The Death of a Dream

T h e  D e a t h  o f  a  D r e a m

Part 1: Dream

The time is 11:18 PM, a boy lays asleep in his bed. He isn’t someone to look twice at; he has longish brown hair, untouched white skin, and void black eyes. He slept in his clothes from earlier that day: he never cared enough to wear pajamas. White walls, various posters, a dark white lamp, and faint moonlight shining through the single window were some of the other main attractions in the room. He is having a dream; he always has dreams, whether he wants them or not.

“Hey Trevor!”

My soul freezes. I’ve seen this far too many times. I turned around in fear, yet that isn’t what my face wore.

The boy I found myself looking at probably wouldn’t make much of an impression at first glance, but he is special to me, he is my best friend. He has clean blond hair that’s long (shorter than mine), shallow blue eyes, and is a bit shorter than me (we aren’t too tall for ninth graders). He’s wearing some jeans and his light-gray sweatshirt, typical for him in fall.

They were outside, near the park on their way to school. There had been a small forest fire here two days ago, the smell of scorched evergreen still lingered in the air. As well as piles of leaves, there were also piles of ashes. The sun peeked over the burnt treetops, casting a shadow of light over everything unprotected from its almighty rays.

“Hey John!” I reply.

“Wait up!”

He starts running and catches up to me.

“So… exams start today, eh?” John says hoping to spark a conversation.

“Yep, did you study?” I ask absent-mindedly.

“What kind of question is that?! I studied for 3 hours straight,” he proclaimed.

I sigh, he was always way more prepared than I was, always the overachiever. I briefly glance at the sky, up at the scribbled remains of smoke in the heavens;

         A blue car speeds by. Someone probably overslept.

“Well did you study?” He parrots.

“A little bit… I feel like I’m forgetting something though…” I replied.

“Let me guess… Goebbels again, right?”

“No, it’s something else.”

“Well I’m sure it will come to you,” John assures.

I was very uncertain and somewhat nervous. It must’ve been important. I needed to remember what it was…

         By this point, Trevor had walked two-thirds of his way to school.

“Hey, isn’t that Dan’s car?” John asks, stopping.  “Damn, I can’t afford to be late today!”

John starts speeding ahead.

“Hey John wait!!”

As he ran off he was oblivious to the dark grey car pulling out of the street.

The metal mowed down his body in front of my eyes

And then it was over. I woke up to a silent room. You know all those people who had all their inspiring last words? Well, I’d be damned if they were real.

Interlude: Placebo

After school, I had to go to a mental therapist as usual. My parents had signed me up for sessions around 3 months ago. Ever since that accident about a year ago, people have been saying that I haven’t been myself. Every time I go there, the psychiatrist always says that they’re just dreams, but I really don’t think it’s really helping. John was my only really good friend; I have some people I talked to sometimes, but they’re just getting less close as the weeks go by. Why did he have to leave me here alone?

When he died, I had to speak to a court about his death, in order for the court to decide the charges to the driver. What was wrong is that I spoke from my heart, not my mind. They all stared at me like I’d done something wrong. All of them. Looking at me with those eyes. Nobody would save me from the relentless pursuit of what was called the truth. I was held in confinement for the rest of the day for lying to the court. The psychiatrist seems to believe that I’ve gotten over that trial. He didn’t know how wrong he was; that was the day I started to fear people.

Around the same time I was signed up for the sessions, I joined the drama club. I thought it might help me deal with my newly acquired fear. I was given a supporting role, but that was enough. At our performance, I felt like I was on top of the world, especially when the audience applauded our act. It’s nice when people like you.

Since the trial I’d started having a lot more dreams. Unfortunately one of the most common ones was John’s death. I feel so powerless watching it, and I’m unable to do anything to stop it. Most dreams are like that though, nightmares. Death is something I see nightly. I wish that there was something I could do about it.

Part 2: Revolution and/or Revelation

The time is 10:31 PM. Today the window has its blinds pulled down. Trevor is having a dream; he always has dreams, whether he wants them or not.

“Hey Trevor!”

‘No! Not again!’ I despair in my head. Why did this have to happen two nights in a row?!

Trevor was outside, near the park on his way to school. The sun hadn’t risen completely, making the sky illuminated with sunrise (which was nicely complemented by small remnants of smoke).

“Hey! Wait up!” John yells (but in a friendly way).

He starts running and catches up.

“So… exams start today, eh?” he says.

… Still, I remain silent. Why did this always happen? Why do I always see this? Why do I have to see him?!

“Hey, is there something wrong? Are you worried the test will be hard?” he chuckles, “Don’t worry about it, everything will be fine.”

Everything fine? FINE? …

I stopped walking and looked straight at him. Why does this dream keep repeating? I just want it all to stop, forever. I don’t want to be tortured anymore… I felt odd. Suddenly I had a sudden urge to-

“Dude, if there really is something wrong, tell me,” he says concerned.

I hesitate. And then I tell him, with all of my might.

“Trevor!” his eyes go wide.

A blue car speeds by. Into him.

The metal mowed down his body in front of my eyes

Part 3: Lucid Dreams

I stood there in shock.

“What… how… I-I…” I stuttered. How did I do that? W-why did I do that? This was wrong, this had never happened before, it was terrible. I killed him.

I looked around again with new eyes. The wisps of smoke seemed to have grown into clouds, dismissing most of the little sunlight left.  It wasn’t the same nightmare.

What do I do? The dream usually ends with him dying but it didn’t this time. It felt like hours as I stood there motionless. Why was this dream different?

“Could it be? Could I do whatever I wanted now? Could I just be, here?” Granted, it was just a dream, but the possibility was amazing. I always felt like I couldn’t do anything, but now I could.

“Well, I guess the first thing I should do is find a way to get rid of John’s body,” I decide internally. Even though he was my friend, I wouldn’t want to get arrested.

However, when I looked back for him, he was gone. Replaced with the same “emptiness” that filled the sky.

“Wait a minute… can I actually do anything? Anything I want?” I question to nobody in particular. I tried it.

“Can I go to my school?” I think to myself. Suddenly there I was, in front of my school.

“Anything…”

Part 4: Power Fracture

“I want everyone to do what I tell them to,” I proclaim to the air. Before long a crowd stood before me. For some reason there were some small patches of smoke here and there, but they weren’t very noticeable. There were some whispers in this audience, but it was silent for the most part. I recognized some faces but they didn’t seem to recognize me. They stared forwards with blank and yet confused expressions. I felt a pang of guilt.

“Should I really be doing this? Well… it’s only a dream, I don’t need to worry,” I reassure myself.

I gave orders for what felt like hours; some included giving me a television and couch, some food, and a car with some driving lessons (sadly, I wasn’t tall enough to comfortably reach the pedals and I was content with my current height).

Eventually I realized something. If I could do anything, I didn’t have to stick with things people can already do, I could do things no single person could ever do.

The next order was to tear down that psychologist’s office piece by piece.

“People who claim to be professional but aren’t, really just shouldn’t do their trade. Hah! Just dreams, huh? They’re not just dreams, they are all I am, the only thing I believe in now that he’s dead!”

“You know, I don’t have anyone to believe in, why should anyone else? They should see what it’s like to be me!” I decided.

“I wish that religion doesn’t exist,” I declare. There was no indication that anything had resulted from that, but why would there be any? That’s why I didn’t think anything of it at the moment, but then I suddenly heard a voice.

“Why should we listen to you?!” said someone in the crowd, “God is real and you can’t deny it!”

Similar outbursts followed almost immediately afterwards.

“Am I the only one who’s starving?!”

“Why are we all here?”

“Damn this to hell! I say we don’t listen to a thing he says!”

Why was this happening? I don’t understand, I thought I could do anything. I looked back at the crowd, they no longer had their blank expressions, they all stared at me like I’d done something wrong. All of them. Looking at me with those eyes. The patches of smoke in the area seemed to have expanded, now covering the world and sky in inky black. It left me trapped alone with everyone.

I was losing control and I didn’t want to have to deal with the consequences. I felt like a monster. They all knew that I was using them without their will. I-I… I hate people, I hate dreams, they always make you feel terrible. I wish they would all- … that’s it. I was desperate enough to try this.

“I wish this place doesn’t exist anymore.”

Part 5: Existence

Suddenly the smoke seemed to rain from above, slowly dripping down onto the eyes surrounding me until they were only darkness. Next it was my turn. The ceiling of black lowered, trying to crush me like one of those traps you only see in movies. It’s funny how something so large could fall so fast. It paused right before my head giving me a moment of dread, and then it all came down at once. But I didn’t die. I was now somewhere else, surrounded by what I can only assume was nothing.

Nothing is very hard to describe. It has no color and no brightness; it’s the closest thing to blindness. There wasn’t any sound at all save for the sounds coming from my movement. The only reason that I knew that the nothing existed was because I could feel it. Nothing is smooth and like a very thick liquid, it isn’t very hot or cold, and it was flowing in strong currents, it was like a trap I couldn’t escape or even see. I tried to move but ended up getting caught up the current. All of my limbs seemed incapable of movement as I was pushed away. It felt like forever as I was swimming wherever it took me, giving me time to myself, but I really didn’t have anything to think about now for some reason. It was all so calm, my mind just seemed so… empty: like the emptiness that graced the sky. After what felt like days, the current stopped and I was able to see something, a bright beam of light reaching out to me.

Epilogue: Nightmares and Goodbyes

    The time is 12:27 AM, Trevor lay in his bed. The pale moonlight reflected off his skin turning it an unnaturally pale white. The dark grey car that speeded by his house would’ve been easily seen through Trevor’s window had he not pulled down the blinds earlier, not that he would’ve had eyes to see it. Tomorrow he would go to a local graveyard to pay his old friend John a visit. Did you know he has dreams? He always has dreams, but tonight he has none.

Bibliography

Becker, Ernest. The Denial of Death. New York: Free, 1973. Print.

  • This was the source of the original (not included in this version due to space constraints) beginning quote: “Anxiety is the result of the perception of the truth of one’s condition. What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self expression—and with all this yet to die.“-Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death p.87
  • It really showed some of the underlying themes of the story: the fear of death and just death in general along with the theme of human existence and motives that come with it.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Adolf Hitler and World War I: 1913–1919.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 20 June 2014. Web. 01 Feb. 2015. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007431>.

and

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Adolf Hitler: Early Years, 1889–1913.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 20 June 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007430>.

  • This was used to get research on the other main theme of the story: character development into what someone would call evil. Hitler was one of the most evil men in history and yet he had motives for his crimes. All criminals and heros have reasons for their actions, it is these motives that influence and control human history and behavior.
  • Hitler’s inability to control his inner desires & motives and his total control of Germany led to one of the darkest times in history. To many people in Germany, he was a hero and he loved it. However, he knew that most other people thought it was wrong and so when he was to be captured by these people, instead of facing the world as a villain, he killed himself. This is what happens to Trevor, except Trevor unintentionally kills himself when he rids himself of his mind.

“Depression.” http://www.apa.org. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://apa.org/topics/depress/index.aspx>.

  • This website was used to gain information about the symptoms of depression which are exhibited in Trevor’s life and behavior. Examples are Trevor’s sleeping and dreaming, wish to be an insomniac (not specifically stated, but implied), and his excessive guilt and sadness about John’s death.

Blindness

“All war is based on deception”- Sun Tzu

Chapter I: A Knocking On My Door

POV (point of view) – [unknown]

“CRASH!”

I instantly threw my blanket off and jolted awake in surprise. The room was very dark so I could assume it was nighttime. The noise sounded like it was outside, maybe 5 rooms away from mine. I was pretty certain that there wasn’t anyone living in this building anymore, at least since I arrived. Maybe it was one of the original residents of this place coming to take his stuff?

“CRASH!”

The noise sounded closer, and by now I had figured it out. The sound sounded akin to ramming a door open and a resident would just use a key. There was only one other reason one could have to go through multiple rooms in a place like this.

“CRASH!”

I panicked as any sane person would do. Someone coming to raid would definitely have some sort of weapon. I glanced around the room, trying to find a way to defend myself. I couldn’t see much, but as my sleepiness faded, I was able to figure out 2 things. 1: There wasn’t any weapon in the room. 2: There was only 1 practical way out, the door leading to the hallway where the intruder was, since the only other way out was through a hole in the wall leading to around a five-floor drop.

“CRASH!”

No weapon… I had been a policeman once, trained to arrest and sometimes shoot those who disregard the law; although I wasn’t ever trained in unarmed combat, I might stand a chance. I glanced around the room once again, only seeing the 21 marks I had carved on the wall and the gaping hole on the opposite one. “21 days…” I thought to myself ”, 21 days since I became the pitiful shell of a person I am now.”

“CRASH!”

… I found it almost fitting how there was a long pause before I was to meet my fate, almost like it was to give me a time to reflect… Maybe it was better if I did die here, it isn’t like I helped anyone with what I did. I just made it worse… for everyone.

I heard quiet noises I could assume to be footsteps. With each step it felt like I was a year closer to death, but all I was doing was standing there, waiting.

Suddenly the footsteps halted and I stood there nervously. Luckily I was in a place not visible upon immediate entry, maybe I could ambush him; I didn’t know how tall, strong, fast, equipped, or really anything about the raider so I couldn’t really plan on any of that. I heard a loud banging noise at my door. I was tired, nervous, unprepared, and unequipped. I was more ready than ever.

“CRASH!”

Finally the intruder broke down my door, but I couldn’t see him yet. It was now or never. I started inching closer to the entryway, keeping my back to the wall. “I will wait until he turns the corner and then I’ll jump him,” I thought to myself. Whilst I waited it felt like my head would just melt under the pressure. A tiny movement caught my eye. It was the shoe of the intruder. It’s time.

I ran towards the entryway and pounced. I couldn’t see his face in at my angle, but I would’ve loved to see the surprise on it. As I leaped, he didn’t have any time to react and I sent him crashing to the ground, yelling in surprise. He landed close to me but not within my reach.

Now I got a somewhat hazy glimpse of him. He looked to be about 30 years old and was an average height for that age. He wasn’t skinny, but not incredibly bulky or strong (from what I could tell at least). I couldn’t make out his eye color or specific hair color, but I could tell that his hair was dark. He was wearing a long black shirt and some jeans, both of which were stained in debris. Most importantly, I saw his weapon in his right hand; it appeared to be some sort of long metal pole, maybe part of a broken sign?

I didn’t have much more time to look at him as he abruptly snapped out of his trance. He got up, clutching his pole and using it to help get himself in an offensive stance. Luckily, one thing they taught me was how to somewhat predict when an enemy would attack and when to dodge.

He picked up his pole and swung like how one would swing a baseball bat. I ducked in fear and luckily didn’t get hit, but he wasn’t done yet. After his first swing, he immediately swung again and an explosion of pain came running down my left arm as I stumbled backwards towards the wall opposite the entryway. I guess I wasn’t as good as I was a few years ago.

After that, I decided I couldn’t let him hit me again (more than before anyways). I decided I would try to get behind him because the pole looked heavy and he might have a hard time turning.

I looked in his direction, preparing to charge, and his eyes met mine. His stare wasn’t full of hatred and insanity as many believe criminals have. I know from experience what the eyes of a criminal look like. They live in constant regret and despair. They can’t forget their past and will do anything to make it seem resolved. They think their crimes will help them when all they do is add more guilt to their conscience. Sometimes they forget that others have emotions and problems of their own. It’s this that makes some of them wear masks, trying to hide what they truly wear on their faces. Fear. And I saw it now.

I quickly ran forwards and I felt a small pang of guilt hit me head-on. I was going through all the suffering he was, if not worse; my home, friends, and family won’t be coming back and I know who was responsible.

I quickly brushed those thoughts away. “The past isn’t going to help anyone,” I thought in my head”, this was survival; compassion and pity are worthless now.”

Continuing my dash, he raised his pole to strike and I dodged to the right. My heart pounding like a drum while I heard the deafening sound of metal meeting the steel lamp post in the room, sending a chorus of echoes through the air. He swung the pole back towards me and I ducked.

It hit me straight in my chest, finishing his song with a sickening crack.

The following moments were pure torture. I lay on my back, frozen in sheer pain. The air suddenly became hard to breathe and it felt like I was underwater. My vision started to flash white repeatedly like I was being illuminated by a strobe light. I felt remorse because I would go without avenging my family, the sole reason I had decided to keep living. The worst of it though was the excruciating pain coming from my chest. It felt like someone had just taken a knife and carved a design into me, like how one would with a jack-o-lantern.

As my vision began to fade I felt someone push me towards the wall. I tried to get up, but my consciousness was already fading. I heard the voice (actual speech) of the raider for the first time. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly with a hint of pity in his voice. I then felt a jab at my right, which I assumed was a kick. I then felt very strange. I couldn’t feel the ground.

It didn’t take long to figure out what happened.

And I felt at rest knowing I didn’t have to worry any longer. As I fell I welcomed death with open arms.

Chapter 2: Memories

POV– [unknown]

20 Days Ago

“Ughh… what… happened?”

I opened my eyes to find myself not in my bed, but at a restaurant. It appeared to be morning. “Why am I here?” I pondered. I wouldn’t think that I would just fall asleep here.

I rubbed some sleep from my eyes though not completely gone. I decided to reexamine the room I was in and I let out a gasp of surprise. “What happened here?!” I shouted to nobody in particular.

It looked like a tornado had just passed through the place. The wooden walls were stained with debris, some kind of black mark, and various other things I couldn’t recognize (maybe some food or something?). One wall was completely gone, leaving behind a mound of broken boards and splinters in its place.

The tables and chairs were all scattered around the room with some on their sides. My table was gone and I wouldn’t be able to recognize it if I saw it. I was lying on the ground next to a wall that was heavily stained but not completely broken.

However the part that really set me into a panic was the fact that when I looked outside, I saw the rest of Jenton (the city) looked like the restaurant, if not worse. Some skyscrapers had fallen apart, leaving a smaller stump of building left, and others were still standing, heavily damaged but alive.

There was a large cloud above the buildings, which I could only assume was from the city and whatever caused this calamity to happen. It made me notice that the air felt more… sickening than usual. But I concluded it wasn’t just in the air, something just felt off about the whole situation, even more than the apparent destruction.

I decided that if I got up, I could analyze my surroundings better. So I stood up and started walking towards the wall. I touched the black marks on the wall and recognized them as burn marks.

Seeing these must have caused me to remember. Remember what happened before I passed out, the panic and all. But this train of thought was cut short when I suddenly realized what was bothering me.

A city is usually thought of as big, loud, and crowded. However, I couldn’t see anyone anywhere. A morbid thought came to mind, what if everyone was dead? The more I thought about it, the more it made sense… but… wait… if that was the case…

“Mom! Dad! Sophie! Daniel!” I cried full of worry and loss. But as I expected, there was no answer.

There was still some hope I assured myself; if everyone was dead, where were their bodies? They couldn’t have just disappeared. Also, I was alive, so there’s a chance that others survived as well.

Waiting around here wasn’t going to give me any answers so I decided to just search around the restaurant for my belongings and then to leave to search for a clue of what happened.

I sighted a book lying on the ground. It was a book I had been writing in my spare time. The book wasn’t going to be published; it was a compilation of short stories that weren’t even that great. The cover read“, A Collection of Memories, by John Andremoda.” After reading my name, I couldn’t help but realize how my life seemed like something from a story now. There was no time for writing right now though; I had to figure out what was going on. I pushed away the grim thoughts in my head and replaced them with hope. What good would that do? I don’t know.

Chapter 3: A Sea of the Dead

POV– John Andremoda

I headed out of the restaurant and decided that I should first go to my apartment and collect some supplies since all I had was my book, my wallet, and a feeling of nervousness of what I might find.

My apartment wasn’t far away; it was on the 5th floor of a medium-sized building just about a 5-minute walk from where I was.

As I walked, I began to think about what I might do after getting my answers. Maybe if there weren’t many people left here I would just leave the city to find others there. If there were people here I should try to ally them and possibly form some sort of group so we can help each other survive, because from what I’ve seen, it’ll be hard to survive here now.

My train of thought was interrupted when I started walking around the edges of park. I heard a high-pitched sound, and looked around. Was someone there? I let out a sigh of mixed relief and disappointment when I sighted a very pretty red bird on a nearby tree. It must’ve been what made the noise. “Well, I guess I found a survivor,” I joked to myself. It looked real content there on that tree, but then again, nobody can tell what a bird feels. Looking again, I noticed the bird was hiding a worm in its beak. I guess it didn’t survive, or maybe it did survive and just didn’t live long enough for it to matter. “Why am I just standing here watching a bird?” I finally asked myself and then I started walking again.

As I arrived at my apartment, I saw what I had thought I would see, but it was still a shock. The place I used to call home was now reduced to a concrete graveyard stained black from the blasts. Bent, fractured steel stuck up from the ground like hands trying to find their way to the surface. It was a disaster, it was a piece of vile art, and it was my home.

Seeing it like this didn’t do much good for my hope that my family survived. I mean, they didn’t live here, but they lived in a building similar to this.

Among the wreckage I could see various items, probably belonging to my neighbors in the building. I could spot folders full of paper, what looked like the remains of a TV, some broken and empty cans of soda, a blue jacket, some creepy-eyed dolls that were missing limbs, half a bed, and a mirror. I walked up to the mirror and looked at myself.

The mirror was cracked so the reflection cut my body in half horizontally.

I wasn’t very tall or small, just a normal height for a 19 year old. I also wasn’t very strong or bulky, however, I am pretty fast. I have mahogany brown eyes, not long but messy hazel colored hair, and light skin. “Gah, did I really get my clothes that dirty?!” I thought to myself. I was wearing a dark crimson long-sleeved shirt and some jeans because it was autumn. They were all stained in debris and ash from earlier. I brushed off my clothes, though some of the ash still clung on to me.

Finding this stuff on the surface gave me hope. Maybe some of my stuff survived. Maybe someone could’ve survived. I went scavenging above the remains of the building.

However, by the time I was done, the only belonging of mine I had recovered was a pen from a set I was given for my birthday a few years back. I miserably walked away from what I used to call home with nothing accomplished but a major waste of time. By now, I was really thirsty. At least I had something to write with.

I walked back along the park with no real goal in mind. If I got lucky, I could find where everyone was.

I came to the tree I saw the bird in earlier and to my amazement, the bird was still there. The bird didn’t have the worm anymore so I assumed he had eaten it. I stared at it and it stared at me. “Hello again,” I said, not expecting an answer. As I expected, the bird didn’t reply.

I sat down on a tree close to the one with the bird and started humming a tune to ease myself. My feet were killing me, so I needed to rest. I stared at the street I was walking on earlier and thought of when the street was full of cars and bicyclists all filling the air with the noises of engines running and wheels spinning. Now it was full of wreckage and debris and the air was cleansed with the unnatural sound of silence. It was eerily peaceful but creepy at the same time. Suddenly, I saw something moving. “Was that a person?!” I thought to myself.

I got up and started walking towards the figure. As I got closer I saw that it was definitely a person; whoever it was though had their back to me and didn’t seem to notice me. She was wearing a pair of long jeans, a black jacket, and she had a red scarf hung over her shoulder. She had long, flowing dark brown hair and looked a bit older than me. She was dragging something behind her, but I couldn’t make out what it was because before I could get a better look, she turned a corner into another street.

I decided that I should be cautious because I didn’t know how she would react to finding another person; for all I knew, she could try to kill me. If she was friendly though, I might be able to figure out what was going on and where everyone was. So I continued following and turned the corner to find that she appeared to be heading to a big pit. I remembered the pit as a place where the city was building something (I had forgotten what though).

I wasn’t too far away or close when she then threw the object she was dragging into the pit. I then almost immediately recognized what she threw, a dead body. But it wasn’t just a random corpse to me. I saw my brother Daniel’s lifeless corpse fall in and land with a thud.

Then she turned around and saw me.

“AHH!” We both screamed at the same time in surprise and fear. I stared at her and she stared back. What did I just see? WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST SEE?! Did she… kill him? I tightened my fists.

She didn’t look like she would try to kill someone, but then again, I didn’t know what a murderer looks like.

I now saw that she was wearing gloves. She had blue eyes (and actually looked kinda pretty). Then she started walking towards me.

“Who are you?” she said.

I didn’t respond. At that moment, every instinct in my body told me “RUN YOU FOOL!” But I didn’t move for whatever reason.

She must’ve seen that I looked ready to bolt because she called out “,Wait! Please! I know you me saw throw that guy into this pit, but I didn’t kill him, I helped him… well, kinda.”

“You… YOU!!!” I suddenly snapped into fit of rage, realizing what just happened. She had killed my brother, thrown him into a pit, and tried to get away with it, right in front of me.

She looked scared and unsure of what to do. But unlike her, I knew exactly what I was going to do.

All my life, I’ve had my older brother, helping me and well… just being an older brother.

I ran forward the fastest I’ve ever run in my life, weeping memories out of my eyes at the same time. I was going to have my revenge.

I got to where she was standing and swung my right hand with the full force of my body and maybe extra from my rage.

It missed miserably. She dodged to the right and I nearly fell off into the pit myself.

“Woah! Calm down!” she exclaimed in a panic. She sounded innocent, but I couldn’t trust her. After all, what other reason would she had to throw him down there?

I looked to my right and saw what I assumed was her. I couldn’t see clearly because tears fogged my vision. But that didn’t matter, I could still take my chance at revenge.

I thrust my fist forwards, but to no avail. She was just too fast.

Suddenly, I felt a large pain sear through my chest. You know how in some cartoons, an anvil or piano could fall onto a character, squishing them flat? That’s what felt like happened to my chest. Flattened.

I fell to the ground and knew I was done.

This always happened to me, I would always do something wrong and try to make it up. It would always make it worse. This was worse though. I had failed my brother. Though my body fell, I wondered if my heart was still up there, yet to follow.

I waited for her to throw me off the edge like the others. Instead I found her hand feeling my neck and then pulling back. What was she doing?

“Hey! Are you awake?” she asked, surprising me.

I wiped the moisture from my eyes to find she was holding her hand to me.

“Was she offering to help me up?” I wondered in confusion.

“Well are you?” she added impatiently.

I decided to respond this time. “Yeah,” I said taking her hand.

“Good! I didn’t want to leave you like that,” she replied “, so, why did you just try to kill me there? I told you I didn’t kill that guy.”

“Why did you throw his body down there then?” I asked, now standing up again.

“How long ago did you wake up?” she questioned.

That didn’t answer my question but I replied “, about 3 to 4 hours ago.”

“Do you know where everyone went?” she continued.

“No, where?” This might help me figure out what happened.

“Uh… I don’t really want to say it, so why don’t you just see for yourself.” She gestured me to come over to the edge of the pit.

I walked over to the edge and peered over.

What I saw I’m sure will haunt me for the rest of my life. Some burnt, some missing limbs, and some soaked in blood. Over the edge was what could only be described as a sea full of dead corpses.

Chapter 4: Safe Haven

POV– John Andremoda

“W-w-what… is this?” I managed to say as I glanced around. I saw Daniel’s corpse in the giant stash.

“This is a grave we’ve been making,” she said.

“We? And what do you mean by a grave?! Are you saying that you have been taking bodies from around the city and putting them here to bury?!” I responded without pause.

“Again, calm down,” she replied “, and no, I haven’t been doing all of this myself. There is a group of people around the city doing the same thing I was doing and also looking for survivors. We’ve been making this grave since we met up. To give those who died in the blast a decent last gift. Speaking of those who died, did you know the guy I just… threw in?”

“Yeah… he’s my older brother, Daniel.” I said.

“I’m sorry. If I knew that you were there before, I might’ve let you see him one last time.”

“It’s okay. Maybe it’s better if I just try to forget.”

“Uh, may I ask you again, what’s your name?”

“My name is John Andremoda.”

“Okay. So John, are you hungry?” she asked.

“YES,” I replied. That was a huge understatement.

“Here I’ll take you to where we have been sheltering for the past day or so. You might like to meet some of the other survivors we’ve found… and get some food,” she said.

“Umm, have you seen anyone else who looks like me?” I asked “, you would know if someone did, right?”

“Oh, you’re looking for the rest of your family? No, I haven’t seen else anyone like you. But I haven’t been back to the shelter in like half a day, so there may be someone there.”

That last part rekindled my hope with a burning new flame. I might find my family, my friends, and/or my neighbors; it didn’t matter, I would join some sort of society or group.

“Umm, did you by chance see anyone before coming here? Did you get any supplies? Just anything in general?” she asked, surprising me.

“Well… you are the first person I’ve seen all day and all I really have is an unfinished book and a pen,” I replied.

“A book? Are you a writer or something?” she asked.

“Not really, before now I just helped run a small bookstore. I started reading some of the books in my free time and then I tried writing some fiction. Right now I’m not very good at it though,” I answered, being very descriptive for some reason.

“Hmm, maybe you could write down what’s going on,” she suggested “, we are in a very interesting situation right now.”

“That’s actually a good idea, I still have a lot of this book left to write in. I could just rip out the stuff I wrote earlier and keep them elsewhere,” I responded.

We walked for a while after that without really talking because I couldn’t think of anything to say.

Then she said “, Do you think that… this happened to other cities?”

I thought for a moment. “Maybe, it depends on what actually happened. Why did you ask anyway?”

“Well, I’m not actually from around here, I was just visiting on vacation. I really hope my family is safe.”

“Ah, that’s why… Now that I think about it, I never actually got your name,” I said.

“Oh! I forgot to tell you? Well, my name is Alice Summers, nice to meet you.”

Suddenly she stopped in front of a hotel. It didn’t look extremely damaged, except for the top, which had a large gaping hole in it that resembled a bite mark.

The hotel had what I assumed to have been a large entrance with lots of lights and neon signs. However, all the lights were off so it was all just covered in grey tubes. I could make out the hotel’s name though, it was ‘The Carrington Hotel’. Someone had spray-painted parts of it black though, so counting those it said ‘Carri on’.

“Welcome to the Carrington Hotel! Please enjoy your stay!” Alice said jokingly.

I smiled and then followed her in.

The lobby seemed to be intact but like the entrance, the lights were off. Alice took out a curious looking flashlight and turned it on, lighting up the room. There were a few couches and chairs around which looked really comfortable. There was also a large reception desk to the left, a set of stairs leading upwards past the desk, and one of those buffet breakfast things, which made my stomach writhe in hunger.

“Alice, is that you?” an unfamiliar male voice asked.

“Yep! And I found a survivor too!” she replied.

The person she was talking to stepped out of the entrance to the stairs. He looked strangely familiar.

“Hello, welcome to our shelter! What’s your name?” he asked me.

“John, John Andremoda,” I replied “, and you… wait a minute, are you?…”

“Haha, yes I am. Kalvin Aurt Temperae at your service,” he responded.

I couldn’t believe it. The Legendary Medical Pioneer Kalvin Temperae was having a conversation with me. He had revolutionized modern medicine; inventing certain treatments that increased the maximum age of a person (to a limit of course) and even found cures for over 25 diseases and medical conditions.

“I-i-it’s an honor to meet you, sir,” I said in awe.

“No need for you to be so formal, but I appreciate the politeness, John,” he said in reply.

This was unbelievable, I never even thought I would meet a single celebrity in my life. All they were to me were just faces on a screen. But now I was having a conversation with one right in front of me and I couldn’t deny it.

“So, umm, what are you doing in a place like this?” I asked.

“I was taking a vacation from working and was going to go on a plane flight to try to research this… what did they call it again? Oh yeah, ‘Strangler’s Virus’.”

“Ah, ok. So, where are all of the survivors?” I continued.

“Either looking for supplies, corpses, and survivors, or they are upstairs, resting. You look like you should get some rest,” he added.

“I will, but I have one more question,” I said.

“And what’s that, John?”

“Do you know what happened? Like why the city came to be like this?” I questioned, hoping for an answer.

“I’m afraid I don’t, but I have a guy working on it right now, he’s traveling to the Capital to ask what happened,” he replied.

That wasn’t exactly the answer that I was hoping for, but it was somewhat good because the Capital wasn’t too far away. If he sent the man yesterday, he should be back by tomorrow with the answers I want.

“Ok then, I’ll go upstairs and rest now,” I said. I walked towards the elevator and pushed the “up button”.

“Uh, John… you do know that the elevators don’t work, right,” Alice pointed out.

“Oh, uhh, I guess I forgot,” I replied feeling embarrassed.

Now I walked over to the stairs and started to walk up, knowing that tomorrow, I might find answers and maybe even my family.

Chapter 5: Veni

POV– [unknown]

I saw the broken down lights of the hotel through the night’s darkness. “Huh, how fitting,” I thought as I saw the graffiti over the hotel’s sign “, ‘Carry on’? Bah. How about ‘Carrion’.” The entryway was even darker than out here and looked like it would engulf anyone who entered.

My plan was working better than I had expected. The power outages provided cover while I snuck into the hotel under the disguise of the darkness.

I was invisible, they would never see me coming, they are blind. The lobby was as black as the night much like my mind before I saw the truth.

Greed and lies rule the world and so will I. These powers work fine alone, but together they create illusions, like me.

People always believe what they think is true, unless given a reason they will not question. Therefore they are all blind.

I was invisible, they would never see me coming, not while they were blind.

Chapter 6: Glorious Morning

POV– John Andremoda

“Knock knock knock knock knock.”

“Ughh,” I moaned. Did I have to get up? I decided I needed to rest more.

“Hey! Are you still asleep or something?! I’ve been knocking at this door for like, 2 minutes!”

It was Alice’s voice, I guess she wanted to tell me something. That could wait, I was sleeping.

“C’mon! Please! Get up!”

Hmph, fine. It was impossible to sleep with all the noise anyways.

I opened the door to my room and said “, Ok, I’m up!”

“Great! The guy we sent to the Capital is back and Kalvin wants everyone to hear what he has to say.”

“He’s back? Cool, maybe we’ll finally get some answers,” I replied.

Like everyone else, I was wearing the same clothes as I was yesterday. Kalvin thinks it is a waste of supplies that could be used by other survivors, and he thinks that it’s a reminder of change, nobody could disagree with that. Change had brought all of this apon us and nobody wanted much more change.

I walked downstairs with Alice and a few other survivors who I didn’t

recognize.

Then, in the lobby, we went through a door I hadn’t seen before. After entering, I found myself in a rather large room. It seemed to have been for large parties or celebrations. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, but the only light came from a crater blown open in the upper part of the right wall. The sun shone through, some of it shining onto the chandeliers, making the illusion that they were lit.

There was a small crowd of people scattered around the room. Some stood around looking depressed and lonely, whilst others chatted idly with people I could assume were their friends. At the front of the room was Kalvin and a man I didn’t recognize. He looked nervous, maybe he wasn’t used to speaking in front of a crowd; it appeared that Kalvin was trying to calm him down.

Minutes passed and more and more people entered the room until there were around 25 people in the room. “Bang!” Kalvin used some sort of a percussion instrument and got everyone’s attention.

“I believe we have everyone here now,” said Kalvin “, do try to be as silent as possible while we are talking, we don’t have microphones or loudspeakers.”

“So, a few days ago, I sent this man here to go to the Capital to ask what had happened,” he continued “, now, he is back and I believe he has some information that might interest you.” He walked to the side and gestured for him to walk to where he was just standing.

“Uh, hello,” he started. “My name is Duncan O. Supe and as Mr. Temperae just said, I walked to the Capital to figure out what had happened.”

“The information I got… wasn’t very… good I guess you could say,” he said, growing quieter as he continued the sentence.

“I would ask you to be as silent as you are right now for the next part, you all are doing a great job,” he said after pausing a second.

“Umm… so when I got there… Uh, no that’s not what I meant to say…” he mumbled.

“Uhh, Mr. Supe, I could substitute speaking for you, if you want me to,” said Kalvin suddenly.

Looking relieved, Duncan said “, thank you sir, I would appreciate that very much,” and walked back to the side while Kalvin walked back to the spot.

“When Mr. Supe got to the Capital, he saw large walls surrounding the city,” Kalvin started “, he went up and started yelling for someone to tell him what was going on.”

“After a while, a man came up and asked him what he was doing. He told him what had happened. Then the man chuckled and said these words; ‘isn’t it obvious, who would’ve had the resources to do that. That virus should be gone soon.’ And then he left.”

No. They couldn’t have. Were they responsible? Our own government? Did they kill Daniel?

“Now, today, we find that our own government has betrayed us, killing thousands of our friends and family; destroying centuries worth of work with just one order,” he yelled into the air angrily, awing the survivors.

“If the government won’t help us, what are we to do? Well isn’t it obvious; we will make a new one. Let them hide behind their walls! What they have done is despicable and inhuman! If they think it’s okay to kill their own citizens, they don’t deserve to rule!”

“I say we walk to the other cities and gain followers and attempt to make our own, new society. Our old leaders will peer out of their little hiding spot at a grand nation and then see how far they have fallen! Let them watch their country rule itself; and we shall watch them fall!”

“Is there anyone who disagrees?” he asked in a calmer tone. The only reply was an unbroken aura of silence. Kalvin seemed to have some sort of power radiating off of him; terrifying us, yet filling us with hope. Maybe this isn’t an end, maybe this is our chance for a new beginning. Maybe I could try to forget the past and become someone new. Maybe I could help bring about a new era and take down those damn hooligans that call themselves leaders. Prevent stuff like this from happening again.

This was a glorious morning indeed. So now began my adventure and my new life.

Chapter 7: Waking Up

POV– [unknown]

Present day

I woke up a total mess. “Where am I?” I asked myself. I wasn’t in my room, and, wait… What was I doing outside?

I looked up, and saw my room was almost right above me.

Then the events of the previous night came rushing back to me.

“What? How am I still alive?” I wondered. My chest still slightly ached from my encounter so I could assume at least a day had passed since I fell.

The raider probably took most of what I had in my room so I didn’t bother going back up (it was a long climb anyways).

I guess I could look around for supplies. So I left the building I hid in for the past few days behind and ventured out onto the streets.

Who knew what I would find. Weapons, food, drinks, and maybe (just maybe) I might find a chance for vengeance. To make sure whatever vile plan “he” had, didn’t succeed.

My name was Caleb Ward and I was alive again.

Chapter 8: Vidi

POV– John Andremoda

It had been around 16 days since we left my home city and we finally saw our next stop, the seaside Renidic City.

Before leaving many people (including me) complained that they still needed to try and find family and friends; Kalvin gave us a few days to search for them. I didn’t find anyone but the dead corpses of the rest of my family, but others found some more survivors. I still was in shock about my family’s deaths, but I had to put that aside now. It wouldn’t help me. After all, they will be avenged. I was making sure of that now.

We gave our offerings and prayers to the dead at the pit. We then set off to Alkas City and stayed there for 2 days recruiting survivors who wanted to join. By the time we arrived here, our party had around 40 members.

Renidic City was very famous for being the hometown of many famous inventors from the early 1900s. The city had a museum about them that drew historians from around the world to it. One of the city’s most famous symbols though, was the giant bronze statue called ‘The Hand Of Creation,’ on the coast of the city. It was in the shape of a hand (as the name implied) tinkering with a strange device with one large gear. It got struck by lightning a lot, so one of the inventors it was dedicated to came up with the idea that when it was struck by lightning, the gear would spin around.

Looking at the city now, it looked like it had gone through the same situation our city had. Buildings were damaged and sometimes destroyed, streets were filled with debris, and there wasn’t anyone we could see from the hill we were on. The ‘Hand Of Creation’ was also damaged. The gear was badly damaged and dented, while the hand was missing its pointer and middle fingers.

When we first saw the city, we celebrated for the sole reason that we found civilization. Only one person wasn’t celebrating much.

“Is something wrong?” I asked Alice.

“Remember when I told you that I was from a different city?” she replied.

“Is this where you lived?” I guessed.

“Yes.”

“Shouldn’t you be happy then?”

“Were you happy when you didn’t find your family and saw your house destroyed?”

“Thanks for reminding me,” I mumbled.

We just stood around, not talking for a while. Then it started to rain so Kalvin decided we should embark into the city for shelter. Suddenly, lightning flashed and we heard a very loud sound that sounded like metal grinding against metal.

“BANG!”

We peered over the hill we were behind to see that the gear from the statue had fallen off and rolled into a building, making a cloud of debris rise. The bombing must’ve weakened the things holding the gear onto the statue and when the statue was struck by lightning, the supporting axle must’ve broke.

This made us stall for a few seconds in fear. Then Kalvin said “, are we going to sit around in the rain all day or are we going to go inside?”

You know, this Kalvin guy was a great person for his goals, achievements and leadership skills but the longer I knew him, the more he seemed like a jerk.

We followed him into the city, getting drenched in rain (except those lucky enough to have found a raincoat or umbrella).

As we walked, I thought I saw someone in an alleyway we passed, but when I looked again, there wasn’t anyone there.

I kept up and we decided to rest in nearby movie theater for the night, and start looking for survivors when the storm cleared. We all went into ‘Theater #3’ to try to get to sleep.

After a while, Kalvin said he was going into ‘Theater #2’ to discuss something with Alice and Duncan.

“CRASH!”

Lightning roared outside, it was going to be a hell of a night.

Chapter 9: In My Sights

POV– Caleb Ward

I walked past the old junior high school I went to as I kid, most of it was still intact, but part of the side of the building was crushed by what appeared to be a bomb. I guess it malfunctioned and just didn’t go off. Despite that, I decided that I should leave the area, just in case it went off randomly.

Walking away, I saw what was left of the police station I used to work in. There was a big pile of debris where it used to be. There wasn’t much on the surface of the pile except a locker row that must’ve gotten detached from the wall and floor and some glass. I studied the glass, it seemed very reflective. I got a good look at myself for the first time in days.

I had long, messy, ink black hair and black eyes. I wasn’t very tall or short, I was an average height for my age. I was wearing a black jacket I got as a gift, a blue long-sleeved shirt under that, and some long khaki pants. My somewhat pale skin reflected in the glass well, making it look like I was inside the glass, trapped.

I looked at the locker row now. Hmm, looking at it now, wasn’t that my old locker in it? “#21,” it read. That was my locker; although it was probably someone else’s now.

Maybe the combinations for the locks were the same and I could take some supplies. I tried the code for my locker. “Do I still remember the combination?” I asked myself. 21, 33, 7. To my surprise, the locker opened.

Inside I spotted a paper bag and something I couldn’t believe I’d found, a pistol.

I took out the pistol first; it had one bullet in it. If things got worse enough, I might have to use this. Then I took out the bag, what could be in here? But then I almost immediately figured it out because of how putrid the smell of the bag was. “Yuck,” I thought as I threw the bag of rotten lunch back into the locker. I didn’t bother to close the locker door; if anyone wanted the bag, they could have it.

I then loaded the gun and pocketed it. I wasn’t afraid to use it if I had to.

I started to turn left, but then realized what street that was. My home street. I wouldn’t be going back there anytime soon. Not after what I’d seen there.

On that street, I had seen my apartment destroyed with no signs of recognition and I saw the dead bodies of my family, all laying silently on the ground.

“There isn’t any use thinking about it now. I’ll just become distracted,” I thought to myself. By doing that though, it felt like I had just pushed away part of who I was.

I decided to keep walking forwards, I didn’t see any reason not to.

Now I passed by a local game store. It seemed to actually be mostly intact (excluding the windows which were shattered). I looked in out of curiosity. Nothing really caught my eye so I decided not to go in. It did occur to me that I could try to take some of the money in case I ran into someone who was crazy enough to still use cash. I glanced in once again. “No, I wouldn’t steal any money, that would just make me feel like a thief,” I concluded “, I still had a bit of sanity left, I shouldn’t waste it.” I noticed a poster had fallen off the window when it broke. I picked up for no real reason and looked at what it said. “Hah,” I chuckled “, it was 2021 and people were still making video games about zombies.”

Actually, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how the situation I was in was strikingly similar to those games. This, I would actually say would be more scary than a zombie apocalypse. Zombies are usually described as hulking, brainless beasts that were once humans. In this situation though, I had to deal with a more serious and scary threat: actual humans.

You never knew how a human will act. They could be your worst enemy or your greatest ally. They could have a weapon or be unarmed. They could be very fit or strong, while other times they weren’t.

“Maybe taking revenge isn’t the best idea,” I suddenly thought to myself. “Whoever sent me the message might be going through the same things I am.”

“But if that’s the case, what am I doing? Hunting down a man who may be suffering as much as I am? No, that isn’t what I was doing.”

Then an idea come into my mind. “Maybe I wasn’t even just looking for him to avenge my family. Maybe I was looking for him so he couldn’t do anything worse to everyone.”

After all, he hadn’t just destroyed my life, but almost everyone else’s lives too. He must’ve known what he was doing. Maybe he was trying to do something to all of us, and this was just the beginning. That thought made me shudder. “What could be worse?” I asked myself. I pushed that thought away now though. I kept in mind the reason I’d established though, I wasn’t some lonesome, pitiful person only living for revenge anymore. Now I was a man on a mission. I would stop this man, at whatever his plan was.

I put the poster down and continued walking. I was near the outskirts of the city now. Then, it started to rain.

“Aww, come on!” I thought. Well, I guess I could hide out in the theater next to me.

I didn’t take the front entrance, because that was on the other side, so I went around back passing an alleyway on the way. I opened the door that said “, Authorized Personnel Only,” and stepped inside.

I found myself in a small, dark corridor with multiple rooms branching off from it. I opened one door and found myself in a little room overlooking the actual movie theater part. It was very dark, but by now my night vision had kicked in. I saw a piece of paper on a desk in the room along with a computer. I picked up the paper and read it. It appeared to be a schedule for what movies and ads to put on and at what times.

I saw some of these movies before and hadn’t even heard of some.

Whatever, I had to find something to do while waiting.

I started to sit down in a swivel chair and for lack of anything else to do, I started to spin around. It did seem a bit childish, but I didn’t really care as long as I was doing something. “Maybe I should just think about what to do now,” I thought.

Before I could start thinking about that though, I heard some voices that sounded like they were coming from the theater. I stopped spinning and peered out the little window overlooking the theater.

I saw a group of 3 people talking outside. One looked nervous and I just have to say, useless. One looked really average but seemed to have some sort of authoritative vibe about him. The other… she looked like… no, that was impossible, I assured myself.

I listened in on their conversation a bit and they started talking about something to do with rounding up survivors.

“What did that mean?” I thought in my head “, Were they trying to group up survivors to try and rob them? No, that didn’t make sense.”

Before I could think any further though, the man who seemed to be in charge started to talk.

I couldn’t believe it. Was that actually him? The one who I had been looking for. The one who ruined my life?

I listened closely and concluded that it was him. I would recognize that voice anywhere. After all, his was the voice that caused this disaster.

“What were the chances,” I thought to myself.

It was a no-brainer what I should do; what anyone who was in my position would do.

It took the gun out of my pocket, it was already loaded, ready to fire at any time. In my short time as a police officer, I was a deadeye shot. The pistol felt like it belonged in my hands now.

I got the man in my sights and pointed the gun at him. Here goes nothing.

“BANG!”

Chapter 10: Vici

POV– Kalvin Temperae

I collapsed to the ground.

I had heard a gunshot.

Blood stained my shirt crimson red. I felt pain barrage me relentlessly in the area of my heart.

I put my left hand over it. I didn’t feel a pulse. All that I got was my hand coated in blood.

This wasn’t a part of my plan.

I had only moments left so I began to reflect.

Maybe my plan didn’t work but, maybe my goal was accomplished.

The savage government had lost all of its power due to cowardice and people were able to start anew.

As I worked on the medicines in my lab, I had realized what the biggest diseases plaguing mankind were. They weren’t viruses or medical conditions. They were greed and lies.

My plan had succeeded in the sense that I had united a group of very diverse people. Maybe they will stick together and help each other, preventing greed.

In a way, I had cured one of the biggest diseases in human history.

But, I had to use the other disease to do so. They might still be infected.

Whatever the case, I couldn’t fix everything now could I?

I had still won, no matter what anyone would do to me.

And so I saw the darkness come for me, I was to claim my prize of total oblivion as every human does.

And then I realized how I was still invisible. Nobody could see what I had done, they were all blind. But then I remembered. I was invisible, but someone still saw me. I left my true legacy in his hands and said goodbye to this world.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Chapter 11: Sweet Revenge

POV– John Andremoda

I was awoken by a loud, sudden noise that sounded like it came from outside our theater. It was probably just a lightning strike. I closed my eyes and went back in the position I was resting in.

But I was interrupted again by the loud sound of the theater doors opening. I opened my eyes and saw Duncan run in looking like he’d just saw a ghost.

“Everybody! Get up! THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!!!” he shouted at the top of his lungs (which still wasn’t very loud).

Somehow though, he managed to wake up most of us.

“K-KALVIN HAS JUST BEEN SHOT!!” he yelled “, Is there anyone with any medical knowledge here?!”

“He WHAT?!” I shouted in surprise. I couldn’t believe it, was Duncan actually being useful? And did he just say what I thought he said?

I looked around and the others looked as shocked as I was. unlike me though, they were frozen with incomprehension.

“You heard what I said!” he replied “, he’s been shot. Now I’ll repeat myself; is there anyone with medical knowledge here?”

A man raised his hand, got up and ran out the door, presumably to ‘Theater #2’.

I couldn’t believe it. He was the leader, the sole reason we had been able to band together, and he died?! Was my chance of stopping the emotionless cowards who decided that they could just kill all of us gone? And Kalvin was murdered?! Who in their right mind would do that. Whoever had done it must’ve been some mentally ill psychopath.

Suddenly, I noticed something.

“Hey! Where’s Alice?” I asked.

“She’s still in the theater. But she’s safe, but that’s only because the murderer isn’t here anymore. She was just staring at the place where the murderer was, looking like she just saw a ghost. I don’t blame her. She must’ve been very surprised and shocked.”

“…Wait, you let the murderer GET AWAY?!!” I screamed in anger.

“Woah, calm yourself down. I couldn’t stop him, he was in the overlooking room behind us. There’s no way I could get to him in time.”

“Where is is the exit to the overlooking rooms?” I asked with a crazy plan in mind.

“In the back of the building… Wait, you aren’t seriously going to…”

“Yes I am.”

I ran out of the building with only one thing in mind, sweet revenge. And I wouldn’t lose this time.

Chapter 12: Blind

POV– Caleb Ward

After shooting, I waited a second to make sure he was hit. Sure enough, he collapsed to the ground. I then realized that the other ones in the room saw me, so I dropped the gun and bolted out of the room and building.

“I did it,” I thought to myself “, I avenged us all.” The world may not have been fixed, but the sick jerk who set it on this path was gone forever.

I ran by the street I lived on, the place it all began and begun to reminisce while dashing.

It all begun when I received an e-mail from an anonymous person, claiming to be able to leak a certain bit of classified information.

I had stopped my job as a police officer a few months ago and became an online journalist for a certain news website.

I wasn’t doing so great and couldn’t find much interesting stories to write about, so getting desperate, I took him up on his offer.

He contacted me on my phone and told me a story about a virus that had had been discovered in 2/3 of the human population. He said that nobody knew what the virus did yet. He called it the ‘Strangler’s Virus’. He didn’t use a voice changer so I heard what he’d sounded like.

“It wasn’t a big or great story,” I thought at the time. But I still posted it because I was getting desperate.

To my great surprise though, the article drew international attention. Soon the article was talked about in all 4 corners of the world. This was a dream come true for me. I was shocked when I learned people were talking about my news all over the world. “I had succeeded, I wasn’t useless. I had changed the world,” I thought back then.

But then people began to worry. What did this virus do and who was infected? These people included world leaders.

These leaders decided, that to contain the virus, they must force a massive depopulation of the cities and country also. Nobody but them knew about their plan, only one other person seemed to know it, the person who leaked me the information.

On the final day of the old world, my family was visiting my house. We were all in the living room, playing card and board games. Suddenly I got a call, from someone and excused myself from the room.

I answered the phone and, to my surprise, heard the voice of the man who leaked the information to me.

“Hello there,” he said. “Enjoy the weather.” Then he hung up.

I was very confused.

“What did he mean by…”

“BOOM!!”

The ground began the shake.

“What the…”

Before I could figure out what had happened I heard a plane and the sound of something dropping on my roof.

“What was that?” I said to myself.

Suddenly a loud noise like the one earlier rang out. Immediately, the world went white.

I woke up sometime after.

I was still very confused but there wasn’t time to think.

Before me, I saw the limp, lifeless corpses of my family. I stared at them in confusion for what felt like hours. Finally I began to cry.

I then looked at my house, or what was left of it. I buried the bodies in the rubble alone, lifeless, and dead.

I figured out what happened quickly and by the end of my plight, I killed what I was: who I was. I had caused this and probably everyone left alive in this world had to go through what I was now. They didn’t deserve it, but I did.

I had caused it. I let him win. I let everyone die and suffer.

By now it was apparent that there wasn’t any virus (at least any dangerous ones). It was probably just a lie.

I kept running, past my street, past the police station, past the school, and finally stopped where I had begun the day. Back at the bottom of the building I’d fallen out of.

I couldn’t believe it. I had escaped. I had avenged myself, my family, and everyone else. I made sure nothing more could happen. Corrupt people like that man shouldn’t have any control over people’s lives. And I made sure he wouldn’t ever be able to have any more.

I wonder what was going through his mind when he thought of his plan. Did he have some sort of grudge against humanity, civilization, or something? Or was he just blind to the bone-crushing agony we would all go through?

Chapter 13: Calm Before The Storm

POV– John Andremoda

I ran towards the back exit, to see if I could find the killer. The door was open so I assumed that he escaped already.

This was going to be tricky. There were a lot of ways he could’ve went into.

I looked around to try to find a clue of where he went and, to my surprise, I saw the small vague outline of a man running.

Now I wasn’t sure what to do. This guy could just be another survivor or he could be the murderer. I decided that I should just assume that he was the murderer because I couldn’t waste any time. If this was the murderer, I wouldn’t be surprised though. He was running away from the area the murder happened in, that’s reason enough to believe he was who I was looking for.

I started to sprint towards him, deciding I should get quieter and go slower as I got closer so I might be able to surprise him. The rain might help drown my sounds out. That would probably be my best shot because from what I’ve heard, he has some sort of gun.

I stopped for a second. He had a gun. I couldn’t face him now, I had no weapon! I looked around to see of there was anything around me that I could fight him with.

Conveniently, there was a medium-sized metal pole laying in a building’s remains. I pulled it out and continued my chase.

Whoever he or she was, he will pay for what they did. Murder is an unforgivable crime. Now, I realized that I didn’t have any real goal after this. What will I do? My family was dead, and the goal I’d been following wasn’t extremely plausible anymore.

An unexpected surge of rage flew through my body now. Whoever murdered Kalvin didn’t just murder him, they murdered me and my dreams too.

Suddenly, he turned a corner into what I assumed was an alleyway. I slowed down, thinking that he was probably going to rest/hide there.

I began to prepare myself. I held the pole in two hands and was set to jump out at any time.

I calmed the emotions raging through my head and focused on one: revenge, nothing else mattered at this point. I had lost, the old government may still come back and take over. As I thought of this, it dawned on me how I always failed what was important, this one incident was no exception.

Right now though, I vowed: “I won’t fail this time. I won’t fail myself.”

Chapter 14: We All Fall Down

POV– Caleb Ward

I took the gun I used out of my pocket. No shots left. But that bullet couldn’t have been given a better use. The mastermind who created these awful streets of chaos and debris had fallen along with whatever plan he had kept in his vile mind. Maybe humanity wasn’t doomed and the government will take responsibility for its actions.

Just then I realized what I did. I just murdered someone. Sure, I had a good reason, but that’s what every criminal says. Was I a criminal now? Maybe, or maybe I’m more of an enforcer of the law than ever. I knew exactly what he did, so I gave him his punishment. The end justifies the means I guess.

Suddenly, I heard a subtle sound through the rain. It sounded like footsteps.

Panic took control of my thoughts now.

“Was that one of the others in the theater? Was it more than one of them?” I thought to myself. If it was, they would almost certainly try to get revenge. They knew what I looked like, so they shouldn’t have any doubts that I killed him.

“Dang,” I thought to myself. “If they have a weapon, I’m dead.”

I returned the pistol to my pocket and then I raised my fists to chest level in an offensive fighting stance. I guess this was as ready as I could be now.

Suddenly, my opponent turned the corner into the alleyway. He didn’t look like any of the people I saw in the theater but he looked enraged so I still assumed he was here for revenge.

He had mahogany brown eyes, messy brown hair, and light skin. He didn’t look very strong so I guess I could be thankful. I realized then that his strength didn’t matter. All because he came wielding a large, metal pole. I wasn’t going to have a good time.

He raised his pole into the air and swung down at me whilst I sidestepped, dodging it. He swung it very sloppily, I realized.

He reacted fast and thrusted the pole at me this time, also missing. I decided to take advantage of the situation and grasped the end of the pole.

I tried to take it from him, but he was just too strong. He yanked it out of my hands and did an overhead swing again. This time though, it hit me right on my right shoulder. Things weren’t going so well for me.

Then, he tried to hit me by swinging left to right. Big mistake. I ducked and his pole hit the wall with a large bang. The alleyway was narrow enough so that the pole got stuck between the 2 walls.

He might’ve cursed but I couldn’t hear him over the sound of my heart and the rain.

This was my chance, I slid underneath the pole and then tackled him to the ground.

He thrashed around and I held on at first but after a while, my shoulder felt like it was getting spikes jabbed into it. As much as resisted, it just became too much. My hand let go against my will and he got free.

He stood up, while I remained on the ground. He then managed to wrest his pole from between the walls. He raised it over his head and I knew I was done-for.

Yet, as I saw him holding the pole above his head, ready to strike, I saw a look of hesitation light up his face. The dark feeling of fear.

He quickly snapped out of it though, I guess he remembered what I did.

Without a moment’s break, he suddenly brought down the pole like a hammer. I got hit square in the chest. I screamed in pain. It felt like I was being smashed into a mold, my entire body jerking into shapes when he hit. “Why does everyone who attacks me always aim for my chest?!” I thought.

He wasn’t done yet though, and kept relentlessly swinging the pole down at me. With each hit, the entire world seemed to twist and my vision flashed white. It didn’t matter though because all I could see was the sky, the buildings surrounding me, and the young man barraging me.

What felt like a minute passed, him still hitting me, but I didn’t mind as much anymore. I had stopped feeling pain after the first 15 hits or so. When he would stop I didn’t know. I still saw the deranged look in his tear-ridden eyes.

Suddenly he stopped his torrent of madness and I saw something change in his expression. It seemed more distant, less sentient. He then snapped, changing his face to reflect immense fear and pain. He loudly howled in pain, interrupting the silence before. It was then that I saw the knife stabbed clean through his chest.

His body dropped to the ground, right beside mine, landing on his chest. Behind him I saw a figure wearing a jacket that looked exactly like mine… wait was that…

“Heya!” exclaimed Alice.

“Hi,” I replied, bringing a smile to my face. I hadn’t felt happy for so long now. I felt a newfound feeling of strength surge through my body. I couldn’t believe it. She was alive and she was here!

“I thought you left to Jenton,” I said.

“Oh, I did. I just came back actually. It wasn’t very nice there. Worst… vacation… ever.”

I laughed again, completely forgetting the pain and wounds all over my body. I had missed her and her sense of humor.

“Now that I think about it, I was in a movie theater before coming here and I saw someone who looked like you. Was that actually you there?” I asked.

“Yeah, I was there. Now can I ask you, why did you shoot that guy?”

I explained what happened to me during the final hours before the bombing, the voice, and how I recognized him. She already knew about the article I had written.

“Oh I see now. Just so you know, the man you shot was Kalvin Temperae,” she replied.

“Really? Interesting… Why were you talking with him anyways?” I questioned.

“Oh, he had set up a group of survivors in Jenton who helped each other survive. We were travelling to other cities to try to get some more followers. He said that once we’d done that, we would try to set up a new nation. Now that I know what he did though, I think his scheme all along was just to get power and authority. I guess he didn’t anticipate you though.”

I thought about what I’d done again now. I must’ve done the right thing. Only corrupt, soulless people choose to destroy the work of others to get power. I was a hero, I had saved the nation.

Alice looked down to my left and I followed her gaze until I saw the body of my tormenter. He looked like he had already gone, his eyes were closed.

Alice put her hand to his neck. “No pulse,” she said.

“Did you know him?” I asked.

“His name is John. I found him in Jenton, he lost all of his family and seemed to only be sane because he had a goal: the Kalvin’s goal. I guess he snapped when you killed him. Poor guy.”

Now I felt kind of bad. The guy went insane when I killed Kalvin. He was a victim of my actions more than others and look where it ended him up. As guilt began to try and wrest the rest of my emotions from me, I stopped and decided I wouldn’t make the same mistake that John made. I won’t let my emotions take me over. I would be myself, a normal person and just relax.

“Well what do we do now?” I ask.

“Hmm, well you probably won’t be allowed into the group I was with. But it’s worth trying to ask.”

“Well, I don’t think I can really move much,” I say after remembering the bruises all over my body.

“Well I guess I can carry you, ya baby,” she joked.

“Hey!”

“Heh, sorry. But I’ll pick you up, I’m not abandoning you now that I’ve spent around 22 days without you.”

“Thanks,” I say as she picks me up.

“Gah! You’re so heavy!”

“Well, duh.”

“Whatever, I can still carry you.”

“Okay then, onwards!!”

Chapter 15: Alone

POV– John Andremoda

I brought down the pipe, it making contact with his chest. He yelled out in pain. He deserved every second of it.

“The murderer, THE INHUMAN MURDERER!” I yelled to nobody.

“He ruined my chance at a new, better life; but he WAS NOT the victor! I AM!” I thought, striking him again. I finally had accomplished something important and it never felt so good. I kept swinging, not even hearing his screams at this point. Revenge was sweet? That was an understatement, revenge is addictive.

With every hit, I felt a reinvigorating flare fly through me. I had never excersized physical revenge on another as an adult. But, man, did it feel good when I bashed him with my pole; I had control and nobody else did. I couldn’t stop, it felt too good.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain pierce my back and then my chest. I felt like I was slipping out of my body, losing control. I felt like I’d just been struck by lightning,the majority of my body paralyzed. I struggled to regain my stance so I could turn around to confront my enemy but to no avail. For lack of anything else I could do, I looked down at my chest and saw that the end of a bloodied knife was stuck in it.

“Who?!” I thought, my fears and emotions racing in my mind at incredible speeds. “Who would do this?”

I fell limp to the ground, falling flat on my face.

It was then that I realized what I’d done, and it scared me more than anything in my life. I had just mercilessly beat another human being without any remorse or pity. Just rage. Even if he was a murderer, he didn’t constantly beat Kalvin.

“Was I an even worse criminal?” I thought to myself.

I tried to roll onto my back so I could see the sky and maybe the face of my killer. Surprisingly I succeeded, but I immediately figured out that it wasn’t the best choice, as the knife lodged in my back went further through my body. I would’ve yelped in pain, but for some reason, I couldn’t breathe anymore.

I saw there was a person standing where I was standing a minute ago. They were wearing a black jacket, long jeans, and… Wait was that who I thought it was?

I looked more closely and realized that it was Alice.

“Why? Why!” I thought she was my ally, my friend. I felt betrayed. Surrounded here, I found myself alone.

I found that my vision was beginning to fade so I looked away and put that thought out of my mind. If I was going to die, I wouldn’t go while depressed. I wanted to be calm.

I looked towards the sky and noticed that it was still raining. I forgot about the rain for a while there.

I concentrated on it as it was getting harder and harder to see.

Then as I was nearly dead, I saw something red flying in the sky. It couldn’t have been the bird I saw a few weeks ago but I pretended it was.

“Go,” I thought. “Keep moving and don’t look back.”

And then my body shut down, forever, as I sank into oblivion.

Epilogue (What Came After)

Caleb and Alice went back to the theater, but like they expected, weren’t welcome. The group let them go without hassle though. Caleb eventually recovered with Alice taking care of him. They survived in the city for a few months with each other.

Then, the old government decided to take control again, seeing that there probably wasn’t any virus at all. They took over most of their land very quickly. People wanted leaders, so they got some.

After a while though, tensions between the public and government arose because of the bombing (now called Order 477856).

The group originally led by Kalvin turned into a rebel order, which most of the public sided with (including Alice and Caleb).

After a long war, the rebellion seized control and put order to the land. At that time, the past wasn’t much more than memories and the small amount of buildings that still existed.

Eventually, some people who used to be engineers and electricians (etc.) were able to bring power and our other devices from before back.

After that, everyone realized how much work they had ahead of themselves. They began rebuilding the nation they once were.

When they had finished most of it, the nation was even better than before.

Caleb and Alice spent the rest of their days together, they were at rest. Each one was never alone because they had one another. They were never recognized in any future books or textbooks. They kept their story to themselves. After all, the past never helped anyone.