posted on Sep, 7 2009 @ 11:56 PM
A sound sleep, that forgotten luxury, came only by way of periodic collapse due to exhaustion. That same weariness could be read on the faces of the
men and women around me. Red-eyed fearful masks, scarred by worry lines, nervous ticks and darting glances were the norm while those who temporarily
managed to escape into slumber did so fleetingly, bent tightly into the fetal position. I wondered why they all did that. Was it because it was so
easy to rise at the sound of a gunshot, knees and arms locked together so much like a loaded spring?
God knows it sure seemed that way.
The cave mouth, a few hundred feet away, glowed dimly with the promise of another sad dawn, reaching even into the recesses of the cold, wet cavern
where some forty of us sat or lay huddled in blankets and, for a lucky few, sleeping bags. Outside, that's where the dangers lay. Especially in
Rockton, my town only a few miles distant if we followed the river. The roads were sure death and the farmhouses places where raiders seemingly hid,
bent on murder just to steal a can of pork beans or whatever was still available.
We were lucky that so few knew about the cave.
Most of us here were from a town of what used to be around 1700 souls. The rest of the population was either dead or captured by marauding gangs for
whatever they could think of using them for.
I sank my teeth into the knuckles of my hand to keep from sobbing as I remembered my husband and kids, returning from a weekend at my mom and dad's
place in the country. How happy we were then, dislodging from the car, gathering all the gear and watching the kids run up the sidewalk to the porch
calling out our dog's name.
Barkley, who had been looked after by the neighbour, came running around from the back yard all tongue and tail. Sun setting behind the roof, the
neigbour waving and smiling from his window, the kids yelling...
No, I can't think about this and I stared blankly at the white depressions my teeth had made in my hand. Raising my head one more time and looking
toward the entrance to the cave, I realized that almost an hour had passed, if not more.
Good God... I must have fallen asleep while I was biting my hand.
How had it all started? It was hard to put a finger on it exactly. The first thing I knew was the screaming out in the streets and my kids running
wild-eyed into the kitchen when it started up. They had been playing the X-box in the livingroom. I looked out the front windows and saw people in
agony, holding their faces in their hands, falling onto the roads and lawns like they couldn't see. There were cars here and there, up against hedges
and houses, doors wide open, engines still running, but no-one inside. Their screams were horrible. I don't know why, but I locked the doors. The
windows were all closed, but I locked them too. I held onto my kids and just watched all that commotion outside until it got dark.
My husband never came home that night or the next day either. I haven't seen him yet.
We stayed in that locked house for almost a week, afraid to go out, but then the few groceries I had ran out and we had to do something. My kids and I
decided to go to the grocery store to see what we could find. What we saw just within the first block on our street was sickening. Bodies lay
everywhere. They all looked like they had died in pain because they were all contorted. My poor kids, the things they saw as we hurried to the Sobeys
4 blocks away. Even inside the store customers and clerks had fallen where they died. The aisles were cluttered with food packages they had knocked
down in their agony.
We did what we had to do and gathered whatever we thought we needed into a cart while trying to avoid touching any of the dead. I guess that's when I
knew Jake wasn't ever coming home from work.
It was on the way back home that I saw my first living person. It was a young man I knew worked the midnight shift at the glass factory. He said he'd
woken up to the screaming outside too. His parents and girlfriend, he said, were gone. I told him to come with us and I'd cook up a meal for him.
Ted, which was his name, said yes right away and joined us. He hasn't left our side yet and is sitting close to the cave entrance looking out now.
He's holding a rifle and has a handgun beside him.
Ted had said, when we first met him, that there were a few others still alive too and that's how our little crowd eventually got together.
Ted stayed with us after I made that first meal. He was brooding about what had happened because he thought it had been a terror attack or something.
Nobody really knows for sure. The televsion was just snow and the radio hissed no matter how much we fiddled with the dial. Some said they saw a lot
of jets flying far overhead a few days before all hell broke loose. The word was that they were flying what they called grid patterns or something. I
don't know what to think.
It wasn't long after we met Ted that we got to know the other survivors. A few dozen frightened souls who had all been inside their homes that
terrible day. They'd come over and a few would help cook big meals every afternoon. Others would bring food from the stores. The men busied
themselves hauling the bodies to a spot on the edge of town somewhere. They didn't talk about it much, but Ted said there were prayers for every one
of them before they laid them down. Burying them all was impossible. Ted said the hardest part was the kids. There weren't many left alive because
most had been outside when it happened.
I look at my kids now and think how lucky I am to have them. I think just about everybody here looks at kids that way now.
Then one day, Ted told us it wasn't safe in town anymore. Some of the men had gone to the next town and saw the fires burning in it. They also heard
gunshots. The raiding for food had begun and the men thought for sure Rockton would be next. That's when someone mentioned the cave would be a lot
safer than town and that we needed to gather as much supplies as we could and hide in there.
So, here we are, sitting in this cold cave, scared out of minds and jumping at the sound of distant gunfire. God only knows what'll happen to us, but
we haven't been found yet and, God willing, we won't run out of food anytime soon. I just hate the thought that one day, Ted will have to shoot at