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Doomsday By Design - Novel In Progress

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posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:13 AM
The road ahead extended into a slight slope. In this part of the country, could have been called a hill. At least that part would be easy to walk, but who knew about the rest…
By the time Sandra was awake and gazing into nothing, the boys had completed half of their walk. Ryujin was leading them with a pep in his step. None of them took the time to search through their bags for a snack or eat anything they had gathered before leaving the bunker. Everyone had an annoying emptiness in their gut, but they paid no mind to their hungriness and pressed on. The walk wasn’t as long for them as it had been for Sandra, as they were walking as quickly as they could without breaking into a jog or a run.
Sandra spotted movement on the road just a little ways ahead of her. She blinked a few times, straightening out her vision and staring at her three comrades from behind. Ryujin, Alan, and Church were headed down the road. They’d left the bunker to find her, but apparently they hadn’t noticed her sitting along the side of the road, concealed by the long dangling branches of the tree and the surrounding patches of tall grass. Sandra then stood and returned to the road, following the boys and wondering if she ought to call out to them or not.
Why’d they follow me? She wondered. They had everything they needed in the bunker. Goddammit. Do they even have a game plan? How are they all supposed to survive out here? Ah, # it. Might as well get their attention.
“HEY!” Sandra bellowed.
All the boys spun around and faced her.
Alan was the first one to approach Sandra.
“Are you out of your damn mind?!” He hissed. “What on God’s green earth possessed you to run off by yourself? Huh?! Did we not both see the same mushroom cloud yesterday, or has that event eluded your memory? Well, for your information, that wasn’t just another paranoid delusion of yours—it actually happened! And there is NO excuse for you to be wandering off when we have a nuclear war on our hands—”
Once Alan was within reach, Sandra raised her hand very quickly as if she were about to backhand him. Alan jumped and immediately fell silent.
Ryujin and Church came up behind Alan. Church’s hands were pocketed, and Ryujin was cradling Dorian’s rifle, the barrel of it pointed to the sky as it rested on his chest and shoulder.
Sandra sighed. “You guys didn’t have to follow me. I’m just going to find my uncle. He has a place up north that’s supposed to be some kind of doomsday sanctuary or something. He told me about it a long time ago, told me it was directly north of the town… and he called it Sanctum. And, I found this in my backpack.” She held up the compass with the spade shaped arrow. “Follow the spade to sanctuary. Compasses always point north. It makes sense.”
Sandra focused on her uncle’s rifle, the one Ryujin was holding.
“I’m sorry.” Ryujin said solemnly. “I didn’t want to be out in the open without some protection.”
“Never mind that.” Alan intervened. “Sandra, you’re chasing a fable. You’re following whispers and hearsay, nothing more. Do you really think this is going to lead you to your uncle?”
Everyone waited for her to answer.
Sandra felt conflicted. It was a loose lead, she knew that, but what was she supposed to do? Dorian was missing in action, and the only place he could be—if he was alive—was Sanctum. Sandra didn’t have a choice. Nothing could make her stay stationary in that bunker. Not with her uncle having vanished from the face of the planet.
“I have to go.” Sandra told them, fighting down tears again. “You guys, you all have families out there, and you have a bunker to stay in, with plenty of food, and water, and power. You don’t need to come with me. You really don’t.”
“My family is in Kyoto, with the exception of my brother.” Ryujin replied. “And he wasn’t in town. He was on a school trip when it happened. I wouldn’t know where to start looking for him. Plus… it wouldn’t be good of me to leave you traveling by yourself.”
Sandra made an odd face. Was he really following her because he wanted to protect her?
“I ain’t seen my mom in years. And my dad…” Church said. “I really don’t give a damn if he’s dead or not. I got nowhere to go. I can’t go home. There’s nothing there anymore.”
“And me, I don’t have anywhere to go either.” Alan added. “None of us can go home to look for our families, Sandra. My mother’s dead, and my father wouldn’t care if I lived or died. Don’t go trying to send us off because you think we need to find those people. We need to be wherever you are. We’ve only got each other right now. We can’t afford to lose any more than we already have.”
Alan spoke with a forced seriousness. Sandra suspected that he was feeling a lot right now. He had a habit of trying to appear as emotionless as possible whenever he had a lot of feelings coursing through him at once. That was something she’d noticed about him within the first few days of knowing him.
Sandra waited for him to finish.
“Ugh… what I’m saying is, our best bet isn’t to wait around in some bunker until the food runs out.” Alan continued. “Our smartest move is finding the community that planned for this catastrophe. Our best chance of survival rests on finding your uncle. Not to mention, you… you’re a damn fool for going off alone, you know that? As if we’d let you go it by yourself.”
“You didn’t even wanna leave the bunker, you little bitch!” Church exclaimed.
“No, I didn’t, but I’m here aren’t I?” Alan responded coldly. “Didn’t have much of a choice. Who in their right mind would willingly want to go out into a warzone unprotected? Forgive me for being sane.”
Sandra was torn. She hadn’t planned for them to follow her, she planned to go it alone, to walk as far as her feet would take her, to scavenge what little food and water she might find along the way, and to reach Sanctum as soon as humanly possible. But how could she agree to Alan, Ryujin, and Church tagging along for the ride? The trip would likely leave her hungry, thirsty, tired, and filthy, and she accepted that, but she couldn’t make that decision for the people around her. Sandra couldn’t be responsible for all of them. Hell, she was hardly capable of looking after herself. It was a nice thought, and she loved the idea of having company, numbers, protection, and perhaps friendship on this journey, but she couldn’t promise that they would be no worse for wear once it was over. How could she drag them off to God-knows-where when she had absolutely no plans for survival or backup plans for dangerous situations? If something happened to one of them, it would be all her fault.

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:14 AM
Still, it wasn’t like they were lying; none of them had a home to return to, and the resources in the bunker wouldn’t last forever. They all needed a place to live, to survive. Perhaps Alan was right, perhaps finding Sanctum and discovering the people who intended to build an independent society was the best thing they could do. It wasn’t a temporary fix like the bunker was. Sanctum would be a permanent solution for all of them.
“Fine.” Sandra said. “But this isn’t gonna be easy, you guys.”
“I don’t expect it to be easy.” Ryujin replied. “We’ll be alright.”
Church nodded.
“Well, first thing’s first.” Alan said. “Why didn’t you just take a vehicle from town? I don’t imagine anyone’s going to care about grand theft auto right now.”
“I don’t know how to drive.” Sandra told him.
“Well… one of us is going to have to learn, because next time we have the chance to take a car, we’re taking it.” Alan decided. “Making this whole trip on foot will take forever, and it’ll be much more dangerous.”
“I can drive.” Church informed.
“Come on. Let’s hit the road.” Sandra said just before walking between them and beginning down the street.
The boys did the same. They spoke to one another during the walk, Ryujin staying mostly silent while the other two bickered at one another behind Sandra’s head, but she forgot to listen. The image of the mushroom cloud hadn’t left her mind yet, and the only voices she heard were the memories of her uncle, telling her to pay attention, asking her if she wanted to go fishing with him, showing her how to use a geiger counter… and she never listened. If she could just find him, just look into his face again, hear his voice again, she’d do whatever he wanted. Sandra couldn’t for the life of her figure out why she always pushed him away, always shut herself off, always tried not to be close to her uncle, but one thing was for damn sure; that would never happen again for as long as she lived.

* * * * *

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:16 AM

Chapter 4

Hospital Holdup

The earth became smaller and smaller with every passing second.
The planet inhabiting roughly six billion people was down to less than a billion. In the direct aftermath of the international war, most people weren’t sure what had happened, or why. Anyone in China or Russia would swear that their homeland was attacked out of the blue before they dared to return fire to America, but the powers that be in the USA would claim the exact opposite. No one was sure who started the war, but now, it hardly mattered. The war had ended after only a day, leaving the world devastated in its wake. The people in power that the public would recognize were nowhere to be seen or heard from, and the people designated to take control in the event of an emergency all coincidently took their positions of power around the same time, some before any detonations. In most parts of the world, the survivors were scrambling to endure the holocaust however they could, some of them sticking close to their families and others forming bands of relentless raiders and bandits. The Red Flu continued to claim victims, and the dying people who didn’t pass due to the mysterious disease or due to the bombs died of something else: radiation poisoning, suicide, or at the end of someone else’s blade or firearm. It was only a matter of time before starvation, dehydration, and untreated illnesses would begin to take lives as well.
There were many unused residential centers throughout the country. Some of them stayed empty, and some of them were already occupied, but most of them were filling quickly with gathered refugees or nearby civilians. The powers rounded up anyone that they could find. It was hard to identify the armed men in black who came for the survivors; none of them seemed to be wearing any sort of identification that would indicate who they belonged to, be it the FBI, the National Guard, Homeland Security, or any other form of authority here in America. The men who filled the camps were strangers to the citizens. Some of them didn’t resist or question the men, while others reacted as if they’d been waiting for this day their entire life, by fighting back to the fullest. Most rebellion against the powers was eradicated, but the people who resisted didn’t go down alone. They took as many of their oppressors down with them as they could.
There was no word from the White House as the events transpired. The news stations all went silent.
None of the branches of military—foreign or domestic—were excluded from the terrible disaster. Soldiers in every country died along with everyone else.
Not all of the soldiers died, however. Some soldiers and veterans survived as well as other sects of random citizens, and as Sandra and her new group of misfits ventured northward in the hopes of finding a legendary sanctuary, one of the surviving soldiers traveled west, crossing the road that Sandra would later walk. This man wasn’t on foot. He drove a shiny black sports car, and the vehicle was about to hit ninety miles an hour. The car was eating up its gasoline far too quickly. He couldn’t slow down, though. This man had a mission, and he wouldn’t stop until he succeeded.
This soldier’s name was Declan Jones, and he was on his way to a place called St. Luke’s, a hospital in Nevada where his best friend worked as a doctor. He hadn’t seen his friend since he’d gotten back from Iraq, and it was lucky he came home when he did. Otherwise, he would have been stranded overseas when the crisis occurred.
His friend, a man by the name of Arya Ashraani, had only just finished his four years of medical school earlier this year. He was a young doctor who didn’t have any family in America. Most of Declan’s family was deceased. Arya was the only person left in his life, and if he was still trapped in the hospital where he worked, he intended to find him at all costs.
Before leaving for Iraq, Declan and Arya were closer than brothers. Arya came to this country from India as a child, and after spending part of his late childhood in America, he decided not to return to his country of origin. He always said that his family back home was too traditional, too restricting. So, he and Declan ended up becoming roommates in their mid-teen years, both of them wanting to live independently away from their families. They kept in touch after Arya started school and after Declan enlisted in the Army, but it wasn’t the same as the old days when they lived together, finding fun in the stupidest of activities and arguing with each other over the most trivial of issues.
Of course now, everything was different. It wasn’t a matter of life decisions or personal paths—it was a matter of life and death.

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:18 AM
St. Luke’s finally came into view down the stretch of road. The building was a light tan color, and it was bigger than Declan had expected. For some reason, he figured that a hospital out in the middle of nowhere would be a smaller, more ragtag establishment. Looking at the place now, that clearly wasn’t the case.
Declan brought his car to a stop in the center of the enormous parking lot. There were only a few other cars in the parking spaces, leaving most of the lot empty. Like everywhere else in the country, this place must have been full of panicking civilians when the bombs fell. Many of them would have driven as far away from the hot zones as possible, leaving places like this hospital abandoned.
But Declan had no idea where Arya would go in such a situation. Sure, Arya must have had a home of his own, but they’d been communicating by email over the last few years, not by regular mail. Declan didn’t have his address. Arya spent a lot of time typing out his complaints about his new job at St. Luke’s Hospital whenever they’d chat online, and that’s how Declan knew to search for him here. Without a home address, this hospital was the best chance he had of finding Arya.
Seconds after powering down the engine, Declan opened the door and stepped out of the car.
The soldier had a thick camo jacket on, as well as a pair of dark olive colored cargo pants. Beneath his jacket was a bulletproof vest, and in the passenger seat of his car was an assault rifle, loaded and ready to fire. He’d packed all of the gear he could into the trunk of his car, but that wasn’t much. Still, an assault rifle and a protective vest could go a long way.
He leaned into the car, grabbed his gun, and shut the door.
With afternoon approaching, the sun had gotten brighter, despite the thick atmosphere aligning the ozone layer. Declan narrowed his bottle green eyes, examining every inch of the hospital grounds that he could see. He had a dark hood extending out from under his jacket and lying on his shoulders around the base of his neck, and he could feel the sunlight hitting the skin of his scalp as he turned his head. The military had left him with a shaven blonde hairstyle that made him look very hardened, very disciplined in a way only a soldier could be.
Declan carried his rifle with both hands, keeping the barrel aimed relatively low and his finger away from the trigger. He wanted to inspect the inside of the building, but something kept him from doing so. This place looked empty, but it might not have been. It wouldn’t be smart to go blundering in without expecting any trouble.
One of the few vehicles parked around the hospital was on the very edge of the parking lot near a small wooded area. It was a pine green pickup truck, and it sat sideways beside the curb. Declan didn’t look twice at the vehicle. The truck was empty, just like the rest of the vehicles around. The hospital building had most of his attention.
He didn’t notice that the truck was not, in fact, unoccupied. Behind the green vehicle were two more survivors, a girl and her younger brother, who’d both been on the run since yesterday. The both of them were crouched behind the hood of the truck, observing the soldier from afar and exchanging whispers with one another.
The girl’s name was Caitlin, and the twelve year boy old by her side was named Owen. Neither of them knew who the soldier was. They’d never seen Declan before.
Caitlin and Owen were noticeably related, with the same bark brown hair, transparent grey eyes, and pale white skin. Caitlin’s hair was much longer, and her features were narrower than her little brother’s. Owen’s body was broad for a twelve year old, and he wore a pair of worn blue jeans, as well as a dark baggy shirt with the word “Cymru” on its center in red writing and a green border. Caitlin had a red and black checkered jacket on over her black band shirt, and her jeans were much darker and much more tightly fitted than Owen’s. Neither of them had any Army gear like Declan did, but because of the hunting trip that they had planned the day before, they did have protection. Caitlin had the 45 pistol her father had bought for her grasped tightly in her palm as she tried to watch the soldier without making herself visible. And apart from that, her father’s old hunting rifle was sitting safe and sound in the back of their truck. Neither of them made it to Las Nueva Era, where they were supposed to meet their father for their hunting trip. After seeing the mushroom cloud that had engulfed Las Vegas, Caitlin refused to go any further south with her little brother. They spent the night in a motel a little ways east, and now, they were making their way to whatever establishments they came across, hoping to find some help. The best they could do now was pray that their father was safe and keep themselves out of trouble in the meantime.
But between the two of them, that would be a challenge.
Owen kept inching forwards in an attempt to get a better look at the soldier in the parking lot, and Caitlin pushed him back each time.
“What’s he doing?” He asked quietly.
“The same thing he was doing two seconds ago.” Caitlin replied. “Stop looking!”
“How come you’re allowed to look and not me?”
“Because I’m in charge.”
“Says who?”
“But I wanna look.”
“I don’t care, shut up!”
Owen tried to lean forward again. Caitlin, using her free hand, shoved him backwards so hard he fell onto his butt on the pavement behind her.

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:19 AM
Declan took a few steps forward. Now, none of the black car was obstructing Caitlin’s view of him. The man had an upright stance and carried himself with purpose. He came to this hospital for a very particular reason, though Caitlin didn’t know what it was. Her eyes ran up and down his body. Something about him was alluring, captivating, and almost magnetic. Maybe it was the stance, or the uniform…
“Hey.” Owen griped, returning to his knelt position. “What’s he doing now?”
“Shhhht!” Caitlin exhaled through her teeth, reaching toward him without looking and accidently smacking him in the face with her palm as she nudged him away once again.
A voice called across the parking lot from the hospital’s main doors. Caitlin wasn’t able to see where it came from, but Declan was.
Declan faced the doors of the hospital when four strangers exited the building, all of them wearing a lot of black leather, chains, and spikes. One of them was a very butch woman with an auburn buzz cut, and the other three were males, two of them skinny, one of them burly. The burly bald man was at the front of the group. He strode across the pavement and approached Declan with his followers close on his heels.
These people looked like a biker gang upon first glance, but there were no motorcycles in the parking lot.
Still, they definitely fit the profile of a gang, with or without bikes. Declan was sure of that.
“Whatchu’ doing here?” The bald man questioned.
“Looking for a friend.” Declan answered in a calm voice. “A doctor.”
The four gangsters all traded faces with each other. That wasn’t the answer they’d expected to hear from this person, from this soldier.
“There ain’t no doctors here.” The bald man responded. “Everybody got flushed out when all the # hit the fan. Nobody’s here but us.”
Caitlin tried her best to eavesdrop, but it was no use. They were too far away.
Declan stared into the bald man in a deep, unreadable way, as if trying to find the truth in the stranger’s eyes somewhere. The bald man returned the gaze with the same blank seriousness.
But Arya Ashraani was in the hospital. He was the last doctor remaining in St. Luke’s, the others having vacated the property the day before. As luck would have it, Arya was on the top floor of the hospital when the mushroom cloud appeared yesterday. He was the last doctor to make it to the exit, but by then, it was too late. A gang of unfavorable individuals, who happened to be inside the hospital at the time due to one of their own falling ill, intercepted him and wouldn’t allow him to leave. It seemed this gang was determined to keep a doctor around for their sick patient, regardless of the holocaust happening outside of the building.
As Declan spoke to the gangsters in the parking lot and as Caitlin continued spying on them, Arya stood in one of the rooms of the hospital at the bedside of the sick gang member. He had a white coat on over his black outfit, and the lower half of his face was covered by a paper surgical mask. His hands wore a pair of tight rubber gloves. Most of his dark caramel skin wasn’t visible due to all he was wearing, but with a patient like this, he wanted as little exposure as possible.
Arya made a small head motion, swinging some of his wavy black curls out of his eyes in order to better study his patient. The patient was a girl who looked to be about ten years old. Despite her age, she wore a sleeveless leather vest with a number of patches that presumably symbolized the gang that she belonged to. Arya had no idea how someone so young became a part of the gang, but he didn’t question it much. He wanted to save the girl, to treat her sickness and be done with it. Even though he was being held in this hospital against his will, he didn’t want to let a little girl die.
But it was a lost cause. Arya made a troubled expression as he became lost in the child’s face, her cheeks sunken in, her eyes closed, her long green-dyed hair frayed and lying messily over her shoulders. The new disease sweeping across the world was as much of a mystery to Arya as it was to every other doctor on the planet. This girl was experiencing the late stages of the Red Flu, and her epidermal bleeding had only worsened since yesterday. Apparently, the girl hadn’t been conscious since the gang brought her in. Her state was grim at best, and Arya had no idea how to treat this illness.
His fingers grazed over the girl’s exposed wrist. Her heartbeat was rapid.
Arya swallowed. The child was doomed, he knew it. He wished dearly that he could prevent the inevitable, to save the girl’s life, but her condition was beyond fixing. From here on, it was only a matter of time.
Arya glimpsed at the door again.
Unlike the previous times he’d looked, now, there was no group of human shaped shadows on the other side of the thick glass window. The gangsters that had been guarding the hospital room were gone. Perhaps he had the chance to escape.
Arya gave a last sad look to the child on the bed, then made his way to the door and opened it, very cautiously, very quietly. There was nobody in the hallway. The bald man and his cronies had disappeared.
Was this a trap? Why would they have left their prisoner doctor unguarded? Was there some sort of emergency that they all needed to tend to?
His heart beginning to pound, Arya took the opportunity and marched quickly and silently down the hallway, towards the lobby, towards the glass doors leading outside…
From inside of the lobby, he couldn’t see the altercation taking place in the parking lot. After pushing open the glass doors and stepping outside, however, he spotted the bald man and the other gangsters, as well as an old friend of his.
Declan, catching sight of Arya at the hospital’s entrance, instantly raised his rifle.

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:20 AM
“Arya, GET OVER HERE.” Declan demanded.
The bald man and his followers whirled around to see who the soldier was yelling at. Arya sprinted away from the glass doors and ran a half circle around the gangsters in order to reach Declan.
The butch woman lunged at Arya, pulling out a switchblade from within her jacket and swinging it wildly at the doctor. The blade made contact with him twice, first cutting into his shirt, then into his forehead. Arya tried to evade the woman, and Declan opened fire.
The earsplitting sound of a few loose gunshots pierced the air. He didn’t shoot the woman; the bullets riddled the cement at her feet. It was a warning.
At that, the bald man flew forward with a speed someone his size shouldn’t have possessed. He grabbed Declan’s rifle and jabbed it backwards, bashing the butt of the gun into Declan’s forehead a few times in a row.
Disoriented and ignoring the sudden pain in his face, Declan reached for the pistol on his hip, but the gangsters had already swarmed over him. The butch woman took Declan’s pistol from its holster and held it out of his reach.
“RUN!” Declan hollered while the bald man restrained him by the arms. “ARYA! RUN! RUN, GODAMMIT! RUN!”
Arya hesitated. He couldn’t leave Declan at the mercy of the gangsters.
“GO GET HELP! GO!” Declan screamed. “GO! HURRY THE # UP!”
Caitlin and Owen watched the struggle from behind their pickup truck, both of them awestricken.
Arya, appearing terribly conflicted, turned on his heel and darted towards the open desert.
The butch woman raised Declan’s pistol—
“Hold it there, missy.” A new voice spoke. “Don’t be fillin’ our doctor with holes, now. Let him run if he likes. There’s nowhere for him to go.”
About ten more people dressed in 90’s punk attire emerged from the hospital doors. The man speaking was their leader, a slender man with dark stringy hairs that looked like they had been slicked backwards at some point, but were now dangling over his forehead. He had a slim face, and a studded leather jacket over his unique black shirt. The shirt was comparable to a suit, with two thin white lines stitched in on each side of his chest, from his shoulders down to his stomach, and with a single large button keeping it closed. Under the shirt was a casual white button-up, and he had on a pair of stylish black pants with two small chains resting on each of his hips from the pockets. Even watching at such a distance, Caitlin knew immediately that this man was the leader of the whole group. He had the aura of leadership about him, as well as the fashion sense, the attitude, and even the walk. He entered the scene as if he owned the place, his stride casual, yet somehow powerful, with his hands hidden away in his jacket and his head turning each direction as he pieced together everything that had happened. Then, the leader turned his attention onto the butch woman again.
“He’ll be back when he figures out that there’s nowhere to go.” He said in an Irish accent so thick that Caitlin almost had trouble making out what he was saying. “Give it time. Shootin’ everybody who doesn’t do everything our way ain’t gonna get us nowhere. Not right now, anyway. That doctor is the only doctor around. We need him alive.”
The butch woman slowly lowered the pistol.
Declan finally stopped fighting against the bald man’s firm restraint, his arms cramping as they stayed twisted behind his back.
The soldier’s eyes fixed on the Irish stranger.
“Well now, whaddo we have here?” The leader said. “An Army grunt? All by your lonesome? Now, what brings a man like you to a place like this? And with no backup? Surely you got hit on the head with some debris when all them cities got blown off the map. Travelin’ alone is a sure fire way to get yourself killed anymore.”
Declan reared back and spat a wad of saliva directly into the man’s eye.
The Irish man shut his eyes, but he didn’t waver or flinch. Declan’s spit dribbled off of the man’s face and onto the concrete.
One of the skinny gangsters delivered a solid, bony punch into Declan’s cheek. Declan tried to break free and return the act, but the bald man refused to let go.
“Charming.” The Irish man uttered, wiping the saliva from his eye with two fingers.
“What do we do?” The bald man asked his leader. “Do we get rid of him?”
The Irish man glared at Declan.
“No.” He replied after a moment of thought. “He’s valuable, that one… plus, we don’t need to go killin’ everything in our path. Not unless we have to. Come on, bring him inside. We’ll make him comfortable. Perhaps he’ll tell us where his friend went off to, and then we’ll have our doctor back.”
The bald man gave Declan a hard jerk before forcibly escorting him towards the hospital. The entire gang headed for the hospital’s entrance, while Caitlin and Owen observed from their spot behind the truck. Both of their legs were aching after sitting in such an uncomfortable kneeling position for so long, but they both forgot to notice. After what they just saw, nothing else could have captured their attention. Neither of them spoke until all of the gangsters were inside of the hospital. Arya was out of sight, and the parking lot was empty once more.
Caitlin felt a knot form in her stomach, her eyes stuck on the lobby doors in the minutes after the people had gone inside. She didn’t know who they were or why they were held up in a hospital, but one thing was for certain; they’d been holding a man inside the building against his will, and now, they’d captured a soldier as well. The soldier had arrived to find his friend, and after sacrificing himself so that his friend could escape, he was in trouble. Nothing about this was okay. Something needed to be done.
“Stay here.” Caitlin ordered Owen, standing upright and straightening out. “I’ll be right back.”
“What’re you doing?” Owen asked.
“I’m gonna go see if I can help him.”
“Who, the soldier?”
“Yes, the soldier.”
“Why can’t I go?”
“Because you’re twelve.”
“But you’re only eighteen.”
“Yeah, I’m the oldest. That means I’m in charge. I’m going, you’re staying. Period.”
“But that’s not—”
“If you say that’s not fair one more time, I’m gonna knock your teeth in. Just stay put and wait for me to come back. And don’t touch Dad’s rifle. I’ll know if you did.”
“Okay, so how come you’re allowed to do something dangerous and I’m not?”
Caitlin cocked her head and pretended to think about it. “Mmm, because… do as I say, and not as I do. That’s why.”
“Pft. Whatever you say, Dad.”
“Shut up and stay put.”
Caitlin walked across the parking lot towards the building, her 45 held low behind her hip. While she continued towards the dangerous situation with no real plan coming to her mind, Arya didn’t slow his pace as he dashed across the flat landscape, and inside of the hospital, the Irish man and his gang dragged Declan through the hallway behind the lobby and threw him into a windowless room, slamming the door behind him and locking it. Then, the bald man met eyes with the leader.
“You really think the doctor will come back?” He asked.

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:21 AM
“A’course I’m sure. He’s got nobody out there waiting for him, and nobody else he crosses paths with is gonna be too kind to a loner out in the open, not after all the chaos that’s befallen us all in the last twenty four hours. It’s a holocaust. Regular people ain’t the norm anymore. Everyone outside these walls is a murderous ravaging beast resortin’ to all their most primal instincts. Honestly, who’s our doctor gonna meet out there that would be willin’ to help a complete stranger?”

Even after hours of walking, Church and Alan still had the energy to bitch at each other.
Sandra, who tried to walk as far ahead of the group as she could to separate herself from the objects of her forming migraine, was becoming extremely annoyed.
It was about three in the afternoon when Sandra reached her breaking point. The surrounding area had become flat and empty as they walked, the trees around the town of Las Nueva Era fading from view behind them as they traveled further and further on the road leading north.
“Yes, Ryujin should be the one to carry the rifle.” Alan said for at least the fifth time. “I wouldn’t trust you with a gun any sooner than I’d trust a squirrel to guard a bag of trail mix.”
“Yeah? Then how come he didn’t let you have a gun either?” Church replied. He wasn’t giving Alan any threats like he did back in school, not with Sandra within earshot.
“Probably because I’m not sure how to use one. That’s not why he refused you, though. He refused to let you carry a gun because you’re an oversized temperamental child, and you’d probably shoot any of us if we told you that your shoelaces were untied.”
“You’re really pushing your luck with me, you little bitch.”
“What? You gonna hit me again? Be my guest. You’ll just be proving my point.”
“You think I won’t?”
Everyone froze in their step when Sandra faced them and screamed at them out of nowhere. Her hands were balled into fists and her long crimson bangs were lying crookedly over her face, her teeth grinding together and her breath quickening. They all stood quietly in the middle of the road for about half a minute.
Ryujin, who’d been walking silently at the back of the group, sighed.
Church was speechless, and Alan gave Sandra a condescending stare.
“Really, Sandra?” Alan said. “We’re a group of four traveling alone out here, and God knows what sort of people are lurking out and about, looking for victims to kill and rob. Did you really have to yell like that? If anyone’s around here, you probably just caught their attention. We might as well have tied meat around our necks and jumped into a shark tank.”
“Shut up.” Sandra commanded, jabbing a finger at him.
Alan stopped talking.
“You’ve been arguing for hours. Literally. Hours.” Sandra said very slowly. “You don’t get to lecture me about being too loud, you piss ant. Now. Shut. Up.”
There was a pause. The four of them had been walking all day without food or water. It made sense that they were getting irritable, and their minor hungers had grown into painful growls inside of their stomachs. They all had a little bit of food in their backpacks, but they wanted to preserve it for as long as possible. Who knew when they would have the chance to find food again after their supplies were gone?
“I think… we need a break.” Ryujin suggested. “Let’s stop walking, just for a little bit. Let’s sit down, maybe have a little snack. We need it.”
Sandra wanted to deny this request at once, but seeing the way the boys were looking at her, she couldn’t. They were desperate for a little rest. Sandra didn’t want to stop until she found her uncle, but food, water, and rest was a necessity. They needed a break.
“Fine. Come on.”
So, Sandra stepped off of the road and into the grass, approaching the edge of a small hill and sitting on it. She let her bugout bag slide off of her arms and fall onto the ground, leaning back on her arms and observing the scenery while her legs dangled over the hill’s edge.
Alan, Church, and Ryujin all tossed their backpacks down too. Sandra heard them digging through their backpacks and opening loud plastic wrappers, and one of them opened a sardine can. She didn’t care. None of her food or water would get wasted right now. She wouldn’t use it until she absolutely needed it. For now, making the trip to Sanctum was top priority, and that meant conserving her supplies for as long as she could.
With her food and water tucked away to remain untouched, Sandra concluded that she could at least indulge in a tiny cat nap. After all, she was just as tired as everyone else.

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:23 AM
Her arms folded behind her head and she lay outstretched on the grass. The air was chilly, but the sunlight felt nice on her face.
Her tiredness caught up with her before she could think twice. Despite the prominence of the memory of the mushroom cloud in her mind, the memories of her uncle were louder, clearer. Sandra heard loose bits of his lessons and rants drift in and out of her thoughts as she slipped out of consciousness, and one particular memory began to play in her mind in the form of a lucid dream…
It was about a year ago, when Dorian managed to lure Sandra into the bunker after she returned home from school. He’d gotten to her before she had the chance to hide away in her bedroom. Sandra was sitting on the floor against the metal wall, looking as bored as ever, while Dorian continued to speak a mile a minute from his counter, covering a variety of topics and making frequent gestures as he talked.
“… and that’s where the theory comes from. See, people holler ‘false flag’ too often anymore. Nobody takes it seriously. But when you look at the facts, weed out those details that everyone else overlooks, you can figure out what’s what by yourself. But nobody does that. It’s maddening to learn that stuff when there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Mmmmhm.” Sandra moaned, crossing her arms over her legs and burying her face in her knees.
Dorian faced her. “Are you listening, kiddo? Most people wouldn’t know a false flag unless it hit them where the sun don’t shine, and that could happen. What would most people do if they played witness to one? Hell, what would most people do if they were exposed to any kind of attack? How do you think they’d react? Humanely? Pffft, nope!”
Sandra lifted her head and raised her brows. “Uncle… I don’t care.”
“You should care.” Dorian replied. “I’m talking about a worst case scenario. A survival scenario. Most people wouldn’t have any idea what to do. Right and wrong would become relative. A lot of people wouldn’t even have a concept of right or wrong anymore.”
Sandra tried to hide the fact that she was becoming intrigued by everything he was saying.
“Is there a right and wrong?” She asked. “If the world goes to #, and if everyone’s barely scraping by… barely surviving… would there even be a right or wrong anymore?”
Dorian met eyes with her. He lowered his coffee mug and let out a breath.
“That’s up to us.” He told her profoundly. “We always have to stand for something, even when we’re at our worst. Otherwise, we lose the right to survive, because we have nothing to stand for. Right and wrong become bigger when our lives are on the line, but they don’t become grayer like everyone thinks. It becomes much clearer when our mortality is in check. What truly defines a man… or a woman… is how we stand when we suffer.”
Sandra thought on this. “So… so, what if the end of the world happens, and we have to choose whether or not we want to help other survivors? What would we do? Would we help other people who need food or water or whatever? Or would we lock them out and just take care of ourselves? What would be the right thing to do then?”
“Like I said, it’s up to us.” Dorian responded. “Both of those options could be seen as ‘right’ for someone like me. If I were to lock everyone out of the bunker, I’d keep you away from whatever danger they could bring. Locking the doors would keep you out of harm’s way, and that’s my top priority. But if I opened the doors, if I helped them, I’d be saving a lot of people—but they might turn hostile and attack us. You see, there’s no clear right or wrong here. It’s hard to know right from wrong until we’re actually in those situations, y’know?”
Sandra looked down. His answer wasn’t entirely satisfying to her.
Dorian continued. “Listen, kiddo. The right thing to do, naturally, would be to help anyone and everyone who needed it… but I’d run the risk of putting you in danger, and that complicates everything. Doing the right thing would be dangerous, risky, and potentially disastrous. But see, what’s right and what’s easy are almost always two completely different things. Sometimes doing the right thing can reward you more than you can anticipate, but sometimes it can hurt you more than you can ever hope to prepare for. Helping a stranger in need is something that we’d all want to do when something terrible happens, and when it comes right down to it, when the moment hits, we’ll all have to make the decision then and there; is doing the right thing worth the daunting risk that comes with it?”
Of course it is, Sandra thought present day as she made herself more comfortable on the grassy hill, stretching her arms and turning onto her side. I brought Alan, and Ryujin, and even Church. I helped a few random people on a whim. You’d be proud of me, Uncle… even though I’ve been mean to you all my life… you’d still be proud of me… because that’s how you are, Uncle… that’s who you are… always seeing the good in people…
The boys sat in a triangle without talking to each other. About half an hour went by. None of them were eating anymore, but nobody wanted to resume the journey just yet. They’d been walking since morning, and their muscles were sore.
Even though it had only been about thirty minutes, Sandra felt much better. She sat up and popped her neck, extended her arms, and released a groan as if she’d awoken from a ten hour beauty nap.
Sandra blinked a few times, readjusting her vision to the sunlight and looking into the desert. Some of the land contained grass, and other parts were made of only dirt. There were very few trees in sight, only accompanied by the occasional boulder. Sandra hoped dearly that Sanctum wasn’t much farther than what she could see.
Off to the left, a glint of movement caught her eye.
It was towards the pavement, a fork in the road where the street leading north was intercepted by one leading east to west. Someone was running from the west road, slowing down more and more with each step he took.
Sandra gulped. It wasn’t someone she recognized, but he seemed to be running directly towards her. From where Ryujin, Alan, and Church were sitting, none of them could see the mysterious man.
The man appeared to be wearing a long white doctor’s coat overtop of a much darker outfit. There was a surgical mask hanging from around his neck, and his wavy black curls were completely askew.

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 01:26 AM
Sandra carefully slid down the hill, out of the sight of her companions, and pushed herself onto her feet once she reached the dirt patch below. The runaway doctor came within a few yards of her, and Sandra had to stifle a gasp.
Arya Ashraani was coated with sweat, his mouth agape as he panted for breath. There was a steady stream of blood oozing from his forehead, and it had stained a few select areas on his white coat and left a couple red drops on his cheek. The man had been running for hours, and he hadn’t eaten any food or drank any water since yesterday. When he stumbled to a stop in front of the redheaded wanderer, he tried to speak, but no words came out. His energy had abandoned him completely. He was depleted.
A lot of feelings erupted in Sandra at once. This person was a stranger to her, and she had no way of knowing if this confrontation was a trap of some kind. But judging by the way he looked, she guessed that his condition was totally genuine. His endless brown eyes shone in a beautifully pure way, a way that would have been impossible for a liar or a trickster to pull off. There was nothing about this man that seemed like a façade or a trap. This was a stranger who needed help. Nothing more.
Sandra easefully raised her hands. “Hey. I’m a friend. I’m friendly, I promise. Are you okay?”
Again, Arya tried to talk, but he couldn’t. All at once, his body became much heavier than it should have been. His legs stopped working, and the doctor collapsed.
“Oh God!”
Arya fell to his knees.
Sandra did the same right in front of him, grasping him by the arms and keeping him steady. She studied the man, wondering what on earth had happened to him.
“You’re fine, you’re fine… you just… you need water. I… uh… hang on.” Sandra said, glancing around and realizing that her backpack was no longer on her person. “Stay here, I’ll be right back. You’re gonna be fine, alright?”
Sandra leaped to her feet and rushed up the side of the hill. When she grabbed her backpack, Ryujin, Alan, and Church all gave her the same suspicious look. She didn’t bother explaining anything to them. Instead, she made her way down the hill and sat on her knees in front of the injured doctor again.
The bugout bag was filled with a lot of things that were unfamiliar to Sandra. It was a bag that Dorian had packed for her. After a while of digging around in the assortment of items, she finally found a small plastic canteen that was filled with water. She unscrewed the lid and held the canteen up to Arya’s mouth.
It met his lips, and he suddenly found the strength to move his arms again. Arya took hold of the canteen and chugged half of its contents effortlessly before remembering to stop and breathe.
“Thank you…” He said hoarsely between exhalations. “Thank you…”
“No problem. Here, drink the whole thing. You need it more than I do.” Sandra nudged the canteen toward him when he tried to hand it back to her. “Are you okay? What happened? Who are you?”
Arya took in several deep breaths before he attempted to explain his situation.
“My name is Arya.” He said. “I was a… a doctor at St. Luke’s Hospital, just a little west of here. I… yesterday, when it all happened, a group of people showed up in the hospital and wouldn’t allow me to leave. I understand why. They had a sick child in their care. I couldn’t save the child. She was beyond help. Then, my friend showed up… my friend Des… well, his name is Declan, but he goes by Des…”
“They locked you up?” Sandra said.
“They kept me there against my will, yes, but it was just because they wanted me to treat that child.” Arya replied. “That poor child… and that man, the man who persuaded me to treat her, he was their leader. It was an Irish guy, a guy called Maximillion Terhune. He introduced himself to me properly after he made it clear that I wasn’t allowed to leave. But the others called him Maxi, for short. Maxi’s a shady bastard. He made a few offhanded comments about how most people didn’t deserve to survive the bombs, and how the world would be cleanse… then, he ran off and hid up on the fifth floor… and… and…”
Arya paused. Sandra didn’t take her eyes off him.
“But I stayed.” He went on. “I stayed, because I thought I might be able to help that girl. She was already too far gone by the time I saw her, though. Her state was… unbelievable. The girl must have been a family member of Maxi’s or something, I don’t know. All I know is… no ten year old deserves to die like that… but there was nothing I could do… and… #, my friend! Des is still there, they took him in. I don’t know what they’re going to do to him… or if he’s even…”
“They’re probably keeping your friend as bait, hoping that you’ll go back.” Sandra told him.
“Well, even if they are, I can’t leave him there.” Arya replied gravely.
Alan, Ryujin, and Church were all hunched on the edge of the hill and eavesdropping on Sandra’s conversation. Sandra pretended not to notice.
“I’m sorry.” Arya said breathlessly. “I’m sorry, I barely know you, and I’m in no position to ask for your help, but I can’t leave Des there with those people. I have to break him out somehow, and I can’t do it alone.”
“I’ll help you.” Sandra decided with no forethought. “I’ll help you get your friend back.”
Arya’s eyes lit up. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah. I’m dead serious.” Sandra answered. “I wouldn’t feel right about leaving someone behind who needed help. How far west is this place?”
“You’re a saint, thank you. Thank you so much.” Arya responded with a smile forming. “The hospital is a couple of hours away. I can take you there.”
Arya reached his feet slowly, his body pulsating all over, but he couldn’t let that faze him now.
Sandra stood as well.
“You’re out of your mind.” Alan interrupted, skidding down the hill and rounding on Sandra. “You don’t even know this guy, and you’re about to run off with him just because he says he needs help?”
“Yeah, I am.” Sandra replied simply. “I didn’t ask you to follow me, Alan. If you don’t like it, walk your ass back to the bunker. I’m doing this my way.”
“You’re being extremely reckless!” Alan proclaimed, gesturing to Arya. “You have no idea if this guy is telling the truth or not! You have no idea who he is at all! Are you serious, Sandra? Are you seriously about to put your life on the line for a complete stranger?!”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Why? Why?!”
“Because what, Sandra?”
Sandra gazed into Arya, and now, with her uncle appearing in her thoughts once again, the answer was as plain as the gash on the doctor’s forehead.
“Because it’s worth the risk.”

[End, stay tuned for chapter 5]

Lemme know if you want more, guys, and tell me whatcha think of the story so far. Glad to finally share it with people. Peace~!

edit on Xx73010131AM11 by XxNightAngelusxX because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 10 2016 @ 11:39 PM
It's amazing! So filled with suspense, characters really come to life, excellent dialogue and story line...Yes, please write more!

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 01:56 AM

Chapter 5

Against all odds

The cafeteria of the hospital was filled with people, and it was louder than it ever had been before.
All of his people were gathered in the cafeteria. The counter containing the food was filled by mostly prepackaged sandwiches, chopped fruit in plastic containers, canned and bottled beverages, and salad. Some of Maxi’s people tried to cook the food they found in the back, but none of them were chefs. The only thing they managed to prepare was a long pan of overcooked hamburger patties and a helping of leftover chicken wings from the night before. Most of the food being eaten was the prepackaged stuff. Nobody wanted to touch the charred burgers and the half heated wings.
This family was composed of about fifteen people. They all retrieved their food and made themselves comfortable at the tables. When Maximillion Terhune stepped onto a chair and elevated himself above the crowd, most of them went silent.
Maxi slid his hands together. He stayed quiet for a few seconds before he spoke. He’d just returned from the hospital room where his little sister was lying in a hospital bed. The girl’s heart had been racing, and after a few pained noises escaping her, her breath had ceased, and the child passed.
There wasn’t much to be done about it. Maxi had ordered his hostage doctor to treat the child, but ever since the girl first came down with the new flu a couple of weeks ago, he was prepared for the worst. People showing the drastic symptoms that she had rarely survived, and the doctors were clueless as to how to treat it. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that she wouldn’t make it.
“Friends, family.” Maxi began. “I’ve called you all here to inform you, our dear Mary Terhune has passed away today.”
The few people who were still whispering to each other stopped talking. Everyone stared up at Maxi and waited for him to continue, and the air inside the cafeteria became more still, more tense.
“Where was the #ing doctor?!” Someone cried from the back. “Why didn’t the doctor do his job?!”
“Our doctor’s no longer with us. He ran.” Maxi replied. “And even still, Mary was gone from us from the start of it. The doctor couldn’t have saved her. We’ve entered a new age, you see, and this flu is taking people out from under us. Friends… loved ones...”
His family fell silent again. Maxi cleared his throat, shifted his attention between the many faces that were focused on him, and resumed.
“When we came here yesterday… it was a pit stop. Remember? The lot of us, all plannin’ on vacationing in Vegas and spendin’ our hard earned money on fine liquors and gambling, just to forget about those we’ve lost to the Red Flu. Course, I wasn’t gonna join you. I’d planned to stay here with Mary until she got better. But before we could go on with our plans, Vegas was destroyed. Vegas, as well as every other major city in the country. You see, we’re gathered here to witness… and survive… the end of the world as we know it. Funny how it works, those of us usually shunned by regular society, those of us disowned by our families because of our lifestyles, our creeds… and yet, here we are.”
Maxi opened his arms in a presenting sort of way. His voice was soft, smooth, and gentle, but somehow still strong and unyielding. Perhaps it was the confidence he placed in his words that made him seem so very tenacious, because he wasn’t shouting or fuming. He was as calm as could be.
“Some folks might call our situation a tragedy, and I might even be one of those folks.” Maxi said. “But we’re not without hope, not while we’re all here. That’s what we built this family on… on bonds, on loyalty, on principles that we hold valuable. Principles that our other families lacked, that they didn’t care for. Our Mary died today, but she won’t have died in vain, and she won’t be forgotten. Outside these walls, a new world waits for us. All the bigotry, all the hatred, all the war waged in our world between the different countries, or extremist groups, or social movements… it was about time that it all came to a stop. This war was a tragedy, but it was a needed tragedy… because we, as humans, have been living like tragedies for far too long now. It was the murder to end all murders. It was the genocide to end all genocides. And here… now… we have the chance to start over. I think we’re meant to. Those of us who hold value in diversity, those of us who rejected the rights and wrongs dictated to us by the world around us… there’s a reason why we survived, because we have the disposition necessary to move forward, not stay stagnant, not move backward... but to move forward, without all the deadweight keepin’ us shackled to the technological dark ages.”
The expressions of his people became softer. They were all outcasts, some of them homosexuals, some of them with a drug or alcohol problem, and some of them just plain weird in their own unique way. Maxi prided himself on forming a gang out of the misfits he’d found since coming to America, people who weren’t accepted in their own families anymore. It was astounding that these rough, hardened individuals could mourn the death a ten year old girl with such sincerity. They were truly misunderstood people.
“Our losses will remind us that we are never without something to lose.” Maxi told them. “Never, ever, will we be free from the pain of loss. We lost Mary, and we lost our entire world as we knew it. But we have not lost everything. We can never, and will never, lose everything.”
“What do we do?” Rocky asked from the front of the crowd.
“We survive.” Maxi answered. “We survive, thrive, and build a foundation for new principles that will reshape the world from its roots. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re gonna have dark and difficult times ahead, and those left in power might call us revolutionaries, might call us anarchists, but we only want to live our lives, don’t we? Live on our feet rather than die on our knees? I dunno about any of you, but living to be free is a hellova lot better than submitting to someone else’s oppressive tyranny.”
Some of them clapped after hearing this.
“The world’s better off without the fat cats throwing lives under the bus to wage their wars and fill their pockets. No longer will we tolerate what’s blatantly wrong—no longer, because now, we’re in charge!”
Everyone shot up from their seats and cheered.
Maxi clapped twice and raised his hands. “Dismissed!”

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 01:58 AM
A few people stayed seated to finish their food, but many of them stood and began to leave the room. Maxi gave them a charmed smile before stepping down from his chair. Being a shepherd to this family was a privilege for him, and somehow, he’d managed to turn a horribly sad event into something uplifting and hopeful for his followers using only his inspirational words. It was his gift.
His speeches were commonplace in this family. He was their leader, and that didn’t change with the coming of doomsday. They needed a leader now more than ever.
Everyone did.
Caitlin, who had been sneaking around the hospital for hours now, was far enough from the mess hall not to hear Maxi’s speech. She had no way of knowing that the family was dispersing, and that the hallways were about to become much more difficult to venture without being discovered.
The upper stories were easy enough to search. There was nobody around, and all of the rooms were unlocked end empty. The longer Caitlin searched, the more she began to doubt that the soldier was even still alive. The gangsters had more than enough time to dispose of him. But they wouldn’t have done that, would they? Didn’t the Irish guy specifically order them to keep the soldier alive?
And if the soldier was being held captive, where could he be? The second, third, fourth, and fifth floors were all empty. It took her forever to search them all while keeping herself unseen and moving as quietly as a shadow. The only floor left to search was the ground floor, the first floor. Caitlin stood with her back against the wall, peeking around a corner in order to make sure the coast was clear. She hadn’t run into any trouble this whole time, but she still needed to be careful.
On the opposite end of the hallway, two people walked across the conjoined hall and vanished from sight. The bottom floor must have been where all of the family members were this whole time. No wonder the rest of the building was so easy for her to search.
Caitlin bit her lip. Her little brother had been waiting outside for hours, and the darkening windows meant that sunset was approaching. She’d have to hurry in order to get out of this place before nightfall.
Maybe she could still escape now, before the family had the chance to find her. But, no… she’d breached this building for a reason, and she hadn’t yet accomplished her goal. The soldier was still missing.
Caitlin tip-toed down the hall and pushed the first door on her left open very slowly. Many of the lights in the building weren’t on. The place was eerie, and every sound seemed to echo as if someone was using a blowing horn in the heart of the Grand Canyon. But if she stayed vigilant and kept out of anyone’s path, then she should be alright. There weren’t many rooms left to search, after all.
This hospital room didn’t have any captive soldiers inside. Caitlin figured as much, what with the door left standing partially open, but she wanted to see every room with her own eyes just to be sure.
Caitlin’s hand wrapped around her mouth. On the hospital bed was a child who looked to be about Owen’s age. Her hair was a blatant green color and it was stained with blotches of blood, as well as her face, her sheets, and her pillow. Caitlin approached the bloody child and grasped her wrist. There was no pulse.
On her father’s hunting trips, she and Owen would kill their fair share of animals, then skin, dress, and prep them for storing or cooking. Caitlin was no stranger to seeing corpses, but this was very different. This was another human being, and a child no less, drenched in blood and lying dead right in front of her.
Then, a thought occurred to her. Before the bombs fell, something else had been going on around the world that caught a lot of medical professionals off guard. It was an epidemic of something called the Red Flu. Caitlin had never seen anyone with this sickness before, but if she was correct in her assumption, she was looking at the direct aftermath of the new flu now. This child was a victim of the new disease. The name of the sickness was fitting, if it caused bleeding like this…
Her hand didn’t leave her face.
Caitlin didn’t want to breathe the same air that the child had breathed, but it wasn’t out of fear of contamination. She simply didn’t want to smell the thick aroma of iron that was probably prominent in the air around her. Her stomach contracted, making her feel nauseous, and if she’d allow herself to smell the child’s blood, she very well might vomit.
Now, the actions of the gang members made more sense to her. They’d kept a doctor here so that this child might get healed.
The girl had on a leather vest with many patches and designs on it, and that along with her green hair was a clear indicator to Caitlin that the child had idolized her elders in the gang. It reminded her of Owen, when he would occasionally steal some of her favorite band shirts from her dresser back home and wear them without her permission, or when he’d slip up and utter a curse word in her presence. Sometimes, Owen acted a little too much like his older sister. This little girl was similar. She’d wanted to be like the gang, wanted to be like her role models. It was morbidly unfair that she died so early, so young.
If it could happen to her, an innocent little girl, then it could happen to anyone.
Caitlin, thinking of Owen, shuddered and forced the thought away.
She whispered to the dead child, slowly removing her hand from her mouth and nose. “I don’t know what to say... except… I’m sorry.”
Caitlin gently removed a loose strand of the girl’s long hair from her face.
“I’m sorry.”
Then, she slipped her hand into her jean pocket. Yesterday morning, she and Owen had stopped at a diner for breakfast before heading towards Las Nueva Era, and she still had a pocket full of leftover change.
Caitlin pulled two quarters from her pocket and placed them on each of the child’s eyes. It was a tradition that her grandparents had taught her when she visited them in Wales.
It was difficult to process what she’d just discovered, but nevertheless, Caitlin began to move again. She gave the deceased child a sympathetic stare, then turned and departed the hospital room.
The next room was across from her. To her surprise, when she grabbed the knob and tried to twist it, it wouldn’t budge. This was the first locked door that she’d found—which meant that something, or someone, was probably being kept on the other side.
Declan, who had thoroughly destroyed the small waiting room he was being kept in, perked up when he heard the sound of the knob jolting around. He stood and stepped between the overturned chairs, watching the door and wondering who was on the other side.
“Fu*k… sh!t, goddammit….” Caitlin swore under her breath, pulling her credit card out of her back pocket and attempting to wedge it into the crevice between the frame and the lock. “Open, dammit… open up… come on…”
“Had a little visit with Mary, didja?” A voice came from behind. An Irish accent.

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 01:59 AM
A tingling sensation shot up and down her spine. Caitlin stopped moving, her credit card still jutting crookedly out of the side of the door. She couldn’t bring herself to turn around right away.
At least two sets of footsteps were behind her. The Irish man wasn’t alone.
Caitlin felt infuriated that she’d been caught; she worked four floors without anyone knowing she was there. But now, after finally locating the room with the trapped soldier inside, she’d gotten careless, forgot to pay attention to her surroundings…
Caitlin rocketed upward and raised her pistol, preparing to whack someone—
Maxi was only about a foot from her, and her pistol came incredibly close to his forehead, but his oversized friend, Rocky, grabbed Caitlin by the wrist and restrained her at once. Caitlin attempted to throw kicks or punches, but she was lost in the vast embrace of the humongous bald man within seconds. The girl scowled at Maxi, who returned the look with a snide smirk.
“Don’t go actin’ like I’m the bad guy here, lassy.” Maxi said. “I ain’t the one who’s been caught breakin’ and enterin’ now am I? Nah, that’d be you.”
“# you! This place isn’t even yours!” Caitlin shrieked, trying to jump at Maxi and failing, as Rocky had an inescapable hold on her. “What the hell did you kidnap a soldier for anyway? What good is a soldier?! What use is he to you and your big gang of thugs? Huh? You guys can look after yourselves! You don’t need a soldier!”
Declan pressed the side of his face against the metal door. He couldn’t hear the confrontation very clearly, but he heard it well enough. Someone had broken into the hospital and tried to rescue him, a girl, who’s voice was completely unfamiliar…
Maxi’s expression faded into a straighter one, one that couldn’t be easily deciphered. His eyes would make anyone think that he was constantly holding in a lot of thoughts or feelings, but the look on his face now gave off the opposite impression.
Caitlin kicked at Rocky’s shins. Rocky tightened his grip around her.
“Cachu! Tell your dog to stop manhandling me!” Caitlin yelled at Maxi.
Maxi’s face was one that carried many ominous looks, but a particular signature feature of his was the subtle movement of the nasolabial folds on either side of his mouth whenever he would reveal even the slightest hint of a smile.
“What a nasty word, and from such a pretty mouth.” He replied. “Keep yourself in check, now. You’ve still got a pistol in your hand. You ain’t powerless, but see, we trusted a little girl like you not to open fire, and we were right. Somethin’ tells me you haven’t killed many people in your time. Let’s aim to keep it that way.”
“I’ve shot enough animals. I’ve got no problem shooting yours too.” Caitlin quipped in response.
“Really. Then do it.” Maxi said, crossing his arms and staring right through her.
Neither Maxi nor Rocky tried to pry the pistol from Caitlin’s right hand, even though Rocky had her trapped in a smothering bear hug. The gun hung by her side, and she didn’t move.
“Thought so.” Maxi nodded. “Now… tell me something. Is the soldier boy a friend of yours?”
“Fu*k you.” Caitlin snapped.
“I see. Not in the mood for conversation. Well, given our situation here, I can understand why…” Maxi said, stepping closer to her. “Tell ya’ what, little girl. I placed a good bit of trust in you by letting you keep your gun. Now… once the trust is mutual, I think we can have a more civil conversation. I’ll have my boy let you go, if, and only if, you hand over your pistol… grip first… just while we talk. You’ll get your weapon back once we’re all done here. How’s that?”
Caitlin opened her mouth and nearly let a barrage of swear words pour out, but something stopped her. Perhaps he was being honest, perhaps he was actually giving her the opportunity to settle this without violence. If that was the case, she at least had to try. If something were to happen to her here because of a foolish decision—choosing to fight instead of talk—then her brother would be left all on his own. Plus, she was fast and agile, so she’d probably be able to outrun her captors if she had to…
Maxi held out his hand, waiting patiently for her to oblige.
Caitlin turned her 45 around carefully with her fingers, making sure not to point the barrel at herself at all. The gun was on safety, but it didn’t matter. Her father’s lessons of firearm safety were deeply rooted into her brain, and the way she handled the weapon was almost instinctive. Once her hand had wrapped around the barrel, she lifted her arm slightly, extending the pistol grip first as Maxi had asked.
Maxi took the gun and held it by his side. He made a hand movement at Rocky, quietly ordering him to release her, and he obeyed.
Caitlin quickly separated herself from the large man.
“I’d like to know your name.” Maxi said. He talked so quietly, his voice didn’t echo throughout the hallway like everyone else’s did.
Caitlin didn’t speak.
Maxi made a sideways head nod. “Fair enough. I don’t suppose everyone’s as willing to introduce themselves as I am. My name often keeps me safe rather than cause me any problems. I’m Maximillion Terhune, but my name, my real name, is Maxi. Just Maxi.”
Caitlin still didn’t reply.
“I just want to know two things. Two things.” Maxi held up two fingers. “One—do you know the soldier boy, and if you do, do you know his doctor friend as well? And two—why were you in Mary’s room?”
“I was…” Caitlin started, having to think over the questions twice in order to understand who Mary was. “I was just looking for him. For the soldier. That’s why I was in there. I just went into the wrong room, that’s all.”
The image of the dead child entered her mind again, the child that was in the room just behind her. This man, Maxi, had obviously been close to the child. In fact, the child’s skin tone and facial structure had been similar to Maxi’s, if Caitlin remembered correctly. Right now, she didn’t want to hold any sympathy for the man who’d held a doctor, a soldier, and now herself prisoner inside of a hospital, but thinking of the dead girl, it was difficult not to feel a tinge of pity.
“Ah.” Maxi uttered. “So, do you know him? Our soldier, I mean.”
Caitlin shook her head.
Maxi nodded. “I see. So then, you wouldn’t know the doctor either. Alright, that’s all I need to know. Rocky, put her somewhere she can rest for the night.”

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 01:59 AM
“What?!” Caitlin shouted. “You said you’d give me my gun back, you f—”
“Yeah, I did. And I will, once our conversation’s over. But I ain’t in the mood to talk anymore. It’s getting late, and I wanna rest. We’ll conclude our chat tomorrow.” Maxi responded, twirling the pistol around on his finger once before using it to motion towards the soldier’s prison room. “Lock her in there for me, Rocky. She and the soldier boy can fratter’nize while the rest of us get some shut eye.”
Maxi flipped a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door, then turned the knob and pushed it open. Rocky grabbed Caitlin again and forced her into the room with Declan.
Declan, as Maxi predicted, had approached the door and looked like he was about to make a move—until Maxi raised Caitlin’s pistol, aiming it squarely at the soldier’s forehead.
“Don’t try anythin’ you’ll regret.” Maxi ordered. “Stay put, just until I figure out what to do with you.”
Rocky shoved the girl into the confined lobby where Declan had been locked up for hours. Then, Maxi hurriedly yanked the door shut and turned the key, locking the door once again and sealing both Caitlin and Declan inside.
After Caitlin stumbled in, she flew around and bashed her fist into the metal door out of frustration. Then, she huffed and tried to compose herself, and Declan, standing about a yard apart from her, did the same. Both of them were hopping mad, but they couldn’t afford to lose their minds right now.
A few long minutes went by before either of them managed to calm themselves enough to speak. Caitlin’s hands still shook due to the rage and the shock of it all, but she hardened them into fists and played it off best she could.
“I’m Des.” Declan said.
“Cait.” Caitlin replied. “I’m Cait.”
“Nice to meet you, Cait.” Declan sounded as though he was trying to be polite, but Caitlin still heard the unmistakable anger in his tone. “Wish we could meet under better circumstances, but what the hell. Apocalypse, leatherheads, and being held up in a hospital… #, still not as exciting as some of my Saturday nights.”
Caitlin made a smug half smile.
As the two of them introduced themselves, Maxi was wandering through the hallways by himself. He’d told Rocky to leave him, to give him some space. He wanted to be alone in order to sort through his thoughts. Regardless of his confident ideals and his plans to rebuild from nothing, he had no idea how he was going to pull it off, how he would survive in the long run, how he would ensure the safety and survival of his followers…
When Maxi stepped into the elevator that would take him to the fifth floor, where he would finally have some peace and quiet away from the stressful day that he’d endured, he had no idea that his escaped doctor was on his way back to St. Luke’s, accompanied by the people who would provide him with the answers to the impossible questions on his mind.
Outside of the liberated hospital, the sky had darkened. Sandra, Arya, Alan, Ryujin, and Church all walked the road leading west in the night, and they were finally close enough to see St. Luke’s Hospital in the vicinity.
“There it is.” Arya told them. “We’re almost there.”
Sandra had an arm wrapped around her backpack as she rifled through it in search of a snack.
Her fingers finally grabbed what felt like a granola bar. She pulled out the snack, then zipped up the bag and slung it onto her back where it belonged. As they walked, Sandra examined the plastic wrapped bar of food in her hands, only to find that it wasn’t a granola bar; it was a concentrated brick of many things in one, containing protein, iron, gluten, and many more things that she didn’t care to read. The wrapping was a shiny blue color, with big white leaders on the front, reading; survival food bar
“What the hell, Uncle…” Sandra mumbled. “What’s this supposed to be?”
Arya glimpsed at the brick of food. “Oh, I’ve heard of those. Des told me that they taste awful. Where’d you get that?”
“None of your business.” Alan grumbled from Sandra’s other side. “Please don’t ask us questions. You’re a stranger to us.”
“Alan.” Sandra gave Alan a threatening glare. “Shut the hell up, unless you want me to beat your ass. Or, better yet, I’ll have Church do it for me.”
Alan made an appalled face, and Church snickered behind them.
“I got it from my uncle.” Sandra told Arya. “He packed this bag for me a long time ago, called it a bugout bag. I don’t actually know what’s in it, really… just a bunch of random survival stuff.”
“Ah. He was a smart man, then.” Arya responded. “He saw this coming, I guess. Most of us didn’t.”
Sandra silently agreed.
“Oh… right. Speaking of survival stuff…” Alan slid his backpack off and pulled out Dorian’s emergency radio. “Can’t hurt to check if the signal has improved. Couldn’t hear anything in that bunker, it was all static.”
“Give me that.” Sandra snatched the radio from him. “We don’t need to worry about that right now. We’re almost at the hospital. We need to start making a game plan.”
They all stopped across the street from the hospital building. Sandra examined the radio for a moment, a few ideas appearing in her mind, then began to peel the plastic from her survival food bar.
Growing nervous, Sandra opened the bar halfway, and instead of biting into it, she handed it to Arya.
Arya blinked at her. “Oh no, I can’t…”
“Just eat the damn thing.” Sandra said sternly. “You looked like you were about to kill over when you first showed up. You still do, honestly. Here, eat.”
Arya took the bar, and as if on cue, Sandra’s stomach unleashed a very audible growl.
All of them stared at her.
Sandra ignored it and began fiddling with the radio.
Arya broke the survival food bar cleanly in half. He offered one of the chunks to Sandra.

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 02:00 AM
“I’m fine, eat it.” Sandra said without looking at him, turning the radio over and examining the back of it. “I’ll eat later, once we’re all done here.”
“We’re not going to accomplish anything if any of us are deprived of energy.” Arya said. “Here.”
Sandra gazed up at him. He held the bar closer to her, wearing a rather insistent expression as he did. With his eyes invading hers so fluidly, she found it difficult to look away. Her heart skipped a beat, and she accepted the chunk of food, taking a small chomp out of it and wincing at the stale taste.
“Not particularly glamorous, but it gets the job done.” Arya said after he took his first bite. “Almost makes me want to loot some hospital food. Never thought I’d say that…”
Sandra powered on her uncle’s radio and turned down the volume. The signal was a little clearer than it had been back in the bunker, and it was playing the same looping broadcast, informing the listeners of all the cities that had been hit, and ending with follow the spade to sanctuary…
She wasn’t sure what station this was, but it was the one she needed to hear. Sandra turned off the radio and marched across the street, her friends following her over the road and into the parking lot. A black sports car sat in the middle of the lot, and off to the side was a dark green truck. Between the two vehicles was a moving shadow.
It was a child, a boy that might have been in his early teens. Caitlin’s little brother.
Owen held his father’s hunting rifle, and he was walking back and forth between the hospital building and his father’s truck, wanting to go into the hospital after his sister and changing his mind repeatedly. He’d make a clumsy movement every few steps to stay out of the sight of anyone who might have been looking out the hospital’s windows.
Sandra turned to Arya. “Who is that?”
“I don’t know.” Arya answered genuinely. “I didn’t see any kids here earlier today. I don’t know who he is. He’s not with that gang, I’m sure, but we still ought to tread lightly. He’s armed…”
“He’s scared.” Sandra muttered before advancing forward. “Hey kid, what’s up? Who are you?”
Owen raised the rifle when he spotted the group, his silver-gray eyes shining in alarm under the moonlight. The boy had hunted animals in the past, but he’d never aimed his gun at a human before now. His arms were trembling.
“Calm down.” Sandra held up her hands. “We’re friendly. Who are you? What’s going on?”
Alan tried to pull Sandra backwards. She jerked away from him.
Owen lowered the gun, but he didn’t loosen his grip on it.
“I… my sister.” He said. “My sister went in there to look for the soldier. There was a soldier, and they took him inside, and my sister went to go break him out… and … she’s been gone for hours… and… I don’t know what happened…”
“Your sister went after the soldier?” Arya asked. “She went after Des? Who was she? Did she know him at all, or…”
Owen shook his head. “No, she never met him before… she… she just wanted to help him. And I… she told me to stay outside, but… but that was this morning! She’s been gone all day, and she… she… God, she’s so stupid!”
Owen’s eyes sparkled. He wanted to cry, but immediately masked over his sadness with anger.
“Why would she go in there alone?! She’s an idiot!” He complained, allowing the rifle to dangle beside his leg. “Dammit! How am I supposed to help her?!”
Sandra’s anxiety doubled. They still didn’t have a plan, and now, the soldier wasn’t the only person in danger. The child was understandably scared out of his mind, and Sandra tried her best to hide that she was just as frightened as he was.
Leaving them be and avoiding the danger wasn’t an option anymore, not with a child stranded by himself, not with two innocent people having been captured. Sandra wasn’t sure why she’d taken on these problems on a whim, and it didn’t feel like the wrong thing to do at all—but Alan was right. It was still an extremely reckless thing to do.
There wasn’t any room left for doubt. Sandra came to the hospital intent on assisting whoever needed help, and now she had to follow through.
“We’re here to find the soldier.” Sandra said. “We’ll find your sister, too. You can come with us if you want, kid. What’s your name?”
“Owen.” He replied. “My sister’s name is Caitlin. If you see her, she’d answer to Caitlin, or maybe Cait. She probably won’t listen to you unless you know her name, that way she’d know you talked to me, and she might trust you a little bit.”
“She’d trust us even more if you were with us.” Sandra said. “If you come with us, we’ll make sure nothing happens to you. You stay in the middle of the group, keep your rifle pointed at the ground, and don’t start anything with anyone.”
“You’re gonna let me bring the gun?” Owen asked.
“Well yeah, of course.” Sandra answered. “As long as you know how to handle the thing and as long as you don’t threaten anyone, I don’t see why not. The better armed we are, the better odds we have if things go as bad as they can.”
Sandra hardly believed these words as they escaped her mouth. How did she get herself wrapped up in this situation, standing with a group of survivors and strategizing a way to break into a building full of potentially hostile strangers?
Owen was still frightened, but his eyes revealed a glimmer of passion that wasn’t there before. Caitlin wouldn’t let him use the rifle or go into the hospital, but now, someone else was trusting him to do so. He had the chance to prove himself.
Sandra lost herself in the radio again, holding it up and staring into it as her thoughts began to race once more. There was more to be done here than just a small rescue mission. These people, whoever they were, were stuck in a hospital with nowhere else to go. Sandra didn’t know them, didn’t know of their pasts or their beliefs. It was hard to say that this gang was actually a band of evildoers; they were probably just survivors trying to regather themselves the day after doomsday, just like everyone else.
With some vague plan in her mind now, Sandra turned around and spoke to everyone.
“Ryujin, will you do me a favor? Stay close to Owen, make sure nothing happens to him. Church, you can take the front. Nobody will mess you, you’re intimidating enough. Alan and Arya stay behind Church, Ryujin stays with Owen in the middle, and I’ll cover our six. We need the unarmed people in the front just so those people don’t get the wrong idea if they see us, and with Church leading, I doubt anyone will start any fights. I want all of you guys to just focus on finding the girl and the soldier, and nothing else. We have three guns between us, but I don’t want anyone firing unless we absolutely have to. We’re not here to shoot up the place. We’re just here to help someone out. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to help everyone. Come on… let’s go.”
Sandra led everyone towards the hospital, and they all assumed their positions as she had instructed. Alan followed Arya after making a confused face and mouthing to himself; help everyone?
Once they reached the entrance, Sandra opened the doors and allowed everyone to walk in in front of her, then stepped inside after Ryujin and Owen, bringing the glass door to a slow and quiet close.

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 02:00 AM
Arya was at Church’s side, whispering in his ear and telling him where to go. They crossed the lobby and entered the hallway. Everything was shrouded in darkness, and they all had to use extra caution so not to hit or step on anything by accident. The inside of this hospital was an echo chamber.
Sandra let them advance a little further than her. None of them noticed.
The compass in her right pocket wobbled and whacked against her leg lightly with every step she took. It was the spaded compass, the one her uncle had left her. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that he had a sanctuary up north somewhere, that he had a compass with a spade shaped arrow that pointed north, and that the radio broadcast kept instructing them to follow the spade to sanctuary every time they listened to it. Up north, there most certainly was an unknown destination that would provide them some safety and solitude, and it was Sandra’s job to get as many people there safely as possible, odds be damned.
On Sandra’s left, an elevator was standing open. Arya had said that the leader of the gang, Maxi, spent a lot of his time in the last twenty four hours hiding up on the fifth floor. That’s where he would be right now, she guessed.
Sandra waited until her companions were a few yards ahead of her, then stepped into the elevator and vanished from the group. She hit the “5” button, and the metal doors slid closed. The elevator carried her up to the fifth floor, and moments later, the doors opened and she entered a new hallway, this one completely empty.
Her mind had formulated a plan. It was a crazy one, and it certainly wouldn’t come without risk, but she needed to try. It was the right thing to do.
Sandra purposefully held the radio with her right hand in order to keep her fingers away from the gun on her hip. These people wouldn’t respond well to any threatening mannerisms. As she walked slowly down the unlit hallway, her heart began to pound. There was no way of knowing how they would respond to her arrival here, but hopefully, her restraint and civility wouldn’t be overlooked. Sandra was counting on that factor alone—and if it didn’t work, she and her friends would have a hell of a fight on their hands.
Surprisingly, there were no groups of leatherheads on the fifth floor. It seemed to be completely empty. That was a good thing, and a bad thing. It meant that Sandra might get a one-on-one audience with the leader, but it also meant that her friends downstairs would probably have unwanted company any second now.
The end of the hallway led into a circular area. It must have been the middle of the fifth floor, because there were three other hallways that bled into the area as well, and in the middle was a large rounded counter where the doctors, nurses, and secretaries used to do their work. Behind the counter was a number of desks and chairs, as well as many disorganized papers and other supplies. One of the chairs, a large and heavily cushioned rolling one, was pulled up to the edge of the counter, and Sandra was able to see Maxi’s boots propped up on the surface.
Maxi sat slacked backwards in the chair half asleep, his legs crossed and his feet resting on the countertop. He heard her approach, but he didn’t look away from the ceiling. He maintained his lazy posture, staring tiredly upwards and folding his arms a little tighter in order to keep himself warm. The air inside the hospital became colder after sunset.
Sandra placed her arms on the counter beside his boots and leaned over it, watching Maxi and waiting for him to acknowledge her presence.
Maxi’s head slumped sideways, and he met her gaze.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” He asked. “Please don’t tell me you’re here to break anybody out, because lemme tell ya’… I’ve had a day.”
Sandra gulped and took in a deep breath. He had an Irish accent; this was Maximillion Terhune, the man who had kidnapped Arya and Declan. This was just the person she needed to see.
“Kind of.” Sandra replied. “I don’t really need to break anyone out if we’re all on the same page. It’d be nice if we could all act civil with each other instead of fighting. There’s been enough fighting.”
Maxi blinked, his forehead wrinkling slightly as he gave her a thoughtful stare.
Sandra tried to read his expression, but she couldn’t.
“I have a question.” She went on. “How do you guys plan to survive from here on? The hospital is big and all, but you won’t really have a steady food or water supply once the food in the kitchen is all used up. Plus, the water isn’t gonna keep working forever. Neither is the electricity.”
“That doesn’t have much to do with breaking anybody out.” Maxi said. “Why’re you asking me that?”
“I have a solution that’s more permanent than this place. That’s why.” Sandra informed.
Maxi perked an eyebrow at her. “Do you, now.”
“Yeah, I do. My uncle was a huge doomsday prepper. He and some other preppers got together and made a plan for the end of the world. They have property up north where we’re supposed to meet and start a civilization. It’s called Sanctum.”
“That sounds a bit like a fairytale.”
“I’m not the one who named it.”
“Not just the name. The whole idea in general.”
“I know, but it’s true.”
“Tell me why I should believe you. I don’t even know who you are.”
Sandra fought down her nervousness for the millionth time. Maxi hadn’t moved from his relaxing position, but his eyes bore into her with such deep intrigue it made her squirm beneath her skin. He had a deadpan look about him, but his eyes were different. There was a fire beneath his casual exterior. She could almost feel its heat radiating from him.
Sandra put the radio on the counter, and when she did, she caught sight of the 45 pistol on the desk beside Maxi. Then, she removed her own pistol from its holster and raised it, holding it in Maxi’s immediate eyeshot. Her thumb hit the button on the gun’s handle, and the clip fell out of the pistol. Sandra caught the fully loaded clip, wobbled it in the air in front of Maxi, and pocketed it. With her gun unloaded, she posed no real threat to him.
After reholstering the pistol, Sandra held up both hands and wiggled her fingers. “No guns. Unarmed.”
“That ain’t too smart, y’know.” Maxi said. “You voluntarily disarm in front of the wrong person, and they could very well take advantage.”
“Well, you asked me why you should believe me. Now, I’m hoping you can trust me a little bit more. I didn’t come here to start any fights. I really do just want to talk.” Sandra responded.
Maxi sat upright and reached his feet. He placed his arms atop the counter in a similar manner as Sandra, giving her a nod as well as his undivided attention.
“Go ahead, then.” He said. “Talk.”
Sandra inhaled.
“I… don’t want to leave anyone behind.” She began. “I don’t want to leave anyone if I can help it. I want all of us to get to Sanctum. All of us. There’s no reason for all of us to fight with each other. If we do, we’re all just gonna die off. I’m taking a lot of people with me already. It makes more sense to have numbers… and you, you and your family, you need a place to go.”
Maxi observed her silently for a moment.

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 02:01 AM
“Do you have my doctor?” He asked. “Something must’ve brought you here if you knew to come up and find me specifically. I’m willin’ to bet you’re with that doctor.”
“Yeah.” Sandra told him. “Yeah, I found the doctor. I’m taking him to Sanctum.”
“Oh you are, huh.”
“We need a doctor amongst us. We’re a group of sixteen.”
“They probably have more doctors in Sanctum.”
“What’re you saying?”
“I’m saying, you could come with us.”
Maxi squinted at her. “No, no, see, y’don’t just offer a perfect stranger a free ride to a sanctuary. I don’t buy it. You’ve lost it if you think I’d fall for that. I heard better lies from my parents when they’d tell me about the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny.”
“I’m not lying.” Sandra said in a powerful voice that didn’t belong to her. “I’m. Not. Lying.”
Her eyes burned a fierce blue as she glared into him.
Maxi studied her. Her disposition changed when he accused her of lying; now, she looked more determined than ever. He always thought himself good at reading people, and this girl didn’t have any of the tell-tale signs of a liar.
“Gimme something.” He said. “Give me some sign… some sort of proof. Some sort of evidence to back up what you’re saying.”
Sandra nodded and turned on her uncle’s radio. The repeating broadcast was naming off the destroyed cities again, and the sound of it bounced off of the hospital walls. The end of the broadcast echoed from the speakers within the minute. “Follow the spade to sanctuary… follow the spade to sanctuary…”
Then, she powered off the radio, pulled the compass out of her pocket, and held it inches from Maxi’s eyes.
“My uncle told me that Sanctum is north of here.” Sandra stated. “He always wanted to take me there. Compasses point north. The spade is pointing to sanctuary. He left me this compass in case I’d have to make the journey on my own… I’m guessing, anyway… but I brought a few people from school with me, and I’m taking the doctor too. I also want to take the soldier, and the girl, and the kid. I want to take everyone.”
“These are all loose connections.” Maxi replied, taking the compass and examining it closely. “Clever man, he was. If he actually managed to pull all that off, I mean. If it’s true, then I think I’d like your uncle. Most people don’t care enough to put all that effort into living anymore. But now… now, they ain’t got a choice. You have to care now, or you ain’t gonna make it.”
“Exactly.” Sandra agreed. “My uncle said something like that once. He said that we have to stand for something, otherwise we don’t have any reason to survive.”
Maxi’s eyes glimmered, and he let slip a subtle smirk. “I do like your uncle.”
He returned the compass to her.
“Now, tell me something else.” Maxi said. “You met the doctor, so you’ve probably heard all about me, heard about how I’m the big bad wolf who’s just kidnappin’ people left and right. Now, what in the hell drives you to seek out a person like me and offer me charity?”
“Because… I don’t really know what I’m doing.” Sandra answered. “I’m trying to keep people safe, but I really don’t know what I’m doing. When Arya told me about you, it sounded like you were in the same boat as me. You don’t really know what you’re doing either, do you?”
“Now, that ain’t nice. I do my best.”
“So do I. But there’s no instruction manual for situations like this. It caught us all off guard.”
“Yes, that it did.”
“That’s why I want to help.”
Maxi sighed at her.
Sandra stayed silent and waited for his response.
“You gotta understand what you’re sayin’ to me right now.” He said. “You’d be pretty damn skeptical if someone waltzed up to you after the end of the world and offered you a free trip to Heaven.”
“I know. But it’s the best option you have right now. It’s the best option any of us have.” She replied.
Maxi went quiet for a moment.
“Your uncle. Where is he now?” He asked.
“I don’t know. He disappeared when the mushroom cloud happened. I haven’t seen him since sunrise yesterday.” Sandra replied. “But if he’s alive, my best bet of finding him is Sanctum.”
“You really got your heart set on this place, then.”
“Yeah. I don’t have a choice.”
“Well, even if I bit the hook and took your offer, I can’t very well take my whole family with me. We’d be travelin’ north for God knows how long, and I’m sure you ain’t got enough food in your day bag for all of us. My boys don’t really know how to hunt. Food and water would be an issue.”
“They can stay here.” Sandra patted the top of the radio. “I’ll leave the radio here for them.”
Maxi made an odd face. “You lost me.”
“Okay… whoever’s broadcasting is probably broadcasting from Sanctum.” Sandra explained. “And even if they’re not, I doubt a giant gang of doomsday preppers are gonna start a new society without some kind of radio equipment. You can come with us while your family stays here. You can be the one to find their sanctuary for them, and once we get there, you can send a personal broadcast over the radio telling your family that Sanctum is real. Then, all they’d have to do is follow the road north and pack whatever food they have leftover with them. The travel would be easier for them if they’re sure of their destination.”
“That’s a pretty idea, but here’s the problem.” Maxi said. “My family ain’t gonna stay put together if I’m not here. I gotta keep the bitter ones from brawlin’ with each other. I gotta be the one who resolves things for ‘em. I’m not sure they can do it for themselves.”
“You’re their leader. Tell them that they have no choice.” Sandra instructed. “Tell them that if they have any hope for the future, they have to start taking chances, and that means letting their leader leave to find them a permanent home. You all can’t just stay here forever. Sooner or later, the food, water, and power is gonna be gone. This place is a temporary fix. Sanctum is a permanent one. They need to understand that above all else.”
“You just assume I’ve got a silver tongue.”
“I don’t have to assume that. That’s obvious.”
Maxi laughed. “It is, innit?”
He rubbed the bridge of his nose, then pressed his finger and thumb into his eyes in an attempt to fight off a headache that’d been burdening him for hours.
“Not sure.” Maxi said. “I like the idea, but I don’t trust ‘em alone with each other.”
“They’re not children. They have to own up just like the rest of us.”
“I know.”
“Hey, man.” Sandra leaned a little closer. “I was in the middle of class when this started. I’m in high school. If I can do it, then they should be able to without a problem.”
“You’d think so.”
“Don’t you have anybody you trust to be in charge?”
Maxi’s fingers ran over his chin. “Maybe Rocky. And maybe Bessy. Bessy’s my lesbian friend, acts more masculine than anyone else in the family. And maybe Joe as well. The three of them combined, maybe…”
“But see, the soldier, and the girl, and the doctor… they won’t like this idea much. I expect they’re still upset with me.”

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 02:03 AM
“It doesn’t matter. We’re all capable of shutting up and pressing on. We travel together and get to safety, or we drift apart and let the world kill us off. Those are the only two options we have. They’ll have to understand that just like your family will. We either stick together or die, the way I see it.”
“Sounds about right.” Maxi confirmed. “I can’t believe I’m going along with this little fantasy. But, well, you’ve made me curious… and I want to see where this little adventure ends. We’ve got a whole new world now. It’s up to us to fashion it.”
“Yeah.” Sandra smiled. “It is.”

It was in the half hour following Caitlin and Declan’s first meeting when Sandra and Maxi made their alliance. Not long after Caitlin was thrown into the room with the soldier, Church, Arya, Alan, Ryujin, and Owen entered the hallway with the locked door. It was then when Alan finally turned around and noticed that Sandra had disappeared from their company.
Alan opened his mouth to tell the others, but when he looked into the back of Owen’s head, he silenced himself. Alerting them would probably make them panic, especially the child.
“This one’s locked.” Arya said, grabbing the knob of the waiting room and jolting it around. “Des? Are you in there? Say something.”
Declan and Caitlin, who’d been sitting in silence inside the waiting room for about ten minutes, both flew to their feet when they heard the doctor’s voice from the hallway.
“Yeah, it’s me.” Declan spoke into the door. “Can you get the door open?”
“I dropped a credit card out there.” Caitlin said. “See if you can use it to pick the lock.”
“Sis?” Owen said, forgetting to keep his voice low. “Sis? Is that you?!”
Caitlin’s eyes widened. Her hands pressed against the door, and all at once, her blood began to rush. Her little brother was in the hospital, exposed to the dangerous people who had locked her up.
Arya glimpsed around until he found Caitlin’s bent up credit card lying feet away from the door. When he knelt down to retrieve it, he turned a blind eye to the opposite end of the hallway, where Rocky, Bessy, and Joe rounded the corner.
Alan gasped, Ryujin clicked the safety button on his rifle preparing it to fire, and Church raised his fists and took a fighting stance. Rocky flipped out a switchblade.
Arya raised his hands, keeping the credit card in his palm and waiting for someone to make a move.
“Easy.” Arya said softly. “Take it easy. No one has to get hurt here.”
Declan and Caitlin heard the fluctuation in the doctor’s tone. They both became alarmed.
Then, Caitlin suddenly started throwing punches and kicks into the door.
Her brother was in danger—she had to get out.
Declan tried to wrap his arms around her, and in the hallway, almost everyone jumped at the sound of the bombarding blows that shook the metal door and created a series of noises that were far too loud for the echoing hospital.
Two more people appeared from around the corner.
Sandra and Maxi, having just taken the elevator down to the first floor, arrived right on time for a bad altercation.
“No!” Maxi locked his arm around Rocky’s and yanked him backwards. “Don’t hurt them. We’re better than that, and you know it. Stand down.”
Rocky didn’t advance on the doctor, but he kept his switchblade at hand nonetheless.
Declan pried Caitlin from the door, and they both stopped moving.
There was a long, tense silence.
“Everyone okay?” Sandra asked. “Nobody’s hurt?”
“You idiot! Why did you leave? What’re you doing with him?!” Alan exclaimed accusingly, pointing at Maxi. “What the hell is going on, Sandra?!”
“We’re all going to Sanctum.” Sandra told him bluntly. “You call me an idiot one more time, and I’ll #ing spear you. Shut your goddamn mouth.”
“Now everyone, let’s just calm down.” Maxi said.
“Hard for us to be calm when you’re keeping people here against their will.” Arya responded with an acidic tone. “I’ll be calm when my friend’s not locked up like a prisoner.”
“Let my sister out!” Owen demanded. “Now!”
“Owain, shut up!” Caitlin screamed from inside the lobby. Owen knew that she only ever pronounced his name that way when she was furious, but right now, it didn’t matter.
Maxi simply stared at them of a few seconds.
“Clear me a path.” He said, sliding the key out of his pocket. “And I’ll let them out for you.”
Everyone stepped aside. Maxi stuck the key into the door, turned it, and pushed it open.
Declan had Caitlin trapped in a firm restraint. Upon seeing the whites of Maxi’s eyes, Declan released Caitlin and pushed her aside a little too forcefully.
The soldier thundered towards Maxi with a hateful gleam in his eyes.
“Wait—wait!” Sandra leaped in between them. “Stop!”
Sandra had one hand on Maxi’s chest, and the other on Declan’s. Declan halted, and Sandra hoped he wouldn’t try to get through her. He was an Army grunt, so he could probably plow through her in order to get to Maxi if he had a mind to.
Caitlin abandoned the waiting room and stood defensively in front of Owen. She wanted to swat him on the head for acting so recklessly, but now wasn’t the time.
“I’m sorry.” Maxi said to Declan. “I had it in my head that everyone was safer being kept here than anywhere else, but I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t give me that bull#. You locked Arya up to keep as your personal doctor. Don’t make it sound like you were looking after us by locking us up.” Declan snarled.
“But that was my intention. Your friend was kept here to save my little sister… a lost cause in its own right.” Maxi responded. “She died earlier today. The Red Flu took her.”
Everyone went quiet again.
Arya made a disturbed expression, remembering the little girl he’d tried to save.
“We’re all just doing things on impulse.” Sandra said, meeting Declan’s emerald stare. “He didn’t know what he was doing completely. None of us do. That’s why I want to take us all to my uncle’s place up north. It’s a place meant for surviving a catastrophe. My uncle was a doomsday prepper, and—”
“I don’t give a #.” Declan interrupted. “I don’t care if your whole family’s dying of the flu—you don’t just #ing kidnap people.”
“Hold on.” Arya broke in. “Des… you didn’t see the girl. She was… she was dying in a horrible way, heart racing, blood coming out from all over…”
“You’re gonna defend the guy who locked you up?” Declan said. “You’re a dumbass.”
“I told you, I’m sorry.” Maxi repeated emptily.
“No you’re fu*king not.”
“Don’t push your luck with me, soldier boy.”
“I’ll kick your fu*king ass—”
“ALRIGHT!” Sandra exploded, smacking her hands together. “I’m offering for EVERYONE to come with me to Sanctum. It’s a safe place for anyone who wants to survive. Now I think that’s a good offer, and I also think we can all cool the FU*K DOWN in order to survive after everything that’s happened. If you want to, the offer’s open. If not, well, whatever. Takers? Anyone?”
Everybody looked her way. No one was sure what to say, or how to respond.
“I’m going.” Maxi said, turning to his bald comrade. “We’ve got a lot to talk about before I go, Rocky.”
“Are you serious?!” Alan complained. “Sandra—you’re bringing the ringleader of these degenerates?!”

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 02:04 AM
Sandra swung, planting an open palm on Alan’s cheek.
Alan found himself facing away from everyone, grasping his face and blinking in shock. Sandra had never hit him before.
“I’m bringing everyone who needs a place to go. Is that alright with you, Alan? Or would you rather I leave you in the #ing desert to die?” Sandra growled. “Shut your mouth. Next time it’ll be a fist.”
Sandra and Alan didn’t look away from each other for about a minute.
After Sandra’s smack, the rest of the confrontation lost its sense of urgency. Declan relaxed his shoulders, and Maxi began to walk down the hallway towards the cafeteria.
“Anybody hungry? We oughta’ fill up and get some rest before we set off. I’m cravin’ a turkey sandwich all the sudden… weird.”

* * * * *
[To be continued next chapter]

I appreciate the feedback, Night Star, thanks a lot


edit on Xx10420231AM12 by XxNightAngelusxX because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 11 2016 @ 02:35 AM
i think you should have just done this in the first place, and wrote whatever you wanted. I really liked the concept of your first thread, but it became apparent that you wanted your ideas to only be involved. I tried to participate in that thread as realistically as I could, but things got so un realistic, I just couldnt stand it anymore, like little girls with navy seals training. lol it got ridiculous.

Good luck on your story, at least it isn't collaborative this time because that did not work.

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