Something more awful than death lurks in the aftermath of the fall of mankind…Evolution. Plants struggled for many years to survive in a man-made concrete prison, but now, they have evolved into horrid creatures feeding on the most abundant of food sources, and the human race hides in fear.
The first blast was almost holy. Jedd felt a warm sense of justice wash through him as he watched bits of green matter spray upon the cave. He reloaded his rifle and waited, not quite brave enough to venture too far out of his former prison. The loud boom from his gun followed by the nasty wet explosion of his foe was sure to draw attention. Jedd walked slowly, not daring to lower the tip for an instance.
The putrid smell of death enveloped his naval cavities causing his gag reflex to react. Many people he once considered mostly friendly lay half eaten upon the cavern floor. Before the creature could finish his screech of terror, Jedd squeezed the trigger and watched the body fling against the wall and twitch. A smile spread across his sadistic face.
He made it past the first hallway and dared entering the mess hall. Dozens of corpses lay motionless, a true testament to the horrific events that took place. He pulled his shirt up over his nose trying to alleviate the smell. Off in the corner he could see three baboons finishing off their own dinner. Nasty chewing sounds and sprays of blood came from the trio. He could see his reflection in the crimson pool that lay all around him. Jedd felt sick.
His shoes left prints in the sticky pools as he tried to catch the monsters by surprise. His actions were in vein. They curled their blood soaked lips and snarled menacingly. Charging full force at him, the baboons had one thing on their mind. Fresh meat.
Jedd hesitated for a brief moment, startled at the reaction. He watched them gain ground before squeezing the trigger. The bullet ripped through them like a hammer through glass. Their bodies decorated the floor, a mental trophy for the scorned man.
Barrel still at the ready, he cautiously trudged ever closer to the stockpile of food, praying that the canned goods were still intact. He could feel his stomach growl in anticipation. As he marched past the bodies and started to lower his weapon he caught himself marveling at the bizarre nature of human survival.
So much death and decay lay upon the room. Blood and carnage, rotting corpses, and stench that would curdle the strongest stomach. Yet his desire to find food outweighed it all. His appetite was still intact.
He slides his hand across the counter, clearing away all the debris in one swoop. The plates shattered to the ground, the empty cans echoed in the cave, and the pans rattled upon impact. He did not care.
“Let them come!”
His eyes darted back and forth for a brief moment before he laid his weapon upon the counter. Jedd started searching the racks, something, anything to eat! He slung dishes and tossed empty tin cans, till he finally spotted three unopened containers of spinach.
Just my luck. Spinach. I hate spinach. He slammed then to the counter and searched for a can open, anxious to open them and feast properly for the first time in weeks. He opened each drawer and tossed the contents to the ground. After ten grueling minutes he found what he was searching for.
The tiny metal wheel slowly sliced against the lid, bringing dinner ever closer. In the background he could hear them coming closer, could hear the wildlife coming to get him. Jedd did not care. He ripped the lid off the can and dug his fingers into the spinach. He shoveled mouthful after mouthful of the horrid food into his mouth, more swallowing whole than chewing.
The baboons were already entering the hallway; he could see their shadows dance upon the wall. Jedd raced against the clock, trying to finish his meal before the next round came. The first baboon screeched and entered the room, edging ever closer to him. He lifted the rifle and fired a shot, slaughtering him. They started flooding in like a green wave against the shoreline, all greedy, all hungry for fresh meat.
Jedd tried to shove the can opener in his pocket and hold the spinach while shooting, an impossible feat. He missed the next two shots. Only twenty feet now, the man felt anger wash over him.
He chunked the spinach off the baboon’s nasty green skull and opened fire. He watched both the creature and the can explode in the air, mingling in a funky blend of dark and olive green before decorating the floor. More and more came into the room.
He tried leaping over the counter in a panic. He felt his foot catch the lip and seen the ground come closer. He closed his eyes for a moment and threw out his hand waiting impact. To his surprise he only stumbled. He fired again, and again. Listening to the echo ring in his ears he pulled the trigger once more. It was empty.
They flung themselves on him sinking their fangs deep into his skin. He felt the warm trail of blood trickle down his arm as he shielded his face. His body made a nasty thud as it smashed against the ground. Three more sunk their long sharp fangs into his skin.
Little star bursts flashed before his eyes as he flailed. Crawling to the best of his ability, he panicked. He felt something bump his hand and tugged at it. A Corpse. Jedd pulled the decayed body over him trying to use it as a shield, trying to hide from his own death. The baboons held on for dear life and clawed and ripped at his flesh. He thought of his wife, he thought of his child, he even thought of his last meal and how he wished it was anything else.
He can see the last months of his life and all he has been through. The unofficial military training he found to be utterly useless at this moment. He remembered the stupid pledge he had to make to the Morton twins. The hours of target practice with the rifle and the tactical knife fighting he was forced to endure. Slash, slash again, cut open the bag of bird seed, and make it bleed!
He heard their voices in his head, their commanding voices and their need to be feared. Jedd wished so hard it was them he was slicing not the bird seed.
“This boot knife will save your life one day.” they said
I doubt that. When they come, a knife won’t save me. His eyes flung open and a new round of hope rose up. Jedd reached his free hand into his boot and pulled out a small double edged blade. Still trapped, he tried using the body as a meat shield. He frantically stabbed at the creatures, aiming for anything that was visible. It penetrated their eyes, it tore into their throats, and He swung wildly like a madman, desperate to win the battle for survival.
The dull moonlight hid behind the clouds and the stars lost their luster. The breeze rustled the leaves of the large Oak and the fireflies flickered randomly into the night. I was alone with my thoughts. We walked for many hours not knowing where we were headed or how to even get there. The pitch black void of the night made us feel alone in a very large and disturbing universe.
We could hear the clap of our shoes on the blacktop and see the reflection of the moonlight but nothing else. Alex was shaking and gripping my hand tight. Her strength was failing her drastically. Not only her physical strength but her will to go on. Our senses were heightened and our nerves were skimming along a razors edge. It had to end.
As we sat below the old Oak tree exhausted and terrified. I gripped my golf club tight, not willing to succumb to sleep just yet. Alex decided we should keep watch just in case. Keep watch? I grumbled to myself at the mere thought. How does one actually keep watch when they know they are in danger and can’t actually see a thing?
I let my mind slip into a world not yet discovered by man, a world where every little sound was ominous, every little creek and every small snap was a monster waiting to devour us. I tried to calm myself but found my chest pounding harder at every thought.
Night crept slowly like a snake in high grass waiting to strike. Twice I swung my weapon into the night; sure it would make contact with some creature. I felt my eyes grow heavy and my mind draw a blank.
I found myself back in the car taunting Alex with the keys, wiggling them smiling at her. I could see her sweet face and hear her voice. I remembered showing her the sign just beyond the hill and watching her shirt gently slide up her slender stomach revealing her navel as she stretched.
I felt something on my leg and jerked awake. Not sure how long I was out I feel around in the dark searching for my weapon. The cool metal touches my palm and I wrap my fingers around it, squeezing tightly. In a moment of confusion and frustration I swing the club at the unknown assailant attacking my leg. Pain. Instant pain registered through the nerve endings and traveled to my brain. I could actually hear the hollow sound the club made as it smashed against my shin bone.
“SON OF A BITCH!” I screamed.
I heard Alex and Boomer both scramble awake searching blindly for their own weapons.
“TREVOR! WHERE ARE YOU WHAT’S GOING ON?” she yelled into the night
Boomer started clapping his big beefy hands trying to scare whatever creatures threatened to invade his invisible bubble.
I rubbed my shin and tried to regain any bit of control over my senses as I could.
“Everything’s fine. I guess I fell asleep”
I could hear the fury in her voice. I knew it was coming, but had to endure her wrath.
“You fell asleep? We could have been killed! God you’re such a…such a…JERK!”
I sighed and let my hands caress the grass, feeling the ground beneath my body I gently laid down and placed my weapon beside me. Mentally distraught.
“I’m sorry Alex I really am. I guess my body just kind of shut down.”
“You’re sorry? You sure are some piece of work mister. You would have been sorry, because if something would have happened to Boomer I would have killed you myself!”
Her voice rose to the highest decibel I ever heard come from her. It stung me. It was bitter, it was cold, and it was unforgiving. The image of her sweet smile twisted into a horrible image of anger and pain.
“Go to sleep jerk! I’ll keep watch”
“I-I” I started to protest but was cut short
“Shut up Trevor okay? Just stop. Go to sleep”
I pulled my legs closer to my chest and rolled over to the side, too tired to argue, I allowed myself to fall into a deep relieving sleep.
I awoke to the sounds of screaming and loud thumps upon the ground. My vision still blurry I went for my weapon. The sun just barely visible over the horizon I could make out shadows alone. Boomers name was called repeatedly and loud shrieks of terror filled the early morning. We were under attack.
Dozens of green squirrels latched onto his arms and chewed on his back. Blood spilled onto the ground and nasty chirping sounds rattled in my ears. I swung hard, making contact with the nasty rodent, propelling him several yards away. Alex kicked and punched, hammered away at the foul creatures with a large rock trying to free her brother. I could hear the pain escaping Boomer’s throat as he rolled around wrestling against them. The fight continued for a solid half hour before we were finally able to free him. Cuts and bruises covered the large man. His shirt was torn and his pants were Swiss cheese.
Taking off my shirt I handed it to Alex. I watched as she ripped it to pieces, using the bits of fabric to stop the blood flow. I could see the color drain from Boomers face as his sister worked hard with what little we had in an attempt to give him proper medical attention.
I watched in horror as Boomer blacked out and bounced his head off the ground. His body started convulsing and his teeth clattered. Alex screamed in terror and called his name over and over.
I froze. I stood there like a dumb founded idiot waiting for one of the only friends I have in the entire world to stop breathing. After what seemed like an eternity of screaming Boomer slowly awoke. His color came crawling back and his lips were pink once more.
Alex hugged her brother tightly and let tears stream down her face, wearing her emotion proudly like a badge of honor.
“I thought I lost you”
Boomer gave a half smile and grabbed at his leg, watching the blood ooze gently down his calf he inhaled sharply. In our moment of panic we seemed to completely forget something very important. I fought with myself hard, still hating to be the one to give bad news.
Alex was still clinging to Boomer for dear life. I bit my lip and gently spoke.
“They will come back guys”
Alex shot me daggers with her icy stare. I knew she didn’t want to hear it but it had to be voiced. What was worse were the distant sounds coming from the highway. Our attack brought bigger and more terrifying predators our direction. I stood and grabbed Boomers other hand. We tugged and brought the giant man to his feet. He wobbled and limped for a brief moment and then collapsed on the ground. I could see regret radiate from his eyes. We had a problem.
I watched the ax sink deep into the branch. Its sharp blade buried itself deep into the wood with ease. Over and over she swung, chopping wildly. I could hear the creatures coming closer and see the panic swell In Boomers eyes. I heard a snap and watched the mousey teen drag the long thick branch over to her brother.
“Help me get him up I need to measure. Hurry!”
Her voice was trembling and her breath seemed to catch in her throat as she spoke. I could barely see the outline of large green tails slithering in the distance. Podradiles! My gaze locked on the creatures in horror, the image of my mother came flooding back to me like a torrential downpour of terror. Alex shook me hard and I felt my body jar. She screamed, her fear and anxiety seemed to reach out and slap my skin.
“Trevor help me!”
Snapping back to reality, I grabbed the man’s large arms and helped lift him. Boomer stood against the tree and winced in pain as his sister measured the large branch against him. We slowly lowered Boomer to the ground, letting his back rest against the huge tree. Alex started to split the wood, making sure it was aligned with her measurements perfectly. Still confused, I stood nervously waiting for orders.
“I need the duct tape from my backpack.”
The sound registered but I hesitated. Some leader I turned out to be. Alex chopped and split the wood, lining it up with the remaining branch, she marked her second crutch.
“TREVOR THE DUCT TAPE! I NEED THE DUCT TAPE!”
I blinked twice, only now aware of my own hesitation. I ran to the side of the tree and unzipped the bag. I felt my hand bump several items as I visualized them in my mind, eliminating the possibilities. After what felt like an eternity, I finally felt the rough circular cardboard of the tape.
Tossing it to her, I watched her wrap the top of the branch over and over again. Testing it, she sank her teeth into the tape and ripped it from the roll. She repeated the process with the second branch and stood, walking over to the large tree.
“Come on buddy it’s time to go”
I could hear the love in her words and feel the emotion seep through the darkness of our dire situation. In an instance, I understood what separated the human race from the foul creatures that aim to take our place.
We lifted Boomer and handed him the make-shift crutches, waiting, hoping against all odds that something was in our favor. He attempted a few steps and pushed down on the branches. Her idea took life.
I grabbed my bag and lifted my golf club. Alex tried to do the same but was struggling to accommodate both her brother’s items and her own. Throwing Boomers bag over my free shoulder I handed her the ax.
“Everything is okay. We will be okay.” I smiled as I spoke, trying to convince myself of these words as much as I was the two.
We marched slowly into the daylight, nervously listening to the sounds of our enemies fill the air as they came ever closer. We knew at the pace we were going, it was only a matter of time…We knew they would catch us.
We lasted almost an hour before Boomer started to wear out, his body slumping against the branches as he walked, his leg oozing blood and his back aching, he finally just stopped and stared at us, silently pleading for a break. I helped Alex lower the man to the ground. Squatting next to her nervously, I whispered into her ear.
“They are right behind us, what are we going to do?”
She didn’t reply, she just sat there looking at Boomer with concern. His armpits were beat red from the pressure of the branches. Tiny scratches littered his skin and drips of blood still ran down his leg. She changed the soaked cloth, tying a new one on his thigh, pulling tightly as she knotted it, she spoke.
“It’s up to me and you Trevor. They will catch us and we will have to fight them eventually”
I felt fear swell up inside me. I knew she was right. A long pause that stretched from one horrific moment to another keep me on edge. Thoughts swirled inside my brain, thoughts of death and thoughts of life. I tried to concentrate on the task at hand. I played out several scenarios in my mind, letting each one of them come boiling over into a vivid end for our trio. I was sunk.
I looked into her eyes, allowing myself to see her for the brave caring soul she really was. I knew what had to happen, and yet I couldn’t find the words. Saying goodbye, the act of forcing the words out of your lips and letting the other person hear them was harder than simply vanishing like a fog over a riverbank.
Instead, I simply gripped my weapon and stood, brushing the dirt off of my clothes. Laying Boomers bag on the ground next to her I smiled.
“Walk at night and hide in the daylight.”
Those were the words I chose as my goodbye. A part of me wishes I was brave enough to say… “Alex I’m scared. I love you and will never let you down.”
I felt tears swell as I walked ever closer towards the creatures, intent on holding them off at all costs.