World at an End. Chapter One and Two

Post Apocalypse short story.

This is a short story I wrote a long time ago, back in High School. It stemmed from my hatred of early school mornings, mixed with my imagination of a post apocalyptic world. Sadly, a month after writing this, “I am Legend” the movie came out, and I stopped writing it.

I didn’t want people to think I was ripping an idea. Because that is the worst.

World at an End

BEEP BEEP BEEP

The table vibrates violently and a hand sweeps across it. He clicks the trigger on the clock and at the same time, shoves a pillow over his face. Today is a new day, but so far it feels like the same one all over again.

“WAKE UP! Stop going back to sleep! You’re gonna be late again!”

The voice echoes through the hallway. Perhaps the walls were built for the acoustics.

“I don’t want to have to drive you again,” she continues.

“I’m up…I’m up…”

This repeats on a daily basis. I wake up reluctantly while my overly concerned mother causes a fit.

My mind is blank as I stumble to the bathroom. Staring back at me in the mirror is a pale ghost I know so well. My eyes are half closed and my jaw is dropped in amazement, wondering, “Do I really have to do this again?”

And then my mother yells, “Hurry the hell up!”

I fumble through my pile of clothes for the best outfit I can find. Matching is always a priority, no matter how much of a rush I’m in. After finding the right clothes, I forget whether I brushed my teeth earlier, so I run back to check if the toothbrush is wet.

It is. Thank goodness.

I ready my book bag, check my pockets for all accessories. Wallet, keys, phone, bus tokens. Each just as important as the last, and each sitting their respective pockets.

“Be careful today! Take care!” my mother howls.

“Bye!” I reply, shutting the door.

The bus arrives at 7:10. Only it’s…7:12. I walk a little faster, but not too fast. I don’t want to display much enthusiasm in getting to school.

The bus stop is just two more blocks down. Suddenly, I see it.

The bus.

No. No. I start picking up the pace, but I’m too far. The bus is dropping someone off, but I’m still a block away. The bus starts to pick someone up. Yes, stall it. Please!

I’m there, almost!

The bus leaves. That bastard. The bus is leaving, and races past the light to the next block. Within seconds, it disappears into the traffic.

Goddamn it. Terrible start to a terrible day. Fitting, I guess.

The next bus will probably take twenty minutes…or more. Nothing I can do now. I put on my headphones and drown myself from the world. It’s going to be a long day.

Whatever Happened, Happened

The bus shakes violently, bouncing up and down. My hands brace on to the chair as the bus rocks intensely over the road. Hopefully, the driver is going faster than his usual time, but that’s rarely the case.

I look through the window to see Center City in the far distance. Miles away, the skyscrapers stand tall and pristine beside one another, until something falls from the sky directly above it.

“What is that?!” shouts another bus rider.

The object is small and not discernable from the distance. I stare, hoping another second of observation will allow me the insight to understand what it is.

It drops, and only after do I realize. The city erupts in blinding light and I quickly turn away. The booming roar is deafening, and the bus screeches to a stop.

The other riders scream and cry,

“Oh my god!”

“NO!”

Their voices howl in fear and confusion.

I turn back toward the city and see the buildings replaced by an enormous cloud covered with blazing orange fire and black smoke. An enormous wave of black dust sweeps in all directions, rushing over the far distance of office buildings and residential houses before slamming against the windows of the bus.

That was a few years ago, in Philadelphia. It seems like a dream, but it wasn’t. I wish it was a dream, but it wasn’t. The world’s finally changed, and not for the better.

Enormous dark clouds of dust waft over the sky throughout most of the day, effectively blocking out the sun for hours at a time. If I’m lucky, I might even get four hours of light today. The grass is no longer green, but we’d hardly be able to tell. Buildings crumble under their own weight, and the sound of birds chirping is a forgotten memory.

Nuclear bombs were dropped in cities all across the country, all at the same time. Power was lost, and so were all communications. Maybe the government collapsed that day, or the next, I’m not sure.

For most of us, that was the end of the world.

“Alright, we’re dropping off!” the driver shouts.

“Hey, new guy. Ever use one of these?” He hands me a pistol. “It’s a .45, twelve in that clip. Don’t waste it.”

I had one before, except those twelve bullets didn’t do much for me the last time. “Thanks,” I mutter, and I take it from his black-stained hands.

He’s Clide. His jaw wears a thick beard while his cheeks are dirtied with dust. I only joined his group about a week ago and followed them up to Canada. They’ve been okay people so far, but I honestly don’t know them well enough to make a judgment.

The truck stopped in the middle of the suburbs. Probably a good place to stock on food and supplies while there’s still light.

I zip up the outermost layer of my down jacket before hopping out of the truck bed. The others have their metal bats and crowbars, and their pistols as well. A sudden cold wind rushes through us, and we shiver simultaneously.

“Shit, that never gets old!”

With less light, the climate feels like winter every day. Rummaging for jackets and coats are always a top priority now, right next to food and water.

“Alright, you guys know the drill. Split up, but don’t go alone. Find some good shit.” Clid turns to me as the other three guys walk into the street. “You’re comin’ with me, we need to find some gas.”

“Alright,” I say.

Another empty town. Quiet, dark, lifeless. The only thing I hear is the cold wind pushing past my ears. I pull the flaps of my warm hat tighter to my head and brace my body against the cold.

“There, an A-Plus,” he points. In his hand is a glock 19, and he waves it toward the gas station. “I’ll get the gas. You check the food.”

Walking up to the door, I ready the gun as I kick in the door. DOOF!

The door swings open and I glance at every corner. Nothing. Chips and candy lie scattered over the floor and crunch under my shoes, I think. It’s too dark to see clearly, but I can make out where everything is from the faint light. This place has already been ransacked, and I can only hope there’s one more gallon of water lying around.

There is. At the furthest corner by the wall refrigerators is the hidden jewel among the drinks. Wallet, keys and phone are no longer relevant. It’s food, clothes, and water. Maybe even gas.

I pop the top and begin inhaling the water. It’s never tasted this good, I swear. In a matter of seconds, nearly half of the jug is gone, and my stomach is almost full.

Now, let’s see what else there is to loot in here. My fingers rummage under the counter, searching for a gun or maybe some bullets. I can’t see from the angle of the light, but I can feel the dirt smudge along my fingertips.

“Hey, get me some gas cans. As many as you can find,” shouts Clide from outside. I search the backroom and find four.

Outside, Clide pries open the hatch in the ground and slowly lowers a tube. With a pump in hand, he begins siphoning from the well of gasoline into the containers.

Suddenly, a sharp, echoing shriek rings through the air, and Clide immediately stops.

“Inside, now!”

He didn’t need to tell me, I was already going.

We run into the store, shutting the door behind us. Moving fast, the pile the shelves and racks along the windows and the doors, but that probably won’t hold. The squealing noise of the creatures come closer and closer, louder and louder.

He tosses me an extra magazine and I keep it secured in my pocket. Then, we ready ourselves and our guns on the far end of the store, carefully watching every window.

The last time I used one of these guns, I fired every bullet and hit nothing but air. These creatures, Screamers, are humanlike, short, fast, and disgusting. Their tongues reach far out, able to lick even its own forehead. Their skin is wrinkled and peeling, but thick and dense. Most people wretch at the sight of their deformed faces, their hollowed eyes and maniacal stare.

They used to be people, but by some severe mutation, they’ve lost all humanity. They don’t think, they don’t talk. They simply scream, and rip. They’re stronger than anything I’ve ever seen, and they use their claws without remorse. It’s probably from their lack of restraint that they exert such force when they find their prey.

The street outside is dark, but I can make out the sporadic and wild movements of the creatures.

There’s a fluttering by the door, but passing before we even have time to aim.

What should I do next? My hands tremble from the fear and adrenaline, but I’d like to blame the cold. My palms get sweaty despite the dry, winter climate. Jeez, I really hope I’m not the cause of our deaths today.

I hear a shuffling by the window and I pull the trigger. The gun cocks back, and a bullet flies past the racks and through the glass. Blood splatters onto the ground, and Clide begins to shoot.

Another scuttling of flailing limbs on the right side of the store, and I turn and fire two shots. The shells eject from the gun and the window shatters. This time, there is no blood.

Clide continues shooting at the door, and the shrieking pain of the Screamers is blatantly clear.

Something scrambles past the window and I tap the trigger three times. The last bullet pierces the thin wall and blood spurts on the other side.

Clide shoots along the left window, but stops abruptly. “Shit, reloading!”

A dark figure leaps through the edge of the broken window, and I quickly turn to fire two shots. One hits the chest and the other the shoulder. It falls and drops its back hard onto the rim of the window.

They’re back at the door, slamming it harder now. My temples are pounding, and my entire body is warm. I’m still alive, so thank goodness for that. At least I have this moment to appreciate my fortune…

I fire the remaining rounds through the door, confirming my hits with their screams.

I reach into my pocket to retrieve the next magazine, and I quickly replace the one in my gun.

Immediately after, a Screamer jumps through the right window. I quickly turn and pop this one in the head with a single shot. My veins must be half adrenaline by now.

The door slams open and the racks and shelves tip over effortlessly. Chips and candy bars fly through the air in a chaotic storm, and we fire into the heart of it.

The first two Screamers are quickly shot down, but another jumps into the store from the side. I turn and shoot four rounds, hitting it three times with the last bullet missing.

One jumps through the left window this time, smashing away the rest of the glass and landing on top of Clide. One more tries to follow behind it, but my gun packs three shots into its chest.

Clide tries to wrestle with the Screamer and eventually falls to the ground. I try to kick it off, but its hold is merciless.

“Kill it! Kill it!” he screams.

I try to steady my aim but its movements are too wild. It rocks back and forth trying to claw Clide’s face as I line the barrel. Just then, it turns and glares at me with its frenzied eyes.

I fire.

The body thumps against the ground, and Clide pushes it off his body.

I exhale a tensed breath, and say, “Last bullet.”