Here’s the opening of my post-apocalyptic story. Does it have aliens, military, guns, end of the world and end of all nations and more? Or are they zombies? Is our hero a Special Forces soldier or a civilian who is a prepping force to be reckoned with?
Read Chapter One intro and maybe find out!
Noontime burned against my skull and I’d just graced my way through another broken town where so many cold silences were lost in blind avenues of despair. I wouldn’t go back through there again. I couldn’t go back there again, because it was too risky, too damn uncertain. I needed water, I needed fresh water badly but staying in that town would only have brought out more lurkers and horrors. I wanted badly to avoid the prowling shapes that hurried out after a command was given in order to pursue and capture the human mind. I wanted to sever the connection between any pursuers and myself. Crossing through any desert town would never give me the ultimate distance from being pursued but today it was necessary because every major road was guarded. In order to avoid the Army roadblocks I thought that passing through would be less vulnerable.
I ran quickly across the straightest streets and avoided the widest boulevards. I hid behind trees and buildings whenever a human shape came into view. I ducked beneath raised porches and even hid in filthy pools of water left inside old watering troughs. I tried not to let my imagination seize me though it would have been easy. Out there were the ignorant frowns. Out there were greedy claws looking for an active mind in which they could tear the brain from the head; they would leave the skull like a rind and take the mature and useful fruit.
The desert summer heat was blasting against my face and my wine skin had been empty for a day. I passed an old cinema and noticed that the marquee hadn’t been changed in years. I kicked up sand heaps with every soft footfall and was nearly seduced by the sound of running water that came from somewhere inside the doorway of a tavern. But I did not enter for I knew that something would meet me at the end of the empty hall.
A tattering of men came into my view nearly a hundred yards ahead of me and then in a silent march they strode out of my sight. I felt scared. I wasn’t certain I’d been seen but nevertheless I ducked beneath a fire-truck parked along the narrow street and waited. Very soon, one of the men returned and he stood before me in the middle of the street. I sunk lower into my crouched position and attempted to hide even further behind the large truck tire. From where I hid I could see that he was an odd looking thing. His thinning, wispy hair crowned an enormously bulbous forehead and his large eyes were sunken in but expressionless. His mouth was nothing but a narrow slit that gave the appearance at first glance that he had no lips. His head, supported by a reed thin, body was so skeletal in appearance that I was truly unnerved.
He stood just yards away from me and I could see him clearly. I peeked around the edge of the large tire and watched him stand mutely in place. It didn’t appear that he saw me, for he never moved closer, but I was still uncertain. He looked to his left and right and then finally advanced two steps. He paused and dipped at the knees and sniffed the air dog like in action, and moved straight towards the truck. I tensed up, ready to kill him without mercy if I had to. I tried not to breathe heavily. He began to advance again but a voice shouted in the near distance and so he stopped and stood still. The voice was human but I did not recognize the language. He did not come to me and instead spun around and headed towards the direction of the voice. I waited until I could see that he was gone and slid upon my belly quickly but quietly towards a tree line. I could see a withered house from where I hid and so I advanced towards it by crawling slowly upon my stomach. I was frightened but relieved for no one came for a long while.
I hid beneath the timber deck of the old house and after a long waiting period I got up and crossed the yard behind the house. Through a knot hole in the fence I saw that I was facing familiar territory for I could see the drugstore and barber shop. I was facing Main Street and the townspeople were marching into the town square. An air raid siren was sounding and people came into view. One, then two and more gathered until they were too numerous to count. I didn’t think that they were aware of my presence for they seemed to be too absorbed in their actions.
Bodies were pushing against bodies in order that each person fit closely into the massed assemblage like shifting rows of breeze blown corn stalks. And when the ragged looking army gathered in their jagged rows I noticed that everyone assembling had the same robotic stare and odd qualities that finally confirmed my earlier suspicions. This town had been taken also. I knew the secret of another town in this hidden valley, and knew that the hearts of these people no longer endured. They had given themselves up to the Invaders.
They bunched together like a bouquet of broken weeds with their tired clothes and ragged heads, while some odd powerful thing plumbed the depths of their minds. I wasn’t certain that their controlled attention was off of me but I jumped up from my hiding place and made a run into the distant desert. I heard their collective whispers that grew progressively louder into some eerie, ineffable, inhuman tongue, but ignored it for I knew that the chanting was something that my soul could not endure.
I’ve lived too many years, I’ve heard too many lies and so I could not, I would not let anything stop me from smashing open the window of unreality and letting through the light of truth for the world to see! I was still unsure about whether I was being followed. I couldn’t be sure that my footsteps were being tracked! But I do remember seeing them gather. Legions of them! And they were marching into the sands when I left into every direction but I didn’t know exactly where they were headed, but I surmised that they would eventually be hunting for me.
My eyes were tired. Summer was dying and I could feel the coming of another icy winter. I stumbled past the bones of dead cattle, and noticed how their guts had been cut away with surgeon like precision. The desert flowers that once blossomed beautifully would soon be closing themselves up. I felt like doing the same. I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide. The lulling sense of peace that normally comes with being in the outdoors was lost on me. It was important for me to put some distance between my potential trackers and myself before I considered resting. I was losing my nerve. I just needed one night not stricken with worry because I was losing my certainty about what I had to accomplish.
Tired. Tired…I was so tired. I had been walking for hours and so I tried to keep my footprints untracked by circling over them whenever I could. It was very dark and because my resolve seemed to fade I punched myself in the face in order to stay awake. I slapped myself in the face, hoping that the pain would keep me alert because I it seemed just so easy to drop to my knees and wait for them to come and make me die. I looked out along the vast expanse of black night stretched out seemingly forever like a desolate sea and feeling a great loneliness I reassured myself that it was all for a good cause. I tried to recall my fathers face, tried to remember his comforting words and because he was good, I felt stronger. I felt a greater breath build inside of me that gave me an eagerness to go forward. Up above I saw the North Star lying in the belt of Orion and she shined like a hammered medallion that my finger like soul longed to clutch out and possess, but instead I stood there under the shifting light of those golden suns. I had some hope again for those jewels seemed closer than ever before, felt reachable to me and in sensing this I felt that I could cross the bitter night alone.
I remembered then that a few milesmore ahead were acres of trees and an outcropping of high hills where I could lose myself thick and fast. I would smother myself in a wave of tall, dark grass and get some sleep before my certainty was shattered by complete tiredness. I was exhausted. I even counted on the misty air that came along with the nightfall to cover me, for I needed everything that was available to hide me from watching eyes and minds.
I’d walked for a length of time with a long, even stride and glanced over my shoulder when I heard the slightest sound. I traveled quickly and paused intermittently just enough to recapture my breath and conserve my energy. I knew up ahead lay the woods and a small stream. I plodded along nervously until in the darkness I could finally see the tallness of a tree line upon a view of a hill that built a feeling of excitement in me. I felt so happy that I began to run! I was an explosion on heels. I moved forward quickly and sprinted across the across the rocky surface. I was nearly there!
And then I saw it!
A circle of fire that came into the night sky. I threw myself to the floor behind a large rock and watched as the object increased speed and gained height quickly. It seemed orb like and was ringed with a series of colored lights; the entire thing was encapsulated by a fiery yellow glow. It stopped rising, paused for a fraction of a second and then began to drop altitude slowly until it was over my head but still 100’s of yards above me. It held its position for what seemed a very long moment and then it shot into the sky as quickly as it had arrived. It had moved too quickly to be a human constructed vehicle. I needed to move more quickly from Them.
I’d clambered towards the hills again, finally made my way along a dusky path peppered with thousands of jagged stones until they ended smartly and I’d stopped abruptly. The hide out was here. It’d been years since I visited the place with my father. It was a place that we frequented and would be easy to miss if a person weren’t actively looking for it. Coming closer to the location gave me a burst of relief and allowed me to relieve my tension. I was nearly there.