a story of a group of friends who awake to find the world as they know it has ended part 2
| Chapter Nine
“Ok, so once we get past the wolves we regroup at smith’s, then we don’t stop until we hit foodtown.” I said going over the plan. Smith’s was a small bar owned by an older couple, it was on the corner of the next block. “When we get to foodtown we stock up on supplies, rest for a few minutes and head for the shelter. Foodtown was located augusta street, to get to it we would need to could through the backyard of a house at the end of cedar street four blocks down the road. “Maybe we should go out first and let the girls wait till we kill the wolves to come out.” Mark said. “No I wish we could but once it starts, the noise will probably attract more animals, we’re gonna have to all go out together.”I said “why don’t we just shoot the wolves from the roof or something?” Justin asked “they’ll just scatter and come back, we have to bait them into fighting or they’ll just attack us when we run for it.” Jay said. Then I looked towards the girls “once we clear a bit of a path run like hell and get to smith’s, we’ll meet you there.” I told them. “Please be careful” Katie said trying not to cry. We all started to get prepared for the journey “remember pack light and we’ll stock up at foodtown” jay told everyone. We were all dressing for the snow, and had thrown two big bottles of water and all our extra ammo in a book bag. Mark and I had our handguns, jay had his rifle, Kenny and Justin had the other two rifles. Sarah and Katie had the two revolvers; both had been on the range and knew how to shoot. Allison had volunteered to carry the bag. “Remember, don’t try to fight only use the guns if you have to, just get to smiths as fast as you can.” Jay said to Sarah and Katie. We all gathered in the living room. “Alright let’s go, ill see you all at smith’s in just a couple minutes.” I said and everyone nodded.
As soon as I opened the front door things started to move very, very fast. I stepped out and moved to the right, mark to the left. As soon I hit the snow the five wolves charged us. They moved much faster than I would have imagined. I aimed at the first one that came at me, I hit him in midair and he went down. I turned and shot another killing it in two shots. Around me I saw the girls take off for smiths moving as quick as they could, I couldn’t see anymore wolves around us then I saw something that made my heart drop. The four wolves we had seen in the backyard had come around to the front like we knew they would but only two of them were charging toward us, the other two went straight toward the girls. Without thinking I ran as fast as I could towards them, I heard one of the guys yelling behind me along with a lot more gunfire but it didn’t phase me I needed to get to the girls. I couldn’t risk stopping to fire because if I missed I would never get there in time. The wolves were closing in fast, then I saw the further wolf go down after being shot, the other was too close to the girls for anyone to fire on. I was right behind them when the remaining wolf caught michelle and dragged her down as she screamed. I didn’t have time to think, only react and since I was running full speed, too fast to shoot with accuracy, I dove and pulled the wolf off of her. We rolled through the snow, I was trying to keep its jaws away from me but it was able to scratch me a few times. I ended up on top and had it pinned to the ground with my forearm, I put my gun near its head and fired twice.
I looked up and saw that Allison, Katie, and Sarah had made it to smith’s, I got up and picked up Michelle and carried her the rest of the way, she was sobbing loudly, but at least she was still alive. I looked back and saw the guys were on their way too, Mark was dragging Kenny but everyone else seemed ok. Once everyone was inside we slammed the door, I turned around and saw that the small bar was destroyed to about the same extent as our house and I saw that the place was completely empty. It usually didn’t open till four and I guess the smiths hadn’t come in yet. “Are you ok?” Katie asked me. “I’ll live” I told her smiling and hugged her quickly. My face was bleeding from a couple small deep cuts on my forehead but other than that I was fine. I saw sarah tending to Michelle “is she ok?” I asked. From the looks of it the wolf had chewed up her leg pretty bad but that was it. “She’ll be ok, I just to bandage this up.” I then went over to check on Kenny. “It’s just my arm, I’ll be fine.” He told me. It was bleeding badly and we would need to tend to both their wounds before we could continue. “I’m sorry I left you guys hanging like that” I told them feeling guilty for taking off. “Don’t be, you did the right thing” Kenny said. “Who shot the other wolf?” I asked just remembering. “That would be our resident sniper over here” mark said as he pointed to jay. “Hey I knew even you couldn’t out wrestle two wolves.” He told me laughing a little bit. “Nice shooting” I told him and patted him on the back. “Here these will help; I found them in the back.” Said Allison handing out two first aid kits. Sarah started wrapping Michelle’s leg while jay did the same for Kenny.
It was about fifteen minutes later by the time we were ready to move again, but not everyone seemed convinced it was still the right move. Michelle was hurt and scared and Justin was campaigning against leaving probably scared for her safety. I had kept a pretty much constant watch through the window and by the looks of it nothing had gathered outside yet. To be honest I didn’t think we would a have an uneventful trek to foodtown, that would be too easy but it would be nice to get a head start this time, so I really didn’t like the idea of wasting more time then was necessary. “Can’t we just stay here? I don’t think I can make it.” Michelle said. “I’ll put you on my back, we’ll make it.” Mark said trying to ease her worrying. He was the biggest so he would probably be the best suited but it would still slow him down. “No if we run out there something else is going to come for us, I don’t want to go back out there!” Michelle said, she was terrified now “maybe she right, maybe we can wait it out here, its too hard to move out there, its going to take a while to get to the school, what if something worse comes?” asked Justin, he looked a little worried himself. As a matter of fact everyone looked a little less determined than they had in the house, seeing the wolves up close was not an easy thing to deal with. People began to debate then about what the best course of action would be. Jay was trying to convince them that we needed to go while we could. I was standing at the large front window of the bar by myself trying to ignore the argument behind me when mark approached me. “What do you think?” he asked. “I think the church is our only shot, and the longer we wait the less of a chance we’ll have.” I answered him still looking out the window. “Yeah I was thinking pretty much the same thing, but they’re too scared to move.” He said. “Where do you think everyone else went?” I said changing the subject slightly “why haven’t we seen more people?” I finished “I don’t know, they have to be somewhere those things couldn’t have gotten them all. They can’t all be hiding can they?” Then before I could respond to him he pointed out the window and said “what the hell is that!” he had pointed at a large dark spot in the shy that was moving toward us very, very quickly. “Get down now!” I screamed and mark and I dove to the floor just as the glass shattered above us.
I felt something fly over our heads, and as I glanced up I was only able to see that the bar had been filled with large black birds. “Everybody run!” mark yelled. I fired my gun towards the ceiling, hoping to scare them off. I heard a few screams and couldn’t identify who was screaming then I saw Katie run past me along with Sarah and they ran out the door. Justin had just gone down with birds all around him, jay and Allison were out the door already and mark was carrying Michelle towards the door. I ran to Justin and being trying to kick away the birds, in the end I just grabbed him up and dragged him out the door. When we got outside, the birds still biting and pecking at us, I saw Kenny had gone into a house across the street two houses up and was holding the door open for everyone. I was running as fast as I could across the street but I was pretty much carrying Justin at this point and the birds were still everywhere. Then when I was halfway across mark and jay ran back to help with Justin, mark took one side while I took the other while jay tried to help swat away the birds using his rifle. Finally we made it to the house; jay closed and locked the door while mark and I laid Justin on the couch. His face was torn apart, both eyes had been ripped out, he was dead. “no!” screamed Michelle as she ran out of the room. I looked out the window and saw that the birds had left the area, this worried me more than relieved me. “What could be next” I wondered to myself. “jd! take a look at this.” Kenny yelled to me from the kitchen. I walked in and saw the kitchen table looked as if the family that lived here was right in the middle of breakfast. This house had been destroyed just like ours and the bar, with furniture everywhere and cracks all through the walls, but remnants of breakfast was scattered around the floor. Two cereal bowls were half eaten with the spoons still near the bowl, and two cups of coffee were spilled on the floor to the other side of the table. “Where did everyone go?” he asked me. “I don’t know it’s like they all just vanished.” I told him.
It took us a few minutes to get settled down, we all had a few scratches and cuts, maybe even a few that could have used stitches but that wasn’t an option at this point. Michelle had locked herself in the bathroom after seeing Justin and she hadn’t come out since. Once again the argument against leaving had started again. This time Sarah and Allison were leading the debate. “I don’t know how to explain it but it’s a systematic attack.” Jay explained. “What does that even mean?” Katie asked him. “It started with the snow, then the animals and the earthquake. Whatever it is I don’t think it’s going to stop until everyone’s wiped out.” Jay answered. “If you’re right, what’s the point of doing anything?” asked Kenny from the corner of the room. “If we got to the fallout shelter we could withstand almost anything, its out only chance.” Jay responded. “But what about all the missing people; there should be people all over the place.” Mark said changing the subject slightly. “Yeah we’ve only seen two people, it’s a Sunday morning, where is everyone?” asked Sarah. I didn’t get involved in the discussion because I just wanted to make sure Michelle was ok, and on top of that I really didn’t know what we should do anymore. A conversation started up then about the absence of the people throughout the town, but the talking was broken up by a scream. We ran to the bathroom, knowing it had to be Michelle; I got to the door first and found it locked. “Michelle!” I yelled. “Are you ok?” I continued but got no response. Mark and I looked at each other and with one of us on each side we kicked the bathroom door in. You would think that at this point of the day after everything else we had seen we would be prepared for anything but we weren’t. There on the floor of the bathroom was Michelle, lying motionless and wrapped around her entire body was the largest snake I had ever seen.
My best guess was that it had to be an anaconda and it looked to be at least fifteen feet long. The snake was wrapped tightly around Michelle’s entire torso and when we entered the room it released its fangs from her shoulder and looked at us, ready to strike. Someone screamed behind us but I didn’t even look to see who it was. I pulled out my gun, and mark put his hand on my shoulder “no you can’t shoot it, you might hit her.” He said actually sounding a little scared for the first time. I put my gun away and said “take out your gun, shoot it as soon as you get the chance.” I told him. “But when” he started but I cut him off. “You’ll know” I said. I stepped forward and shoved my forearm at the snakes face praying the plan worked. It did and the snake struck my forearm with its fangs, I felt pain like lightening shoot through my entire arm. Then mark stepped forward and shot the snake in the throat twice at point blank range. The snake released its grip on my arm and dropped to the floor, mark shot it once more before prying it off Michelle. “You are the craziest motherfucker I’ve ever met.” He said to me smiling a little bit. We finished prying the snake off of her, “she’s not breathing” mark said looking up at me. “Look out, let me through” said Sarah pushing her way through us and kneeling down by Michelle. Sarah had worked as an emt for a couple years and knew cpr. I knew she had to be scared to death but her training kicked in and she didn’t hesitate. She started the cpr but didn’t seemed to be getting anywhere, after a couple minutes she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said “she’s dead, I’m so sorry, there was nothing I could do.” At that point I felt breakdown was coming any second, I was sure I couldn’t hold it together anymore, but when they saw this Sarah and mark must have recognized it because they took over immediately. Sarah hugged me then took me by the now bloody arm. “Come on. Let me clean up your arm and get it wrapped.” She said in a quiet voice. “Everyone get to the living room, and lets all stay together from now on. No one goes anywhere alone.
I was now sitting on an armchair in a stranger’s living room while my sister was wrapping and cleaning my arm. Katie was sitting next to me on the arm of the chair; she was gently rubbing my back, knowing that was something that could usually relax me. Mark was reloading all the guns, jay was comforting Allison, and Kenny was keeping a watch on the windows and doors. The pain in my arm had receded a little but it still hurt like hell, at least I knew I could still use the arm and shoot my gun. Everyone in the room was quiet now, all the arguments had ceased. Without saying so we pretty much all came to the conclusion that we had to keep moving, it really was our only chance. “How could it have even gotten in the house?” Allison asked us. “The window must have been broken in the earthquake; it didn’t have any glass in it. It must have crawled in through there.” He said. Mark then stood up and started handing out the guns, there just seven of us now, so none of us was going to be unarmed now. Mark gave Sarah his 9mm, and I gave mine to Kenny, knowing it wasn’t a good idea for either of them to have one of the rifles, Kenny on account of his bad shoulder. Mark jay and I grabbed the rifles, we didn’t have as much experience with them but we had been on the range a few times and were confident with them. Allison and Katie each took one of the small revolvers, mark grabbed the bag and we headed towards the door. I passed the water bottle around one more time and said “everyone ready?” they nodded some more hesitantly than the rest. “Ok no matter what happens when we get out there, run like hell and don’t stop until we hit foodtown.” I told them and then opened the door.
At first we didn’t see anything out there with us, but we knew it wouldn’t be long so we were in an all out sprint the second we got out the door. Katie was next to me and mark was on my right holding Sarah’s hand. Jay, Allison, and Kenny were right behind us. I saw something running toward us, they must have come from one of the yards or something because they were almost parallel to us now. At first I thought it was more wolves, then I saw they were a light brown color with dark stripes, they were hyenas. They were on our right side and there were four of them, we were about three quarters of the way to foodtown but last thing I wanted was those things catching us from behind. “Now!” I screamed, hoping everyone would understand my meaning. They did understand, I stopped and turned right and began firing on them, everyone else did the same. Mark, jay and I had formed a line and the other four were right behind us, everyone firing at will. I saw two hyenas go down, but they were just two fast, and the other two were on us before we could shoot them. One flew past me, and the other had gone right for mark. I heard screaming and shooting, I turned to mark and saw that the hyena had hold of his left wrist, I hit it as hard as I could with my rifle, but it didn’t budge. “Stand back!” mark yelled. I did and he shot it through the stomach. I looked at him a little confused, knowing there was no way he could have fired the rifle with one hand, he held up a very small revolver and smiled. “I keep this one in my boot just in case.” He said. I heard three more gunshots behind me and I saw jay standing over the second hyena with his rifle pointed at it, Allison was lying next to it, covered in blood and crying. “it got her, I tried to stop it, is she ok?” Jay asked, almost in a state of shock. “foodtown” I said “we’ll fix her up there.” I finished, knowing we couldn’t stay outside. “I got her.” Mark said as he scooped her up, handing his rifle to Sarah. We made it into foodtown just as the second earthquake of the day shook the ground.
We got inside the store to a soundtrack of breaking glass and falling groceries. Mark laid Allison down between two of the cash registers in the front of the store, the rest of us followed and huddled up to wait through the earthquake. The intense shaking lasted about five or six minutes this time. All around us things were crashing everywhere, but I could still hear Allison crying in pain. Once the earthquake ended we all backed away from Allison and let sarah look at her. “Is she ok?” Jay said in a shaky voice, stepping in front. “She’s losing a lot of blood” said Sarah as she pulled Allison’s coat off. “Jay, come over here, give her some space.” I told him pulling him out of the way. “Oh no.” sarah said quietly seeing the wound for the first time. Allison had a very deep gash on her throat and was losing blood very quickly. Sarah pressed the jacket against the wound as hard as she could, but as she did she looked at me with tears in her eyes and I knew it was already over. Just that Allison’s body started shaking and then went completely still. “I’m sorry” said Sarah. “No!” screamed jay. I walked over to him and put my arm around him, mark began walking over too. “Get away from me!” he screamed, pushing me away violently. “We’re all gonna die! What’s the point in even trying?” He said hysterically. He then stormed off towards the other end of the store. “Let him go, he just needs a couple minutes.” I said to mark, who had started to follow him. “Alright we need to get some supplies here anyway, so we may as well get started.” I said to the group. “Kenny, grab a shopping cart, and me you and Katie will go grab some stuff from the store. That way we don’t have to carry anything, we’ll just take turns pushing the cart.” Kenny nodded and went to go get a cart. “Mark, you and Sarah stay here and wait for jay to come back.” I told mark. I picked up my rifle and hung it over my back when mark walked over to me. “Are you ok?” he asked me. “No, not even close.” I told him. “But I’m keeping it together for them.” I told him pointing to Katie, Sarah and Kenny. “Good, once we get to the shelter we can both fall apart, this is too much for me.” He told me, smiling.
A couple minutes later, mark settled down on the floor with his arm around Sarah, and Katie, Kenny and I were walking into the store to gather some supplies for the shelter. Kenny was pushing the cart, Katie was carrying a list she had written quickly, and I was carrying my rifle, just in case. We had made it to just about the center aisle when Katie said “what was that?” We all froze in place. “What? I didn’t hear anything.” I asked her. Then before she could answer I heard something coming from the end of the aisle. “What the hell is that?” Kenny asked a little frightened. “Wait here.” I said to them and began to walk towards the sound. I was walking slowly with my rifle pointed out in front of me when I heard a loud crash; it had come from behind me. I quickly turned and saw that what appeared to be a mountain lion had jumped through over the aisle and was now attacking Kenny. It was on its back legs and had him pushed up against the other row of shelves; his gun was on the floor. I rushed towards him and saw Katie on the ground a few feet away from him. “Get back to mark and sarah, run!” I told her as I pulled her up by the arm. She started running as soon as her feet hit the floor. I tried to shoot it but had to be careful not to hit Kenny. I fired once and hit it in the back. The lion backed away from Kenny and looked at me. Kenny’s body had crumpled to the ground and was now motionless. I took a second thinking, I knew I couldn’t run, but doubted I could kill it before it got to me; we were only about ten feet apart. Then I heard something I couldn’t even register at first. “Die you motherfucker!” screamed jay from the other end of the aisle. He was running towards it at full speed, firing his rifle the whole time. I was forced to duck down to avoid the bullets. The lion began charging toward him and it looked like at least three of his shots landed but then the lion was on him. They wrestled for a few seconds, although it seemed like forever, jay was screaming obscenities and laughing the whole time. Then three consecutive gunshots went off and the lion fell over and didn’t move again. “Jay! Are you ok?” I asked him as I was running toward him. I got there and saw he was hurt badly, but he was still laughing. He had deep cuts and slashes all over his face and throat and he was bleeding badly. “I just killed a fucking lion.” He said to me with a smile. “Yeah you did.” I told him. “I’m gonna go see Allison now.” He said and then closed his eyes for the last time. That’s when I lost it, I just couldn’t hold on anymore. Someone I’ve known since I was four years old had just been killed along with four of my closest friends and my mind just wouldn’t accept it. I didn’t even need to look at Kenny to know he was dead, I knew it as soon as he had fallen I just didn’t want to believe it. I just sat there on the floor crying for god knows how long. I kept thinking over and over in my mind that this couldn’t be real, I was going to open my eyes any second and we would be back in the apartment and everything would be ok. But it never happened, somehow this was real, and I knew I need to find a way to pull myself back together so we would have a chance at surviving but I didn’t know if I could. A couple minutes later I realized Katie was holding me; I wasn’t sure when she had gotten there but I was thankful for it. When I finally felt her presence there it started to bring me back to reality, she gave me the strength to regain a little bit of my composure and start to pull myself back together. I knew I had lost a lot but I still had her, mark and Sarah, I knew I could do anything for the three of them and now I would have to. That thought finally brought me all the back to reality. I finally stood up and saw mark and sarah were there too. I could tell they had both been crying too. “I checked the rest of the store, its all clear.” He told me. We then walked around the store together, all four of us and collected everything we would need if we ever made it to the church. We grabbed a bunch of one gallon water jugs and as much non perishable food as we could fit in one cart. During the little shopping trip through the aisles we were all afraid to say anything at first, not wanting to upset each other. Then I said “its ok to talk about it guys, it hurts but if we keep holding it all inside we’re never going to make it out of this.” I said to them hoping to break some of the tension. For the first few seconds everyone was quiet and then mark said “that crazy asshole really attacked a lion?” “Yeah he did, and he was cursing at it while he did it.” I answered him and we all laughed a little bit. Then Sarah said “look who’s talking I seem to remember someone tackling a wolf and then letting a giant snake bite them.” She said looking at me. “Yeah your crazy must have rubbed off on him.” Mark said laughing. The rest of the time in the store was filled with jokes and pleasant stories about our friends, this was our way of honoring them.
Once were done we were all gathered together near the front of the store. “Do you guys mind giving us a minute alone?” I asked mark and Sarah taking Katie by the hand. They both shook their heads and I led Katie into one of the surrounding aisles. “What’s going on?” She asked me, looking a little concerned. I took her by the hands and kissed her lightly on the lips before saying “ I don’t know what’s going on here, and I have no idea what will happen next or if any of us is going to make it through this alive. But I do know that there’s no way in hell I’m going to die without giving you this.” I said as I pulled the engagement ring box from my pocket. “I just needed you to know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you, even if there’s not much of it left.” I said to her smiling. She was crying now, but she took the ring from the box and put it on. “I love you.” She managed to say through the tears. “Some timing.” She said sarcastically, managing to smile a little bit. “Yeah it was supposed to happen right after the game, sorry.” I told her. “Well just so you know I would have said yes then too.” She said as she kissed me and then held onto to me for what seemed liked forever, I wish it had been. After a few minutes we walked back to the front of the store and met up with mark and Sarah. “I’ll push the cart, you guys have those rifles ready.” she said to us. Katie mark and myself all had rifles now, Sarah had a revolver. Mark and I both had our handguns back as well. Once we were ready mark said “it looks clear out there, but it won’t be for long, so be ready.” Everyone nodded, than I stepped forward and said “no matter what happens I just want you all to know I love you guys, and if we go out at least we went out fighting, and we did it together.” The three of them nodded in agreement and with that we walked out the doors of foodtown, together.
We knew that we would never be able to run the entire distance to the church, so we were walking at a pretty good pace and for the first block all seemed quiet. Every house that we passed, and there were a lot of them here fairly close together, seemed completely deserted. We actually saw one car in a driveway that was running with the driver side door open but no one around. There was even a spilled thermos of coffee next to the door. Not once on the entire trip did we see anything that would lead us to believe that any people at all were left in this town. We were halfway down the second block when finally something happened, the birds were back. We had thought this might happen eventually, so we had planned for it. We pulled our coats all the way up over heads and went into a full sprint. I felt them tearing at the thick coat but so far nothing had gotten through. We actually ran with the birds around our heads for the rest of that second block. We didn’t bother shooting at them, there were just too many, so we just ran. The hope was that if they couldn’t get to any of us that they would give up. The more likely scenario was, another four blocks of this, but I knew we could do it if we had to. We had all gotten pretty used to running through the deep snow, so we were able to move at a decent speed. Don’t get me wrong when I say sprint I’m not talking about forty yard dash type speed, I mean as fast as a person can possibly move through almost waist deep snow. But at this speed with the thick coats we had on I was pretty sure we could make it. Just as that thought hit me I saw the one thing happen that we didn’t plan for, Sarah fell. She tripped, I don’t know if it was something in the road, or broken asphalt due to the earthquake but she fell forward and before she could even get to her knees the birds were on her. Mark and I ran over and started hitting the birds away, they really didn’t care about us anymore, they just kept going for her. They could smell the blood. We finally got to her and turned her over, but once again we had been too late, she was gone. I felt my mind coming unglued, my first thought was, it’s over let’s just give up and let them have us. Mark ran over then, I wasn’t aware he had left and picked up her body. That snapped me back to reality; I jumped to my feet and started swatting the birds away. I ran with mark and saw Katie was holding open the door to the nearest house. We ran in the house and slammed the door.
As soon as we got in the house mark laid Sarah’s body down on the couch and stormed out of the room. Katie was holding onto me tightly as I heard mark punching the wall in the next room. “I’m so sorry” mark said as he walked back into the room with his head down. “I should have saved her.” He said with tears in his eyes. “It’s not your fault; there was nothing you could have done. I know that you would have died for her if you had the chance, she knew it too.” I said to him putting my hand on his shoulder. “But if we don’t make it out of this then everyone died for nothing.” Katie said to both of us. “The birds are still out there.” Mark said as he looked out the window. “Ok so we forget about the cart and just move as fast as we can, we’ll worry about food later.” I told them. I walked over to the couch and knelt down “I’m sorry I wasn’t there, I should have been. I promised to always protect you and I couldn’t do it this time and I’m so sorry.” I told her trying to hold back the tears. “I’ll miss you, but I’ll see you again, that much I know.” I said as I stood up and kissed my sister on the forehead before rejoining Katie and mark by the door. “Okay let’s do it.” Mark said stepping to the door. We opened the door and I fired four shots into the crowd of birds, hoping to scatter them. They backed up a little and we took off running again, this time starting with an all out sprint. Ten of us had woken up in the apartment this morning and now there were only three of us left with four blocks to go.