My friend told me to write a story called The Survivors. So I am.
Chapter one: Fighting for nothing.
All of us here are fighting. Fighting to get out, fighting to be listened to, fighting for anything, really. But we get nothing, always.
There are eight of us here. We all live in the same cold room. It’s so they can watch us easier, I assume. They can just look through one Plexiglas window instead of eight. Efficiency is everything, after all.
We’re all here against our will, naturally. We’re being “fixed,” because we are “broken.” You see, after the disaster happened, the ones left tried their damnedest to rebuild society as it had once been. But not all of us were strong. There were only forty-seven people who survived, as far as we know. Forty of them are trying to move on. The seven of us here think it’s wrong to forget.
They study us, the doctors. There are two of them. They try to teach the others about our behavior, giving dry textbook definitions of what depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are, with the occasional, “see, they’ll look like that, over there…”
The doctors think we’re all crazy because we had accepted that the world was ill-fated. Extinction is inevitable at this point. It’s all just a waiting game. But they refuse to admit it, so they go on starving and neglecting us so we look like genuine misery for their thirty-eight students.
Apparently, the entire population must become psychologists and psychiatrists because once they rebuild the population, everyone is going to be extremely fucked up. They’ll all need to be fixed, just like us.
I ask Kristen for new escape plans almost hourly. She’s my main partner in crime, I suppose you could say. We’ve tried just about everything. Digging holes in the walls with our plastic utensils during our rare feeding hours. Punching and ramming and scratching at the edges of the Plexiglas window hoping to crack it. Arguing until our jaws hurt in attempts to convince the doctors we don’t deserve this. Nothing works. In every sense of the word, we are trapped.
Tyler, April, and Jade have accepted our hopelessness. They’re the definition of “the walking dead.” I haven’t heard April say a word in over three years. Tyler and Jade talk on occasion. They used to be together. I think they still are…they just don’t care enough to act like it anymore. When they did, though, they were at least courteous enough to have sex in the bathroom so we didn’t all have to watch.
Gabriel and Paula were not so considerate. They’ve stopped, though. Thankfully. Now they just sit around and daydream out loud. It’s kind of weird. Kristen and I are always plotting something. I swear, we’d be evil geniuses if they’d only let us out.
Chapter two: When dreams become nightmares.
Today, something new happened. The door opened. There’s a door in the corner which we all forget exists. It blends in with the wall and hasn’t been touched in five years.
Standing in the doorway is Doctor Craven. The other thirty-nine are not present, which has never happened, either. He has a small video camera in his hand. He says that today we will all describe the disaster as we remember it, on camera. We all exchange confused but hopeful little glances through our perpetually droopy and bloodshot eyes. Does this mean they’ll take us out of this cage for once?
Doctor Craven brings in a white chair from the observation room and sets it in the far corner. No such luck. Alphabetically, April is first. She drags herself up from the ground where she was lying and sits in the chair. Doctor Craven turns on the video camera and the flash surprises us all. It’s been ages since we’ve seen such a bright light. Her eyes water as he unemotionally says, “Please state your name.”
“Age at the time of the disaster?”
“Uhh. Eighteen, I think.”
“What exactly happened on that day?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t mean the reasoning, just tell me what you remember happening.”
April looks at us. We nod, letting her know that it’s okay to talk about it.
“It was…so cold. Middle of December in New York. I was walking to class and…”
A single tear rolls down her cheek.
“And I saw it. The white closing in like the sheets falling on you when you build a fort in your bedroom. At first I…I thought it was just fog.”
“When did you realize it wasn’t fog?”
“When I heard the screams.”
“How long did it take for it to reach you?”
“I don’t know…twenty seconds. But it knocked me out immediately. I didn’t have time to run…no one can outrun it. It spread so fast. No one could even comprehend what was happening until it was too late.”
“What did it feel like?”
“I don’t know what being covered in liquid nitrogen feels like, but that’s how I imagine it. As soon as it hits you you’re just frostbitten…miserable…desperate for death to hurry up and take over. For everyone else it did. I don’t know why I didn’t die. But it’s the kind of cold that makes your bones ache and your blood turn into an icy river.”
“Then what happened?”
“Then I woke up and everyone was gone. I stole cars and drove until they ran out of gas, looking for anyone. I thought I was the last one alive. Then I found all of you.”
Doctor Craven turns off the camera and points to Gabriel. “You.”
Gabriel gets up and takes April’s place. The flash goes on.
Chapter three: Lighters.
“State your name and age at the time of the disaster.”
“Gabriel Miller, 16.”
“I was at a concert. They played a slower song and the lighters and cell phones came out. Then all of the lighters just…freaked out. They turned into huge bursts of flames like, ten feet tall. People started dropping them and they wouldn’t go out. They just grew. Everyone was screaming and running, getting trampled over and burned alive.”
“…the fuck do you mean, ‘and then?’ And then everyone fucking died and the fire consumed the entire stadium and spread across the city. Probably farther but I don’t really know. I passed out. I thought I was dead for sure. I couldn’t breathe from all the smoke and I just curled up in a ball and the next thing I know, I’m here…you fuckers prodding at me like I’m an animal.”
“Thank you, Gabriel.”