Abandoned

July 28, 2010
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Marie walked in from the sweltering July heat and dropped on the couch next to her sister, Christyne. The news was on so she waited, picking at the scab on her knee, for commercial break. The old screen door banged again, and James, Christyne’s fiancé, walked in, covered in sweat. Christyne hit mute.

“Air conditioner’s fixed,” James said, wiping his forehead. Christyne nodded and turned to Marie.
“Joseph’s whole family is gone. He’s the only one left, and Emme is missing,” Marie said, ticking all the new information off on her calloused fingers. “Veronica and Scott have both relocated with their families. Kate’s sick, and Wayne’s dead. Marianne and Matt have been announced dead, though they were never found.” Christyne gasped and Marie nodded grimly. James coughed.
“So now it’s just Nicole and her little brother Vinny, Joseph, Tylor and his little sister Katie, Ann, us and the Mayor,” Christyne said.
“There’s a meeting at town hall tonight.” James paused to cough and Christyne frowned. “Where’s Alena?” He coughed again.
“Outside,” Marie said, and resumed picking at her scab as Christyne put her hand on James’ head.
“Stop!” Christyne barked a frantic command to Marie, who obeyed mainly out of surprise. “You’re burning up, James,” Christyne said. The first stage of the deadly disease sweeping through the world is high fever. The disease is also highly contagious in this stage. “Marie, you and Alena get to town hall. Tell them James is sick and I’m not leaving him. Run upstairs and grab your packs,” Christyne said, pushing Marie up toward the stairs as she tried to protest. “Shh it’s for your own good. And Alena’s.”
Marie ran upstairs, grabbed her survival kit and Alena’s. She ran downstairs and out the front door. Christyne watched her sadly. “And don’t come back!” she yelled after Marie.
“We’re next,” James said, watching a tear roll down Christyne’s face as she watched her two baby sisters speed away on their bikes, down their street, through the bright green foliage, and on and on.
“Yes, but I refuse to condemn them as well,” she replied, resolutely turning from the window.
“It’ll be okay.”
“For them, at least.”

“Why couldn’t I say goodbye to Christyne and James?” Alena asked as they sped downtown on their bikes. Away from the disease, away from their remaining guardian. Away, away, away, always running away….
“Alena, James got the disease. Christyne isn’t going to leave him,” Marie said, stopping her bike in front of town hall. All the other survivors were living there now. It was red brick and white marble, very tall and stately. If you were to guess which building in town would be the town hall, you’d guess this building.
“Marie? Alena? What’s going on?” said Nicole, coming out of the building. Katie ran past her and she and Alena ran inside. Nicole saw Marie’s expression and she became horrified.
“James just caught the disease. Christyne got us out before we could catch it and she’s not going to leave him,” Marie said as she would multiple times in the next half hour. The marble floors and wood paneled walls passed by in a blur, and she felt like she was being passed around from one pair of arms to the next. Joseph and Tylor almost broke her ribs with the gargantuan hugs she received. Ann and Vinny gave short quick hugs then went to keep Alena occupied. The mayor turned out to dead already. This put Tylor, the oldest by a few months, in charge.
During the meeting that night, Tylor decided it was time to leave town.
“We have nothing alive left here,” he said strongly, “so tomorrow we are packing up and leaving on bikes.”
“Why not drive?” asked Joseph.
“We can’t bring extra gas, genius. If we run out, we’re stranded,” Tylor replied in growing frustration.
Kate, Alena and Vinny were all given two options: stay or go. Unsurprisingly, Vinny chose to stay to ‘wait for Emme’ as he put it. He’s only 10, so they didn’t push it. Alena knew to stay would be to die, so she choose to go and Katie was going with Tylor.
They were all too anxious to sit still, so they all started pacing, but soon they were so tired and out of sync, they started bumping into each other and Alena and Katie were asleep on the thick mauve carpet in the middle of the huge auditorium.
Marie sighed and tried to pick Alena up. But for a petite little seven year old girl, she was heavy. Joseph sighed, laughing a little at her, and picked up Alena with ease. Tylor reached down and got Katie, and then they all went off to the lobby and fell asleep on the think leather couches.

When morning came around, Tylor, Marie, Joseph, Nicole, Ann, Katie, and Alena moved quickly and quietly, not really in the mood for talking. They packed up all the remaining dry food, and Joseph filled a backpack with water bottles.
Tylor disappeared to go make sure the bikes were okay, and Marie put heavy coast, gloves and hats in Alena’s bag, just in case. She was strong enough to carry it anyway. Tylor came in frowning.
“Is there something wrong?” Marie asked.
“I can’t find Katie,” Tylor said, as Alena walked outside. He and Marie followed after a second’s hesitation as Joseph and Nicole finished gathering up the supplies.
Alena ran through the closely trimmed yard and disappeared around the corner of the building, heading toward the cliff drop off behind the fountains. Tylor heard the sound of running water, and Alena screamed.
There, lying in the creek at the bottom of the drop off was Katie’s small, broken body, her blank eyes staring upward. Alena ran to Marie, who tried to quiet her sobs while attempting to not scream herself.
Tylor fell to his knees, sobbing brokenly, saying, quietly at first then louder and louder, “no, no, no, no, NO!!”
Nicole and Joseph, who had come running at Alena’s scream, took Alena back around the front of the building, trying to comfort her quietly. Marie bent down and hugged Tylor.
“It’s okay, it’s going to be okay, I swear it,” Marie murmured softly. Tylor realized that they needed to go, so he slowed his breathing to match Marie’s, then sighed and got up, pulling Marie with him. They walked over to the others, and mounted their bikes.
The five of them rode out in silence. As they passed the cities limits, they slowed down slightly at the sight of another broken body blocking the way north. Ann. Nicole, the most level headed at the moment walked over and checked out the wounds. Nothing but the spine broken, and every third vertebrae. Gross. Completely and utterly gross.
“Umm…..south then,” said Joseph quietly as he turned his bike that way. Tylor, Nicole, and Marie nodded slowly, but Alena just kept her deadpan expression.
The first days of riding were both the hardest and easiest. They had difficulty traveling so much, but they had food and water and each other. They rode about 40 miles before the sun set, forcing them to stop and make camp. They had passed four small towns, and all were completely empty. Not a soul.
Most of the next two weeks were the same, and exactly 15 days after they left town, they ran out of food. Joseph and Alena went searching for food, as they had seen an abandoned field a few miles back.
They didn’t come back all night. Around 2AM wolves started howling. When Marie woke up and realized Alena and Joseph weren’t back, she began to fear for her best friend and little sister’s lives’.
No one returned for the rest of the day, and after 24 hours had passed, Tylor made them move on. They were weak with hunger and exhaustion, but they still rode more than they had the day before, as was custom.
A week passed, and Marie didn’t speak the whole time. Nicole, who was already irritable from lack of food, thought this was elfish and pouty, and she began to stay silent as well, only speaking when she was forced. Tylor rode on in the company of two angry, silent girls. On the 22nd day of riding, they found a town with signs of life. The nearby field looked recently cultivated, and the plants had been watered as well.
“Finally,” said Nicole, whose nerves were wearing thin.
“We should split up to look for life,” Marie said. Nicole stared openmouthed at her, too surprised to be angry still.
“You talked!” Tylor said, and Marie and Nicole rolled their eyes simultaneously.
“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Marie said, and she and Nicole high-fived.
They started moving through the town and split up at the first intersection. Tylor found a grocery store, with real, non-rotted food inside. He opened his pack up and filled it with jerky, raisins, and crackers. He also replaced their beat up and broken water bottles.
Meanwhile, Marie was finding bodies. Every house she entered, every window she peaked through, showed her the dead and abandoned. It scared her so much, that eventually she just stopped looking.
Nicole went down an industrial street. There was an old dog pound. She heard scratching at the front door and curious, walked over and opened it. A huge Rottweiler burst our, and darkness reigned for her….

Marie and Tylor went searching for Nicole at sunset. They found her body, mauled and almost unrecognizable, being protected by a huge dog. (Evidentially it was the same dog that killed Nicole, though they didn’t know it.) As they stood there staring at their last dead friend, they realized they had to find life, and soon.
The next week was grueling. Marie and Tylor barely spoke, except when one night, right before she dropped off into exhaustion, Marie’s cell phone rang.
It actually scared her so much that she screamed. In the past weeks in the wilderness, she and Tylor had almost completely forgotten about technology, and they hadn’t touched their phones in weeks now. Apparently if the phone is never used, the battery life can stretch for a long time. Her ringtone, the Beatles All You Need Is Love, seemed only like a distant and almost forgotten memory.
“Hello?” Marie queried nervously into her phone. Tylor motioned to hit the speaker button, and she did.
“Marie? Ohmygoodness! Marie! It’s Christyne, I tried to call you before I really thought about it, but James just died an hour ago. I haven’t caught the disease that I know of though,” said her breathless sister. Marie’s breath caught in her throat as the tears in her eyes boiled over. She handed the phone to Tylor, sobbing too hard to talk to her condemned sister.
“Hey, it’s Tylor. Marie’s in hysterics, so I’ll have to give you the rundown. Katie,” his breath hitched around his sister’s name, a poor child killed before she had the chance to live, “died in town. So did Ann. Alena and Joseph disappeared and we haven’t seen them since. Nicole was killed a week ago. We are the only living left, besides you. And the batteries dying on her phone.” Tylor walked over to hand the phone to Marie.
“Christyne, I love you, and I owe you, thank you so much for being the best sister I could have ever wanted. However, I can hear you coughing in the background, and I know you’re dying too. Bye…” Marie said as her breath caught and she dropped the phone sobbing. Faintly, on the other end, you could hear Christyne’s whispered goodbye.
Truly, if there had been a time when they had lost hope, it was not now. Seeing the death around them only made Marie and Tylor more determined to live. But one day, when Marie was looking for edible fungus away from the camp, a masked man approached Tylor stealthily from behind. He had nothing but a hunter’s knife with him, and Tylor heard nothing but the loudness of true silence as the knife slid up between his ribs and silenced him forever.
When Marie returned, she saw Tylor’s body. She knew, without any doubt, that Christyne was dead too. So now, when I found her last resting place, and this account of what happened, I also found a note, addressed to whoever was to hear this story-
My time has come. I am alone. My family and friends
have disappeared to the other side, and I am afraid I am soon to
follow. I don’t know what is next but I do know this, and this only.
I am ABANDONED.





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