Part 1: Remembering What Is & Was

"We'll be home in a few days son. Take care of your brother while we're gone." I could hear my father's voice ringing in my ears. It was dark, pitch black, and cold. I was scared, I just knew I was dead. The smell of death was absolute, it surrounded me. It was a harsh, grimy smell, not one that I'd care to remember. God, I can still hear them as they tore my brother apart. My poor brother, he was screaming for help, and I... I just let him get killed. I don't know how this started, but I remember the day it did. We thought it was snow, my parents had took a cruise, and neither my brother nor I wanted to go, so they left me in charge. The damn ash, it gets in your lungs and it chokes and burns you, and when you die, what's left of you gets back up and kills. I still have scars from when I first made contact with it. There's no reason for it, and the screams, dear god, the horrible high pitched screams. You would know when they were coming, because they'd always let out their voices. They didn't sound human.

I don't know why they left me, maybe my brother was enough for them to take their rage out on. They really did, there was barely a thing left of him, they tore into his stomach and threw his intestines about, and I remember looking at him. He turned his head toward me, his eyes watering and he whispered something. I'm to think he was begging god for mercy, to take his short life away, and then the ash creatures they, they ripped his head off. And they screamed as loud as they could. And I had to watch them as they played with his corpse until I passed out. I saw him die, I watched him get mutilated.That was two years ago, and it still haunts me.

Part 2: How Things Tend to Be

I wake up every morning in the wreckage of a building. The ash falls on me in my sleep, but as long as it doesn't make contact with my skin, I'm fine. I sleep with a gas mask on, everyone you see has one now. They're mandatory, if you don't have one, you'll die and turn into the ash. I try to scavenge, but I wasn't quick enough, all the supplies are gone. I've been living on rations from the army store that's near my area, luckily, I stockpiled those, but I'm running out. I need to move on, I need to find greener pastures, but there's no where else to go. I know every other area's like this. I know how to hide, when ash walk by, I can easily remain undetected. The real challenge is the humans. You can't trust anyone here, people will shoot you and steal your stuff soon as look at you. I couldn't take the life of another living person though, so I just stay quiet and alert. The ash aren't hard to take down, one good knock to the head will cave it in. Guns work well too, but they attract too much attention, I've got one, a .22 snub nosed revolver, but I don't have much ammo, only one shell, and I plan to save it for myself if the time comes.

Part: 3- Survive or Not

I opened the cabinet, knowing I wouldn't find anything, and, like always, it was in vein. More rations tonight, I hated cutting into them, I always said, "You've got to be saving these for when you really need them!" I knew deep down that I'd never find anymore supplies.

Then, footsteps, "Could they be alive?" I argued with myself, "No no, too slow, it's an ash."

I had an aluminum baseball bat ready to swing at whatever was intruding on me. I turned the corner, and sure enough, it was an ash. It began to open its mouth to scream and alert the others, but I shoved the end of my bay into its mouth, knocking it to the floor. It laid there for a moment until it attempted to get back up, even its movements didn't look human, they were twitchy and jerked constantly. I swung again and hit it in the neck. It fell down to the floor and stared up at me as I slowly pushed my foot down on its head. Another one dead I always say to myself, I had been counting, but that just made me depressed. These were people once, and now, they're something different...

Something evil. I knew where there was one ash, there were always at least three more close, so I decided to head back to my shelter. As I was walking, I noticed it got harder to breathe, so I got underneath a car and inspected my gas mask. The filter was beginning to deteriorate. I knew I couldn't survive with out a new one, but I wasn't sure where I'd find a new one.

Part 4: Strategy

I was on the floor, looking up at the completely gray sky, ash falling on the lenses of my mask. What was I going to do? I couldn't just kick over and die, as much as I wanted to I made a promise to myself that I'd survive this.

I got an idea, everyone wore gas mask, so I thought, "Maybe I can trade for a new filter!"

But then I remembered, filters were more valuable then gold. I'd have to steal one. There weren't many survivors, but there was a settlement near the area I camped out at. It was only about two or three people, but I still had to be cautious. I wasn't sure if my plan would work, but even if it didn't the survivors would do me a favor and take my life. I waited all night, and didn't sleep at all, and finally when the sky became a lighter gray I got up and grabbed my bat and gun. The journey wasn't very long, and in about an hour I arrived at their camp. Two tents were directly beside each other, but one was bigger than the other.

I knew they had at least one kid, so the adults must be in the bigger one, then the door unzipped and a tall, bulky man walked out. He had a gas mask, and he seemed to be breathing fine, so the filter worked. He stretched and walked down a path as I followed closely, yet still remained hidden. At the end of the pathway was a car. He opened the trunk and pulled out a backpack, then I crept up behind him. Slowly I made my way to the unsuspecting man.

He opened the backpack and began to go through it, and as he began to pull his hand out, I struck him in the head with my bat, and he fell down. I knelt down beside him and tore the filter out of his mask. I looked into his lenses, his face had already started to burn. He tried to set back up but I held him down and forced his gaze upward. The last thing he saw was the gray sky, and ash. It's funny how much someone will do to survive, in the man's hand was a photo of him and his family.

Part 5: Alone With Thoughts

I had killed a man with a family, I stole from him and forced him to die. I was no better than the ash now. I thought I was a good guy, but I'm not, I never was. I'm selfish. I have the new filter, things seem ok now. I went back to the camp, but it had been abandoned. The ash had become more abundant, they were everywhere, and they screamed constantly, it was driving me mad. I knew it was time to move on, so I packed my bags and headed off. I don't know where I was going to go, but anywhere was better than here.

I've walked for three days straight, but I felt like I'm getting no where. I'm too tired to go on, I have to rest. As I lay on the cold ground, ash fell on my lenses. I looked up into the gray sky, and I knew that there was no end to this hell. I wanted to end it all then and there, but that damn promise, I always tried to keep my word... That reminds me of my brother, I tried to protect him, I promised my parents that I would, but he's gone now. And so are my parents, and my neighbors, and my friends, it's just me now, and I can't stand it!

Part 6: Unspoken Thoughts

I wish I would've told everyone how much they all meant to me. I always took it for granted, but now, I'd kill just to have someone to talk to... Hehe, kill. I killed someone once, poor bastard, I just had to have his filter. He had a family, he deserved to live more than me. I've been incapacitated for two days now. I haven't eaten or drank. I knew this was the end, and I knew that I deserved it for being selfish. I took out my revolver and put it to my head. Slowly I felt the warmth of death, my mother holding me, me and my brother playing, my father patting me on the back. It looked amazing, I wanted it so badly, and it could all be mine if I just did this one thing. I don't care about the promise anymore, I just want to die.

I slowly pulled the trigger and, "Click!"... Nothing, I wasn't dead, I was still breathing. Then I heard the screams. I looked up and saw an ash staggering towards me.

I put my head back onto the ground and began to think of the promise I made myself, "If this is what it takes to die, then so be it."

I remembered my brother getting dismembered and mutilated, but I just stared upward. The last thing I saw was the gray sky... And ash.