The branches of the tall pines and maples swayed back and forth in the powerful wind. They reached out over the water, leaving a nice shadow for us to park our little fishing boat under.
“Damn it! Almost had him!” Jerry shouted aloud.
“That’s the third bite you’ve had today, yet you still can’t catch anything,” I laughed in response, pulling my rod back before whipping it forward to send the bait flying. It was a nice and sunny noon, aside from the dark towering clouds rising over the horizon. We only had one bass in the cooler in the middle of the boat, one I had caught about 40 minutes earlier. The wind was growing more and more powerful, making it hard to cast and making the waves rock the boat. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and Jerry turned to me with a frown.
“We better get back to the cabin; we don’t want to get stuck out here in a bad thunderstorm,” he said to me, his shaggy brown hair waving around like a flag. I laughed at the sight and nodded my head in agreement; as Jerry started up the trolling motor.
We were decently far from his house, so it took about 15 minutes to get there from our fishing spot. It was sunny in the direction we were heading, but behind us, darkness loomed. Once we arrived I saw Jerry’s brother Robert relaxing on the porch in front of the cabin, reading a book. This surprised me, as I had always known Robert as the less intelligent one, and not one to read books. He set it down and came to help us dock the small vessel in a little slip.
“Any luck?” he asked.
“The only bite I had was a nice bass. Your brother on the other hand, had three bites but couldn’t reel one in,” I responded.
“Oh well, we can still skin and fry that bass for some food tonight.”
We got off the boat and Jerry and Rob headed up the stairs into the porch, whilst I stayed down on the porch to clean the bass. As I worked, I watched the almost-black storm grow and take over the blue sky. The storm moved quickly, and seemed to come out of nowhere. That morning there hadn’t been a cloud in sight. I had never seen anything like it before, and it felt unnatural. I hurriedly finished and headed back up into the cabin. The cabin was old and small, and a little dirty inside. It was red-bricked with a brown wooden roof. The red on the bricks had faded into a more brown color, which made the cabin really blend in with the environment around it. It was hard to see from away.
Jerry and Rob where in the kitchen cleaning up, and our other friend Sal and his girlfriend Olivia were on the couch watching a funny television show. We had insisted on Sal not bringing his girlfriend, telling him it was going to be a guy’s trip, but he brought her anyway, saying he hardly got to spend any vacation time with her like this.
None of us really liked her, as we thought she was too controlling in Sal’s life, but we wanted to hang out with Sal and he wouldn’t come without her. Jerry had a little weather alert radio on the kitchen counter, and he was playing it now.
“The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunder storm warning for the following counties…”
It named almost every county in the state, and then followed to say the storm was also in a multitude of other states nearby.
“Be prepared for strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, and lightning. There is also a slight chance of hail and tornadoes.”
“Jesus, we are going to get slammed,” Jerry’s eyes had widened as he listened.
“Yeah it looks like the damn apocalypse is coming out there,” I laughed. We debated driving back to town, but decided not too, as we would probably get caught by the storm in the long ride back. More and more thunder rumbled, and I stepped out unto the porch to watch the dark clouds engulf the sky above us. Lightning flashed around the cabin, and it was starting to rain now. The wind was making the boat bounce back and forth between the sides of the dock. I just hoped our knots would keep it attached. The slanted rain began to shoot the screen covering of the porch, soaking me and the furniture. The wind pushed it hard, and it was painful getting hit by it. It felt like little pricks or air-soft bullets. I heard back inside, with little red dots on my arms and face. The wind was so violent it began to shake even the thick oaks surrounding the land around us. This lake and the area around the cabin were heavily wooded with big trees. Now all of them were shaking, and I was afraid one would come crashing down on us any second. The rain grew so heavy that I couldn’t even see past the porch. Sal and Olivia were cuddled up on the couch, and me Rob, and Jerry were discussing the storm in the kitchen.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before, this could cause some serious damage to the house. Hell, the dock is probably broken off by now. Dad is going to be pissed,” Jerry laughed. His laugh was interrupted by a bright flash and loud clap of thunder.
The flow of lightning and torrential rain continued throughout the day. The power would flicker constantly but never entirely go out. The weather radio just continued to repeat itself, updating with new tornado alerts for new counties every now and then. It showed no signs of slowing down so we just put in a funny movie and all sat down to enjoy it. It was hard to hear over the thunder and wind, and we would be constantly interrupted by the power outages. By the time we finished, it was around 10 at night and we all decided to go to sleep. There were only 3 rooms, so Jerry had been sleeping out on the couch. The noise of the storm made it easier for me to drift off to sleep easily.
I awoke to sunlight beaming through the windows.
Hmmm, the storm most have worn off over night, I thought to myself as I climbed out of bed. I flicked the light-switch, but the light didn’t come on.
Power must of gotten knocked out by the storm.
I walked into the living room, seeing Robert down on the dock, observing the damage. I went out to meet him. A huge pine had fallen into the lake, and another one was leaning on an oak tree. If that oak hadn’t had been there, it would have crushed the cabin. Luckily the dock was hardly damaged, and the boat was still attached.
“I might as well call Dad, and tell him we’re alright. Here let me see your phone…” Rob spoke.
I had the best carrier out of everyone here, so my phone was the only one with barely enough data to call anyone. I handed him my phone and he turned it on.
“That’s weird, it says you have no bars,” he handed it back to me.
“Yeah… maybe something happened from the storm. I’m going to make breakfast.”
Rob suggested going back home, but we decided to wait and see if my service came back.
It never did.
I turned on the weather radio to listen to any updates, but I just heard static. I thought it might have been something wrong with the equipment itself. Sal and Olivia decided to fish the rest of the day, while the rest of us set up some targets out in a field to practice shooting. Throughout the day we saw several military jets fly over, but Jerry said he seen that here before, so we didn’t pay much attention to it. We were running out of actual targets to shoot at so we just set up bottles. Between Jerry and Rob, I was the worst shot out of all them. This was a given as I used guns the least, but it didn’t stop them from laughing when I missed. The day crept on and eventually we decided to head back late afternoon. Sal and Olivia had caught 4 fish, and Sal claimed Olivia had caught almost all of them. Naturally we didn’t believe him, but we just let it slide.
Jerry was probably beginning to regret inviting either of them for the trip, as Sal was just spending most of his time with Olivia anyway. I was walking out of the restroom when I heard the two of them speaking in the room next door. I put my ear to the door to hear the conversation better.
“Dude, you’re forgetting I’m the one who invited you here, not your clingy girlfriend.”
“She’s not clingy, alright! I’m sorry she just wants to spend time with me. You wouldn’t understand, I know you’ve never had a girlfriend.”
“All I’m asking, is that you just spend a little bit more time with us.”
“Fine, whatever man.”
I heard footsteps coming my way and stepped back as the door flung open and Sal came storming out. Jerry followed slowly behind me. He stopped when saw and me and turned to talk to me.
“Now I’m beginning to think we shouldn’t have brought him, it would have been much more fun with just the three of us.”
Nothing too weird happened for the rest of the day. The power never came back on, I never regained service, and we saw a few more jets flying over us. Jerry figured his dad would have come up to the cabin by now if he was really worried about us. Sal did some time with us to go on a walk through the woods. Oddly, Olivia seemed fine with it, and stayed at the cabin to read the book she had brought up.
The sky became streaked with waves of purple and orange as the sun began to set, and we knew it was time to head back to the cabin. Luckily Jerry and Rob had a few candles up here, and we of course had a few flashlights, so we wouldn’t be in total pitch black. We were cleaning up dinner when Sal called us down to the dock.
“Come take a look this guys!”
We all headed down expect for Rob, who wanted to finish hand-washing the dishes. I immediately knew what he was talking about when I stepped outside on the porch. The moon, which hadn’t risen that high in the sky at this point, had turned into the color of blood. I’d seen that phenomenon before, but usually it had a more orangish tint to it. This was straight red. Its reflection in the rippling water made the water look like blood too. We all stared at it for a while but eventually went back inside.
Jerry had a battery-operated radio in a closet, and pulled it out in hopes that we would know what was going with the outside world. But as he turned the knob, flipping through the channels, our eyes widened with shock.
The only noise coming out of the radio’s speakers was static.
“We have to go back, we have no idea what’s going on out there,” Rob was sitting on the couch, and frantically looking around at all of us.
“You’re right, but I’m not sure we should all go, it could be dangerous. We could have been invaded by another country or something crazy,” Sal said.
“Invaded?” I laughed.
“I’ll go back, I…”
“No it’s me and Rob’s cabin, and our father owns it. One of us will go back,” Jerry interrupted.
“Jerry, I have the most powerful truck. After that storm you have no idea what kinda wreckage is out there.”
“I could just drive your truck.”
“Dude, it’s not a big deal man. Plus, you know I never let anyone else drive my truck.”
Sal kissed Olivia goodbye and headed out, taking nothing with him but a wallet, his phone, and a hat. Not to our surprise, the radio once again only played static after he started up his truck. We told him to call us when he got back to our city, but we never received a call from him. We never saw Sal again.
“Fish… fish again, all we ever eat is fish,” I was twirling my food around my plate with a fork. It was true, we had fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had only just run out of food in the pantry two days ago, I had only brought enough up for the trip. We still had a few granola bars, but I tried to save those, as I had no idea how long we would be there.
“Dude, it could be worse. Do you really wanna risk driving out and going to get something? Sal was supposed to be back three days ago, and we never even got a call from him,” Jerry responded.
“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea. There’s a sandwich restaurant and gas station about 30 or so minutes away from here, I’m sure we wouldn't be in danger going that far out.”
“This cabin is surrounded by miles of woods, and the only road is road out of here is a small, windy, dirt one. The only reason whatever happened to the rest of society hasn’t happened to us is because we are isolated in the middle of nowhere. Let’s keep it that way.”
I sighed and got up to go watch the setting sun from the glass door, which led to the porch from the living room. Olivia was lying on the couch, just staring off into the wall. She hadn’t taken Sal’s disappearance well. We had tried to talk to her, but she just told us to be quiet. The only thing we could now was wait until her grief left. The days passed slowly for us. There was nothing for us to do besides ride the storm out. Jerry was right, the chances of us being found out here very slim.
We all had our different theories of what was going on. But we mostly agreed it had to be an invasion of some sorts. We originally thought it was just a really bad storm. But by now surely the power would have come back on or someone would have come back out here and found us. And then there was the moon. Each night it was still as crimson as blood. We thought it may have been caused by a gas or something. Our opinion soon changed that night.
Robert had brought up s’mores, and we had yet to cook them. We were all tired of eating fish that night, and Rob suggested bringing them out and making them over a small fire. We made it in the back of the cabin, in the small driveway which was at the bottom of a hill leading into the woods.
“Hey Olivia, we’re making s’mores outside, want to join us?” I cautiously asked.
“Why would y’all want me to join you?” she replied with a snarky tone.
“Why would you say that?”
“I know you all hate me. I’ve seen the looks you give me.”
“We don’t hate you.”
“The truth is, I never forced Sal to take me up here. I never force him to do anything. Go hang out with your friends, I tell him. He insisted on spending all his time with me.”
I was shocked at this revelation. All these years we had blamed her.
“Olivia…. I’m sorry.”
“Hey Are y’all going to come out? The fire’s ready now?” Jerry had stepped inside. Olivia began to slowly get off the couch.
“Yeah, we’ll be right there!” I shouted back.
“Nah nah nah. Hey, do y’all remember that time Rob flicked peanut butter on Sidney’s shirt at lunch, and Sidney turned around and punched the shit out of him?” We all erupted in laughter. I even saw Olivia giggle a little, which made me smile.
“And then Rob got up and…”
Jerry was interrupted by a long and loud screech coming from the woods. This was followed by a chorus of yapping and growling. Our smiles faded away. I’ve heard coyotes before, and this did not sound like them. Plus, the coyotes had gone silent since the moon turned red.
“What is that?” Olivia asked aloud.
Jerry and Rob started frantically trying to put out the fire, dumping their waters all over it. The chorus was getting closer, and sounding more and more angry. After putting it out we all quickly ran inside, locking the door behind us. I went and locked the other two doors in the cabin, and Rob went to go get a shotgun. He came back with a pump-action 12 gauge just as the noises wear nearing the cabin. The noises were right outside the cabin now, and whatever was making them was scratching the door now. Rob raised the gun. Jerry responded by shaking his head and mouthing no. We moved to the master bedroom of the cabin and waited in there.The scratching lasted around 15 minutes before the pack of whatever-was-making-that-noise went away. Rob finally set the gun down.
“What the hell was that?” I turned to Jerry.
“I’ve never heard a pack of coyotes or wild dogs sound like that; honestly, I don’t know.”
We kept the doors locked that night and kept the candles blown out. I brought a pistol with me to sleep. Something had found us now.
Things only got weirder the next following days. That morning I decided to get up early and go turkey hunting. A nice turkey would be a refreshing change of pace from fish. I was armed with a very powerful shotgun, so I wasn’t really scared out being alone in the woods. I made sure to walk very far away from the cabin; past the edge of the property. A gunshot would be loud, and I didn’t want any more things to be attracted to our location. I found a good tree in front of large field, and sat down to wait. Being alone allowed my think freely without any interruptions. I was worried. Worried about my family. Worried about Sal, and the rest of the world. None of us had talked about it last night, but we were all thinking it. What if this wasn't some sort of other countries invasion. What if it was aliens? or monsters? I drifted off to sleep thinking of all the possible reasons.
My eyes shot open. The sun was now hanging high in the middle of the sky. I had been laying on the grassy ground, and so had my gun. I heard whispers coming from all around me. I thought was dreaming and tried shaking my head, then pinching myself, but the whispers remained. I felt chills run down my spine as I quickly jumped up and began to run across the field, back in the direction of the cabin. As I ran, I glanced back over my shoulder, and saw something that made me stop dead in my footsteps. My mother, my father, and my sister, were all standing at the edge of the trillion on the other side of the field. They were waving, and then beckoning me to come over to them. They all had smiles on their faces. But, like the storm, they looked unnatural, and fake. I took off into a full sprint now. My adrenaline kept me going. I didn’t stop sprinting until I reached our own property, and even then I only slowed down to a jog. By the time I reached the cabin, I was panting, my chest hurt, and I was drenched in sweat.
That’s the last time I go into the woods alone, I thought to myself as I stepped into the cabin. Olivia was messing with the radio in the kitchen. Her eyes widened as she looked up at me.
“W-what happened to you?” she asked.
“I saw something in the woods,” I responded bluntly.
‘What was it?”
“This sounds crazy, but I think I saw my family. They were smiling, and waving at me.”
“Maybe you just miss them a lot. It’s ok, I miss my family too.”
“What about Sal?”
Damn it, why would ask that? I thought to myself as I waited for a response.
“I miss him sure, and I hope he’s alright, but not as much as my family. Our relationship was having lots of trouble. I think him taking me here was a last-ditch effort to save it.”
There a few seconds of awkward silence in response before I broke the ice again.
“How’s the radio going?” I asked.
“It’s mostly been static, but earlier I heard a voice.”
“It sounded like a man’s. And it was asking for help, saying “they” were coming for him.”
Before I could respond, Jerry and Rob stepped in through the glass door, carrying three skinned bass with them.
“What happened to you dude?” Jerry asked
“There was something weird I saw in the woods. I’m not ever going out in them alone again,” I told him. The sudden realization hit me that whatever saw me could have followed me back.
“What was in the woods?” Jerry asked.
“I… I don’t… I’m not sure what I saw,” I told him.
“Maybe we are all just a little stressed out, and need some relaxation,” Olivia said.
“Hmmmm… that’s a good idea. We don’t have any more alcohol up here, but we can still have some fun. I’ll be back!” Jerry ran into the master bedroom, and came back out holding a Monopoly box.
“Anyone down to get their ass kicked?” he grinned.
I was stepping out of the bathroom, when Rob grabbed my shoulder and pulled me aside. It was eleven at night, and the moon had once again remained it’s odd crimson color.
“I know what you saw in the woods,” Rob spoke in a hushed tone.
“I don’t think it was really anything, Rob. I was just seeing things.”
“I see it too. When I go off alone, when I go fishing. I see my father, he waves for me to come to him. I also hear whispers, telling me to do things.
“Have you talked to Olivia or Jerry about this yet too?”
“No, I don’t think they’ve seen what we have. They aren’t like us.”
“Are you ok man? How much sleep have you been getting recently?”
“Not a lot, I’ve been staying up, keeping watch on us. Something could break in at anytime, and we have no idea what’s out there.”
I nodded my head in agreement, but couldn't help but feel there was something off about Rob. But considering we could be sitting in the middle of the apocalypse, I couldn’t really blame him.
“You know I’ve heard of stuff like this before,” Rob called out to me as I was walking away.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Ever seen Batman? Scarecrow uses this gas, that makes people hallucinate, and see their nightmares.”
“This isn’t some fantasy movie Rob.”
“No but I’ve seen documentaries, on the history channel. Armies before have tried to create something similar. Some sort of chemical or gas that drives someone crazy, makes them see things. It would be perfect in a war.”
“Let’s hope thats not the case,” I said and continued walking. But what he said made me think. using some sort of gas to drive a population insane, would make an invasion; or worse, an extermination, all that much easier. But I hadn’t seen any gas in the air at all, and so far me and Rob were event he only ones having problems. I shook my head, and tried to get this off my mind.
Things didn’t get any better as more and more time went by. I asked Olivia and Jerry if they had been seeing things too. Jerry gave off a firm “What are you talking about?”, but Olivia responded with an anxious “No! Why would I be having some weird visions going on in my head? do you think I’m going crazy or something?”
She tried to hide it, but she wasn’t a good liar. I decided to have a conversation alone with Jerry one night about it. I invited him out to my porch, we we each sat in two old wooden rockers Jerry and his Dad has made when we were kids. We waited in silence for a minute or two, just staring out onto serene bright water, and the crimson moon perched just above it. We were both shivering, and my teeth chattered for a little bit. It was early fall in the south, yet ever since the storm the temperature had been dropping significantly each day. At one point I almost jumped when a little brown spider crawled over my foot. I relaxed when I saw it was just a spider but freaked out even more when I saw the brown fiddle on the back and recognized it as a Brown Recluse. I stepped on it quickly, thankful it had not bitten me. I started to open my mouth, but Jerry blurted. “Have you ever read the book of Revelations before?”
I was startled by this, as I didn’t really know Jerry as a religious man.
“I mean I’ve skimmed through it, but never really sat down and intently read it.”
“There’s a verse, 6:12. It talks about the opening of the sixth seal, and the moon becoming as red as blood.”
I remained silent.
“What if the storm was the Rapture? We never heard from anyone else after it. What if we are the ones left behind?”
I turned around to tell him how ridiculous that sounded, but I could see how nervous he was in his eyes.
“Listen man, I don’t think he world is ending. It’s probably just some biological attack from another country or something.”
“We’ve been out here for weeks Jay, we have to see someone, go check on something. Even if it’s just our neighbors.”
I thought of many reasons why that would be bad idea, but I too was eager to discover the fate of the rest of civilization. For all we know we could be the last people on Earth.
“Alright, tomorrow we’ll head to that convenience store area. If other people are still out there, there’s bound to be someone there. I think the two of us are the only ones that should go also. Olivia’s a girl and your brother can stay and watch her and the house.”
Jerry opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by a long screech coming from the woods, which was followed by more howls and growls. We started hearing noises like this around a week ago, and they had become more and more frequent each night. And same as other nights before, Jerry once again said, “It’s just bobcats and wild dogs.”
I was sitting at a long wooden table, my family surrounding me. On top of the table there was a surplus of food. Food I hadn’t seen in weeks. Turkey, bread, beans, salad. We were out in an open sunny field. My family was all smiling as they passed the food around.
“You can be with us Jay, you can be happy…”
A loud, rumbling noise, filled the atmosphere and the sky turned red. Now my family’s faces were distorted and inhuman. I jumped up and squeezed my eyes shut. When I reopened them, I was looking up at a dark wooden ceiling, and was sweating. I jumped up out of my bed and looked around the dark room, but saw nothing. I heard thuds on the wooden floor quickly coming towards my room. I grabbed the revolver that was on the nightstand and waited. The door flung open, and Jerry stepped in. I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Jesus dude you gotta say something before you just barge in. I almost shot you,” I laughed a little.
“It’s Olivia, she’s gone.”
All my laughter left me as Jerry and I stepped back out into the hallway. The room to Olivia’s door was flung wide open, and her sheets were flung out onto the floor. But that wasn’t the disturbing part. There was a trail of scratches and blood leading out from her room to the open back door of the cabin. And directly behind the door, and across the driveway, were the thick, pitch black, and strangely silent woods.
“We gotta go get her!” I urged to Jerry.
“Now? In the dark? That’s suicide! Just wait until daylight!”
I tried to calm down, and not let my emotions control me, but it was hard.
“Where the hell was Rob? He’s supposed to keep watch!”
Jerry’s face gave off an oh shit expression as he began to frantically look around the cabin. I ran to the kitchen, and then the porch.
What the hell, I thought as I stepped out onto it. Rob was sitting at the edge of the dock, just holding the shotgun and looking up into the sky.
“Rob!” I shouted as I ran down to him.
“Isn’t all beautiful?” he responded as I ran up next to him.
“What? What are you talking about?” I shouted.
“The stars, the moon,” he responded almost joyfully.
“You were supposed to be watching the cabin! Olivia is gone now because of you!”
His facial expression changed immediately, most like he snapped out of some daze. He quickly ran back up the cabin, swinging around the shotgun as he went. I followed him back up.
“Oh no no no, I’m so sorry.” He buried his face in his hands.
None of us went back to sleep for the rest of the night. The moment dawn broke we headed out into the forest, all armed. We made sure not to split up, although Rob would often straggle behind. We saw no trace of Olivia anywhere. No blood, no torn clothing, no nothing. We only shouted out a few times, for fear that something else would hear us. After a few hours we gave up our search and headed back towards the cabin.
I was scared. Not just for Olivia but for us as well. We were no longer hidden, and whatever had found her was dangerous. It broke in and took her without a sound. Me and Jerry decided to keep our promise of going out and seeing if we could find anyone. We almost had to at that point. Jerry came up to me while I was putting back on a thick jacket.
“Listen, Jay, I think you should take Rob with you instead.”
“I’m worried about him lately. He’s been acting strange. I think he just has really bad cabin fever.”
I didn’t mention the visions or whispers to him.
“You’re right, that sounds like a good idea. But are you going to be OK here all by yourself?”
I could he was gripping a Bible tightly in his right hand.
“Yeah, yeah I’m just going to go do some fishing, you know.”
“We’ll be back in a few hours, just the careful buddy,” I patted him on the shoulder before heading out to Rob’s truck.
Me and Rob were silent as we drove down the dirt road, and then the highway. The only thing we saw were a couple of mutilated deer and empty cars. I sat, staring out the window, only able to think of Olivia and Sal.
“I feel really bad for Olivia, you know,” I finally broke the silence.
“Why?” Rob asked, with a tone that suggested his mind was on other things.
“We always talked about how much she controlled Sal’s life, and how bad she was. You know, I think it was the opposite now,” I said.
“Why do you think?” Rob sounded a little bit more interested now.
“She told me about it all before she went missing man, she told about how Sal always makes her do things with him, even when she insists that he just go out with us,” I spoke sympathetically.
“Well, if we see them ever again, I’ll tell her I’m sorry,” Rob responded. I felt like he was drifting off again, back into his own mind, and somewhere far way from here.
“I don’t think we are ever going to see either of them again, Rob,” I spoke softly, and went back to staring out the window. Rob remained quiet.
The farther away from the cabin we went, the more uneasy I felt. We reached the convenient store by afternoon. Rob and I both stepped out of the car armed and ready for anything to come at us; but nothing did. There was good number of empty cars in the parking lot and road here. We had yet to see another car or person, so I had pretty much come to the conclusion that the rest of the world was just in bad as shape as us.
“Go check out those cars, I’m gonna go into the stores,” Rob said to me quietly. I nodded and we split off. I noticed the air had gotten so cold I could see my breath now. I immediately noticed one of the cars had its doors ripped off, and my way over to that one. I winced a little when I looked inside. The interior was covered all with blood. I looked back over to the car next to it and noticed that it too was covered with blood.
I heard Rob scream and quickly ran over to the store. I stepped in with my gun raised, but Rob was completely fine.
“What are you doing screaming like that!” I shouted angrily.
“Look!” he pointed at the floor. I looked down and jumped back. The floor was covered with dried blood too. As I looked around I noticed the entire store was a mess. There were shelves knocked over and glass cracked and shattered. I even noticed a few shells on the floor. But like the cars, I didn’t see any bodies. We moved on to the restaurant next door, and were met with the same results. There was no sign of anyone anywhere. I tried the phones on the stores, but they didn’t work. We silently head back out to the car, me in the lead. My jaw dropped when it came into sight. The tires, all four of them, were flat.
“What the fuck…” I heard come from behind me.
“What the fuck!” Rob screamed.
“Can you be quiet?” I sneered at him through clenched teeth.
“Listen we can still drive with flat tires, at least slowly. But we don’t have time to check anywhere else now, we gotta get back to your brother. He’s all alone,” I said to Rob. Rob nodded, but I could see he was very angry. We drove back slowly. The screeching noise made from the wheels on cement was awful, and loud. I tried not to think about, but I knew that anyone and anything within a mile could probably hear us.
We only made it 10 minutes before the truck came to a grinding halt. Rob cursed as he got out of the car.
“Oh no,” I heard him mumble. My heart dropped when I saw what he was worried about. There was a trail of gas behind the truck.
“No we are stuck out here. Goddamnit!” Rob kicked the side of his truck.
“Well it will help if you be quiet. Just calm down Rob.”
“We hid for weeks from those fuckers, an now they are to scared to face us? Come on bitches!” I covered my ears as Rob raised his shotgun high and fired into the sky.
“I’m right here! You want a fight, come get one!” I wasn’t gonna let him get us both killed. Without hesitation I drew my fist back and then socked him in the moth. He fell to the ground, dropping the shotgun.
“Listen, Robert; you may have a death wish, but I don’t! Those things out there will kill you, and our only change is to make it back on foot before sunrise unless you want to end up like those deer over there. Are you with me?”
Rob nodded. Once again it seemed like he had been broken out of a trance. He reached for the shotgun, but I grabbed before he could.
“I’m going to keep this with me for now.”
“Fine,” he mumbled. We walked again in complete silence. There were empty cars every now and then on the side of the road, but neither of us knew how to hot-wire. As the sun lowered in the sky, I grew more and more nervous. And when I began to see the horizon turn orange and our shadows grow tall, I began to panic. We hadn’t even hit the dirt road yet. Every now and than I thought I would here rustling in the woods around us. I wasn’t sure if it was just a harmless animal, but I knew we were being hunted.
“We’re going to die out here,” Rob said bluntly as the sky turned to purple.
“Don’t say that.”
“We are no where near the cabin, and it’s going to be dark any minute now.”
I heard a growl not to far off in the woods. I began to think of my family, and my other friends. I missed them deeply, and wondered where they all where right now, if they were in a better place.
“W-we could hide in some house or a car or something,” I anxiously said as I watched the blood moon rise in the night sky.
“Jay, you know they are watching us, following us, waiting for the right moment to pounce,” Rob said to me. I didn’t respond, just kept walking.
“Jay,” he grabbed my shoulder. I turned around to face him. My eyes were wide and my face was pale, but Rob’s was calm. He grabbed the shotgun out of my hand.
“I want you to protect my little brother for me.”
I realized what he was doing.
“No you can’t.”
“I’m losing it, Jay. I see things and hear things. I’m a liability, I’ll get you both killed if I’m around. I’ll do my best to try and hold them back, but you need to run as fast as you can.” He cocked the shotgun. I heard more and more growls and roars coming from the woods. They were close and loud now. I stood motionless as Rob turned around to face them.
“Go now!” he shouted. I took off, running faster than I ever had before. I heard a screech and gunshots, but didn’t turn around to check. I ran until my feet burned and my chest stung. My adrenaline kept me going, but I had to slow down. I was finally on the dirt road. I didn’t take much time on it before I realized how dangerous it was out in the open like that. On the right side of the road out in a field I could barely make out an old broken down cabin. I made way quickly inside. There was broken down walls and piles of junk everywhere. It seemed like a good place to hide. I had decided to wait out the rest of my night here. It seemed like my best option for survival. I went inside what I presumed used to be the bathroom and sat down in there.
I was safe in there for a few hours. I couldn’t sleep, so I just kind of sat there in a frightened daze. A low growl nearby snapped me out of it. I almost jumped up and screamed when I heard it. The growl had been right outside the house. After a few moments of silence I heard the floorboards creak, and I knew I was’t alone in the cabin anymore. I felt fear like I never had before. I felt cold, throughout my body and deep down. I tried to control my breathing, but it just got louder. The creaking was getting closer to my hiding spot. I tried to move my leg, and bumped a nearby rock. An idea popped in my head. I slowly reach towards the stone and picked it up. I didn’t waste any time and chucked as hard as I could into the darkness. I heard a loud thud on the other side of the cabin. The creaking changed direction.
This is my chance, I thought as I slowly crept out, still crouching. It was almost pitch black, and I couldn’t make out anything else in the cabin. I felt relief run through my veins once I stepped out the cabin. I speed up my creeping, trying to move as fast away from the cabin as I could whilst still being stealthy.
I spent the rest of the night creeping through the woods, moving towards the direction of the cabin and hiding in brush every time I heard a noise. I didn’t think I was going to make it back. The night felt like a million, but eventually I saw daylight on the horizon. I almost broke into a cry when the cabin came into view. I burst through the door, frantically looking around for Jerry. He was on his knees praying.
He turned around.
“Hey, where’s Rob?”
“H-he… um he uh. I’m sorry Jerry.”
“What! No!” Jerry threw his Bible across the room, and turned around and kicked the couch.
“There was no chance both of us were gonna make. Without him none of us would be back.”
Jerry wasn’t listening; he was throwing things around and kicking furniture. It didn’t take long for the rage to leave him. He lay down on his knees, face buried in his palms, just like Rob had been after Olivia died. I went over and tried to comfort him, but he just stormed into his room, slamming the door shut behind him.
We spent the next few days in complete silence. Jerry hardly moved, just moped around and read his Bible. But he told me of an event that happened while we were gone. He had gotten on the fishing boat, and decided to patrol around the lake, to see if you could anyone else at the few other lake cabins around. While he was going slowly by the shoreline, he heard whispers, and thought it was another human. As he steered the boat to a dock, he saw his father staring at him. He began to speed up, but stopped when he saw other people with him, including people he knew were dead, like Olivia. We had a long conversation after about the visions, and how I thought this was making us go crazy. There was one other lake house on the lake, one we hadn’t checked out yet. I told Jerry I was going to check it out today, to see if there was anyone in there. We both already knew the answer to that, but I really just wanted to get away from the cabin for a while. I loaded with on the boat, and brought the usual shotgun and flashlight with me. I left early in the morning, so I would have most of the day to be there. I didn’t want to stay past sunrise, and have to deal with the things in the woods that came out at night. I took the boat slowly over there, watching the still water, and trying to keep my mind off of things. The dock had an empty spot, and I tied up the boat and headed in to investigate. I wasn’t sure what I expected to be inside, but it was painted red with blood. In the kitchen was the most gruesome thing I had ever seen, two headless bodies, crawling with maggots, and a shotgun lying on the floor. I almost wanted to vomit. I looked around, but there was no suicide note or anything. I checked the kitchen and found some old canned food. I put in my bag, but felt very disgusted about taking it from this house now. It didn’t take long for me to start hearing the whispers again. I felt the paranoia over come me, and began to develop a massive headache too.
“Fuck it,” I shouted aloud to no one, and left the cabin, with half the day left. While I was untying the boat, I heard something that made me stop for a second. At first it was a low hum, and I though it was just from my headache or tinnitus, but then it got louder. But not cover-your-ears-loud, but more like a rumbling. It seemed to come from the sky, and sounded like someone was playing a low, far off trumpet. It only lasted around 6 seconds, but it was enough to deeply unnerve me. I felt a deep sense of unease come over me, and hurriedly untied the boat. I jumped in, and sped off.
What was I thinking? going off alone again? Especially after what happened with me and Rob, I scolded myself as got further away. But, I felt and urge, a longing, and couldn’t help but turn around to look back one last time at the cabin I left behind. What I saw, sent chills down my spine. Black silhouettes of people, in the windows, watching me. I turned back around quickly, and didn’t look back again. Going fast on open boat with already cold wind, was miserable, but I didn’t care. When I got home, I saw Jerry standing by the side of the cabin; staring off into the woods. I tied up the boat and walked up to him.
“I didn’t see anything in the cabin, it was empty. What are you doing?” I asked, deeply concerned for him.
“I was just, uh I don’t know.” He shook his head and walked back to the cabin.
“Wait, did you hear a sort of trumpet noise? In the sky?” I asked. Jerry simply turned around and nodded his head, before going back in.
To my surprise, nothing ever came back to our cabin and tried to break in. We had agreed that our best chance at survival would be to stay in this cabin and ride the storm out. The days crept by slowly, and were filled with sorrow and misery. I noticed one day a dead crow in front of our door. I asked Jerry about it, and he said he had seen lots of dead birds laying on the ground recently too. I ached for some sense of light, some sense of hope. My prayers were answered, but not in the form neither me or Jerry wanted. It had been a week since Rob’s death, and Jerry and I where eating dinner quietly at the table when we heard frantic knocking on the front door. I reached for a nearby pistol and slowly walked towards the door, keeping it ready. Jerry remained in his seat, watching.
“Please, help me, somebody,” I heard a plea come from the other side the door.
After a bit of hesitation I slowly opened the door. An old, bloody man came stumbling in, collapsing on the floor. One of his arm’s was mangled beyond any use. His makeshift cast didn’t cover it that well, as I could still see white bone and rotting flesh over it.
“Who the hell are you?” I questioned, keeping the gun up.
“Please don’t shoot, I barely made it here. You can’t put me back out there, they’ll get me. They killed everyone I know, they killed my children, my wife…”
“Alright, alright, alright,” I beckoned Jerry to get him some water, and he complied. We sat the man down on the couch and began questioning him. We asked who he was, where he came from, and everything else.
“My name is Daniel. I’ve been out there on the run for weeks, moving from one broken down house to the other. You’re the first people I've seen still alive in God know hows long.”
“I came from Atlanta. Previously to the storm there was a lot of weird going around, a lot of military vehicles were seen everywhere. Nobody knew what was going on. They thought it was because of terrorism. or something. Then it hit. The storm, it seemed to come out of nowhere. Everyone was trying to leave the city after it happened. It was almost impossible to get out. We were trying to reach my wife’s family in Arkansas, but we never made it. We only took the backroads, and saw less and less people as we went. One night we parked on the side road, and trying to sleep. I awoke to screams, and then I was yanked out the car and dragged out into the night. That thing had my arm in lockjaw grip. I had to put all six shots of my revolver into it before it even let go. Then I just took of running, and didn’t look back.”
“Well what’s causing this? What are those things out there?”
“I call them the Nightwalkers. I’ve yet to see what one looks like, but I know they are very dangerous, and smart. They mostly come at night too, and are quiet while they sneak up on on you. They are like lions, terrifying predators.”
“So do you know if they are aliens or something?” I continued.
“Like I said, no idea. Whatever it was, the military couldn’t do jack-shit. There were rumors, that they bombed the cities, to stop something. We also heard that the military bases became safe-houses. And then we heard that they became chaotic, that everyone began killing each other there. So we completely avoided one. But these were all just rumors we heard from other people on the road. “
“Damn. Well we could always use more company, and I'm good with you staying here, but I’m not sure about my friend over here,” I flicked my head towards Jerry, who responded by letting out a low mumbled, “He can stay.”
Daniel started to get up, but I stopped him.
“Have you seen any sign of safety out there? Any other groups of people. We can’t stay here much longer, at some point we are going to be caught.”
“We tried to avoid any towns, only taking the backroads. But I wouldn’t be so sure about other groups. Whatever is going in weird, and I don’t understand it at all. Those things are just a small part of it. The temperature hasn’t stopped dropping in forever, and it’s going to hit 0 at some point. And sometimes, I hear things. Voices, and my head starts to spin. My mind becomes clustered with hundreds of thoughts. It’s like this whole event is beyond our basic perception and understanding, and is driving us crazy. We saw some other people completely going off the edge. They acted just like animals, killing each other, tearing each other apart. And even the actual animals, like dogs, went batshit too. Luckily I had that revolver with me, and a lot of ammo, because people still go down in one shot. Too bad I dropped that damn thing on the run.”
“It’s alright, we have guns here,” Jerry responded. His eyes widened.
“Can I see them?”
“Hold your horses, we just met you. I think you should be worried about cleaning off what’s left of your arm.”
We got him in the shower and wrapped up his arm with actual bandages, but I would be surprised if it didn’t get infected at some point anyway. Having Daniel around went well for a couple days, even thought we had to keep watch on him most of the time. He cooperated and helped us make food and fish, which for I had absolutely developed a hate for the taste of by now. It all ran smoothly, until the third night. I awoke to the sound of shouting, and ran into the living room. Daniel was holding Jerry at gunpoint.
“Easy, Daniel. Just put the gun down,” Jerry spoke softly.
“It’s not you I want to hurt,” he responded bitterly and pointed the gun at his chin instead.
“Woah, what are you doing man? If you fire that thing, every Nightwalker within a mile is going to hear it. We have food, shelter, and a nice hiding spot here. You don’t have to do this.”
“You don’t understand. I lied earlier. We did go through every town we could, and they were all dead, or crazy. There is nothing out there but death, and we are going to die too. It’s better to go out this way than whatever is going to happen if the Nightwalkers get you.”
He aimed his gun back at Jerry.
“Trust me, I’ll be doing you a favor.”
I took this chance to rush at Daniel, knocking him down to the ground while he fired. The bullet hit a nearby candle and knocked it off a table. Daniel was bigger than me and kicked me off him, still holding the gun.
“Y-you don’t have to do this. There is still something out there, there is still hope.”
“No, there isn’t,” Daniel put the gun up to his chin and squeezed the trigger, just as as was reaching towards him. There was a loud gunshot and I was covered in blood. I didn’t say a word, just stood there frozen in shock.
“Oh… my… God….” was all that could escape my lips. We both stood motionless for God knows how long. Seeing people already dead was one thing, but witnessing happen right in front me was something entirely different, and much worse. We both stood motionless. Until I felt heat at my back. My senses came back to me and I jumped about three feet away when I noticed there was a fire behind me. It had broken out when the candle fell on the carpet and was spreading. Jerry was still standing motionless, in shock.
“Dude, come on we gotta get this fire out!” I began shaking him. He shook his head and blinked, almost like coming back into consciousness. I ran into the kitchen and began filling up a cup of water, Jerry right behind me. We frantically attempted to set out the fire by dumping the water on it, but it had little to now effect of ever-growing flames. I also began to hear screeches come from the woods, and heard them getting closer as we worked. Once the fire almost fully engulfed the living room I knew it was time to give up. “We gotta get out of here! Grab the guns, I’ll pack a few supplies. Get your keys and we will take your truck!” I grabbed his shoulder and shouted in his face. He nodded and ran off into his room. I grabbed a few granola bars before heading into my room and packing jackets and whatever I could see into a bag. The smoke stung my eyes and made it hard to breathe. I didn’t want to die in here waiting for Jerry, so I ran out, leaving the front door open behind me. Normally I would have turned my attention to watch the fire, but I focused instead on the dark rustling trees and the noises coming from within them. I grew nervous and fearful that I would be stuck alone out here without any weapon and anywhere to go, and be left to a horrible fate. My hope was rekindled when I heard coughing and turned around to see Jerry stumble out of the burning cabin, carrying a shotgun in each hand. We acted quickly, throwing what we had in the bed and then starting the car. We drove off in silence. I stared out he back and watched the flames reach towards the stars as the walls collapsed. As we drove down the dark dirt road, the dread of what just happened hit me. We had limited gas, limited supplies, and nowhere to go.
It’s been a little over a week since the cabin burned down, and we have hardly had any rest at all. We spend almost all of our time on the road, taking turns driving. The only stops we make are for gas. We can’t risk staying still for too long, knowing what’s out there. Eveyrtime we drive to a new town, or stop at a new gas station, I hope to see another human being. But it’s even rare if we see a body, and each time we do, the light of hope that runs inside me dwindles. Sometimes I feel like I want to rip my brain out of my head. The voices constantly tell me to stop, pull over, and join them. I see people I know on the side of the road, people like Rob, and Olivia. People I know are long gone. And now I have a constant agonizing headache. Every time we get gas I have to get a whole new bottle of aspirin. I try to tell myself that there is something, someone else out there, but I hardly believe it anymore. I look into Jerry’s eyes, and I can see it too. He has nearly given up. He doesn’t read from his Bible anymore, pray, or even really speak. He just stares out of the window. I always keep an eye on him, to make sure he doesn’t walk off with he shotgun and do what Daniel did. Sometimes I want to do it too, just end this constant sense of fear. We have heard less and less Nightwalkers, but even more weird stuff has began to happen. We don’t even hear really any animals at night anymore. And one day, while were driving, all the remaining birds began to drop dead out of the sky. And now we hear the loud trumpet noise everyday. Sometimes it’s only 5 seconds, other times it’ll last 15. Luckily for us the temperature hit around 10 Fahrenheit and came to a standstill. I gave up on trying to decipher what was happening around us a long time ago. For all I know we could be the last two people on Earth.
I just hope that we can find some shelter out there, or some other people.
I just hope that we will find some peace, under a blood red moon.