I know I said I would have this uploaded yesterday but of course school work took over. Ugh college is always getting in the way. Anyway I’m very excited to be posting this to my blog and I hope to get tons of feedback. Whether it be good or bad, but lets try and keep it all constructive. I just want to make it clear that this isn’t my work. I have been assisting with this project and I thought a great way to get some opinions would be by featuring it on my blog. I figured let me give a sneak peak to the people that may one day might have this story in their hands. These are just the first five chapters. Its a rough draft and hasn’t really been edited. So take that into consideration when reading. Like I said please be honest. Its an amazing story. Anything you can suggest or say will only help the author out. I hope to hear from you all soon. Enjoy!
By: David Maldonado
My heart pulsates inside my chest to a deafening pitch. If my logical self didn’t know I couldn’t actually hear it beat, I would think it was beating like a base drum.
I’m all alone.
Lonely days turn into desolate, slow nights. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to hear the sound of my own voice.
I would say the world ended about a month ago, but that would not be accurate.
Despite the massive lost of life on Earth, the planet kept spinning. It did pirouettes in the galaxy, and it never missed a beat, even when many of it’s inhabitants’ hearts had stop beating.
Did the Earth feel lonely like I did? At least it had the other planets to keep it company. I wasn’t so lucky.
A month is not very long, but it feels like a lifetime. I roamed the streets of New York City everyday, and I had hoped to find someone who survived. After day 5, I lost all hope.
The silence is what unnerves me the most. No laughter, no loud music, not even the sound of the hustlers downstairs drinking and joking around. If you knew New York City like I did, you would understand.
I use to have a mother, a little sister, one who looked up to me as her older sister. Her name was Lycell. Each lost feels like a searing hot knife, poking and prodding me, looking for a way to bring about my own demise. Why am I alive? What was different about ME?
They say it was a disease, L1HR4 they called it. Nobody knew where it came from. Not my parents, not the reporters on tv, not my teachers, and according to the tv, not our scientists or our government.
I think they lied.
Someone must have screwed up. Humans playing God, with their scalpels, and their microscopes, and their PH. D’s all in the name of change.
There was change alright.
Day 1 was like any other outbreak in our history. News reports of a new “virus” they called it at the time, was seen in various regions throughout the United States. Reporters, as the mouth piece for doctors, urged the public to rush to their local doctors and get a new vaccine.
Now I’m not a scientist or anything, and I did receive a C in biology once, but how did they get a vaccine so quickly? Back then, no one stopped to think of that. It’s my loneliness that makes me question everything. Left with my own thoughts, I’m trapped in my memories. Living as a movie reel that has got tangled up within the projector, stuck playing the same old scene, knowing what’s going to happen next, but helplessly realizing that there is nothing I could do.
Yes, those vaccines were a little too convenient for my taste.
As I walk down Broadway, I chuckle to myself, startled by the sound that escapes my mouth. It sounds so feeble, so far away, as if my body was not my own. Was I ever really in control? Were any of us?
The word placebo pops into my head, and I realize that’s what I was thinking of before I chuckled.
Give the public something to stop the frenzy, the erratic behavior of believing the second plague was coming, but of course, it wouldn’t do anything. No one could do anything.
Humans played God, but this time instead of creating, they destroyed.
They destroyed us all.
New York City use to hum. People walking, running, cars honking, lights flashing. It was always full of life. The skyscrapers stood with a powerful aura, an artful masterpiece, while the Statue of Liberty guarded and smiled on it all like a curious artist, wondering what could be done next. It was always known as the city that never sleep.
Now it slumbers deeply.
I wish I could sleep, but although it’s been a month and I feel like I lost hope a while back, there’s some small part of me that can’t let go. How can I give up all that I’ve ever known? Love, splendor, noise.
Noise is what I miss most. I feel dead inside without it.
As I make my way towards the Williamsburg bridge, the cars on the street look at me. They gawk making me feel small and vulnerable.
My foot slips on a wet newspaper and I almost face plant it in front of my onlookers. It rained yesterday.
Something normal for once.
I look down angrily at the newspaper culprit, and see a headline that makes me catch my breath.
BILLIONS DEAD FROM L1HR4, SURVIVORS ARE DWINDLING
I zero in on the word survivor like a lifeline as if I’m breathing my last breath. My heart flutters, which turns to pounding. I taste bile in the back of my throat.
Nervousness creeps up my veins, I begin to look around as if I’m being watched by more than made up audiences in my head.
Delancey avenue seems quiet, like the rest of the world. But something glimmers. It’s taken on a new sheen, a new pulse. It begins to feel different. I realize it’s not Delancey, and it’s not the city. It’s me.
Can it be?
Family killing family, strangers shooting other strangers, children crying for their mothers, that’s how the first week ended. It escalated so quickly, like a snapshot rapidly taken.
You didn’t know who had the disease, so people naturally became suspicion of everyone. It took time for the signs to start showing.
Yellowing of the eyes was the first symptom. I remember Lycell whining that her stomach hurt that first week. I woke up and looked over to the bed next time mine, and I vividly remember screaming.
Her eyes had glowed yellow in the dark. Like a feline, ready to pounce on it’s prey. The disease was that feline. It had my sister in it’s jaws until the end.
Symptoms rapidly appeared after that. There was never an accurate time-table between each symptom. The second sign were the rashes.
Itchy red splotches had ravaged my mother’s face. It marred her beauty. I’m all that remains left of that beauty. I begin to tear up, slowly exhaling and inhaling.
The sky sets to the right of me as I walk across the Williamsburg bridge. It would be a magnificent sight if it wasn’t for the smell.
Bodies lay scattered along the path in front of me. Were they still considered human?
The third symptom was the most painful. As each organ began to shut down, you bled from every orifice. Pain so strong you wanted to kill yourself.
My mother did. A
She envied my unblemished health.
The City always smelled different than the country. Everywhere smells the same now. Garbage mixed with rotting bodies. I’m numb to it.
As I walk across the bridge I hear a crackling. My senses go into overdrive. Sweat drips down my bag, remnants from the scorching hot day.
I duck down next to a car, unsure of what it could be. I immediately hope for a person, but that glimmer of hope dies immediately. A candle winking out in the dark. The sound is a radio a few cars down up ahead.
Blood rushes underneath my skin and I begin to feel hot. I rush over to the car and dive into the driver’s seat. I turn the volume knob up so I can listen better, and I realize I’m holding my breath.
The signal is faint and the voice sounds so distant, so foreign to me. It’s the first voice I’ve heard in a long time.
“—-survivors—–holding on—-food and shelter—–Pennsylvania, Washington, Ohio, New York—–other countries—–you are not alone”.
My mind breaks into a thousand different pieces. Pieces from my past, of my sister, of my mother, the father I never knew, all shattered into a beautiful mosaic of loneliness.
I’m not alone. There are others and I will find them.
As I reach downtown Brooklyn every storefront becomes alive in my eyes. I see shadows of the life that once was this beautiful city. Urban life living freely, left to it’s own devices. It once thrived.
I hope it can one day thrive again.
I stop at a corner Bodega store to see what I can pillage. By week three most stores were already raided by the public. Those that could still function at least. The ones that weren’t completely immobilized by their symptoms.
The last and final symptom was delirium. My mother and sister didn’t know who I was. They called to me like a stranger longing for a mirage in a desert. Unfocused and desperate.
“Help me please, girl. PLEASE! Make the pain STOP! KILL ME!”
I never could bring myself to put my mother out of her misery. She had strength enough for the both of us to do that.
My sister’s delirium is what broke me down to tears. As I tried to hold her hand, stroking her brows, whispering sweet words of safety. Her green doe eyes stared at me with fear. One moment she was asking me to help brush her luscious long brown hair, the next she was screaming.
“GET AWAY FROM ME! WHO ARE YOU? Mommy, where are you? MOMMY! Please don’t hurt me. DON’T TOUCH ME!”
I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that mom had killed herself the day before. The fear in her eyes made me feel like the invader. They accused me. Imprisoned me. Condemned me. It wasn’t long after her dementia set in that she died.
A week for a disease to kill millions. A world that took billions of years to grow and thrive— gone. Destroyed in a blink of an eye. A month in the eternal length of time is like a snapshot, a laugh, a cough, an inhale of breath, so fleeting that it feels as if it doesn’t exist.
But it does. It did to me. It did to all of us.
I grab whatever I can find, not really paying attention to anything at all. I’ve noticed a constant fatigue, an aching of my bones. It would take more than a night of sleep to fix this kind of tiredness.
Chocolate has become my own personal heaven. The Hershey’s bar I scarf down is so sweet, almost too sweet. I wasn’t really able to eat these kind if sweets in the before. The before is what I now call our history. Before death. Before disease. Before the beautiful lights of Times Square that brightened your soul as you walked down the overly crowded street if 42nd. Before Earth took is last sigh and expunged us all.
I make my way over to the liquor store on Atlantic avenue, something I know I will regret in the morning.
I’m Seventeen years old, technically an underaged drinkers. I guess that’s the beauty of the world feeling like it’s ending, no laws to be upheld. It’s freeing in a way.
As I walk into the liquor store I stop dead at the entrance. My skin begin to prickle and I begin to break out into a cold sweat.
Someone is watching me.
I whip around and look across the street to all the store fronts and building above. I see nothing but busted windows, old air conditioners, some clothes that were left to dry.
Not a soul out there.
I know I’m not crazy. There’s a reason scary movies build up the suspense with bone-chilling music when the soon-to-be victim is being stalked and looked at.
Right now, all that’s missing is the music.
I turned back around to grab a bottle of Jack Daniels and that’s when I hear it.
It sounds like gravel being walked on, crunching and grinding. The sound waves vibrate inside me. I feel my whole body shake with anticipation.
Someone is nearby. I realize a second later the crunching sound is the broken glass trickled all over the sidewalk. A trail of what was and what will never be again.
I turn around slowly and I gasp back. Standing in front of me is a boy. A gun whispers my name three inches from my face.
My mind runs wild. I whoop and cry and scream inside myself. I’m not alone. So many nights I cried for human contact, yearning for just a small touch. A fingertip on my chin, a whisper in my ear, some kind of contact that lets me know I was not alone.
For a moment, I forget about the gun pointed at my face. I soak up his image. He becomes my starry night as I stroke his body with my eyes like the skill of Van Gough.
He has short cropped sandy brown hair, which makes me think of summer nights on the beach. His creamy complexion makes me suck in a breathe.
They bore into me with such intensity. They are like two giant pools of ocean blue, and I feel like I’m drowning in them.
I can’t breathe. His image hurts me and tickles me all at once.
He wears a dirtied up white polo shirt, with black pants with rips in the knees. His beat up black sneakers remind me of my own travel-weary adventures this past month.
This mirage clicks back the trigger of his gun and moves his lips.
It takes me a moment to realize he has spoken.
“W-w-what did you say?”.
“I said are you armed?”
He violates me with his eyes as he looks me up and down for a weapon.
I nervously chuckle because his voice sounds like my heart singing. It seems so confident, so sure. Something I haven’t been in a long time.
“No weapons, just me.” I awkwardly look down, nervous because of his gaze. I look back up and his eyes soften. And I melt into myself.
“What’s your name?”
My name. Such a simple question, and yet it takes me what feels like a lifetime to answer.
His eyes crinkle for a moment, and he momentarily eyes the bottle of Jack in my hand. His eyebrows raise up, as if they are trying to soar in the sky.
“Melody,” he repeats. My hearts slows down. My name on his lips is so heart warming. I didn’t realize how dead I was inside until he said my name. It has brought me back to life.
“Are you alone?” Another question that stumps me, as if I don’t already know the answer.
We are all so alone, I want to say.
He looks at me like he understands my pain. Like he wants to hold me and never let me go.
“Care to share some of that drink you got there?”
I’ve almost forgotten about the Jack. I give him the bottle and his finger tips lightly touch my hand in the exchange.
I feel like I’m on fire. Every fiber of my being is screaming because of that momentary touch.
He smiles and whispers an almost in audible thanks. I wouldn’t have heard it if I weren’t already staring at his lips.
He takes a swig of it, leaving remnants of it on his lower lip.
I self-consciously look away. Heat rises on my cheeks.
“Do you live near here?”
Questions! More questions. I don’t remember the last time I had a conversation this long. Some part of me has forgotten how to have a normal one.
The air is filled with awkwardness. How can I tell him I don’t have a home? None of us do.
A home is a place where you feel safe. A place where you can wrap yourself up in it, like a warm blanket. It shields you from all the pain, tiredness, and loss you have felt throughout your day.
It allows you a few moments of solace, something that doesn’t come easy anymore. My body is a testament to that.
Without a home, the abundance of pain and suffering throughout the last month have permanently become a part of me. I can’t be protected by a home.
Homes don’t exist anymore.
He looks at me sadly, like he understands the unsaid conversation that’s going in in my head.
My hands begin to fidget. I stuff them in my beat up blue jeans and bite my bottom lip as I look at his face.
“Not really. I guess the world is my oyster now.”
He chuckles and the sound makes me feel dizzy. My body is so tense that I bite down too hard on my bottom lip. The taste of metal fills my mouth like a dry well.
I release my lip and see his face become scrunched up with concern.
“Your bleeding,” he inhales like he’s trying to suck up all the oxygen that’s left.
His right hand raises a few inches, like he wants to give me a hand shake. It’s frozen in midair.
I’m so confused by what he wants to do. I stand frozen in place, unable to breathe. To think.
What is your name? Who are you? Are there others? Are we alone? I can’t seem to stop the onslaught of questions that are like buzzards circling a dead carcass.
I ever so slowly nod my head yes.
His right hand reaches up, tentatively. I feel four of his fingers rest underneath my chin.
My skin explodes with heat. I know he can see me blushing. I have never hated my fair skin more than this moment. I want to turn away, but his gaze has me trapped.
His thumb lightly brushes the blood that has piled on my lip. He wipes it away with a few strokes. Each stroke is like an angel’s kiss. A slight summer wind that lift’s up your skirt when you aren’t expecting it.
My eyes go wide.
Nobody has touched me since my sister died. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed it until this moment.
His blue saucer eyes soak me up with their beauty.
I lightly touch the back of his hand and I nuzzled it to the side of my face. I forget all the death. I forget all the sickness. I forget my own pain and loss. I forget loneliness.
Because I am not alone anymore. This beautiful specimen named Axel is with me. And I with him.
As a team.
Axel begins to take short rapid breaths. He gives the visual of a man sucking for air quickly after a sprint.
I think he feels it too. How can he not?
I know nothing about him, but I know loss. He may or may not have lost his family, but he has lost worse.
Wiped out. Flicked off the face of the Earth like a speck of dust that’s not wanted.
I take his hand from my face and I let our arms drop down to the middle of the space between us.
We are two ships docked in a neutral port.
His fingers interlocked with mine make me feel alive. He makes me feel grounded to this Earth just by his presence.
I drop his hand like an anchor. I feel the moment drop to the pit of my stomach and I gulp slowly.
Our eyes have been on eachother’s the whole time we were touching.
Now our eyes both have slightly averted themselves.
His to the left.
Mine to the right.
As if by an unknown command that neither of us has spoken.
I look to his face for just a brief second.
“Axel sounds like a strong name.”
His body deflates. It’s as if some intangible force has sucked the tension from his body.
His shoulders sag, head tilts downward, and he stuffs his hands into his pockets.
“It’s suppose to be. It means Father of Peace in Swedish.”
At that moment I see him in a new light. He’s more than a boy, but a son. He’s possibly someone’s sibling, a teacher’s student, maybe even a musician.
And dare I think it—-someone’s boyfriend.
He looks ashamed. Maybe because he’s no longer any of those things.
Those things defined him. Every little piece of information, from his life, to his interests, to the roles he had to play, all inextricable gone.
Wiped out, leaving anyone that survived feel like chickens with their heads chopped off.
It’s our jobs to find ourselves again.
I understand Axel’s defeated demeanor. I know my own all too well. He carries the world on his shoulders, as I have since this all began.
It’s all in that first step. You take one and then another. And slowly your doing more than you ever could think was possible.
I found someone.
Or at least he found me.
The butterflies in my stomach begin to run wild.
“It still is.” I say softly as I take his left hand into my own.
He looks at me with confusion. Before he could respond I answer, “Your name is still strong. That strength hasn’t gone anywhere.”
His blue eyes light up like a sunrise.
I’ve given him hope.
I begin to feel dizzy. It’s not because of his touch, or his impossible good looks. It’s not even because of all the horrible things I’ve had to witness in the past few weeks.
The reason is almost so simple, that I want to chuckle for an eternity.
But I can’t.
The last thing I ate was that chocolate bar.
And before that—-who knows.
I feel my hand slip from his, and my vision goes awry.
He seems so far away. Maybe he was a mirage after all.
The ground greets me rather harshly. I vaguely hear Axel yelling my name.
But it seems so far. I haven’t slept in days and all I want to do is to not wake up in this same horrible world.
Then I see those blue midnight eyes
and I think of Peace.
Peace takes a person, a movement, a focused force in order to be maintain. That’s what Axel is, even if he believes he’s lost that part of himself.
I will do whatever I have to, to see that strength in him again.
I try to speak and say, “we need peace again.”
And then the world goes dark.
I could hear there foot steps getting closer. My muscles strained from the effort to stay ahead, but I knew I was slowly losing ground.
They wanted me. They wanted what I could do.I was not just some ordinary girl, but a natural survivor.
But now I was needed to be used as a tool.
All around me a dense forest was seen for miles. I didn’t know how long I had been running, but I knew I could not keep up this pace for much longer.
I look back at my pursuers and let slip a frightened yelp. They were only twenty feet away.
All four men are dressed in expensive black suits. Each wore a different colored tie with their black shirt. Blue, red, white, and black.
All of them looked to be in their mid-twenties as far as I could tell, underneath the moonlight.Their expensive shoes shined bright under the moon’s effervescent light. The powerful reflected light transformed their shoes into what could be viewed as moving stars on Earth.
I couldn’t help but think how beautiful they all looked. All wore black shades that disguised most of their faces. Underneath, I saw perfectly lined echiseled jaws and perfectly scalped cheek bones. They all moved with swift precision. They were the hunters and I was their prey.
Raw power filled my limbs, and I flexed my fingers in anticipation. A cold dread sat at the pit of my stomach. It made me feel weary with duty. My time was running out.
Up ahead the trees had began to part, and just a bit farther than that, the forest stopped altogether.
That’s when I heard the loud rushing of water of the waterfall. It’s notice reverberated in my limbs, making me nauseous with dread.
A dead end.
Again, I felt the power inside me building. I was like a covered tea pot, filled with raw power but was too afraid to let loose the contents that are inside of me.
I could not stop the inevitable.
I ran straight for the cliff and then stopped to take a quick breath.
I steeled myself to what I was about to be forced to do.
Dead or alive these men wanted me for what I could do. I would not go down without a fight.
It’s time to make my final stand, and see if what they’re after is actually worth it.
Instead of being captured and allowing them to control me, I needed to unleash what was inside of me. I put my back towards the cliff and I stared at the four robotic-like men with a look of blood lust.
I was now about to change the rules of the game.The hunted was about to become the Hunter. It’s now or never.
I must fight to stay alive.
All the men seem to exhale once, and then they flew towards me with ferocious speed. It takes me a moment to take in their ferociousness and deadly quick skill, before I release all the power that has been building up inside me.
The release of power is only perceived on my end, silently.The last thing they hear are my battle cries.
Two come at me from the left and I immediately cock back my right fist and punch the one with the white tie straight in his face. I immediately hear the crunching and breaking of all the bones in his face.
I smile in satisfaction.
The guy flies back thirty feet into the air. Black tie grabs hold of my left arm, as if to pull me down. Instead, I use his momentum and I pull him forward into a front flip. He lands flat on his back. I give him one good punch to the throat, and feel the crunch of his bones break like egg shells being trampled. His airways have been severed. He’ll die in just moments.
A maniacle laugh escapes my lips. The blood beneath my veins pulsate with need.
The need to kill.
The need to survive.
I’ve become a single-minded weapon with a task.Leave no survivors.Take no prisoners.
That’s when the other two are on me. One has managed to get me into a head lock, and from my view I can see it’s the blue tie one. He has me around the neck, slowly choking me with his death grip. If I don’t do something soon, all will be lost. My power, the knowledge of the others like me will all be destroyed.
The world will forever be plunged into darkness. It would have all been for nothing.
Red tie man has a hold of my feet, so now I’m incapacitated from top to bottom. I lay like a bridge in mid air between the two men.
I begin to struggle and wiggle trying to find a weak point in there grip. Cold beads of sweat drip down my face and into my eyes.I close my eyes to the burning sensation and bite back a yelp of desperation.
They don’t gloat. These men are deadly and efficient. They don’t gloat because it’s not about some human need for a thrill for them.
They aren’t human. Those pitiful yearnings for desires such as those are not built into who they are.They only abide by one thing: duty. And whoever commanded this of them, chose them wisely.
These men are a force that is impenetrable. No obstacles forged by man could stop them. They never relent and they never get tired. In this sense, they are like machines, built to carry out commands with unflinching resolve. They never question motives, and are able to go after their targets with a one track mind. They do not fear destruction, and they’re not capable of human emotions such as sympathy and empathy.
Only one goal is given to men like these: LICENSE TO KILL.
Tonight, they’ve met more than their match.
I quickly use the weight of blue tie that has me in a head lock as a push off point. I push off and quickly kick red tie man forward with such force, he lets go of my feet and flies ten feet in the air.
Blue tie tightens his grip on my neck even tighter than I thought was possible. I pray I have what it takes to finish this. Somewhere inside me I know that I can’t lose.
Losing is only an option for the dead.
Never for the alive and weary.
I manage to wrap my hands around the back of blue tie’s neck, and I use my back as a pivot to flip him over. I jump on top of him immediately and use my left hand to choke him.He coughs and sputters, but I know he can’t feel pain. He was not built to feel.
Our right arms are at war with each other, both trying to find a weakness. Our speeds and strengths seemed to be evenly watched. But my weight on top of him gives me the advantage. My right arm is faster and I break through his last defense.
I quickly use both hands to snap his neck clean.
I stand up and race over to the white sprawled out on the ground. He holds his face as if in pain. I know he feels no pain.
He’s mocking what it means to be human.
White tie tries to get up but I don’t let him. I jump on his chest and straddle him. I can feel him struggling underneath me. What raw power. But he’s no match for what I now have become.
I break his neck before there can even be a fight.
I beat them all. And it felt good.
I still feel that raw strength and speed that’s inside me. It’s usually dormant, but not tonight.
Tonight I proved I’m something more than who I was.
I was better than the best.
And whoever sought to use me as a weapon for their own plans is poorly mistaken.
But only by choice.
I wake up gasping for air. Goosebumps rise up my legs and arms and I feel my hair rise in the back of my neck.. My tank top underneath my blue short-sleeved shirt is drenched in sweat.
I feel like a wet ragdoll.
I try to regain my bearings and shake myself to help me focus.
Where am I?
The last thing I remember was Axel yelling my name.
How long ago was that?
I make a quick survey of the room and I realize it’s dark outside. A giant window to my left reveals the moonlit night and shining stars.
On the floor, scattered newspapers and candy wrappers lay together on top of each other. The clutter is so overwhelming that I can’t see the color of the floor.
The place smell dank, garbage mix with sweat feet. I fight back a gag.
I turn around to the wall and see several posters hang above me. Posters of iconic music entertainers from the before, Beyonce, Rolling Stones, and Madonna. The selection is so random I can’t infer whether this room belonged to a male or a female.
It doesn’t matter.
I stand up and try to weave myself through the clutter in the room.In front of the bed is a dresser with an antique mirror attached to it. On top of the dresser’s surface also lay mounds of candy wrappers. Old tin cans that were once filled with food also lay on top.
Flies buzz around the room like a frantic mob on a mission. They swarm around the tin cans with precise determination. They are hungry.
And so am I.
I realize that my lack of eating was the reason I fainted. I search the room for some untouched food but I come up short.
As I stand in from of the dresser I noticed cut out news paper clippings. The headlines indicate countless stories of the outbreak of L1HR4.
I become nauseous immediately. I’m not sure if it’s from the smell of the room or from the newspaper clipping which remind me of the hell that’s settled hear on Earth.
Despite my better judgement, I pick up one of the articles to read.
January 18, 2054,
Massive amounts of victims are said to have contracted the L1HR4 virus. It is believed to be an airborne virus. Those who come in contact with it, shortly die from the symptoms. It is not known how this out break began, but the C.I.D. (Control of Infectious Diseases), has not been able to release a statement on a possible cause.
Everyone is told to lock up all of your doors and buy and gather as much supplies you can for a long seclusion inside your home. Medical professionals urge you to tape all windows and doors, to block off the air from the outside from getting in.
If any family members show any signs of the symptoms, use gloves and masks to protect yourselves. It may not guarantee safety from contracting the disease, but we urge you to do it anyway.
I laugh to myself disgusted. The media even lies. The government has always been the one controlling what the public sees and doesn’t see.
I pick up another cut out article and this one catches my attention immediately.
The President has ordered an immediate round up of any survivors. All survivors are being taken to various set up points within different states.
Any and all infected victims will be quarantine and handled with proper care. And all survivors must undergo extensive tests to be cleared to stay within your local set up point. All cooperation is needed at this time. All those who do not cooperate will be dealt with accordingly.
The President has urged his troops to swarm the country for healthy survivors. This has become the top priority of the nation. If you are healthy, please look at the back of this newspaper for your nearest rendezvous point. Or look for nation patrols looking for survivors.
Anger boils up inside me and I feel myself shaking. Something feels really off about these articles. My muscles tense and I scramble over to the window.
It’s pitch black outside, so it’s hard to make out anything significant from this vantage point. But not being able to see out brings chills up my spine.
I step away immediately from the window, feeling vulnerable and exposed.I try and think of the dream that shook me awake. Only glimpses of it are tangible within the recesses of my mind.
I was powerful in that dream. Freud would definitely have a field day with that one. But I feel so unsettled. Like I’m missing something.
Axel is no where in this room. Unsure of myself and not wanting to make a lot of noise, I call out his name with as much pitch as I dare.
Nothing. It’s deadly quiet in this apartment. I know he must be real, or else I would not be in this apartment if he wasn’t. Something feels deadly off about this situation.
I scurry outside the room on in to explore the rest of the apartment. As I step out, I notice I’m in a long hallway.
A door stands to my right a middle of the way through. I knock and call for Axel again.
“Axel?” Again, nothing. Goosebumps begin to rise up and down my legs and my thoughts start running wild.
Is he ok? Where is he? Did I dream him up?
I hold on the doorknob to the door for a second to catch my breath. It feels like my heart is running a marathon inside my chest. Spots briefly swim before my eyes and I feel like throwing up.
I make sure not to vomit on my legs or fit. The rancid smell in front of the door makes me want to vomit again. I suck in a breath and open the door as quietly as I can.
The door creaks so loudly I jump back in surprise. So much for trying to move quietly. I sigh and survey the room.
The room is spotless except for one thing, a Queen size bed. The stark contrast of this room and the one I woke up in are confusing. Every inch of the room looks to be squeaky clean. Not a speck of dirt to be seen.
On the bed lays Axel.
Half his body is underneath a quilt that has white doves in it. I see the quilt rise and fall from Axel’s breathing. My eyes widen at how peaceful he looks. I look away for a moment, embarrassed by my own intrusion. But I can’t help myself.
His face and body are a master piece to behold. I quietly walk over to him to get a better view. I curse myself with every step.
I’m really not alone anymore. This boy, Axel, is here with me. His hold on me even now as he sleeps, makes my legs feel heavy like lead.
I brush a stray lock of his hair that’s over his eye, and push it away from his face. He looks so peaceful, so young.
What has he been through in the past month? I know nothing about him and yet here I am, ogling over his features like we’ve known eachother all of our live.
That’s what happens when the end of the world is thrust upon humanity. Cordial formalities seem frivolous. You would do anything to scramble and keep any human connection.
I press my right index fingers along his jaw, making my own breath get caught in my throat. His jaw is well defined and feels strong under my touch.
His skin is warm, like he’s been out in the sun all day. I trace the jawline with my finger, feeling his creamy smoothness. It feels like butter to the touch.
His eyes flutter open.
He grabs my wrist like vice. His eyebrows furrow and he looks ready to pounce on me.
“Hey! It’s just me, Melody” I say to him in a soothing voice.
He slowly lets go of my right wrist and I take it back and flex it and wince.
He’s impossibly strong.
His eyes begin to soften and he smiles, revealing pearly white teeth. I can’t help but be dazzled for the moment.
“Get enough sleep?” he says with a deep alto voice. His voice feels like a wave hitting me, strong like the grip he had on my hand.
“I think so” I say trying to hide my exhaustion. My grumbling stomach is as annoying as a fly buzzing around the room. I could eat a small baby elephant right about now.
Axel sits up on the edge of the bed, and he’s shirtless.
Shirtless. The cells inside my body feel like they are bursting from sensory overload. His sensual broad chest, and washboard abs put me in a daze. His beautiful figure makes me feel so insecure, so unsure of myself. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a guy shirtless, but somehow this is different.
It’s Axel. The first real person I’ve come into contact with since the Before. And it doesn’t help that he’s irresistibly beautiful.
He notices my scrutinizing stare and smiles sheepishly. He taps the left side of the bed with his hand, motioning me to sit next to him. I close my eyes for just a second so I can get my body chemistry under control.
I sit next to him and turn to my right to face him. His eyes look so youthful.
“You need to eat.” His voice is stern and authoritative. His concern for my health warms me.
“Is there anything good—-here” I motion with my hands to the apartment we’re in. “Which reminds me, where is —-here—-exactly.”
I stare out the window to this room to determine our whereabouts, but again it’s too dark outside. I look at him, and quietly wait to hear him speak.
“To answer your first question, we have plenty of food. Eggs, bacon, loads of canned goods, some fruit, although those are going bad.” His rapid listing of things makes me realize he’s nervous.
I become self-conscious and become painfully aware our arms are two inches apart, they rest on our legs. The heat I feel even from this minor distance is overwhelming.
We are like magnets. Drawn to each other, through this disaster, through our childhoods, through space and time. I know I’ve only known him a very short time, but it feels like I’ve been looking for him for my entire life.
It took the world to turn upside down and leave us in darkness for us to be drawn together of what feels like a different dimension entirely.
It’s like night and day. He seems so perfect so strong, and I feel like a wilted flower, waiting for him to fill me up with his energy. It doesn’t matter that these feelings are so sudden. It doesn’t matter if we have a future together.
What matters is the here and now, with him.
I’m about to flush out the awkward air when my stomach growls so loud, I feel like all the survivors in the world can here it.
I know my face has turned scarlet. Waves of heat are flowing off my face in droves. I’m also sure Axel can feel it, which makes it infinitely worse as each second passes. I turn away and look at everything, except him.
I become completely engaged with the carpet on the floor. Black and white. White and black. Balanced like the symbolic powers of Ying and Yang. Somewhere between the colors and the balance, I gain the courage to look up.
Axel is smiling. Pearly white teeth sparkle I’m front of my eyes, like shooting stars all harnessed together to create Axel’s blinding veneers. It doesn’t help that it’s pitch black outside.
“You never answered my second question,” I manage to squeeze out my mouth. The force of it almost shatters my own, very plain, teeth.
Axel’s face loses some of it’s enticing magnetic pull, and he evens his breath. He looks worried, scared even. He averts his eyes to the window, and becomes so engrossed with it, I start to feel like something is out there.
He’s hesitant, I can tell by his silhouette. His hands hold onto the edge of the bed with the strength of a beast. One born and raised in the wild. His muscles are so taut, eyebrows too furrowed, which causes me to slow down time with my eyes.
The sounds of the world, like our breathing, and the bed creaking under the strain of Axel’s hand, all become still in my mind. I’m frozen in place.
Why is Axel so afraid to answer my simple question?
I ask again, this time more forcibly, because I feel like something is horrible wrong. Axel’s tension feels like a million small razor ripping me up, slowly and agonizing, I wince and shudder with what is not being told to me.
“Where are we Axel?”
I shoot the question at him like an accusatory dagger, that’s filled with how serious I am about the answer.
He hesitates for a moment longer, and sighs so deeply, I can almost see the toxins of tension leave his body.
“We are in Albany.”
“You mean the capital of New York?” I stare at him I’m shock. It’s not because of the place, since I’ve never visited Albany.
When I was a little girl, I use to wonder what it would feel like if you and the person you loved were the only two people in the world. I used to find comfort in knowing I could have someone all to myself. Someone who I could trust and give my all too.
That person is not Axel. And those make believe dreams were just that, DREAMS.
I look around the room as if I’m seeing it for the first time. It’s like Axel has said we’ve traveled through time to a place where humans don’t exist. The word Albany seems so far away from the city, and I have a billion and one questions. Possibly infinity.
I feel my pulse racing and my heartbeat is pumping so hard I feel like it’s outside of myself.
“How long was I out for?”
The moment I say the question, I want to suck it right back up with a vacuum. Shred it into a million pieces, and erase those words out of existence.
I’m scared. My dream with the four men slip into the processing centers of my mind, and I begin to try to find a solution to this absurd notion of being in Albany.
“You were out for 3 days. I was really worried you were going to die of hunger and dehydration.”
His voice drips with concern. He stares into my eyes and I can see the stress from the past few days swimming in his eyes.
This boy doesn’t know me. I owe him absolutely nothing, and yet he’s here. Concerned about me.
My mother didn’t even care enough to stay alive long enough to see if I would make it.
“Three days…three days…” And I repeat it over and over because I don’t understand how I could lose that many days. And then I ask the question that could shatter everything.
“Did you happen to keep an eye on me the whole time I was out cold?”
Confusion plagues Axel’s features.
“Actually…no. I went out yesterday for most of the day to see what things I could collect to set up shop here”
I feel my organs shift. I’m a car crash that just won’t stop. Each detail of my dream hits me and batters me, taking any last sanity I had left.
What if my dream was real? What if those men are still after me? Who are they and what do they want?
My brain betrays me. Each question I ask myself, I realize I already know the answer. What I don’t know is how I know this information. It feels like someone else’s brain has been implanted into my body.
I don’t know who I am right now.
“What’s wrong Melody? You look extremely pale? You need to eat something.” He pulls out a candy bar from his back pocket and tries to hand it to me.
Everything turns green.
All I know is that I’m running. I rush out into the hallway and I can hear Axel’s footsteps closely behind me. I go down to the last door on the left, hoping it’s a bathroom. Dots swim before my eyes, and for the second time today I’m going to hurl.
I open the door and see the toilet and just feel my life pouring out of my throat. It’s nothing but bile, and I fight down a painful heave. Tears begin to form at the corner of my eyes from the strain.
I feel Axel’s gentle touch in the back of my neck, pulling my hair into a ponytail, so I don’t blow chunks on it. I’m so afraid because I don’t understand how my dream can be real. How I know these things about these men, and now about myself.
My body feels alien to me, and as I’m heaving I try to focus my thoughts to the center of myself. I’m grasping at any small figments of power that I felt and my dream.
And I come up with nothing.
Axel is rubbing my back, whispering words of comfort. But I can’t focus. I feel like at any moment, men will come bursting into the bathroom and cause me to fight again. It’s absurd and I feel my mind sleeping from reality.
“What’s wrong Melody?”
I hear his question but I can’t answer. How do I tell the boy that I just met, who I find completely enticing, that I’ve blacked out and that the dream I thought I was dreaming was actually real. That I’m now a murderer. A freak of nature, with strength and speed that’s not normal. And that men, who aren’t men, but freaks of nature like me, tried to murder me.
I decide I can’t tell him. I won’t. Whatever—this—is, my dream, my unnatural abilities, all of it, can’t be shared with him. I’ve felt such despair in the past month, and I don’t want to send him running for the hills. I feel selfish because I want him with me. I NEED him with me.
I’m afraid of what will happen if I’m alone again. I will completely lose myself.
As I feel my stomach muscles begin to lose tension, I clear my throat.
“Nothing is wrong, I think I’m just sick that’s all. I need food to coat my stomach.”
I check my voice in my head to make sure my voice sounded steady. It didn’t. I don’t even believe my excuse.
Axel thankfully, doesn’t push the issue. He looks at me with sympathy, and I’m grateful that he’s here.
“Let me whip up some food for you. Are you a fan of breakfast?” He smiles warmly. The butterflies in my stomach begin to do somersaults.
“That sounds perfect.”
Axel rubs my back a little bit longer and he stands up.
“Come then, follow me to the kitchen.”
He doesn’t know that I would follow him anywhere. That I would hike up mountains and trek through deserts to be by his side. He leads me to the kitchen and it looks like an absolute mess like the rest of the apartment.
I don’t ask why we are in Albany. I don’t ask how he got me all the way here while I fainted. I don’t ask the billion questions that are fighting to be spoken.