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The Crawlers

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David climbed the fence. He knew that there was no longer any hope for him or anybody else for that matter. The Crawlers were right behind him, never relenting and never stopping. They would keep coming until there was nobody left to come for. He knew that humanity was paying. Oh yes, they were finally paying for the things they had done. It was time for the world to take back what rightfully belonged to it, and there was no place to hide. David tried not to listen to the scratching and clawing at the fence behind him. The brown boards were viciously pounded on, and they all slightly moved, as if the tall, wooden fence was a living entity about to devour him. He immediately scrambled backwards towards the center of the backyard he was in, frantically looking around. The growling surrounded him, and he could hear the Crawlers trying to break in. Panting, sweating, and on the verge of collapsing, David clumsily scrambled up to the side of the house and almost ran into the sliding door. He immediately brought his fists up and banged on the door as hard as he could.

“HEY! HEY! PLEASE, IS ANYONE IN THERE? PLEASE, I NEED HELP! IS ANYBODY THERE?” The Crawlers’ faint noises could still be heard as they tried to enter the yard. David kept pounding and pounding until he realized that there was nobody around. His arms slowly came to a rest against the door in defeat. Slowly, he lifted his head up, and squinted so he could peer into the darkened room of the average-looking house he was standing at. On the far side of the house, he could see the faded front door protected by a ripped screen door, facing into the empty street. On its immediate left was a staircase leading upstairs and a hallway leading to some other rooms. Now, directly to the left of the front door, David spotted a small, carpeted living room area with a small TV and some messy couches next to the wall. Everything looked dusty and gloomy, as if the occupants of this house had left for vacation and hadn’t taken proper precautions to keep the house in order. David kept looking in, and he could see that in front of the sliding doors he was standing at, there was a small, generic looking kitchen and dining room area, complete with white tiling. David looked behind him again, and the painful screeching of the Crawlers’ claws could still be heard trying to get him. He began to breathe very quickly, nervously began scratching his arm, and suddenly grabbed the handle of the sliding door and yanked on it. It pulled open with ease, as David had forgotten to check if it was open. He quickly tripped inside and fumbled with the handle, yanking it closed, and he searched for the lock of the door. His shaking hands finally fell on it, and he quickly pushed it up, locking the door.

He looked around at the modest house he was standing in. It looked the same from the outside as it did from the inside. The Crawlers’ groans and poundings were muted in here, and quickly remembering them, David jerked the unraveling curtains in front of the sliding door so that the fading light could barely shine through. He slowly began to walk through the house, noticing overturned chairs and how nothing seemed to work. The refrigerator’s food was spoiled, the TV would not turn on, and as David walked through the entire house, he realized that a couple of people must have lived there. David looked through the rooms, and he found five bedrooms. From the decorations, he could tell that four of them were in use. The rooms were all cheery looking and sunny, even in the darkness. Everywhere he saw awards of all kind for patents, academic achievements, and sports. There were also a lot of papers belonging to environmental organizations. He saw pictures everywhere. Most of them depicted a happy, smiling family made up of what looked like a smiling couple in their 40s that looked like the parents, and three children. The two youngest were girls who looked like they were in elementary school, and the eldest was a energetic boy who looked like he would be entering college soon. They were smiling all the time, looking pretty happy in the dusty, torn pictures. Apparently, there was also a large, brown, shaggy dog somewhere. They all were actually pretty good-looking, and they seemed very close to each other from the photos and bedrooms. David headed towards the kitchen, and near the front entrance, he noticed a plain, blue phone sitting on a crumbling drawer next to a picture of the kids standing in front of a large statue, laughing. David’s mind was momentarily distracted from them because of this family, so he decided to listen to the four messages currently left. He pressed the play button and waited for the voicemail.

“Four new messages, message one: Left at 8:23 PM on June 28……….Hey guys, I’m havin’ a really good time here in Florida, and it rains like every fifteen minutes, so it’s not that bad here. We’re still drivin’ around looking for a place to eat, but tomorrow I’ll be back home, so you don’t have to worry anymore. And yeah, it’s been really fun, actually! We went to some of the theme parks and stuff, so I tried getting some pills for the motion sickness that I’m getting. So guys, make sure you don’t mess everything up while I’m gone! Also, remember to tell Charlotte and Daisy about screwing up the dog…..” The message kept going, but David couldn’t keep still for too long, so he entered into the kitchen and kept scratching his right arm. The voicemail sounded like a male voice, but not too deep, and the guy sounded like he may have been the eldest son on some sort of vacation. The message kept rolling.

“Talk to you guys later!” There was a beep and a new message started playing. “Message two: Left at 6:32 AM on June 29………Ok, sorry guys, but I can’t come home today. Some crazy idiot jumped on Nick, and we’re at the hospital, but we’re all alright. You don’t have to worry, mom, it’s not like he stabbed me or anything, but we can’t get on that flight today, so we’re gonna reschedule for tomorrow, ok? But yeah, the hospital is in the nicer part of the city, so everything’s a little weird…” David began to look through the drawers in the kitchen, and found various useless items. They had a lot of boards, dishes, and bowls whatnot, with a lot of dirty ones just sitting in the sink, unwashed and unused. The family also seemed to be going green with all the recycling bins, and on the drawers, he spotted multiple plans for solar panels on top of a large building. He didn’t spot any knives or tools anywhere. “We rescheduled and the flight should be tomorrow morning…” David quickly threw open two wooden cupboards under the sink to find nothing but pipes. “Daisy, are you there? Make sure to take care of Charlotte at the thing she has tomorrow…” David began to scratch his right arm again and looked frantically around. He listened, and there was only complete silence other than the answering machine and the muted Crawlers. “Message three: Left at 10:14 PM on June 29………..Guys, the flight should still be tomorrow, but I’m just checking in cuz you haven’t returned any calls, and I’m a little worried, so just call my cell phone when you get the chance, ok? Also, I saw this weird thing on TV….” The messages were actually beginning to become less informative, and it sounded like ambient noise. He was going to go and turn it off, when he spotted something silver out of the corner of his eye. “I’m a little freaked out, and you guys should really watch out, so don’t go to the Sharons’ barbeque thing, I heard they were being a little weird lately anyways….” David practically dove into the half opened drawer hidden by the refrigerator. After pawing around, he was able to pick up a medium sized kitchen knife that might be large enough to stab something if it was needed. “But that flight should still be tomorrow, so don’t worry…….” He sighed in relief, comforted by the least bit of protection.

“It’s okay, you finally found something. You finally have it,” he mumbled to himself. “It’s okay, it’s okay, you’re okay now.” He breathed a shaky breath.

“Message four: Left at 3:15 PM on June 30………..Oh my god, oh my god, you need to CALL!” David whipped around a little interest piquing, realizing that The Crawlers had become public around that time. “God, you need to leave NOW! The shelter, the shelter is……it’s at the end of Valley Road by the….the Addams house, you HAVE TO LEAVE NOW! Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s just passing, it should be fine, but Nick….he’s….he’s not coming with me, I took an earlier flight and just arrived, did you see the news? Just…..just hurry.” The recording began to crackle. “I know you’re still there, but I don’t know if you’ve already left cuz I haven’t been able to get through, so take Daisy and Charlotte and just get in the car. Ask the neighbors if you need to, but we’ll all be fine….It’s okay. Just LEAVE! I’ll be there too, the building will have a sign, we’ll all be safe there, ok? I’ll meet you there. Call me. We’re gonna be…fine………….No more messages,” the machine finally ended. And that’s when he knew. They were all dead. Except for the boy, every single member of the family was dead. It was a shock, and a depressing thought to think that this nice, happy family was dead. It made him think for a moment that maybe they all deserved it. The world would be better off without them, and David knew that the world would simply improve without them.

“Ok, this shouldn’t be too difficult, just get to the end, and they won’t follow. You can do this, Dave. They can’t find you there,” he shakily told himself. He shook himself and concentrated on that shelter mentioned by the kid. On the wall, David spotted yet another inspirational banner hung up fancily above the doorway: YOU CAN DO IT! It wasn’t very helpful, but everything in the house seemed so optimistic, from the neat little backyard, and the rooms that used to be brightly covered. David tightened his fist around the knife, and slowly walked to the door, panting, and breathing heavily. Looking out the window, only a couple Crawlers could be seen in the streets, and the sun was just beginning to set. They were horrid, as they all walked and moved like regular humans, but they were different. The pale skin with large, dark splotches splattered on, the dead, cold eyes, the long, jagged claws, and the drawn back features of the face all gave it away. They were simply humans without souls, humans without intelligence. He knew that he had to leave as soon as possible. The other houses were in decay, just as the one David stood in. Paint peeled, Fences were crooked, and the mailboxes were tipped over. This perfect row of paradise was all just shattered glass and creaking wood. Nobody could live here anymore, and nature had taken over. His shaky hand hesitated over the silver knob, and his heart pounded like a drum. All he could hear was his frantic heart, drowning out the Crawlers. Then he thought about what he had seen, and took his hand away. Maybe he should just let everything go forward. Didn’t everyone sin? The Crawlers and humans alike all sinned. Is it worse because humans have souls? Wouldn’t a world without intelligence be free of hate? Greed? Hunger? Torture? Discrimination? Politics? Would the world be free without humanity? David thought about just lying down and waiting for the end, but then he looked behind him and looked at the shattered photos of a family long gone. That kid was still out there somewhere, waiting for a family that would not return. He could still be saved, couldn’t he? Weren’t there people out there who were better? People who could change? People who could forget the past? And David looked back at the front door, and slowly put his hand on the knob. They could keep moving, could keep changing, and this was their wake up call. This was it. The final hope that everything might someday be better was somewhere. Maybe it was with that kid. So David took a deep breath, faced forward, and as the Crawlers began to turn towards him, he opened the door and stepped into the future.



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