Withered

If you’re reading this then I must be dead, I know it’s kind of a rocky first sentence in a journal, but it’s the truth...Not a single spark of life is left in what used to be a civilized world. All that is left is the pandemonium of an apocalyptic planet and the smell of death. The apocalypse ravaged what used to be earth and turned the blue and green planet a pale shade of grey. Your probably wondering, what apocalypse? Well then I guess I should tell you what really happened. I guess I should tell you how 6 billion people worldwide died in a matter of months. I guess I should tell you how I almost survived, and how I met a grisly end. This is my journal and this is my story.

All I see is a long hallway and dim lights hanging from strings like a hangman's noose illuminating the hallway, and a spotlight at the end of the long ominous hallway. Like a moth drawn to a flame I go toward the light, as if it is a safe haven for whatever reason. Then I see it, a dark figure behind me, it looks like pure darkness without a distinct shape or form. I start to run, the ghastly figure is chasing me cracking the lights as it passes them carrying the darkness with it encompassing everything that it passes in an almost infinitely dark void. It’s gaining on me as I run, panting and gasping for air with my eyes set on the spotlight. I can feel the warm light all over my body as I get closer. As I travel into the bright, warm, light, the entity disappears from sight like a beast of the darkness destroyed by the safe sanctity of the light. As I walk towards the door I feel a sense of relief as all the worries are washed off my body. As I go towards the door I am completely stunned by the brilliant glow.

Then I wake up, saturated in sweat over the nightmare, my eyes browse a foreign room. To my left I see a nightstand with a photo of a strange man whom I've never seen before. The room looks very old, the discolored blue paint is slowly chipping off the walls. I get up, no sounds but my bare feet striking the hardwood floor. They echo throughout the house in such a way that I feel everyone in the world can hear me, even though it feels like I’m the only person in the house. Then all of a sudden I feel a sharp pain in my left temple, I slowly raise my hand to my head afraid of what I might feel. I.....I feel....blood. I freak out and as fast as I got out the door I notice that all the windows are covered up and boarded. As I make my way to the bathroom to see my injury I can’t help but wonder what happened, I woke up in a house that I don’t even know and I have blood on me. I look in the mirror and what I see is even more surprising then the bandages on my head, I rush back into the bedroom I woke up in and take the picture back into the bathroom. I look at the picture then look at myself, I look exactly like the man in the photo, same face, same brown eyes, same skin color, same hair, same everything, even though I have no memory of who he is or what his name is. Then it hits me, this is my house, I’m this man, and something terrible happened that made me forget everything.

As I try to grasp the reality of the situation I think that the best thing to do would be to leave the house and get to a hospital to treat my wound. I see a black wool hat and a black jacket with blood on the sleeves, given the appearance it looks like it was ripped straight off a dead body, but it was the only thing I had at the moment so I put the hat and the coat on and headed for the garage. So I go to the garage that's connected to the house, get into the car and open the garage door. For a few seconds I’m blinded by the light as my eyes are adjusting to it, but what I see makes me speechless. The sky isn’t like any color I’ve ever seen before, the sky is a dark shade of gray as if all the life has been sucked out of the blue sky. As I drive through the small town the road is blocked by abandoned cars and bodies, I see houses swallowed by flames and buses filled with corpses and withered plants and trees. I think to myself that this had to be an earthquake or a tornado, I pull out my phone...no bars, my lucky day, another very weird occurrence is that my phone says that its June even though there appears to be snow on the ground. I breath a sigh of relief as I reach the hospital thinking that someone will be there to help like a rescue team or something.

I get into the hospital and go to the check in, I see no one, not a single living person in the hospital, walking down the long hallway, my feet crunch on the broken glass as I duck under some exposed wire hanging from the ceiling. I hear a loud scream and a gunshot. I sprint to the supply room as the scream echoes throughout the dank, gloomy hospital, immediately grab what medical supplies I can carry but before I start walking back to the car I notice a small syringe with the label reading “Novocaine” I don’t know how I know this but Novocaine is a drug that numbs and knocks out anyone who is injected with it, with this somehow acquired knowledge I put the syringe in my pocket thinking it will might come in handy. I get in the car and throw the supplies in the back and try and think of what to do next I reach in the glove box where I put the keys and I pull out a business card for a psychiatrist, the card reads, “Dr. Schultz, 11634 Cherry Av. I immediately start the engine and race to the office unaware of what I might find there, hopefully someone is alive. I park the car right on the sidewalk and smash into a parking meter. I walk up to an old brick building with a sign that reads “ Dr. Schultz Psychiatric Office”, the door is locked so I take the broken parking meter and throw it through the glass with a loud crash and reach the doorknob to unlock it. When I go in the small office I see a old dark green armchair and a matching sofa. Then I see Dr. Schultz, blood soaks the black desk where his inanimate body is slouched, I walk to the other side of the room where the files are stored to see a gunshot wound and a knife stuck directly in his back.

I look around the room until I find the file cabinet, I don’t even know my name so I just search through the files until I find my picture, I finally find me and look at the file which says, ”Patient is very insecure, shows some signs of abuse as a child and a history off alcohol abuse and low self-esteem, Patient overly criticizes people as a medium to keep his anger and insecurity unnoticeable.” I’m baffled by this report but then think, that that was the old me, this is the new me. That helped somewhat but it still didn’t reveal to me what my name is, which was my second concern, my first concern was finding out exactly what happened to this place. I head out of the dilapidated building when I see the headlights of a red Jeep, I run out and wave my arms with hope that whoever is in that car can help me and tell me what happened. The car stops short of where I am so I sprint to the car, I can barely make out a figure of someone through the tinted windows. Then the windows roll down to reveal a man in the car with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a blue t-shirt. Just as fast as I can think the man pulls out a shotgun and aims the barrel right at my face. “Get in!”, he shouted, my heart was pounding as I put my supplies in the backseat and got in the strangers car. As he lowers the barrel I say “WHO ARE YOU AND WHY DID YOU JUST TRY TO KILL ME?!?!”. “ Well I had no intention to, I just thought you were armed it was just precautionary” he exclaimed. “Now calm yourself and tell me your name before I change my mind about shootin’ you.” “Well...I really don’t know my name”.

“Hey do you think I’m stupid, why did you pick me up and just what the heck happened to this place.” I said. “Well...”, he said quietly,” First, Yes I do think your stupid seeing as how you don’t even know your own name.”, “Second, I picked you up because you looked like you could use some help, seeing as how you have bloody bandages on your head”. “And third, you may want to brace yourself for this...you know Yellowstone park.”, “Yes.....” I said not sure of what Yellowstone had to do with an apocalypse. “Well I bet you didn’t know that there is a mega-volcano under Yellowstone, which is the cause of Old Faithful, you know, that famous geyser.” (true fact), “And if that thing ever erupted not only would lava be a problem for the surrounding area. But the ash and soot would cover the Earth’s atmosphere for three years, long story short no sunlight means no growing crops, no growing crops means no food, and no food basically means dead people. And guess what mega-volcano erupted? He said with a sarcastic tone, “Now I don’t know how long that you’ve been living under a rock but it’s been six months and I’m just curious as to how you’ve been oblivious to this major disaster for so long?” “Wow oblivious that’s a BIG word for you” I said angry at him for his blatant sarcasm. “Hey, well this man with big words also has a big shotgun and an itchy trigger finger so I’d keep that mouth of yours shut if you know whats good for you.”,”Hey, whats in that box of yours?” He asked.”Oh this, just some basic medical supplies.” “I’d prefer if you called me John , you know, so you don’t forget my name too.” he said chuckling, We laughed for about a minute and that one minute of laughter made me forget all about what had just happened, and all the horrible thing’s I’ve experienced in my limited span of memory.

“If you’re shocked by that then wait till you here about the raiders” Joey said with a seriousness I never expected to hear from a joker like him. “Them raiders will strip you down to the bone for a can of peaches, no joke.””Is that why I’ve been sitting on three M-16’s and a box of grenades?” “Well what did you think, everything would be rainbow’s and sunshine?” “So...where are we heading?” I said “Well if you must know, were heading to the underground shelter in Union City.” “Why an underground shelter?” I asked.“Because this specific shelter has lots of food and growing plants.” He said as if it was a paradise,”But how can there be growing plants if there’s no sunlight?” I said. “They use UV lamps to grow the crops and the trees for oxygen and food.” John explained. All of a sudden I heard a loud deafening roar, “Hey you, grab that gun, there’s ammo and clips in the box under your seat, If you see anything, anything at all, you shoot it!” John yelled over the loud roar.

Then I saw them, there were three raiders with blood spattered cloths. They were riding in what looked to be a Jeep just like the one we where riding in except with crude armor plates attached to the side. One was driving while two others were hanging onto the sides. Then they tried to ram us of the road and what’s even more sick about it is that when the driver rammed us it crushed one of the raiders hanging on the sides. And without any emotions they just casually pushed the dead body off the armored Jeep. I rolled down the window and shot at the driver, after unloading a clip into the armor plating one of my bullets got through and hit the driver right in the head. The drivers body leaned on the steering wheel honking the horn as the car drove off the road and spun out into a ditch. “Yeah! THAT’S how you shoot!” Joey shouted happily.

We stopped to make sure they were dead, but one raider dug out of the wreckage and grabbed a rocket launcher from a busted wooden crate. “John...JOHN!” “WHAT!” he shouted. “There’s a...” Before I could finish my sentence I heard a loud explosion, then I blacked out. I hear screaming, I open my eyes, there are two raiders dragging me through what appears to be an abandoned prison. As I am being dragged and my limp body is being scraped along the cold concrete floor I hear the sounds of pain, the screams of suffering, and the cries of relief that will never come in a place where life is tossed away casually. They throw me into a cell and slam the door shut, I try to stand up but I’m just to weak. After I regain my strength I search the room for anything, any little bit of information that can tell me where I am, I look through the iron bars and see a map of the place in another cell. The map says “Union City Correctional Institute, est. 1896”, at least we were close to the shelter, and that thought comforted me in this dark atmosphere.By the map I’m in the east wing, Maximum Security, just great. Then I hear John yelling, his voice gets closer every second until I see him.
He is being dragged to the same cell I’m in. They open the bars of my cell and a shotgun is trained on me just to make sure I don’t make a move. John is thrown in the cell beaten and bruised, as they are closing the gate he runs at the door only to be stopped by one of the raiders tazers.”John, are you ok?” I said. “I’m fine, we just got to find a way out of this place before we get killed.” he whispered to me, afraid that the guard would hear and end his life without question. “I have an idea, but you gotta play along.” I reach into my pocket and pull out the syringe of Novocaine, the knockout drug I scavenged from the storage room at the hospital and crawled to the guard. I reach towards his exposed ankle and slowly inject the drug as I prick him with the needle, so he doesn’t feel anything as the numbing takes effect. After about 20 minutes the guard drops, unconscious. i slowly raise up and press the button and unlock the door, and take the silenced pistol from his left pocket. “Wait here” I whisper to John.

I unlock a random cell, yell “I need backup!” and sure enough another guard comes running in, he looks around, unsure of what is happening. Then I shoot him, the silenced pistol making for a clean kill. John helps me drag the two limp bodies into our cell and get into there uniform, I almost feel almost feel sad for the guard I’ve murdered, but in a place like this, weaknesses will get you killed. We slowly walk down the isle and look at the tortured, weak, and dead people that are suffering in these cells like rats in a cage. Me and John go through a door at the end of the isle and go into a room filled with guns and ammo, we take to assault rifles and sit on an old box to find our way out with the map “So we got two choices, we can go out through the main gate or go out the fire escape” John said running his finger across the old map. “But we can’t just leave all these people here John, we gotta save them.” I said to him. “Look there is a main generator down in the basement if we can destroy that then all the cells will open.” Some guards are coming I have to stop writing for now.

This is that strangers journal huh, I’m John and since that stranger...died...I’m gonna have to tell you what happened. So after the two guards passed by us we walked down to the stairs that led to the basement, the smell made me and him gag. But we had to go down there, as we headed downstairs I noticed blood had covered the railing, the smell and blood eventually covered the staircase and the stranger leaned over the railing and threw up. When we finally got down to the basement we were petrified at what we saw. The cause of the blood and the stench was that the basement was where they tossed all the dead bodies. We waded through the bloody, rotting corpses until we found the generator, it was a rusty steam-powered generator.

But the problem was the stranger couldn’t find a kill-switch on the darn thing, so the stranger had the guts to rip an arm of a corpse, hit a metal pipe with the dismembered limb until the pipe broke, and shoved a decapitated head into the exhaust pipe, backing up the generator until it exploded. I wouldn’t of thought of a better idea if I tried, so now that all the survivors in the prison (and believe me not many people survived, there were only 5 people in our group total) were gathered in what the stranger called the “gun room” we discussed our best course of action. “Now, on my way in here I saw a garage where they keep the armored cars, just humor me here, but what if we took a car from the garage and drove it to the bunker ourselves.” I said “That’s the craziest idea I’ve ever agreed with.” The stranger said. “I’ll go first and get the car and you take the survivors and meet me at the fire exit behind the building.” I told he stranger.

As they walked of to meet me at the exit I donned a raider suit and headed for the garage. Once I got to the garage I peeked through the window and saw three raiders going through a car, searching for food and supplies. Then one of the raiders got very excited when they found a pack of C4 explosives in the trunk. And another found a pistol in the front seat. I figured that since they weren’t armed I could take them out easily so I busted through the door and took one of the raiders from behind. I wrapped my arm around him, using him as a human shield to protect me from the raider with the gun, which is exactly what he did. I shot the first on in the head and the second one shot at me but missed and hit the raider I was using as a shield. I shot him 3 times in the chest, shot my human shield and with no one else in the garage I grabbed the C4, started up the car, and drove out of there. I picked up the survivors and the stranger and we started our drive to the bunker. I can tell the survivors were grateful because they didn’t even talk, they just gazed at there saviour, grateful for what he had done. As we were driving along the dirt road we marveled at how much destruction had occurred in Union City and how little survivors there were. After driving for hours we passed by a crude sign propped up on a crate that pointed us to the direction of the of the bunker. The stranger had nothing to say, it just shows you how much a person can change in a little span of time.

Then, we saw it, we saw the bunker, we saw, our salvation , we were so close to the bunker but before we could get inside we heard the roar of an engine. We all got out to see what the commotion was, there were 3 cars parked side-by-side. All the raiders got out of their cars and grabbed an arsenal of Rocket Launchers. And in the middle leading them all was the guard that I knocked out with the Novocaine, I remember just leaving him there and not killing him. He took a step back and got a RPG out of the trunk of the car he used to follow us here with. We knew that if we didn’t get inside the bunker we might never get another chance, but the raiders would destroy the entrance making it impossible to get in and killing us if we didn’t get in fast enough. Then the stranger did something I will never forget, he took the C4 out of the car and put it on the grill of our car and got in. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!” I shouted over the roar of the engine “SAVING YOU!!” The stranger shouted back. He started driving, I tried to stop him, but one of the survivors held me back. He drove straight at them and before he hit he stuck his hand out of the window with the detonator in hand, and pushed the detonator.

The loud boom almost deafened me as a plume of smoke enveloped the area, that was the last time I saw his face. They dragged me into the bunker, with me still screaming to let me go and see if he was alive but everyone assumed he was dead. I was astonished to see the size of the bunker, it was almost as big as a city with an unearthly large UV light to substitute as a sun. And large military tents, which they used as temporary houses, I was put through to an office that asked for my name and gave me a job and a house. But even with all the comforts in the world I’ll never forget that selfless act of saviour that that stranger did for us. But in the back of my mind something tells me that he’s still out there, That he’s still alive.





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