Should Parker and Andy wait out the night and continue when the sun comes back, or continue on their journey through the lightless night?Click To Reveal Results
In the dream I was running. I hid behind a tree as a group of people turned lunatic from bug bites ran past. They charged through the underbrush of the forest, not caring about the noise they made. I crept around my tree, keeping a close eye on them as they disappeared. I backed into something that was most certainly not a tree, and a hand covered my yelp.
"It's okay," the stranger whispered. The young girl was normal.
We ran through the forest, in the opposite direction of the Loonies. The forest grew greener, and long moss hung from tree branches. There was a small clearing ahead where people stood in gear that reminded me of poison control. They wore masks and goggles, with blue gloves and heavy boots.
The stranger pulled me aside, and we crouched beneath a bush. "Hide!" she said in a low voice. "Whatever you do, don't get caught. They'll kill you if you're a loony. Rumor has it they send you away and they lock you up in some jail somewhere. They do inhumane things there… something about drilling a hole in your id."
"What?" I responded. "What’s an id? Who are they? Where is this prison?"
"Don't let them find you." She had crept far away now, disregarding me to save herself.
A growl beside my ear captured my attention. What was in the shadows? Fear crept through me. Did 'they' send out monsters to capture people?
The growl was growing more urgent. I could feel the vibrations through the dirt. A twig snapped under me. Something was wrong. A hand came out and latched onto my shoulder. It shook and shook.
That's right. I was asleep, this was a dream… but sleep was a nice escape from everything… the shaking was relentless.
Five more minutes.
My eyes opened to a dark truck and closed again. My dream continued. A loud bang. Strong hands gripped my arm and I snapped awake.
The arms were real, and they were pulling me out of my truck fast. But Parker was on me. He was gripping me tight and using all his strength to keep me in.
"Parker keep me in!" I screamed. I was screaming and screaming, words and sounds and syllables. Fear and adrenaline raced through my veins. My dog was barking, and another sound was reaching my ears, but I didn't have the focus to make it out.
"You gotta help me!" he growled through clenched teeth.
I spun around, and kicked at the man reaching through the broken window. Blood sprayed as my foot met his nose, but the relentless batter from my feet did nothing to loosen his grip. We struggled and struggled, my shoe fell from my foot, and there was another loud crunch when my barefoot connected with his teeth.
It took one more stomp to knock him to the ground. I looked over at my fallen shoe and decided it wasn't worth it.
I turned the key in the ignition, and it sputtered away but didn't start. I groaned in frustration. Now of all times. I tried again with the same results.
"Dammit!" I slammed my palm against the wheel. "This stupid broken piece of-"
"Andy!" Parker yelled. "We don't have time for you to scream at an inanimate object. Get this thing moving!"
I tried again to no avail.
"Let's go! Let's go!"
"I think it's the battery," I shouted back. My headlights were dim, only illuminating a meter in front.
Parker snatched the flashlight from the glove compartment, and shined it on a terrifying sight. We were surrounded by them. Women and men of all shapes and sizes were closing in on us. The worst part – they had weapons. I didn't see any guns, but I did see hammers and shovels and axes.
"Parker what do we do?" I screamed.
"Start the damn thing!" He was getting angry. Why was he getting angry? I didn't choose for my truck to fail on us when we needed it the most.
The people; cult members, cannibals, or monsters, without weapons reached us first. They banged on the windows with theirs fists and their palms. I guarded my open window with the jerry can.
I continued with my key, but nothing was happening. It came close once, but still didn't work.
Outside they cleared a path for a lanky guy with a sledgehammer to come through. I looked at Parker for a millisecond and he shared the same terror as me. They broke the windows and we were done for.
The guy ran up and swung once, creating spider web cracks across the windshield. This was it. Parker and I were done. They were going to do it. They were going to break in and – I didn't want to think about that.
But then a miracle happened. With one last breath, and a prayer to someone, the heavenly sound of an engine roaring to life rang in my ears. Just as the guy swung back to hit again, I floored it out of there.
But I still couldn't breathe. I tried my best to avoid the people, but I did end up ramming into two of them. I didn't have time to grieve for them, or be happy, or be angry. My only focus was getting the hell out of here, and to my Aunt’s place.
But something went horribly wrong. A man appeared in the windshield with a hammer in hand. In only two quick swipes the window shattered to pieces and a bloody hand reached through and groped at Parker.
I swerved to the left, and then to the right. The man must've had superhuman strength because he barely budged.
"Get him off!" Parker yelped. He slapped at the arm, but the arm held tight.
"I'm trying! Hit him or something!"
The man maneuvered through Parker's hands, and grabbed tightly onto his neck. I stole glances and watched him struggle away.
There was screaming. Lots of screaming and choking and growling. No noise was coming from Parker but a few strangled gargling sounds.
And then Newt bit the man.
There was a loud scream, and the hand shriveled away. I slammed the breaks causing him to tumble down the front. I quickly floored it over him, wincing at the sounds that were emitted from underneath us.
Newt nudged me.
My eyes opened.
It was dark and quiet. My heart thundered in my chest, and sweat poured down my brow.
“Andy. You awake?”
It was all just a nightmare. A dream within a dream. I let out a relieved breath and a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders.
“How long’s it been?” I asked. The sky was a dark grey.
“I don’t know. But it’s morning now. I didn’t really sleep at all.”
“Oh, I’m sorry for falling asleep on you. Anything happen while I was out?”
“Yeah, a meteorite landed in the forest to the left and Christ himself walked out of it.”
“You’re hilarious,” I muttered.
“Did you know you talk in your sleep?”
I grimaced. “What did I say?”
“You talked about how incredibly hot I am, and how I rightfully belong on the cover of a magazine,” he joked. I didn’t laugh. “You were saying something about stabbing the ‘id’.”
“Oh, yeah.” I sat up straighter and self-consciously rubbed at the drool that was on my chin. I prayed to the holy Lord above Parker couldn’t see it in the dim light. “I don’t know. I was dreaming about crazy people and some woman told me that ‘they’ took them away and stabbed them in the id. What’s the id?”
“I have no idea. Probably just a figment of your imagination.”
I massaged my fingers and cracked my knuckles. The dream seemed to stick to me like cement. It seemed so real and I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was in the forest. A shiver ran down my spine. “See anything important on the map?”
I raised my brow.
“Sevenoaks Shopping Centre. They have a Sportscheck, department stores, House of Knives, lots of parked cars with gas in them I’m sure. Hell, I think they even have a grocery store.”
“You want to go to another mall Parker?”
“Yes, it’s worth a shot.”
“You know, we didn’t exactly have the best of luck the last time we went into one.”
“I’m not saying we have to go into the building, just into the parking lots so we can get gas. You don’t expect half a jerry can to get us all the way to your aunt’s.”
“No, but a quarter of a tank will get us a lot further than a highly populated place full of so many variables.”
“Okay, but we still have to pass it no matter what. And besides, it’s early in the morning. Everyone is asleep.”
I couldn’t help but take that last sentence with a deeper context. I licked my lips and scanned the dark forest beyond Parker. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that we weren’t alone. I shook my head. That dream was really affecting me.
My aunt once told me that fear wasn’t real. It was a decision that only existed in the brain. Right now I was choosing to be afraid. If my aunt was here right now she’d smack me upside the head. The thought calmed me just a bit.
“Well, we’ll figure it out when we get there. But let’s focus on getting the hell out of dodge. This place is giving me the heebie-jeebies.”
I turned the key in the ignition and the truck started on the first try. The headlights lit up an empty road. There were no people with any brash weapons. Only potholes and cracks. I sighed with relief. I really needed to work on capturing my imagination before it got out of hand.
I grabbed an apple from the bag of food between us and bit in. I tossed one to Parker. I enjoyed the crunch but hated that it was warm. Warm like the dusty air that refused to lift. Warm like Parker’s hand in mine. I wished I had hand sanitizer. Every day was another step away from that stupid relationship I naïvely dreamed of. I started off down the razed highway.
It was hard not to dream of what could have been with Parker right by my side. And sometimes my heart still fluttered at the thought of a new hope. But I didn’t dare dream, and I didn’t dare hope. My focus was on my aunt and getting there in one piece. Life was not a fairytale. Life was not a dream. It was a harsh cold reality that did a good job of chilling me right to the bone.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I don't want to meet any more people,” I said. Parker nodded his head as he took a large bite. "Unfortunately, that’s unavoidable travelling down a highway, although it’s eerie that the road is so empty. If I remember correctly from looking on the map, I think there’s a hospital on the side of the road a ways down, and before that is some sort of strip mall and theatre.
“Chilliwack has an airport, and I can only imagine the amount of people who are going to be there. I'm sure there's going to be some that would do anything for this truck and what we have in it. People do scary things when they're scared. So, hopefully, we can pass through Chilliwack without notice. However, I really don’t think that’ll happen.”
“So what do we do instead? Take a detour?”
“I really don’t know. Depends how good you are at reading that map. We also have two options to get to Green Lake. One route is longer, but is situated near cities and rest stops. It's safer in some ways, but not safe in many other ways."
"So take the shorter route. If we're driving we should be at your aunt’s place before the day is gone.”
"Yeah. If we get enough gas to reach our destination."
“Well, what’d you say; it was a four hour drive? We’ve already completed about an hour. Right?”
"Well, no. It took us a day to complete a half hour commute."
"Well, that's because we had to cross a river, and that wasn't exactly the fastest thing either of us have done, and then we had to travel all around Surrey to find that shelter that wasn't a shelter. And then we ran out of gas. Don't worry Andy. You're doing great. And since we’re on a highway we’re bound to pass a gas station.”
“Okay, but how is a gas station going to help us without any electricity?”
Parker paused for a moment. “Maybe they have a gas generator?”
I gave him a look.
I finished my apple and threw the core out the window. The uneven road was making me nauseous, and it sounded like my truck didn’t want to take much more of it either.
Slowly but surely, the damage from the earthquake was lessening the further inland we went. Recalling the map, it was amazing just how far the damage travelled. The earth was angry at us. In mere moments the destruction humans had called production, was destroyed. We should have seen this coming.
And unfortunately, some did, but those with power ignored them.
But I couldn't worry about that right now. The sound emitting from my truck was more concerning.
"What's that horrible noise?" Parker asked.
"I believe that's my tire." That last raised area had definitely done my truck in.
I pulled the truck over when it sounded like there was nothing left of my tire. I got out and examined just that. I cursed loudly.
"How bad is it?" Parker asked from inside the truck.
"About as bad as it can get."
"You have a spare."
I pursed my lips. The truth was something I was usually good at. But not this time.
I heard him get out of the truck. "Andy?"
It was hard, but I forced myself to look in his eyes. "That was the spare Parker."
I bit my cheeks hard till I tasted blood.
"I'm not crying."
He paused. A strange look crossed his face. He seemed hesitant. "I didn't say you were. I'm just… it's okay to cry."
The world went blurry and I felt the lump in my throat. I tried to control my breathing, but it got heavier and heavier. Parker came over and laid a hand on my shoulder.
"Let it out."
I wasn't going to cry. I refused to. Especially in front of Parker. But visions of the past two days sunk in and took me with them. All the destruction: my obliterated house, the homeless animals, the dead humans; it made my chest ache and my heart heavy. I blinked hard and that was when the first tears dropped.
The world was silent. The only sound was the loneliness and the downfall. It pulsed, deafeningly loud against the stillness. What I had, what I lost, danced in the shadows of the trees and my brain.
Parker pulled me in and hugged me tight. "It's going to be okay. We're going to make it to your aunt’s. From the stories you've told me, she’ll be the one coming to get us if we don’t find any better luck."
I let out something between a sob and a laugh.
"Now, my watch reads that it's sometime after five. Do you want to continue, or take a break?"
"It's not safe to take a break." I stepped back, packed the tears away, and kept them for another time, but now my sinuses were all stuffed. I wiped it all away on my ratty Fleetwood Mac shirt. Newt came to my side and gave my hand kisses.
Life really sucked right now, but sometimes you had to lose in order to win. Something good would come out of this. Something important.
"Yeah, but continuing in the dark without a truck seems just as dangerous to me. What if we found a building to hide in until the sun rises, and then, do you want to try finding a tire for your truck?"
"I don't know if it's worth it. You saw the amount of cars on the highway. There are none."
"Do you want to find a different car?"
I sighed. Not all decisions could have the time to think them through. Sometimes they didn't need to be thought out. In this case, the one we found first would be the answer. "Okay, well, the mall is up the road and down another one. I guess… let's just find some backpacks, throw as much supplies as we can in them, and walk. Or, if we happen to find a vehicle before we find supplies, we take that.”
Parker silently agreed.
I set my hands on my hips. "Now, where to get backpacks. Oh, I had the perfect one, why didn't I grab it?"
Parker looked up the road as if he could see the mall. He almost looked eager. Me on the other hand, well I was drowning in dread. I hated the mall on a good day, and now we were going to have to traverse through one again. And, with our luck, it was bound to be just as bad as the first time.
Parker looked at me. "Okay, I know you're thinking about what happened a couple of days ago, but hear me out. If another aftershock happens, we're far enough away that it won't affect us as much as the last one, right?"
I slowly nodded. It was sort of true. There was no way of knowing for sure, but it could be true.
"I'm sure there's a store in there dedicated to bags. Hell, you could grab a free Louis Vuitton purse."
Parker gave me a weird look before continuing. "Never mind. But where else would we find good backpacks. How long is this journey on foot?"
I licked my lips. "A few days."
"We'll need good quality for this trip. I know it's a gamble – who knows what could be hidden in there, but I think it's worth a shot."
"We'll need protection. Just in case."
"We have a pocket knife; anything else?"
"Yeah I suppose we could use some of the tools I have in the back of this truck."
"Should we go now then?"
"It’s not exactly bright out, and I think the smoke has lowered, which in turn covers us, but it also covers anyone else in there. But I suppose there's no use waiting around 'till morning. We need to get on the road again as fast as possible."
The decision was made, and within twenty minutes Parker and I stood in front of the dark mall with a knife, a tire iron, and a dog.
Should they look for a new vehicle or backpacks and supplies?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.