It’s dark as a boy with short choppy brown hair opens his eyes. He sees nothing. Eyes wide he looks around but he sees only blackness; a void that had no end though, he could not tell if he was even in a place. Fear went through the little boy as he continued to look for any shred of light, anything to tell him where he was. He wanted so badly to cry out for help but no words came from his mouth, it was as if his mouth was glued shut. The boy let out a mumble as he tried to yell for help but still, nothing came out. He was afraid this was real though he did remember going to sleep.
Then came a small shred of light from under a door. It illuminated the room in a dim light, though the room was not a room rather, a hall. The hall stretched a few yard’s till at the end stood a large door. One could tell the door was old as, in the dim light, you could see paint chipping away revealing a lighter wood under it. The boy tried to call for help as he took a step towards the door but still, nothing came out. His mouth opened and the little boy let out a sigh of relief. He could open his mouth! Looking around he saw a mirror, the light bouncing off of it creating glare that stung his eyes.
Walking over with small careful steps he looked at himself in shock. There he was a little boy rather than an 18-year-old man. The boy reached for his face and let out a gasp. His face was smooth, much like a child’s when their young and his hazel eyes shone with the innocence he has long since forgotten. Confused he looked down at his hands, finding them small rather than large and boney. He had no idea what was going on and instead of asking questions he turned from the mirror and headed toward the door.
As he came close to the door the boy could hear voices; a loud male voice and a quiet female voice. One was trying to shoosh the other while the other just got louder. Though he could not tell what they were saying, he knew it was an argument. A creek from behind caused him to jump and spin around. More shock as he now saw his little sister as not a 16-year-old but a 6 or so years old. Her blonde hair was darker and hung down to her mid back while her innocent eyes held curiosity. His heart broke seeing her like this, remembering what their life used to be like before their mother left.
“What’s going on Asher?” Charlotte asked her older brother her head tilting slightly. She clutched a teddy bear close to her as squeak came from behind her. They both looked behind her to see their little brother Mike. His dirty blonde hair and hazel eyes looked the same as the last time he saw him. Asher shook his head trying to see if he could wake up but alas nothing happened.
“Mama and dada fighting?” His squeaky voice held worry and curiosity as the little toddler looked up at his older brother.
Asher opened his mouth but had no idea what to say. Their parents fighting? They never fought except for the night their mother left with Mike. Realization passed through him as he remembered this scene. This was a memory of when his mother left him and his sister behind with their father. Tears came to his eyes but did not fall. He could remember everything very clearly. He had not cried one single tear but, seeing all this again brought pain to his heart. Why did she leave them? He once had so many questions but now he knew the answer to some.
He looked upon his siblings not saying a word; he didn’t know what to say. How could he explain the situation to a 6 and 3-year-old? Would they even understand? Asher, still looking at his siblings, jumped as a creek came from behind and more light flooded the hall. Turning slowly he gasped, sorrow filling his heart. Standing in front of him was his long since dead mother. Her beautiful blonde hair and soft blue eyes were the same as the day he last saw her. “Asher, Charlotte, Mikey, what are you doing out of bed?” Her voice was soft and full of warmth.
Asher stared at his mother completely stunned and why wouldn’t he be. Here his mother was and he couldn’t even speak a single word. “Did we wake you?” She asked concerned.
Behind her Asher could see his father, looking at his wife with anger. Asher looked up at his mom and finally said, “I heard yelling so I came to see if everything was okay.” His mother looked shocked and he could understand why; her kid was so concerned but, all she was doing was arguing with their father.
“Oh, sweetie, there’s no need to worry nothing’s wrong. How about you put Charlotte and Mikey to bed? I’ll be up in one moment.” Asher’s mother said turning back to their father and closing the door. Taking that as his cue to leave Asher took his sisters and brothers hand and guided them upstairs. First to go to bed was Mike and as the little one lay down Asher kissed his head and lightly pulled Charlotte to her room.
Asher tucked Charlotte into bed and as he’s leaving, he hears her squeaky voice ask, “Asher, do you think mommy and daddy were arguing?”
Shock passed through his face his face before he lied saying, “I’m sure they were just talking. You know dad can get loud sometimes.” His sister nodded rolling over so her back was facing him. Leaving Asher shut the door softly before heading to his room but as he entered he heard a loud smack and a thud from downstairs. Curious he walked down the steps to see his mother on the floor, his father standing over her. Anger filled him as he ran to help his mother though this just caused his father to turn to him. As his father raised his hand Asher knew what was coming. The hand swung down -
With a light shout Asher flung himself into a sitting position, looking around for his mother only for an ache to fill him. It was just a dream. Saddened he looked around. The sun was rising coating the sky with light blues and golds. It was truly beautiful and while he wanted to watch it forever; he couldn’t. There was the small matter of being in an apocalypse. Looking over at his sister her hair was now a platinum blonde and of course much older than in his dream. Having been years since that night Charlotte was now 16 while he was 18.
Then again 2 years have passed since they actually had a somewhat normal life. 2 years since the outbreak happened and the world turned to shit. He could still remember that day; the fear, the worry, the sadness. It was that day that their father finally said those three little words for the first time in years. Back before the war their father was a drunk. Though he wasn’t always like that; before their mother left he was a kind man who loved his family, well as far as they knew. Sadly after their mother passed he blamed his kids and would take his anger out on them.
Thinking of those times made Asher furious as it was a time when he had to helplessly watch his sister get beaten by their ass of a father. Most of the time he would intervene and take most of the beating but, there were times he couldn’t step in and help; times when he was working or with friends. Still, that was all in the past now and while their life was still bad Asher felt like things were looking up.
Turning back to the sunrise he felt a sense of peace fill him. The woods tended to be a wonderful place; a hideaway from the infected and other worries. While they needed to head into town, that was still 2 miles away, he knew they wouldn’t be there long. They never did stay in one place long.
Getting up from where he was sleeping, he walked over to Charlotte giving her shoulder a shake; trying to wake her. A groan came from his little sister as her eyes fluttered open; crystal blue staring back at him. Asher smiled saying, “It’s time to wake up, long day ahead of us.” Still sleepy his sister nodded her head and started getting up. His smile stayed as he grabbed clothes and went to change outside the tent.
The siblings sat around a fire cooking their breakfast. They sat in silence and not a word was said while they ate. Even as they packed up their tents neither said a word. The two just looked at each other for a moment and knew what needed to be done. One could tell they have done this many times with how well they worked together. It wasn’t until they started traveling that Asher finally broke the silence saying, “How did you sleep?”
“Is that really the best starter you can come up with?” Charlotte asked looking over at her brother.
Rolling his eyes Asher countered, “Like you could have done better.”
She hummed looking up at the sky, “You’re right but maybe you can tell me about what had you up so early? Usually, and this is just a guess, you wake me up an hour after you wake up and you already would’ve had breakfast ready.”
Asher shook his head looking toward the horizon. There was no way he was telling his little sister about a nightmare he had, not yet at least. “We’re close to the town. Who knows if any Z’s are close. I don’t want to risk anything, okay?”
Walking faster Asher moved away from his sister, hearing a light shout of a complaint before she fell into step beside him in silence. Asher wasn’t sure what was going on inside the head of his sister but one thing was for sure. She dropped the subject. Something she doesn’t do easily, so this had him glancing at his sister occasionally to make sure it was actually her. Though Asher was sure she noticed as she would glare at him for a second before concentrating on getting to the location.
The town they were headed to was Huber Heights, a fairly small town compared to the other towns they had passed. Only 2 exits long and quite a few forested area inside the city limits, plus it was surrounded by forests. The forests would give the shelter if the town was ridden with infected while also providing food. Not to mention a river flowed through the outskirts of town, a great place to fish and clean their tools and clothes.
Having never been to this small town Asher wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it be like the other places they’ve been to, over run by infected? Or maybe it would be nice and to have too many infected in it. Odds are there would be Z’s there but hopefully not many.
As they came out of the woods into a clearing Asher looked around, taking in the sights, surprised by the quietness of the town. It was almost as if no one was there not even Z’s. Only the rustling of the leaves and the soft howl of the wind could be heard. In front of them was a large foreboding building. Its shadow casting over them.
Asher looked at his sister, nodding before pulling out his glock out of its holster on his hip and walking toward the building slowly. The building, Gander Mountain as the sign read, was a dull green with lighter greens blended in. Vines grew up the sides and large tree seemed to be sprouting from what looked to be inside the building. With cautious steps Asher walking up to the glass doors, keeping an eye out for any Z’s that might be near. With a hand motion toward his sister they entered the building through the broken double doors, turning their backs to each other, looking for any sign of movement.
The inside looked desolate, covered in foliage with a large tree planted near the center of the building, it’s branches holding up the ceiling which looked to be caving in. Shelves were toppled over and grass grew through the cracks in the tiles. It was clear that nature had taken over. Glancing at Charlotte he motions her in saying, “The coast is clear.”
He watches as the younger girl looks around taking in the surroundings before looking back at Asher. With a nod the two pulled off their backpacks and started looking through the standing shelves and even the fallen ones. Canned goods were thrown into Ashers bag as they came upon them. Peas, carrots, squash, spinach, ect. “So what was your dream about?” Charlotte asked her older brother, pulling a can off one of the shelves and examining it.
“Why do you wanna know?” Asher snapped not ready to talk about the vivid dream.
Charlotte looked at Asher startled before glaring at him, “Don’t talk to me like that. I’m just trying to care for you.”
Asher looked away from her, he didn’t know what to say or he wasn’t ready to say what needed to be said. Then again, how do you tell your LITTLE sister that you had a nightmare? Even if she was asking because she cared why now? Why not when they found shelter and had the time to really talk about it? Asher turned away from his sister, not wanting to get that look she always gives him when she mad, her deadly glare that has her looking older than she is. “Fine, be that way. I’m going to look over here and when you’re done being an ass come find me.” Charlotte snapped at her brother. A sigh escaped Ashers thin lips as he heard his sister storm off. ‘Great now she’s mad,’ he thought starting to walk in the opposite direction.
An hour passed and as Asher looked into his bag he deduced that he had gathered enough supplies for now. Still though, he didn’t want to face his sister. There was a large possibility they would fight again but there was also a possibility that they would just be silent the rest of the night, something Asher didn’t know if he could handle. Yes, they can communicate through looks, having done it many times before, but he was sure even if he tried Charlotte wouldn’t listen. Looking around Asher heard a groan, a zombie groan. Pulling out the fire axe he had strapped to the side of his backpack Asher went to investigate. With quiet steps Asher leaned against one of the shelves and peeked around the corner.
There stood a woman, well a zombie woman. Her red hair was matted and clumped reaching her shoulders in strands. Pale grey skin covered in blood and a few places where you could see the bone, whoever this woman was she did not have a good time. In one move Asher was behind the woman, in another move her head hit the floor with a soft thud. Footsteps approached fast as he was putting away his axe and soon his sister was in view, bow out with an arrow ready to fire. Noticing Asher Charlotte put away her bow and started toward the door, motioning Asher to follow.
Internally Asher knew Charlotte was annoyed with him. After him snapping at her it was easy to see why she was upset. Still, there was no way Asher was going to apologize as then he would have to talk about his dream which he wasn’t ready to do. Even if he did, he would have to explain himself and that wasn’t something he didn’t want to do just yet. Then again the dream was so real, almost like he was back there again. That was a time he never wanted to go back to, although it would be better than what kind of life they live now.
Asher followed after his sister as they moved toward the door. Passing the fallen shelves Asher noticed that there was still more supplies they could get. As they walked through the broken doors again both paused to look around, seeing that it was after noon. Charlotte then continued walking, headed toward the town. As Asher followed his sister he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in her mind. Was she still mad at him? How long were they going to ignore each other? Neither question had an answer as Asher himself didn’t know what was going on. He wasn’t even mad at his sister anymore. He just wanted things to go back to the way they were.
They walked for a while in silence exiting the large empty parking lot. Turning left onto a long street they continued their walk toward town. The street was covered in cracks and rubble. Grass and weeds grew between the cracks and even mixed with the gravel. To their left was the Gander Mountain they had just come out of, while to their right was a large highway. The highway was separated from them by a large fence and the road was in similar shape as the street they were on. Cars and trucks dotted the highway, all run down and dusty.
A sigh escaped Asher’s lips as they walked on a large street passing over the highway. The day had only started and he was already wishing for a new day to begin. As he looked out over the highways and roads he couldn’t help but think of old times. Mostly times when his mother was around. She loved the city setting, but would gladly settle in a town like this. Hell, they lived in a town like this. Small, full of people, almost too crowded.
Looking toward his sister he wondered if she noticed the resemblance of this city to their town. Though she was mostly too caught up in her thoughts and being mad at him. He couldn’t blame her though, he was an ass to her. Not to mention it was over not wanting to talk about a nightmare he had. Asher’s supposed to be the pillar of strength between the two, what if that changes?
Sometime later the two entered a small house that seemed to be safe enough. The house itself was quaint for being run down. No holes in the walls thankfully and as far as they could there were no dead bodies. Asher turned to his sister to say something only to see her retreating to another room, bow out with an arrow notched in it. Rolling his eyes Asher began his search of the house, looking for any Z’s or dead bodies.
As Asher walked through the house, he couldn’t help but think back to when he was little. Their house had been similar to this except this house was one story while his was two. Still it was small just like there’s. He could imagine what this place looked like in its prime. Full of love and kindness. Very unlike how Asher lived.
Shaking his head Asher walked through each room, 3 in total, before going back to what he assumed was the living room. There he found Charlotte unpacking their basic needs. Sighing Asher dropped his bag on the ground and began getting the sleeping bags and fire equipment out.
The rest of the night went similar to this. Neither talked or even looked at each other. It was almost like they weren’t in the same room And as the sun went down the two boarded up the windows and doors before slowly falling into unpeaceful sleeps.
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