Author's note: I wrote this short story after having a dream. The dream inspired me, and my friends wanted me to... Show full author's note »
IIt had been years since he had been here. He didn’t understand the purpose of coming back—but he felt a strange need to revisit his former home. He wandered aimlessly on the grounds, his heart pounding in his ears.
The loud silence of the now empty, haunting rooms was overwhelming with memories of love, hope, and fierce survival. He found the letters on the carpet floor, and the familiar, scrawled handwriting made his heart drop and a strangling lump form in his throat.
If you are reading this then I am dead; I wrote my life down for people like you to find. To know what we went through. How we were before it happened—the ending of our world, of our humanity. You are the survivors—or the descendants of the remaining few. I am glad our species is still intact. That someone can read my words and know what life was like before the Happening. Only you know what it is like after the world came crashing down on us. My name is Avelina Smith, and I am seventeen. I have seen more than my fair share of death, and I have lost everything. My mother, my father, my older brother and sister, and my other half. All gone. And never coming back.
I have a photographic mind. I remember everything—every word, every feeling I ever felt. Everything that happened before I died.
I am writing to you, friend, in a Safe House. By finding this letter, you are in the compound I stayed in with almost seven hundred others. I’ve lived here for almost a year now. The Safe House I stayed in had over two-hundred rooms; one huge dining hall (they had certain times for people to eat so everyone could be fed), fifty bathrooms (with stalls, showers, etc.), and 152 bedrooms (about four or five per room). There were more buildings for the others. Due to lack of space, men, women, and children were mixed. I stayed in a room with my older brother Thomas, who was twenty, and had dark brown hair and green eyes, and two others. One was Michael, a twenty-five year old with a scruffy, weather-beaten face and long blond hair pulled back to a ponytail; the other was Rayne.
Rayne had raven black hair and gentle blue eyes that looked at the world differently than the others. He was pale and quiet, tall and wiry, and very shy. He cared about everyone and everything; he was selfless.
He was all alone here, and said I was lucky to have family at the Safe House. I only had my brother then. The rest of my family was killed in a raid of the Infected on our way to this compound. The Infected were humans that had gotten an advanced strain of rabies. It was too advanced for our modern technology to cure— it spread too fast to trace its origins. It spread like a wildfire during a drought. It traveled around the world and nowhere was safe—except the extreme climate areas where the sickness couldn’t survive long enough to infect anyone. Extreme heat or extreme cold—in our case, it was in the desert.
My last home was on the east coast; we were vulnerable because of the ocean. Thousands of Infected crawled on our shores and raided our cities, murdered thousands of people to satisfy their bloodlust and infected many, many more. I can remember that day. It was the day my parents and sister died. Around five in the morning, I woke to my sister Allie screaming. She was outside on the deck that was adjoined to our shared bedroom, and dawn was just breaking out. The house was right on the beach, so the deck had an ocean view.
I jumped up just as my parents and brother rushed into our room—and ran through the sliding glass door to stand beside my trembling sister. I didn’t see them at first. The waves concealed their heads and arms, but when they broke, you saw the monsters. My eyes had adjusted by then and I saw an ocean full of them. Thousands. Millions, maybe. All you saw were the dark heads of the Infected. All were screeching, trying to get on the shore. I was frozen. I only saw them. I only heard them. My brother yanked my arm so hard it pulled me out of my trance. He shouted for me to move, pulling me back towards my room. My eyes widened and I was coherent again. Thomas wasn’t waiting for me to finally get the hell out of there. He grabbed me and threw me over his shoulder and sprinted behind my father, who was carrying my sister who was apparently still in shock. My mother had our Jeep Grand Cherokee running already—Allie, Thomas, and I jumped in the back while my dad jumped in the passenger’s side. “Go! Go! Go!” Dad yelled as Mom threw the Jeep in reverse and swung around, burning rubber down the empty highway. Mom was close to tears when she whispered how she was glad that she had filled the Jeep’s tank last night.