The smoke was just beginning to clear.  The buildings were demolished and the once plentiful city they lived in was on the verge of becoming an abandoned wasteland.  People walked around aimlessly, covered in debris still trying to piece together what just happened.  Cars were flipped upside down and metal street signs were bent at the base.  Slabs of concrete were missing from the streets as dead bodies littered patches of land.  In the middle of it all, he stood.  His ears were still ringing from the explosion as he looked around in complete shock.  He breathed heavily, attempting to bring his mind back to the present state the world was currently in.  People ran in every direction, some with their bodies covered in blood while others were maimed in some sort of way, yet, still able to limp their way along.  Smaller explosions were still going off in the distance as he stood in the middle of a once congested busy street, observing his surroundings in a panoramic view.  Another explosion went off 100 feet away from him causing him to flinch.  That’s when she ran up to him and the ringing in his ears were replaced with her words, “come on!  We have to move!  Now!”  Still disoriented, he reached his hand out to hers unconsciously as she pulled him along with her.  She wasn’t a big woman, 5’8 165 pounds but she was still able to pull a willing body along with her.  They ran hand in hand past the screams of people who were in agony and too injured to run for themselves.  He looked at them as they ran past, wanting to help but not able get his body and mind on the same page.  “Pleeease don’t leave me here!” they yelled as the two maneuvered through the rubble.  “Come on, keep up” she said, “We can’t save them. We have to keep moving.”  He slowly became more cognizant of the chaos going on around him, picking up his speed and alertness.  “This way” she said as another explosion went off to their right, “through these doors.”  They turned off the street and headed into a building that somehow was unaffected by the blasts going on around them.  They ran inside and headed to the back.  A few people were already inside the building, ducked down behind some of the overturned desks as if that was enough to shield them from the oncoming danger.  They stood behind a door inside a small office, both bent over with their hands on their knees to catch their breath.  “I haven’t run that much since I was in College” she said.  He looked at her quizzically.  She was unfamiliar to him but he was grateful that she grabbed his hand and led him out of harm’s way.  “Thank you” he said as she finally stood up and began searching through the office for anything of use.  “Don’t mention it” she said, as she frantically opened and closed drawers and cabinets.  “Now, I know there was some type of” she felt around the walls and removed a picture frame, exposing a safe, “yes, yes!  I knew it!”  She threw the picture frame on the ground shattering the glass that held it in place.  She entered the code as he observed her actions in silence.  In her hand there were two 9 millimeter pistols.  She looked at the man, “can I trust you?” she asked solemnly.  He was puzzled, “I’ve… I’ve never even held a gun before.”  She smiled and sat the two pistols on the table.  Moments later, she pulled two more weapons out of the safe and sat them on the desk next to the other two pistols.  There was enough ammo to last them a few rounds.  “I guess I should at least introduce myself to you” she said.  Her British accent was strong.  Her brunette hair was pulled back into a ponytail and it would have appeared that she would not have fit a role such as this.  She was a pretty woman.  Dark shades covered her eyes and added even more mystery to her.  The tips of her fingers were freshly manicured.  He was caught in suspense as he admired her beauty.  Her voice brought him back into reality, “are you just going to ignore me?”  His eyes widened, “I’m… I’m sorry, I was just” she interrupted him, “you were just going to watch me show you how to fire these weapons.”  Now, he looked the part but he could not quite fill the role.  Tall with broad shoulders and a dark skinned complexion.  He resembled the frames of pro athletes and was often times confused with them but he was quite the opposite.  He was not a manly type of man and he would most likely be at a bookstore rather than a gym.  Two more explosions went off just outside of the building, rattling the ceiling above them and causing dust from the cement to fall.  “Now” she said firmly, “you want to hold the pistol in your arms like this.  Keep them straight and firm and then aim.  Line the middle of the barrel up with whatever you are shooting at and then fire.  It’s a crash course, so pay attention.”  She handed him the pistol as he was afraid to take it.  “Come on” she insisted, “now is not the time to be afraid.  We ran through hell to get to this point and it’s clear that we were supposed to.”  She took one of the pistols and placed them inside her pants.  He mirrored her actions attempting to carry his the same way.  “Now this one” she said, “put the base of this one here right into your bicep.  It has a little kick to it so you want to make sure it’s against a strong part of your body.  Pull the trigger and let the bullets go.  It’s an automatic so just keep your hand on the trigger until your target is dead.”  She threw the strap of the gun around her shoulder and let it hang.  She handed the other AK to him, “wait wait wait” he said, “hold on.  Now, what the hell is this!? What in the world is going on?  Literally.  I don’t know you at all then all of a sudden you grab me and pull me to this office handing me guns.  Its explosions going on all around us.  People are screaming.  I mean, what is this!?”  She looked at him confused. “Do you honestly not know what’s going on?  We are under attack right now” she said emphatically, “Yeah, I guess I could’ve left you out there for you to get fried by whatever is coming out the skies but I thought to myself, ‘here is an able-bodied man here, you know, somebody that can help’ so I pulled you along.”  He plopped down in the chair, “so you mean to tell me… it happened?  It really happened?” he said it complete disbelief. 

He was one of the skeptical ones.  He went back to a time before all this happened, replaying it in his mind, “Wait, so you honestly expect me to believe that there are aliens?  And not only that but in their essence, they are really demons?  Seriously?”  His coworker looked back at him solemnly, “absolutely.”  He mocked her incredulously with laughter, “Wow.  Ok, Brittney.  Well, when you come back to the real world, I will show you how Santa Clause, Jesus and God are all just make believe stories that really should be put to bed by your 6th or 7th birthday.  The whole premise of ‘God’ is just ridiculous and then to add to that, you expect me to sit here and listen to you ramble on about ‘Jesus’, some man who is going to ‘float down from the sky on a cloud’ and save a bunch of people and leave the rest to suffer tribulation?”  He picked up his cup of coffee meticulously and shook his head, “you know what Brittney” he said, “I had such high regards for you until now.  Now that I see you still believe in fairy tales and sky daddies.  It just baffles me that a woman as attractive as you are can succumb to such foolishness.”  He ended the conversation with an aura of haughtiness that left the room with a poignant stench. 

   “What really happened?” she said as she loaded a clip into her pistol.  He recollected walking to Britney’s office a few moments after the first explosion and finding nothing but the clothing she wore that day.  He searched around the office more looking for some more coworkers who believed just like Britney but it was the same sight; a pile of clothing with no bodies in sight.  The woman in the office with him became impatient, “look, we don’t have time for you to daydream.  We gotta’ move.  I don’t know what’s going on but I was prepared for it.”  He snapped out of it, “You said something was coming out of the sky?”  She placed the pistol back into her pants and quietly opened the door, “yes” she said, “it was like… a bright light or something of that nature.  People were just vanishing all around me so I figured it had something to do with that thing that was in the sky.  I assume it was just zapping people or something like that.”  She tiptoed out of the room and back into the lobby they ran through.  They hadn’t heard an explosion in the last few minutes so she figured now was the best time to move.  He got up and quickly caught up with her.  The people that hid behind the overturned desks were either gone or dead.  Their bodies laid there freshly covered in blood.  The man turned his head away from the grotesque scene as she moved through it as if it wasn’t there.  They got to the front of the building.  She peeked up at the sky.  It was just as blue as the ocean water she travelled across to get to America.  After the coast was clear she motioned for him to follow her.  He put his pistol in his hand and began walking.  The agonizing screams of men and women trapped inside of wrecked cars could be heard as soon as they stepped outside.  They walked through blocks of a downtown rubble, searching for anybody else who was healthy enough to trek with them.  He walked past a man who laid trapped under a car and coughing up blood.  “Pl..please” he said faintly, “Just kill me.”  With a tear in his eye he allowed his calloused heart to soften.  He pulled the trigger.  “Pow!”  The gunshot echoed off of damaged buildings around them.  She grabbed him by the front of his shirt after he fired the shot.  She was feisty.  Somebody who seemed to have been ready for a time like this since day one.  “Do NOT waste bullets!  They have to die when that time comes!  Firing bullets does nothing but draw more attention to us!  We don’t know what kind of people are out here or what is going on! Don’t be stupid!” she said, pushing him back as she let him go.  She still stood and listened for anything that would indicate commotion coming towards them.  There were three more gunshots that went off in the distance.  She shook her head, “we are not down here alone” she said as she continued walking down the block.  A few buildings down, a car was crashed through the window of a small convenience mart.  She led the way inside and began grabbing the essentials.  Water, bandages, first-aid and nonperishable food items.  He walked over towards her with his hands full of candy and soda.  She smacked it all out of his hands, “do you want to live, or die?  Because you’re behaving as if you want to die.”  He looked down at the candy that was smacked from his hand, “well, excuse me!” he snapped, “I’ve never been in an apocalyptic type of event before!”  Moments later they heard people walk into the convenience mart, stepping on glass and everything else that was on the ground beneath them.  She held a finger over her lips and ducked down behind one of the aisles.  She told him to stay put as she walked around the store with superior agility.  He sat down in the back, clinching the pistol in his hand with his finger around the trigger.  Radio communication went off, “I repeat, if anybody is alive, exterminate them with extreme precedence.  We don’t know who is and who is not infected.”  The radio communication cut off immediately after those words rang throughout the store.  He sat down in the back, his hands shaking the pistol uncontrollably.  Sweat beads formed and dripped down his head relentlessly as he looked up to his right.  He was right below the oval mirror in the back that showed the whole store in a glance.  As soon as he noticed what he sat under, one of the men who entered the store glanced up at the same mirror.  “We got one in the back” he said swiftly as he headed towards the back.  The man’s eyes widened as he aimed the pistol in the direction the other two men were coming from.  Suddenly, there was a gargling noise.  A bone chilling sound of choking on your own blood.  Seconds later, a similar nose followed.  “28, are you ok?” the radio sounded off.  There was no response, “28, speak, are you alright?”  Silence.  The woman appeared, wiping blood from her blade with a rag and then tossing it to the ground.  “We have to save bullets” she said, “only fire when absolutely necessary.” Her bravado was uncanny as he sat on the ground, stock-still from what just happened.  She took the radio off the slain soldier and hooked it onto her belt.  The man stood up, towering over her and glancing over at the soldiers as they lay twitching in their own blood.  “Who are you?” he said in a terrorized voice.  She smiled, pulled her hair tighter in a ponytail and put her items in a small book bag that was in the store.  “Let’s just say, I’m your second chance” she said as her shades remained positioned on her face.  She began walking out of the building but he spoke up in a nervous voice, “wait” he said, “can I at least get a good look at who I will be with?  I mean, I don’t even know your name.”  She stopped in her tracks and turned around.  She hung her head as if she was contemplating revealing herself completely to him.  Who knew how he would react once she did.  She knew of his background in regards to spiritual matters and he may turn away from her and make her job much more difficult, but reluctantly, she gave him what he desired.  “My name is Johanna” she said calmly as she removed her glasses.  His eyes bucked open as she stared back at him.  She was intensely focused on the man who stood in front of her and at the same time, she saw nothing at all.  Eyes full of everything left in the world, yet, as empty as the heart in front of him.  “How?” he said in utter disbelief.  “I walk by faith and not by sight” she said confidently after repositioned her glasses back on.  “Now” she said, “let’s get moving.  Day is gone.”   


4 thoughts on “Shook

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