There I was, lying on the ground after being struck on the back of my head by a baseball bat. I could feel the warm line of blood, slowly sliding down from my skull and dripping from my neck and onto the ground. As I laid there, I closed my eyes trying to remember.
I remember the day my mom and dad died because of those things, because of those Shadows. It was June 16, 2016, two days before my fifteenth birthday, the day I was waiting for all year. I remembered playing my video games, pressing the buttons on the controller furiously as my father walked into my room. I saw his lips moving, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying; I was too focused with my video games to pay any attention to my father. I heard my father utter the words “Robert… Robert… Robert,” but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I nodded to him while still paying attention to my video games, as he walked out of my room.
Later that night my father yelled for us to come downstairs to watch the breaking news on TV. I continued playing my games, but my father’s relentless yelling forced me to rush downstairs. I remember seeing the mayor on stage with his blue suit and red tie, surrounded by men and women in hazardous suits. I remember what the mayor said that day: “Ladies and gentlemen… As you may already know, our lives were in danger for several months. Several months ago, scientists predicted the Earth would move closer and closer to the sun, and their predictions were correct. But, rather than the Earth and all of its inhabitants perishing from the hazards of the sun’s rays, something else happened. What happened next, no scientist could predict … the birth of our own Shadows. Scientists all around the globe worked tirelessly to thwart these Shadows from coming alive, and it worked. Scientists were able to eradicate and prevent these rogue Shadows from coming alive, except… except for one region… Ladies and gentlemen of Korlius, Nevada, the region we’re standing on is the region where the scientists were unable to stop the Shadows. The President of the United States has ordered a state of emergency for our city, quarantining us all. Anyone attempting to move past the border of our city, or attempting to get in without permission … will be shot. Scientists still have no word on how these things, these Shadows operate, but they do know that they kill. My citizens, take every precautionary measures you can. Don’t leave even a corner of your home unlit. Don’t go into darkened alleyways, hallways, bathrooms. Stay inside during the dark. But if you are in the darkness, don’t dare to remember. Ladies and gentlemen of Korlius, Nevada … stay safe … pray every day … and my God be with us all … Thank you.” My entire family was shocked. “A quarantine … this can’t be real …” said my mother.
“It is honey, but it’ll be all right,” said my father.
“What’s a kwalantin?” asked my sister, Lucy.
The city sirens went off. Each city in the United States was mandated to install city sirens, warning residents of impending dangers. They were installed after the Shadows began to come to life, killing thousands and injuring millions. But now, the sirens went off but no one in my family could understand why. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Missiles were dropping from the sky; the United States military was bombing the city, they were probably trying to eradicate the Shadows. “All right everyone! Keep calm and move to the basement! GO! GO! GO! GO!” said my father. He was directing everyone to move calmly to the basement, but being calm was the last of my worries. I stood in the middle of the living room, feeling the vibrations of the missiles dropping on our city; my dad grabbed onto my arm and dragged me down to the basement. As we approached the basement, my dad began to light each corner of the room as we made our way downstairs. The basement was boarded up, the windows were shut tight, and light-up electronic torches were filled across the brown wood walls. My father slammed the basement door shut, and locked it. “Let’s … Let’s not worry about what’s going on…” said my mother who stuttered her words; I knew she was afraid but she was trying to be brave for all of us. I remember seeing my father digging through a chest until he stopped and pulled out a board game; it was Monopoly. I dreaded Monopoly because my mother would always give Lucy an unfair advantage like giving her extra money when no one was looking, but I always caught her I just didn’t say anything.
“Mommy, I need to use the bathroom!” said Lucy who was grabbing onto her shirt trying to not use the ground as the toilet.
“Honey, you know where it is,” replied my mother. Lucy smiled and walked over to the self-installed bathroom in the corner of the room, as my family continued to play.
“All right son. Ready to get your ass whooped by your old man?” asked my father.
“Pft…” as I replied back. My mother smiled and chuckled.
I remember her saying, “You two need to stop… Don’t let this game get in over your he—” But before she could finish her sentence, the lights began to flicker and then they went out, except for one flickering light. “AHHH!” I heard the screams of my mother. I stood in the darkness, trying to figure out what was going on, but when the lights began to flicker on again, I saw my mother’s lifeless and bloodied body lying on the ground. “What the hell! What the f—” But before my father could understand what was going on, I saw his body on the ground next to my mother, bloodied and lifeless. I remember grabbing Lucy who was still in the bathroom and bolting back upstairs and out of the house. The day was still sunny, but I could hear the screams from the different homes on the block. I saw smoke and fire in the distance. We ran down the street as fast as we could, and we didn’t look back; we didn’t want to look back. We were afraid. We ran and we ran until we came across an abandoned worn out shack which we took shelter in. “Robert… what happened?” asked Lucy who was tugging on my arm.
I opened my eyes again, and I tried to lift myself back up to my feet, but I couldn’t gather enough strength. What a horrible night to remember; my mother, my father, they were all dead; they were gone from my life forever. I tried to stop myself from remembering, I tried to forget, but my life was flashing before my eyes, and my back began to feel heavier and heavier. I began to remember the day after my parents died; the day Lucy and I ended up in the store.
I remember telling Lucy, “Everything’s going to be okay. Don’t worry. Mom and Dad, they’re fine. We’ll see them again. They just wanted us to leave so that we can be safe.” But I knew the truth and I didn’t want to tell Lucy. All we had were each other now. I fell asleep that same night on the floor of the blue old shack. I wanted to stay awake, I wanted to keep an eye out for any danger, and I remember hearing no sound from the outside world, no birds, no owls, and no crickets making any noises. The once bustling town filled with cars was now filled with emptiness. I finally fell asleep. But I remember being awakened by a mysterious kick to my shoulder. “Dude … wake up …” a mysterious voice said. I managed to open my eyes, but all I could see were the flickering lights. I couldn’t remember much from the day before the shack. I sat up, looked over to Lucy who was still lying next to me, and all I saw was darkness around me. One night I was sleeping in an abandoned shack, the next night, I was here. I recognized the girl who kicked me, it was a Michelle, a school friend and standing next to her was Miranda, my once long neighbor. I rubbed my eyes trying to make out the area, “Where… where the hell are we…” I asked.
I remember the first night arriving at the store. The store was silent. A pipe had burst several weeks ago and was leaking water from the top of the ceiling. The droplets of water was the only sound being made, drip, drip, drip, as the drops hit a small pond of water on the ground. The floor was a mess; dark moss, mold, and the increasing range of asbestos seeping through the shelves and dropping onto the ground. Broken dolls and toys, ripped clothes, opened candy wrappers, and hundreds of dollars scattered all throughout the dark tiled floors. The stench of the store—the smell was as if you were stepping through a city’s landfill. The smell of rotting garbage and feet, the smell of wet towel and sweat, the smell was unbearable. The rotting and decaying corpses, death was in the air. There were rows of lights, lining up like a class of elementary school students, but many had lost their lust to run. And those that still ran, only flickered on and off as if a major storm had hit the area and the power was going out. Darkness was everywhere, and only the flickering bulbs on the top of the ceiling were sources of light, but even a few feet seemed like several miles. There were escalators leading to the second story of the store, but were blocked off by large shelves, cases, and boxes. Climbing the escalators to the second floor would be a fatal mistake, as the second floor was deteriorating and had several holes. One false move on the second floor, and you would end up on the first floor with life-threatening injuries. The sound of the air conditioner had run its course, and the store was destined to reach unprecedented rise in temperature. The store wasn’t scorching hot, but was humid enough to suck out all the oxygen from a person’s lungs.
And I remember that night; the night when Miranda’s body laid lifeless, motionless and quietly on the warm white tiled ground with a pool of blood near her skull. Her feet bounded together, her arms tied against each other, and her face eating the floor. We were sitting in the barren aisles of the store in silent. No sound coming from the outside of the store through the barricaded doors, no sound from the inside of the store. Sniffles and sobs can be heard, everyone was afraid and confused. I remember. I remember the night the group finally split up, leaving Lucy and I navigating through the darkened store, trying to find food and water. I remember Miranda, the girl of my dreams with her long beautiful brown hair, her silky flowery dresses she would always wear, to her soothing voice which would calm even the loudest of giants down. I remember Miranda having to make a decision which would tear the group apart; I remember that terrible night.