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Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book 1)
A Sci-fi Adventure Thriller
By Christopher Cole Posted in Fiction 36 min read
Blameless Previous Promise of Mars Next

Chapter 1

I woke up on a Saturday morning with a yawn and rubbed my eyes. I gazed at all my cool posters in my room – Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, and Legend of Korra, all my favorite shows. My teddy bear sat upright against in the corner with my pillows. As I got up out of bed, I headed for Mom and Dad’s bedroom to see if they were up. Judging from how high the sun was and how much of it shined through the house, I’d say it was close to noon or just before. I opened the door and saw my mom still sleeping, but my dad wasn’t on the other side. Then I started to hear country music playing from my Dad’s iTouch downstairs in the kitchen. I could smell the homemade waffles from here and my mouth started to water. He always plays his music whenever he was cooking or was doing work. Then I was at my parents’ bedroom where mom was still sleeping. She was up late last night writing emails to everyone at work again. My mom was slim, well fit, and very beautiful with her blonde wavy straight hair and blue eyes. My friends had asked me if my mom was a model, I told them no, but it would make sense if she was.

Mom stretched and saw me at the doorway, “Hey honey.”

I climbed up on the bed and went over and laid next her.

“How did you sleep?” she asked.

“Okay, glad it’s summer vacation so we can sleep in.”

“Yeah, love to sleep in.”

“You sleep okay?”

Mom stretched some more and then wrapped her arms around me and said, “I’ve had better nights, but still got some good sleep.”

Dad then walked in while dancing and lip singing the lyrics of the song that was playing from his iTouch. Dad was tall with broad shoulders and had a body that could stop a tank. He looked like a movie star with his handsome face, green eyes, and dark straight blonde hair. Mom giggled as Dad danced his way over and gave her a good morning kiss.

“Who wants waffles?” Dad asked.

“I do,” I said as I hopped off the bed and hugged dad.

I jogged downstairs without hitting any of the framed photos and paintings on the walls and readied the table. I enjoyed every bite of the waffles dad had made. He loved to cook as much as mom loved Starbucks. There was nothing better on a Saturday morning than eating dad’s waffles, or anything he cooks really. I can’t think of anything he made that I didn’t like to eat, except for the chocolate cake for my mom’s birthday. I was probably one the few people in the world that didn’t like chocolate.

“That was delicious, dad,” I said eating.

“No problem, little man,” said Dad.

Mom was watching the weather channel on the big TV in the living room to see how hot today was going to be and how hot the rest of the week would be. The weatherman said it would be high eighties with clear skies all week.

“Well, at least we’ll get to work on our tan later,” said Mom.

“Is that what we’re doing today, going to the pool?” asked Dad.

“Nah, it’s probably too crowded today so later in the week is probably better.”

“What about today?”

“We could see a movie, might be something good in theaters.”

Most places would be crowded with a lot of people, since it was near the end of June. I liked it better when we all can just relax in the house together, because I didn’t like being in crowds. In fact, I couldn’t stand it, because there’s always a baby screaming his head off or a bunch of dumb kids running around doing something stupid. If there isn’t that many people, I’ll be okay with it, but if there are a lot of people it just kills whatever mood I’m in. I guess that’s why I never liked going to the YMCA and there are plenty of reasons not to like it there – too many kids, the activities are dumb, and it’s never a good idea to go in their swimming pools, because an unhealthy volume of urine has been covertly deposited into the water. However, since my parents had jobs and couldn’t leave me alone, I understood why they sent me there.

“So, it’s a movie then?” Mom asked.

“I guess so, but we better hurry before more people get the same idea,” Dad said.

I rushed eating what’s left of the waffles, so I could get ready. I finished and placed the plates in the dishwasher. Before I could go and change into some clothes Dad stopped me.

“What did do you after you eat?” Dad asked.

I sighed, “Brush my teeth.”

“That’s right. Go.”

I went to the small downstairs bathroom to brush my teeth. If Dad keeps me at this my teeth will be so clean you could see them from space! I rinsed out my mouth and then washed my face. By the time, I was down I looked at myself in the mirror to see if everything’s in order. I’m a healthy kid, athletic with blonde hair like my dad and my mom’s blue eyes. I’m not the most handsome kid in the whole world but I’d say I’m good looking. Grinning like an idiot, I did my best Superman pose to show what muscles I had to have a little fun.

I got dressed in blue jeans and my black and white T-shirt of the Milky Way Galaxy with a lettering that said, ‘You are here,’ on it pointing into the galaxy. Mom and Dad dressed causal – Mom was wearing short light blue jeans and a beautiful loose white collared summer shirt, Dad was wearing tan khaki shorts and a short sleeve blue plaid collared shirt. We went to the movies and luck was with me, there weren’t that many people. The movie theater was in a mall, so after we saw the movie we looked around at all the stores. There had to be at least one of every kind of store there. Besides the crowds of people when busy, I like the mall – from the neatly designed stores to the high ceiling windows that let some much sunlight in. It gives a cool atmosphere that makes everything feel new.

“See anything you like?” asked Dad.

“Eh, maybe a few things,” I replied.

My tenth birthday was coming up soon and my parents were still working on what to get me. Most kids my age would want a million things all at once, but not me. I’m not spoiled. My parents gave me a soft brown teddy bear when I was a baby and I still go to bed with it, but not just because I loved it but because I wanted to let my parents know I love what they gave me. In a store, there was a sale on eight balls and the store had one out for display. I heard about these things, you’re supposed to ask it a question and it gives you an answer ‘seeing into the future.’ I picked it up and I tried to think of funny questions to ask in front of my parents to see if I could make them laugh.

“Is it true that my dad killed Godzilla?” I asked aloud and then shook it.

The ball said, “You know it to be true.”

“Oh, you hear that Mom? Dad killed Godzilla.”

“That and King Kong. It was how he proposed to me,” Mom replied.

“Really?”

“Yeah, some girls like poetry, but I liked giant monsters slain to prove his love for me.”

I asked the ball again, “Is my mom a ninja?”

The ball said, “Absolutely.”

“Hey Dad, Mom’s a ninja. Did you know that?” I asked Dad.

“Oh course I did, that’s why she’s awesome,” Dad said while giving Mom a kiss.

“What are you getting me?” I asked while placing the ball back.

“We can’t tell you that, it’s a secret,” Mom said with a smile.

“Oh, I won’t tell a soul, you can trust me.”

“Nice try, but no.”

“Come on.”

“I don’t think so.”

My mom started tickling me and no matter how hard I tried to resist she always got me laughing. My parents always loved to tickle me because they loved to hear me laugh. They both said that I have a great laugh and sometimes my laugh would get them laughing too. After she tickled me, Mom hugged me close to her and kissed my face as I hugged her back. I could feel her hair brushing my cheeks and could smell both her sweet perfume and her nice shampoo.

“I love you mom,” I said.

“I love you so much, my little Sunshine,” Mom said with a warm voice.

Later, we ran into the John’s family, our neighbors. The father was Brad John, who was about my dad’s age, but not as tall. Brad had brown hair and was a lot shorter than he was and had more a normal body, not fat but not skinny either – he was dressed similar to my dad except he had jean shorts and wore a navy-blue New York Yankees T-shirt. His daughters, Ashley and Carrie, were blonde twins and around the age of eleven or twelve – they’re also my closest friends. Ashley and Carrie were both wearing white skirts, but had different shirts on – Ashley had a black and white panda shirt and Carrie had a red T-shirt that had the two characters, Nick and Judy, from Zootopia on it. However, it was just the three of them. Rachael, the mom, wasn’t with them. Now that I think about it, nobody really had seen her for a while.

They greeted each other in a friendly way, and my dad inquired about how he was doing. Brad had a sad look on his face and didn’t answer my dad for a few seconds, as if he couldn’t answer or maybe didn’t know what to say. They talked normally for a little bit until Brad suggested to his daughters to go to the Barnes and Noble together. Barnes and Noble had plenty cool comic books. However, as we entered, I noticed that both Ashley and Carrie were in the same quiet and distracted mood as their father. I really wanted to ask them if something was wrong, but I felt it wasn’t right to ask them somehow. The three of us browsed books for a long while until Carrie just stopped and went to sit on a chair. I looked at Ashley as she sighed and walked over and sat right next to her sister. It took me a few minutes to work up the nerve to go over to sit next them and ask what was wrong.

“Are you guys okay?” I asked.

“No, our mom is sick in the hospital,” replied Carrie.

“Sick with what?” I asked.

“That’s the thing, nobody knows, not even the doctors,” Ashley answered.

“Well, don’t worry they’ll make her better,” I said.

They both looked as me as if I just told them Santa Claus wasn’t real. Carrie was trying to hold back her tears as best as she could while Ashley was trying to comfort her.

“They’ll make her better, because that’s what hospitals are for, it’s what they do,” I said.

“Yeah, well that’s what we said, and they still haven’t fixed her,” Carrie said.

“Or anyone else with what she’s got,” Ashley added.

“What?” I asked.

“You haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?”

“There’s a lot of people getting sick and nobody knows why.”

I tried to think if I knew anyone else who was sick, but the only one I knew that was sick was our math teacher Mrs. O’Neil. I remember glancing over some morning newspapers that was on our driveway and the headlines said something about a mysterious disease going around. Nobody really knew anything about it so far, except that whoever had it was vomiting and coughing up blood.

“Who else is sick?” I asked.

Ashley listed Stan’s dad, Sophie’s mom, and some other people.

“Mrs. O’Neil?”

“Oh yeah, her too.”

Now that I think about it, all the people she listed were people from the city. Stan’s dad worked as a banker, Sophie’s mom was a fashion designer, and Mrs. O’Neil lived in the city. In the midst of my thinking, both my parents and the twins’ dad called and told us it was time to go.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you later,” I said.

“Yeah,” Ashley said.

Carrie still looked so upset that I felt sorry for her, “Carrie?”

“What?”

“I hope your mom gets better.”

“Yeah, me too.”

As I ran back to my parents, I tried to act like everything was all right, but my parents saw right through me. I guess they really did know me better than anyone or they had the same conversation with Brad as I had with the twins.

“Everything okay?” Dad asked.

“Yeah, Carrie just really misses her mom,” I answered.

As we drove back to our house, we passed a hospital and I noticed that it had several large tents outside of the buildings. There were even some military trucks parked beside of the tents with razor wire fences with signs saying, “KEEP OUT.” There was also another sign that was actually a lot larger than the others that said:

Quarantine: Infected Area

“What does ‘Quarantine’ mean?” I asked.

They both cautiously looked at each other and said, “It’s a place where sick people go to get better and they keep them separate so other people don’t get sick too.”

As I looked back at the quarantine zone, I didn’t feel like it was a place to get well. Instead, it seemed more like a cage. I still believed it was possible for people to get better.

I was wrong.

***

Several weeks later, according to the newscaster on TV, the disease was now much more widespread and getting worse and worse. The disease now had a documented case in virtually every country throughout the world, and the CDC hadn’t a clue how to contain it. The more the newscasters were talking about it, the more worried my parents looked. It had turned from a small number of sick people locally into a major outbreak in a very short amount of time. Late that night, I heard my parents arguing about what to do. It was hard not to be scared, but I was. They couldn’t decide whether it was safer to leave or to just remain in our house.

It soon didn’t matter, because a lot of military trucks were coming into the neighborhood to evacuate us. Dad told us to pack light, to take only what we need and leave everything else behind. I hope this isn’t goodbye to the house, because I really like this big beautiful house and I loved this neighborhood just as much – the tall trees gave a good feeling. Dad pulled his blue Toyota Tacoma truck up the driveway and halfway into the garage. Brad pulled his black Chevy Suburban in our driveway with a concerned look on his face and approached my dad.

“Please tell me you know what the hell is happening,” Brad said as he got out.

“Believe me Brad, I wish I knew,” Dad replied packing bags in the truck.

“Brad, can you help me with this?” Mom asked lifting a duffle bag.

“Yeah sure.”

As the three of them were scrambling around getting everything we needed in the truck, I walked up to see Ashley and Carrie. Ashley was holding Carrie tight and they both looked scared. I didn’t blame them. Gunshots were being fired somewhere in the distance and that made everyone nervous, including me. Everyone was dressed as if ready for the wilderness – hiking boots, cargo pants, and T-shirts, each dressed different though. Mom, the girls and I were in shorts while Dad and Brad were in cargo pants. We were packing only what we needed to survive from food, water, first aid kit, camping gear like tents, sleeping bags, and clothes all in bags and backpacks. I ran back inside to get my lucky keychain that dad used to have when he was a kid, and later gave to me. It was an old keychain of a silver coin that had the Tree of Life emblem on it. This keychain was very well made with no rust and very little decay, just a few scratches here and there. After I got it, I was leaving my room and saw my dad kneeling over a wooden box I’ve never seen before. He was staring hard at it while making obvious efforts to keep his heavy breathing under control. Mom appeared behind me with her hands on my shoulders when dad finally opened the box. Inside it was a black handgun with a magazine clip next to it. Dad took the gun out of the box, locked and loaded the gun and then placed it in the back of his pants. I never even knew that dad had a gun and I was certain Mom didn’t know either given the stunned expression on her face. He looked at my mom and nodded, she simply gave a brief nod in return and we went back outside without another word.

“What do the troops want us to do?” Dad asked Brad.

“They’re telling us to drive to their checkpoints and head for Fort Drum,” Brad answered.

“Checkpoints?”

“They got roadblocks everywhere and the only way anywhere is through their checkpoints.”

“Right, they’re gonna check everyone to see if they’re sick or not, before letting them go anywhere.”

“Exactly.”

Carrie started trembling “Daddy, are we sick?”

“No, of course we’re not,” Brad said.

“What about mom?” Ashley asked.

“They’re gonna keep her safe, we’ll see her.”

“How do you know?”

“Don’t worry about how I know, I just know.”

Ashley and Carrie’s faces didn’t change until Brad said with a smile, “I’m your father and I know everything, remember?”

“Right,” they muttered.

We got everything loaded into our vehicles and had to wait in line as one by one the military checked each of us for the disease. Both my parents and Brad got more and more nervous as gunfire continued somewhere in distance. Eventually, after a few hours and what felt like an eternity, it was our turn. We drove up close to the checkpoint and I was amazed at how fast the military had everything they needed there. There were trucks with mounted machine guns, tents with biohazard signs, crates of what I assumed would hold either weapons or tools, work lights, with layers of steel fences with razor wire that surrounded the whole area, and of course, lots of soldiers. The checkpoint was crawling with them and they all had guns and wore some sort of biohazard respirator mask I’d never seen before. As we drove up to where they were going to check us, I was starting to get scared. Soon, there were soldiers all around us as the truck pulled to a stop.

One soldier walked up to my dad’s window, “Sir, you and your family step out of the vehicle please.”

“Okay,” said Dad.

We all got out of the truck and followed the soldier to be checked if we were sick. I got goose bumps as I looked around the tent. There were soldiers and some other guys with different suits on than the soldiers. They weren’t carrying weapons and the suits they wore looked like they were made of rubber. They weren’t wearing helmets with masks like the soldiers either, but a rubber helmet with glass in front of their faces and I think an oxygen tank on their backs. I think they were the CDC. One of them walked up to us with a scanner and thoroughly scanned each of us from head to toe. Then he had a different scanner with a needle on it.

“Give me your arm sir,” he ordered Dad.

Dad gave his right arm and the man inserted the needle into his arm and waited for the scanner to give three beeps and a green light.

When the green light came on, he said, “Clean.”

He did this to my mom and me and we were both clean too. He gave dad a green card which meant we were not infected and then told us where to go. Fort Drum was our destination, which was where everyone else who was not infected was going as well. Once we got back to our truck and drove out of the neighborhood, we began to see dead bodies on the side of the street. An unpleasant chill crawled up my spine and the smell was unnerving – something bloody and foul worse than garbage.

“Don’t look Sonny,” said Mom.

Dad was driving towards the highway and along the way I couldn’t take my eyes from the window. There were houses on fire from a distance, people trying to pack their things in their cars, or were walking on foot and, of course, the military. There were police here and there, but it was mostly military, all armed to the teeth with guns and wearing masks. I was scared as we kept driving past all that and I kept wondering how my parents weren’t scared – or maybe they were too. How were they handling it so well? I thought they were brave and the more I thought about it, the more I wished I was like them.

Chapter 2

“For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”– Revelation 6:17

There were cars backed up as far as the eye could see on the highway. The loud sound of air raid sirens was still going on and I wondered if there actually was a place where you couldn’t hear them. None of the cars were moving and that didn’t make any of the people in the cars feel any safer. After sitting for three hours we finally felt it was safe enough to exit the truck, so we could stretch our legs. Everyone started to do the same after many had exhausted their horns in frustration to the get the traffic moving. Brad and his girls caught up with us and we all decided to stay together while we waited for the traffic to begin moving. There were no stars in the night sky, not even the moon – all black darkness. At least it was nice and cool out.

“Do we have any water?” I asked.

“Yeah, here you go Sonny,” Mom said handing me a water bottle.

“Well, good news is we don’t have to go back to school,” Ashley said trying to be optimistic.

“Yeah, at least not for a while,” I said to Carrie.

She only gave a slight smile, but still looked just as frightened as when we left the neighborhood. I guess she was still really worried about her mother and every unsettling thing that was happening. I thought I should try to get her mind off the bad stuff, so I brought out Uno cards and the three of us played in the truck while our parents discussed what to do outside. I couldn’t hear everything they were saying, but I kept hearing Brad wondering how this happened and my dad telling him that it didn’t matter. He was right, what really matters now is that we get somewhere safe from all this. Just as they were talking, military helicopters flew over us. It was the first thing in motion that anyone had seen in hours. There were a lot of helicopters and they all were flying in one direction. We started to hear explosions coming from the direction that they were flying towards.

“What the hell is going on?” Brad asked.

The explosions didn’t sound like they were very far away. This only made us more anxious. I actually started hating not knowing what was going on – all the confusion and uncertainty – it only makes you more nervous.

“Stay here, Brad and I are going to check it out,” Dad ordered us.

“We’ll be right back,” Brad said.

“But Dad—“Ashley started to say towards Brad.

“Don’t go anywhere!” Brad said very seriously.

The two of them got off the highway and headed towards the source of the explosions through the trees and brush. The more time passed, the louder and more frequent the explosions became. More military helicopters passed over and everyone started getting restless and started fighting with each other.

After half an hour passed Mom said, “I’m going to go look for them and bring them back, stay with the truck, okay?”

“Mom?” I asked.

“I’ll be back real soon.”

Mom headed in the same direction as Dad and Brad. I looked at Ashley with as great concern as she looked back at me. Now, it was just the three of us alone on a back-upped highway with no knowledge of what was happening. The explosions didn’t stop and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to know what they were or not. I got chills down my spine just thinking about it.

“What should we do?” I asked Ashley.

“I don’t know,” Ashley answered.

“Should we go look for them?”

“What about the truck?

“My dad has the keys, so we could go look too.”

“Yeah, I say we do that.”

We left the truck and headed in the direction that our parents headed. We all held hands to stick together. As we ventured through the trees and brush the explosions got even louder. I hoped we would find our parents quickly before whatever was causing those explosions got any closer. Once again, I was wrong.

As we passed through the trees and came out of the brush, we found the source of the explosions. We stood facing the city of Lynnwood a couple of miles away that had no electric lights, but was lit up by fire. The entire streets and the lower levels of every building were on fire or were being blown-up. The military helicopters that passed over us were all targeting the city with missiles and rockets. Surrounding the city on the outskirts were military trucks, armored vehicles, and ground troops shooting at people that were trying to escape the rocket fire and explosions. Some of them were on fire.

The three of us were speechless at the horrible and terrifying sight that was happening before us. The military was killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of innocent people. A very cold chill went down my spine and my whole body started to shake. I had never before in my life seen anything like this. Nothing could ever be compared to this horror; how could our military be killing these people? Nothing out of any movie or TV show had ever come close to how horrifying this was. I held Ashley’s hand even tighter, and both her and Carrie were shaking and panting.

I started to say, “They . . . they’re kill—“

My vision was blocked by a hand as another hand wrapped around my body.

“I told you to stay with the truck,” Dad said in my ear as he lifted me off the ground.

“I’m sorry, we got scared,” I said trying to fight back tears.

“Let’s get back to the truck,” Dad said while carrying me.

“Dad, I’m sorry!”

“No, it’s not your fault, we should not have left you alone. We should have come back earlier.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Brad said while carrying Carrie and holding Ashley’s hand.

“Daddy, what was that?” Ashley said with complete fear in her eyes.

Mom rushed over to her, “Ashley honey, look at me, it’s alright.”

“But . . . that city was—“

“Don’t think about that, we’re here and we need to get to safety, okay?”

Ashley started to cry and Mom hugged her tight. I don’t blame her, no one can witness something like that and forget those images. I now know why it took so long for them to get back. They were all as stunned as we were. With me in Dad’s arms, Carrie in Brad’s, and Ashley in Mom’s, we headed back to the highway.

When we got back to the highway, people were screaming and running up the highway. Now the explosions were coming from the other end of the highway. Without a second thought, Dad ordered us to get back to the truck.

“Everyone, get in the truck now!” Dad ordered firmly.

The truck was up by the far-left lane that had no rails to keep it in. We all got in as fast as could while Dad started the truck to drive out of the highway. The explosions were well in sight, as military helicopters were now firing at the people on the highway.

“Jack! Hurry!” Brad said looking through the back windows.

Dad drove the truck off the highway and onto a road heading for an intersection. When we got there, it was absolute chaos. People, apparently both infected and not infected, were running around everywhere screaming, cars and buildings were on fire, and the military was shooting anything that moved. Dad zigzagged around cars, debris and people as fast he could. Even as we drove past, I saw up close what the injection had turned people into, monsters. Men, women, and children all had blood coming out of their mouths, noses, and bloodshot eyes. I watched in horror as they tackled people while ripping at their throats with their teeth. Eventually one of the tires popped and we crashed into another car. The impact made us all jolt forward and we felt a little delirious – the airbags deployed saving my parents. Thankfully, none of us were seriously injured.

“Is everyone alright?” Dad asked.

We all either said yes or gave some sort of sign that we were okay. Mentally however, I was pretty sure that I was going to remember this experience for the rest of my life. It was strange, at the edge of the woods I was frozen with fear and that same fear was still in me, but I could move. It’s almost like it was never going to leave and I didn’t like it.

Mom got out and asked me desperately, “Are you okay?!”

“Yeah,” I answered, still feeling dizzy as I got out of the truck.

After Brad got his daughters he shouted, “Which way?!”

“There, that superstore!” Dad yelled.

Dad carried me, Mom carried Ashley, and Brad carried Carrie to the Target. The Target had to be forty or fifty feet away, but trying to get there through this madness made it feel like it was miles away. As we were getting closer to the store, an infected man about the size of my dad started coming toward us growling. Even in the night with poor streetlights providing dim, flickering light I could see the blood coming out of his eyes and his snarling mouth. Dad saw him coming and kicked him in the chest hard enough for him to fall. Before he could react, Dad pulled out his gun and shot him in the head. The shot was loud and the sight of the man on the ground with blood coming out two holes in his head was awful. My father had killed that man, or whatever he used to be, directly in front of me. My eyes were wide open in fear.

“Jesus!” Brad exclaimed.

“Oh God!” Mom exclaimed.

I started, “Dad—“

“Don’t look Sonny, just keep your eyes on me!” Dad ordered.

“You too girls! Don’t look!” Brad ordered.

It was hard to keep my eyes on Dad, because everything that was happening all around us was truly horrifying. The death, the fires, the chaos. We rushed in through the open doors, as the explosions and gunfire were getting more rapid. The military was killing anything that was even alive, infected or not, it didn’t matter to them. The store had little electricity as the lights flickered and shined very dimly. The place was half ransacked with products and clothing lying everywhere. Dad led us all the way to the back of the store toward the clothing area and we all hid in the changing rooms. When we got to the rooms, there were two people already in a room, a man and woman. They were in their mid-twenties, black hair, brown eyes, athletic fit, causal clothing like us, and both were curled up in a corner holding each other, petrified. They both looked at my dad with fear, because he still had his gun out.

“It’s okay, we’re not gonna hurt you,” Dad assured them.

“What’s happening?” the woman asked sobbingly.

“Shh, it’s okay, I got you,” the man said her while holding her close.

“Everyone, get into a room and close the doors,” Dad ordered quickly.

We all got into a changing room and locked ourselves in to hide from the chaos that was happening outside. As we hid in the changing rooms I held my parents as tight as they held me. Even though we were in the back of the store we could still hear everything outside, all the gunfire, all the explosions, and all the screaming. Ashley and Carrie buried their sobbing faces in Brad’s chest and I tried to block out all those horrible sounds. However, no matter hard I tried to cover my ears I could still hear it all in my head. Please stop it!

“Oh Jack, what do we do?” Mom asked in a trembling voice.

“We wait it out, until it calms down, and figure out where to go from there, but no matter what happens . . . we all stick together,” Dad said.

Mom looked at him with desperation while holding me tight.

Dad leaned in to kiss her and said, “We stay together no matter what.”

Mom nodded.

After two long hours, it slowly grew quiet outside. Now, only a few gunshots were fired and one or two screams every so often. The military had taken control of the whole area and was now finishing off what was left.

“Oh my God Cole, why is this happening?” the woman asked sobbingly.

“Susan, listen to me, we’re going to get through this, but we’ve got to keep quiet,” Cole answered.

“He’s right, they can’t find us if they can’t hear us,” Brad joined.

“We have to keep it together, it’s the only way out of here,” Dad said.

“Hold on wait, listen,” Mom said.

The gunfire was getting louder and sounded as if it were coming from inside the building. It turns out that we were not the only ones hiding inside the super store, because there were screams of people before getting shot. We were also very lucky, because there were infected people inside as well. The soldiers were getting closer to the back of the store; close enough for us to hear them.

“Check the whole store!” one soldier hollered.

“Roger,” another said.

My heart was racing, as the soldier’s footsteps grew louder. If he continued in this direction, he would surely find us. Brad drew a knife out and Dad had his gun out, ready to protect us, but that would get us all killed. There were probably dozens of soldiers already inside the store and as soon he shoots the soldier, the others will hear and kill us. Mom held me tight and had a hand over my mouth to keep my breathing quiet. Ashley held a hand over Carrie’s mouth and her own – Cole did the same for Susan.

However, when the soldier was literally inches from the changing rooms, there was a loud shriek, from an infected person. It came from the other side of the store, and it sounded like it was attacking a soldier, because there was another scream afterward. The soldier quickly joined the others to shoot the infected host.

“Man down!” a soldier shouted.

“He’s dead,” another soldier said.

“Alright, move out, they’re all dead,” their leader said.

“Come on Corporal, move it!” a soldier shouted.

As soon as it got quiet after they left, everyone let out the breath they were holding. I honestly could not believe that this was happening. I felt like I was thrown in some dark and terrible nightmare. I wanted to wake up so badly, but I kept remembering that this wasn’t a dream at all.

“We’ll rest here for the night,” Dad said.

Dad and Brad gathered whatever clothes nearby to use as blankets and pillows for us to sleep on. The pillows and blankets were on the other side of the store and I doubt that Dad and Brad wanted to risk running into any soldiers or infected. My heart was still racing from the terrifying experience. I had no idea how I was going to sleep tonight or any other night for that matter. Mom held me close while rubbing my head and whispering comforting words in my ear. I could feel her heart beating inside her chest. She must have been just as scared as the rest of us were.

“I’m scared,” I said.

“Me too, baby,” Mom said.

“Join the club little man,” Cole added.

Dad came with lots of coats, “I don’t think we’ve introduced ourselves.”

“I’m Cole and this is Susan.”

“I’m Jack, my wife Heather, and my son Sonny.”

Brad came with more clothes and jackets, “I’m Brad, and these are my daughters, Ashley and Carrie.”


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action & adventure post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller


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