name is Christopher, not exactly fear-inspiring. It’s too common.”
“Says two doofuses named Henry and Jack. Besides, you’re gonna wake the dead with all that shouting.”
They almost say something smart, I can feel it, but then they remember that that’s actually a strong possibility.
“Alrighty then, Christina. I suppose we’ll walk in sullen silence like good ol’ Andrew over there.”
“Go for it. I beg of you.”
Andrew, the eternal point prover, stays in sullen silence. We follow suit, walking in silence for a while. Henry was right, the sunset really does bring out the graffiti. It’s not pretty, of course, but it’s there. Tens if not hundreds of lines, swooping and arching and spelling words that must mean something to whoever wrote them, a thousand years ago and this morning, or a time in between before everything went to Hell. I trace my hand over the barrier, concrete dust coming off on my hand.
“Where are we going, anyway?” Henry is the first to break the silence.
“Home.” Andrew says quietly.
“He speaks! Hallelujah!”
“Only when I have something of value to add…you seem to do the opposite.”
“Sick burn from the Android,” Jack says, pretending to fall over from shock. “I’m still workin’ on the name, by the way.”
“Yeah, don’t bother quitting your day job.”
“Jokes on you, I’ve never even had a job.”
“Explains a lot, actually.”
“And now money is useless. Bet you feel real stupid, right?”
“Not nearly as stupid as you look.”
“Shhh,” Henry says suddenly, his almond-shaped eyes wide in fear.
“What?” I ask, my voice barely above a whisper.
“There’s a huge horde of them, right up ahead.”
I sneak a look, then immediately wish I hadn’t. Corroded flesh meets dried gore and shiny bone, in some cases broken bone, leaking secretions like a faucet. They shuffle slowly, but these things can move with surprising speed, in pursuit of something to eat. The football team, by the looks of them. But no longer worried about playoffs…worried about dinner.
Which is us.