In a post apocalyptic world a surviver named Allen must use his cunning and survival instincts to escape from his bloodthirsty persuers.
Glass shimmered around me in the bright red sunset as I flew through the air. The fall was longer than I had first anticipated, two floors doesn’t seem too bad when dodging bullets is the alternative. I landed on my feet but shifted into a roll in an attempt to break the fall. The colorful leaves on the grass looked soft but felt like solid granite from the height. I scrambled back to my feet and dived behind a bush in the small garden to my right.
I took a second to catch my breath, and get my bearings. The window from which I jumped from was empty, but the screams of anger could still be heard from within the small apartment complex. The building seemed to be almost falling apart, paint falling off the walls and even some bloodstains on the ground floor. I looked around the street and saw the run down cars and burnt buildings and garbage layering the expanse of the street. The apocalypse wasn’t kind to any place unparticular, but it almost seemed that it hit Colorado harder than other states.
They would still be searching for me, I knew that. As I tried to stand a sharp burning sensation shot through my thigh, I fell back to my knees gripping my leg. I looked down to see a shard of glass imbedded in my upper thigh. Less than two inches in diameter, but it hadn’t punctured deep through my jeans.
“I’ll live” I spoke aloud as I gripped the shard and braced myself to tug it out.
Something then caught my attention, something shimmering in the sunlight in the corner of my eye. I looked up to the window, and I knew I had only seconds to act. The light came from a reflection off a riflescope in the window, aimed directly at my head. Within seconds the adrenaline set back in and I tore the shard from my leg and grabbed my bag of supplies, then took off sprinting in the opposite direction across the street.
In anticipation of a bullet heading my direction I moved as sporadically as possible, and tried to put as much in-between the sniper and myself like cars and even a trashcan. Ahead of me the only real option from protection I’d get would be in the abandoned building in front of me. The door had a window and I instinctively thought it was locked. So, while still in motion, I bent down and gripped a rock roughly the size of my palm off the street. When I was within feet of the door I hurled the rock at the window, the glass broke and fell inside. I shot my arm through the now broken window and my body came to a stop as I hit the door at full speed. I reached down in search of the door handle, my right hard searched frantically. Then I felt the door vibrate with some strange force, the air to the left of my face almost seemed to have shifted, and then I heard the shot. I looked to my side and saw a hole the size of a quarter directly beside my head in the door.
“He missed,” I said in shock and relief, I knew I had a few seconds as he reloaded his rifle. I knew I didn’t have long so when my hand found the dead bolt I unlocked the door and swung myself inside and slammed the door behind me.
I leaned against the door and slid down so I was sitting, I’ve been shot at before but it’s never gotten that close. After catching my breath I took a moment to survey my surroundings. The door was an entrance to an old department store. As I looked around I noticed this place had been picked dry, the sign on the window reading “Everything Must Go!” added a bit of irony. Overturned shelves, clothing racks with nothing but coat hangers, garbage, rubble and glass scattered everywhere. This place didn’t exactly scream “safe haven” but it would do just fine.
I stood but kept my head low to avoid another close encounter from a bullet and moved towards the main desk.I kept low as I went under a long window that ran along the front of the store. I knew I wouldn’t have much time before they come searching here as well so I stuck to my rule, “Get what you need, and for the love of god focus on speed”.
Being in this town was a bad idea originally but I was just desperate. Compounds covered the country, compounds were areas in which groups of people sectioned off and guarded as their own. Some welcomed newcomers, others such as the one I presently found myself visiting, not so much. But after being on the road on my own for so long, searching for scraps in no mans land just couldn’t do it. So I snuck in and filled my bag with whatever supplies I could manage. But, unfortunate at the moment now, I came unarmed hoping it would help me pose as someone out right before curfew. But I was discovered and that brought me here.
There was nothing really worth taking for survival purposes in the store; my only real concern was finding a weapon. I hated to kill, but when it comes down to either them or me I’m going to fight so it’ll be me. Behind the counter were several drawers; I opened each one to reveal nothing I could use. I then realized how desperate I was, because I considered using a nail clipper.
I then heard their screams again. I had been careless and taken too long. I dashed to the door from which I entered and grabbed a folding chair on the way. I positioned the chair on the door handle so if the door were to be pulled to open the chair would hold it, at least for longer than the dead bolt. I glanced out the broken window and saw the force moving towards me, the quick look only aloud me to estimate, all I could see were 2 men with rifles moving in and the scope glint from my old friend in the window with the rifle on patrol for me. They would only be a few more seconds. So I looked around for a hiding place but my only immediate option was the shadowed corner behind me with only some tipped over shipping crates laying around for cover.
I moved with haste to the corner and positioned myself behind a crate, with enough room to have one knee up in case I needed to get to my feet quickly. And I hid myself without a second to spare, the door began to raddle with force and the voices of my adversaries were easily audible through the now broken window.
“You’re sure he’s in there!?” belted one, by the tone of his voice he seemed to be in charge.
“Yes, he went through this door. He’s in there, just waiting” another answered, his voice was higher and seemed almost shaky in the presence of the other.
After arguing amongst them they began to slam into the door, attempting to break it down. With my options running low I frantically searched for something, anything! The banging on the door continued relentlessly, the handle would eventually give and they’d be right in front of me. With a glance across the store I saw a sign on the far wall that read, “Exit”, usually illuminated but with no power it was just dark lettering, the end of the world will do that. It was an option, my only option aside from sitting and waiting.
I decided I had to go for it, I knew that heading that way may lead to trouble, but at the moment I had to improvise. I looked at the door with my makeshift lock from a folding chair, the window was high and they wouldn’t be able to see me if I crawled directly beside the door.
So I moved onto my hands and knees and began to crawl, moving myself right to the wall and moved to the shaking door. I reached the door and I felt another burning sensation, this time in my hand. I instantly pulled it up to reveal a long cut along the palm of my hand and some powdery glass scattered across my hand, the blood running down my hand was warm. The pain was apparent but manageable.
Then I heard the sound, I couldn’t quite place it but it sounded like the bending of metal. The realization dawned on me and my eyes shot to the door to see the chair beginning to bend at the leg, and as a gap formed as the door creeped open I saw a set of hands reach through and begin to pull. I had seconds to react so I clenched my fists and shot to my feet, making my way behind the counter of the front desk. Running past the long window at the front of the store.
I arrived not a moment to soon, as I crouched behind the counter the chair gave way and the door swung open and the two men came bursting in. I then ducked down and leaned against the counter. I then felt the burning in my hand again only this time it seemed to cover more of my palm. I unclenched my hands to reveal a glass powder from the floor under the door covering my hand. But before I could do anything else the two men began to speak so I shoved my hands in the pockets of my leather jacket and rubbed off the powder, ignoring the pain.
“We know you’re in here, hiding is only going to drag this out ya’know!” said the deeper voiced one, apparently the leader of the duo. Then there was the sound of a shotgun being pumped. Then I could hear the two talking amongst themselves and start to search the store, together of course to get rid of the danger of me splitting them up.
Although I had never been to this compound I had a good idea of what awaited me if I were to let them capture me. Different compounds operate differently, some search for food or stock up; others… find it in a different manner. And from the hostility of my pursuers and how intent they were on getting me even after the chase I had given them, I had an idea who I was up against. Cannibals. Which explains why the sniper had been aiming for my head and not the bigger target of my body, he didn’t want to spoil the good meat.
I belonged to a compound, a small settlement called Cambridge in Southern Colorado. It was fair to those who came and, kept its humanity unlike this rotten cesspool of filth. The only reason I had left Cambridge was to search for my for my family, or at least to prove I didn’t need to search anymore. But in doing so I had to leave behind my younger brother, Mason. He was in good hands and frankly at the moment I had more pressing matters to think about.
The counter hid me from the sniper across the road and the two inside seemed to be moving away from me. The downside though was they were heading towards the exit. My options were running low, but it seemed like I had only one option left, fight.
So I began racking my brain for a plan, anything. I then noticed my hand hit something on the floor, a chord. It ran up the counter to the top and was plugged into an outlet. I ran my hand up the chord and felt a small platform once I reached the end, I brought it down to see it was an intercom. I was puzzled when I saw the “On/Off” switch glowing a faint red. “ These guys have power?” And with that I looked to the window knowing where the sniper was hiding, then I looked to the aisle of the store to wee the two waling steadily with duns drawn. Then looking at the intercom the idea dawned on me, I knew what I was going to do. “Get what you need,” I thought looking down at the intercom, “and for the love of god focus on speed”; I grinned and realized how to get out.
I quickly glanced up and I couldn’t see the other two but I knew that the sniper wouldn’t let up. I looked down to the intercom and took a deep breath in preparation. “You can do this Allen”, I pressed down the switch into the “On” position and a loud high pitch squeak boomed across the store.
“Hey guys!” My deep voice boomed over the speakers across the store. I took my finger off the button and reached out and gripped the remnants of a brink off the ground. I then pressed the button and the high squeak was audible again before my voice came through, “Clean up in aisle four!” I said as I stood and hurled the brick down an aisle towards a shelf stocked with glass jars filled with a strange red liquid. The brick hit and the jars shattered, the force knocked the shelf over, sending it toppling backwards. “Clocks started,” I said to myself.
Knowing those two were on their way to investigate I moved out from behind the counter to the wall beside the long window along the front of the store. I then bent down and grabbed a small stick of wood not much longer than a foot. It must have come from one of the broken shelves. I then stripped off my leather jacket and placed it on the end of the stick, and began moving it towards the edge of the window. As the shoulder came into view the coat jolted forward as the sound of the shot rang out. I yanked back the jacket to create the illusion that I had been hit, and then I began to count. 1… 2… 3, I moved my coat back into position, 4… 5…6, again the coat shot forward and this time I let it fall to the floor. And with that I shot into a full sprint across the front of the store heading for my former hiding place in the corner. All the wile counting in my mind, 1… 2… 3… 4, and at 5 I reached the other end of the window and another shot rang out that next second. I positioned myself behind the boxes and waited.
I sat and watched down the aisle where I threw the brick and sure enough the two came running out and leaned over my jacket. They were talking but I couldn’t hear them from the distance I was from them. The sun was almost set now so the lighting was very dark in the store; shadows ran long and were pitch black. Using that to my advantage I moved along the wall towards the aisles. Then as quickly as I could I ran along the aisle and turned left towards the fallen shelf keeping light on my feet. Looking down that aisle I saw the two men leaned over my jacket, puzzled by the fact that they saw two bullet holes and no blood.
I moved quickly down the aisle and grabbed a bottle off a shelf on my way towards them. I exited the aisle and came into the opening around the counter. It’s now or never I told myself. The larger louder one was kneeling at my jacket and the smaller one was standing directly behind him. I brought back my right arm and began to run towards the one standing. He must have heard my footsteps becausehe began to turn, then I brought down the bottle onto the side on his head. Glass showered around his head and the liquid flew all around. As I anticipated, he brought one hand from his rifle to his head from the initial shock. And with than opening I hit him in the jaw with my free hand as the other reached down and gripped the rifle. And as I gripped the rifle I pulled it towards myself and threw my shoulder into his chest. The force knocked his over and I tore the rifle from his hands and into mine. As he fell back I turned and aimed the gun at his friend who was halfway up with shotgun in hand.
“Drop it!” I shouted as the large man scrambled to his feet, his eyes filled with bewildment obviously because he didn’t expect a fight from me.
“You know that ain’t gonna happen boy” he said in a thick southern accent, his voice no stern. I understand that there was little to no education in the now apocalyptic world, but seriously could this guy’s English get any worse? He stood up strait trying to seem unafraid while I had a rifle aimed at his chest from less than ten feet away. His shotgun from his right hand at his side.
“Listen man I don’t want to hurt anybody that I don’t have to, but I clearly have the advantage here. If you even try to bring up your gun I’ll have a bullet in you before I’m even in your sights.” I said as I shifted so the rifle stock rested comfortably against my shoulder.
He then looked to his left briefly and grinned “Yeah, you have the advantage alright.” He said with a voice filled with sarcasm.
My head instantly shot to my right to see the skinny one right beside me. I began to move the rifle his direction but his hands reached it before I got there. He pushed me back and I regained my balance to provide a fight. The left side of his head was bleeding and his left eye was completely bloodshot. I was larger than him so I began to gain the upper hand, but before I could process the situation I felt a tug on the back of my shirt and I found myself being thrown backwards.
The larger one had grabbed me and threw me back away from his friend. As I fell back the rifle was torn from my hands and back into its original owners. I landed on the floor with a loud thud, halfway on top of my jacket. I looked up to see the two standing over me, the large one with the shotgun and the one to his side now armed with his rifle again.
“Man I only with I could torture ya, ya little pig, butfrankly I’m to hungry.” Said the larger one with a sick twisted grin on his face as if I looked tasty. He then pulled back the action on his gun checking the chamber for a shell.
My plan hadn’t worked nearly as well as I originally hoped, and now I was at the mercy of them. Panic began to set in and my mind began racing. My hand moved around frantically in search for something to use, and it found its way into my jacket pocket and a familiar burning sensation was noticeable. And a slight grin came across my face.
“You’re hungry?” I asked, taking a fist full of the glass powder from my pocket in my hand “Well how does this taste?!” I yelled as he began to raise the shotgun to my head and I threw my arm forward. Within the next few milliseconds so much transpired. My hand flew threw the air and I flung shards of powdery glass towards the faces of my assailants. The powder made contact with the eyes of the big one and he recoiled from the pain, his finger hit the trigger and the shot slammed into the floor beside my leg. The floor vibrated but I was unharmed miraculously. Next it hit the skinny one and he fell back as I began to stand and go for the gun in the big ones hands. His grip was strong and even without his sight he still managed to hit e in the head a few times before I felt the shot fly passed my shoulder. The sniper. He was shooting at the commotion threw the window, but in the darkness I saw this as another opportunity. I began to count.
1… 2… 3… I counted in my head as the wrestling match with my blind opponent continued. 4… using my own weight I tugged back on the shotgun, he began to fall towards me. 5… and with that momentum I swung him around towards the window and got myself behind him. 6… the shot took longer than I thought it would, but sure enough through the screams of pain due to the glass a shot was heard in the quite night. The large man shook for a moment against me and tried to speak but all that came out was a small yelp. His body then went limp and began to fall and I took the shotgun from his now dead hands.
I turned to see the skinny one aiming his rifle wildly with his eyes closed and bleeding. He screamed and yelled for me to show myself and fight me like a man. I then raised the shotgun and trained the sights on his head. But as I began to squeeze the trigger I stopped for a moment, I finally realized something that I had completely missed before. He was just a kid… he couldn’t have been more than 17. I lowered the gun; enough blood had been shed over something so simple. I then flipped around the shotgun so I was holding the barrel, then using the gun as a bat I hit the kid over the head. He dropped to the floor and I knelt over him and felt his pulse. “Still alive” I said as I grinned and stood.
Before I even had time to think I felt something smash into my left shoulder. The force was incredible, it seemed like a miniature freight train had just slammed into my arm at full speed. Then the pain hit, I was just shot by a very high power rifle and the pain was immense. Even though I was in a sever amount of pain I was still thinking fairly strait forward and I knew I only had those six seconds to make it out of there. So with that I began to sprint through the aisle towards that dimly lighted sign that I could have sworn was screaming “HOME!”
That was six weeks ago, I had since been moving through Colorado back towards Cambridge. After all of that mess I just wanted some sanity around me for a change. So taking nothing but the shirt on my back I headed towards the only home I new anymore. My search seemed to have gone in vain but what I did learn is that what family I do have left needs to be cherished and protected. I was only 26, I hadn’t even kissed a girl yet but I had still found a way to survive in a retched place where society is all but extinguished and people eat each other because food runs low.
I was walking down the interstate and I passed a familiar oak tree. The old oak was a marker we used to know where to turn to head towards the entrance of Cambridge. I walked down the back road and came around a long corner and started up the hill, once at the top you had a full view of the compound. The trees were multiple shades of beautiful autumn colors and the ground was riddled with leaves. But as my eyes followed up the trees into the sky I noticed something that didn’t seem so natural and beautiful… smoke. Pillars of smoke tunneling up from across the hill.
At first I didn’t know what to think but that was quickly replaced with me in a full out sprint up the hill. I reached the top and my eyes began to well with tears. The beautiful source of humanity and salvation where I truly did feel safe was now almost completely burned down and demolished. I didn’t know what to think, I did know what to do. But my body began to move without any directions from my brain. I ran down the hill and jumped the fence and entered my former home.
I began to become hysterical; I couldn’t control how I was responding. The buildings of this once beautiful village were now charred and scared if they weren’t completely destroyed. But the destruction wasn’t the worst part. All around me, everywhere filling the street, were bodies. Either shot up against a wall, burnt to a crisp in huge pills or just laying around. Men, women and children alike. I couldn’t process the situation; all this death was too overwhelming. I fell to my knees and began to scream and yell in anger and loss, but in my hysteria I did come to terms with who could have done such a vile thing, Cannibals. And with how readily I was to leave I left one up and able to move. The sniper. I screamed for my brother, I screamed his name louder than I ever have before. But as much as I didn’t want to believe it, I knew I wouldn’t get an answer from Mason.
Instead some other people, who actually were the exact people I wanted to see, visited me. Surrounding me were over twenty armed men all staring at me with the same hungry eyes as the large man in the department store. On my knees I looked up at a window directly in front of me and saw a man standing in it with a large rifle in his hands, the rifle was a military grade rifle with a scope that looked like something out of an old science fiction movie. I knew this man was the sniper, I had never seen his face but even my wound in my shoulder ached from the sight of him near.
I looked him in the eye and no words were spoken, all I did was lower my head and begin to count aloud. “1… 2… 3…” I then heard a bolt being pulled back; I clenched my fists embracing the pain from the cuts on my palms. “4… 5…” My thoughts went to my brother and the young kid in the department store, if I were to be glad of anything I did in this world is being a good brother and not a cold blooded killer. “6”, I grinned as my hand found a rock off of the ground, I gripped it with force. I heard the shot and glass shimmered around me in the bright red sunset.