He wakes in the same manner that he has for as long as he can remember. He drags himself out of bed, shaking away the nightmare of the night before. It is always the same nightmare that he wakes up from, never varying, and always keeping him from having that full night’s rest he’s been longing for a while.

“I can’t keep going on like this,” he says, hoping against hope that someone would actually reply this time, but no one does, nobody ever does, not since they left. With a sigh, he pulls on the new shirt that he found the day before, “a rare find,” he thought at the time. He then pulled on his pants, one of the many things that are becoming harder and harder to find. He has needed a new pair of pants for so long, that this particular pair, which is so old, he can’t even remember when he found them (or even if they were from before) it is more holes than actual pants, however, he doesn’t care, it’s not like anyone is around to see them.

He leaves his room in search of food. A quick search of the fridge turns up a few pieces of moldy cheese and milk too far past its expiration. “This won’t do,” he says, pausing, waiting for that voice that isn’t there. He then checks the cupboards, which produces some stale cereal, just enough for a small bowl. “Guess I know what I’m doing today,” he says, again, pausing afterward. With a sigh, he quickly downs the dry, tasteless, cereal.

Afterword he grabs his supply backpack, which contains a bottle of water, a compass, and a map; then he slings his rifle across his shoulders, not that he thinks he needs it, but sometimes the wild dogs would rather try a bite of him than the scraps that they usually find in the trash. Equipped with his supplies, and with a plan to scavenge the nearest grocery store, he heads out into the empty street.

His walk to the grocery store was uneventful. He did see some dogs and cats, but they ran from the sight of him, how they manage to survive on their own, he’ll never know. At the store, he found some more stale cereal, a few bags of chips, and as much canned goods as he could fit into his bag. He took his wallet out of his pocket, ignoring the picture section which contains photos of people he can’t quite remember anymore, and pulled out a twenty. Of course he knows there is no point of paying for the stuff he took, but again he does it out of that hope that maybe someone will respond to him a thank or something that causes him to do it.

As soon as he stepped out of the store he saw something in the street. He unslung his rifle, checked to see if it was loaded, and cautiously moved to examine the mysterious object. When he realized what it was, he regretted his curiosity. She was a girl and a real one at that. She was unmoving, completely still on her back. She was in a blue blouse, a black skirt, her blonde hair was in a way that blocked her face, and she didn’t look more than six years old. She looked familiar to him and just looking at her brought to surface memories and emotions he hasn’t felt nor known in such a long time. A small tear he couldn’t explain escaped his eye and rolled slowly down his cheek. He reached for her, grabbed her shoulder, and gave a tiny shake. “April,” he said, not knowing where the name came from, only knowing that it was right. “April it’s me,” he said, shaking her even harder, when her hair fell from her face.

As soon as it did, he threw up, for the sight was that horrific and wrong. Both her eyes were missing, as well as one of her ears, and half her mouth (to where it looked like she was making a little half smile with the revealed part of her jaw.) When the retching stopped, he noticed a sound, a sound that was coming from the girl. At first it was an unintelligible murmur, but it escalated until it became actual words, just two repeated over and over in a mechanical way. “Join us!” the words were, and with each repetition, the girl got louder, to the point that there was no way that she was making the sound on her own. He found out she wasn’t.

He tore his eyes away from the fascinating sight of the dead little girl’s chanting to see them. There we hundreds of them, walking slowly towards him and the girl. They were chanting the words too. It was a loud chorus of “join us!” that came from each and every one of those things at exactly the same time in exactly the same way. Another emotion that he hadn’t felt in a long time, from the opposite end of the spectrum of emotions, surfaced into his mind. The loudness of the chanting was almost unbearable, and he was crying uncontrollably now. He looked down at the girl, and she wasn’t there. She was standing right next to him, chanting with the rest. It was then that he remembered who they were. They were the people that had left him, and he knew that it was his time to leave to, and he was happy.

He leaned down in front of the girl, bowed his head to her, and said, “I will join you, please take me with you.” The girl smiled with the other half of her face, and reached out her hand. He took it, and when he did the other things reached them, and they then began to tear him apart, taking bites of his different organs, fighting each other to get at the tasty meal before them. Throughout the whole thing he was crying, not from pain or fear, but from joy, pure and simple. The whole time he was shouting at the top of his lungs, “Thank you!” over and over again until they tore out his vocal cords. His vision became blurry, and soon faded to black.

He wakes up in the same manner that he has for as long as he can remember...