Chapter 1: The Start of The End of The World
Ground Zero #12, Former United States of America, 2027...
The sky is burning.
The ground is shaking.
Civilization has come to an end.
Tragedies have plagued society since the dawn of time, some worse than others. The Black Plague, The Armenian Genocide, Pearl Harbor, World War II, The Holocaust, Hiroshima, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina… all of these events have led the deaths of thousands, and the tears of millions.
In the year 2018, a new threat emerged; one that would lead the world down a path of destruction. A mysterious virus the government later dubbed Vulnarius, began to spread across the United States, morphing its victims into horrendous creatures with a lust for blood.
But that was only the beginning.
And then it came, the event that ended it all. May 15th began as just another day, the world still concentrating all it’s brainpower on either the growing Vulnarius Plague, or the latest release on Netflix. But then, it came. A barrage of nuclear warheads, heading straight for America with no warning and no way to stop them.
The world shook, millions of people screaming in terror as the patriotic country was destroyed. And then, as the flames tore cities, mountains, forests and lakes apart, they were silenced. Only a handful remained, and with the Vulnarius creatures still lurking, those people were slowly picked off one by one.
One moment, the United States of America was a bustling country of fast food, greedy civilians, and real estate. The next, it was a rabid wasteland of nuclear destruction and mutant creatures that roamed the earth. This was the story about how the world came to an end.
Thousands of bodies laid strewn across the city of Washington D.C., smoke billowing from the torn down building that formerly housed the president. The grass was dead, the trees burnt black, and any sign of life had been snuffed out.
Dirt and dust blew through the air, a cool breeze whisking it through the atmosphere. Up in the sky, light shined down through the clouds of smoke, which plagued the skies and kept the atmosphere almost uninhabitable. Everything in the area was dead, destroyed by the radiation.
A man stumbled through the streets, tripping over a broken car door as they moved towards their target. Their skin was grey, their veins a distended glowing purple. Their eyes were a dark red, blood trailing down their faces and path their sharp sets of teeth. They were mutated, but not from the radiation. From a virus, that long preceded the tragedy that was the American Fallout.
The mutant proceeded towards its target, which was a struggling old man trapped in a ditch. His car had fallen straight into a hole on the side of the road, due to his failed attempt to outrun a swarm of mutants not too far behind this one. He was trapped inside, trying to climb out as he struggled to release his broken leg from the shattered car window.
“Please!” he cried.
“Help me!” he shouted.
But nobody was there. Almost the entire population was decimated. Turned to dust and vaporized by the explosions or torn apart and transformed by the mutants. Only a handful of survivors remained, and there was nobody to help him.
Nobody but one.
The man screamed, watching as the mutant approached the edge of the ditch and looked down at him. It gazed at him for a second with its blood red eyes before letting out a terrifying screech and pouncing forward on the man’s body.
The man let out a scream, but alas, the mutant tore into his body. He sunk his teeth into the man’s neck and tore out his jugular, filling his throat with blood and spilling even more out of his mouth. He dug his claws into his arms, slashing into his flesh and tearing straight into the bone. Blood spewed out of his corpse as the mutant pulled its head away, tearing off another chunk of flesh from the corpse’s face.
He was dead in moments, but the mutant was satisfied. At least, it thought it was. There was no sign of any further flesh in sight, until a small voice came from inside the car.
The mutant turned its head, attracted by the sound of a child’s voice. It turned and approached the side of the car, latching onto the side door with its claws and screeching loudly as it glared at the young girl cowering inside. She screamed, and he roared, tearing off the metal door with a single yank.
The girl tried to push him off, but it wasn’t enough. The mutant crawled into the car, and the girl turned around and tried to escape out the other side. She was able to slip through, cutting her ankle on a sharp corner of the broken window.
The mutant followed, crawling through the window as it’s sandpaper-like skin split open against the shattered glass window. The girl climbed out of the ditch and hurried into the street, the mutant crawling after it. But it was only after the mutant emerged from the ditch did a shadow step out from an alleyway, drawing a dark black weapon it’s belt. A handgun.
“Daddy!” she screamed as she stopped, eyeing her father’s dead body laying against the car. His body was torn apart, and with no remorse, the mutant pounced on her.
She screamed, and then came a gunshot.
She froze, opening her eyes a few seconds later to find the mutant laying limp in the middle of the road. Black blood trickled down from the bullet wound in its forehead as the shadowy figure behind her holstered his weapon, approaching the young girl.
“Thank you... but... daddy...”
“He’s dead little girl... and you... you are infected,” the man said as he eyed her, taking the cloak off of his head and revealing a young man with messy black hair and a scar or two on his forehead and cheek.
“In-Infected?! But daddy said you can’t get infected unless they bite you!” she exclaimed, tears streaming down her face.
He shook his head, “that’s a lie, a myth from the earlier days. If your blood mixes with theirs, you’re screwed.”
He pointed downwards, pointing out the cut on her ankle. Blood from the mutant was splattered onto her leg, several drops having mixed with the large gash on her ankle. She looked back up at him and began whimpering, only seconds away from bawling.
The man had seen this tragedy only a hundred times before. So many people, so many friends. Now it was just him. He sighed and reached down for his gun but stopped. It was no different than any other time, but he wanted to give her as much mercy as he could.
“Little girl... what is your name?” he asked.
She sniffled, “M-Mabel...”
“Mabel um... you’re a brave girl. I’m sorry it had to end this way but please... turn around. I’ll take you to your father,” he said, still not used to the idea of mercy killing.
She slowly turned around, crying harder as tears and snot dripped down her face. The man sighed, holding up his gun as soon as her back was turned. His hand shook, and he began to tear up, but it didn’t hurt his aim. A single gunshot to the back of the head, and her body fell forward onto the pavement.
“God... why can’t the world just give me a break from this,” he asked himself for probably the hundredth time.
Just as he holstered his weapon, the sounds came back. The growls, the snarls... The swarm that had been chasing them was getting closer, only a few blocks away now.
He couldn’t afford to bury the girl, and as much as it was the right thing to do, he needed to stay alive. He sighed and gave her one final look before reaching down and pulling his bloody hatchet from the other side of his belt, taking the handle of a knife from the other side.
Eight years... eight years since this country had fallen. Eight years since over a billion people had suddenly vanished in a burst of light as fourteen nuclear warheads smashed into the ground and decimated the population. Eight years since I cowered in a dark room, watching my friends and loved ones die around me as the world seemingly came to an end.
Eight years since The Omega Event...
Chapter 1: The Start of the End of the World
Gunshots echoed across the battlefield. Blood was spilled across the sandy beach, being stepped over by the decaying flesh covering the monster’s bodies. And somehow, I had managed to survive.
I laid in a grimy old bathroom, clutching at my arm as I stared at the wall. A bloody scarf laid by side, having formerly covered the now exposed bite marks embedded deep into my flesh. Four strangers surrounded me, one of them missing a leg and another bleeding out.
For hours, we listened as the country of America was torn apart. Bomb by bomb, explosion by explosion. The ground shook and the ceiling nearly collapsed from the force of the impacting nuclear warhead.
When the chaos finally stopped hours later, I fought my way to my feet and stepped out of the bathroom. I pushed past the broken door, watching as it fell off its hinges and slammed against the ground. With all my might I managed to stumble away from the building and onto the beach, where I was met with a gruesome sight.
Hundreds of bodies were scattered across the beach, each and every one of them burnt beyond recognition. The burnt remains of a recreational vehicle were also visible in the distance, and what was left of the city and the marina was torn apart as well.
And somehow, I had managed to live through it all. I’m a survivor of the Omega Event.
Sunday, May 10th, 2018, Greenbrooke City, America
I stared up at the moon, and the moon stared back at me.
For once the night sky was completely clear, void of clouds and smoke that drowned out the stars. This city was different, it was one of most silent places in the world during the day. The night, however, was not silent as the sounds of police cars, beeping horns, and popular new songs blared from a few blocks away. Though tonight was different, tonight seemed special.
I was sitting on my friend’s front lawn, my back laying against the large boulder beside his front porch. The shouting from inside had forced to step out and take a breather, admiring the night sky as I did so. When I was a kid, all I wanted to stare down at was a game screen, but as the years went by, I found myself appreciating the things around me much more.
It would all be gone soon enough.
My friends were inside the house, most of them having not paid attention to my attempt at slipping out. The noise and shouting had gotten a bit much for me, and I needed to take a few minutes to calm down. As one might say, anxiety is a muffinsack. Actually, muffinsack is a word I made up, so I’d be the only one saying it.
At a time like this, I would normally feel pretty happy. Got a bunch of friends, most of them chill, a nice family, and only a few months to go until I was free from the prison that some call high school. But one thing was troubling me, invading every thought and forcing it to the front of my mind whenever I tried to be optimistic and hopeful.
“God... why can’t the world just give me a break from this,” I muttered under my breath.
I laid down on the grass and sighed, trying to force that thought away so I could instead enjoy the peace. I stared at two dogs across the street, thinking to myself quietly, “I screwed up… I screwed up and I can’t do a thing about it. I couldn’t ask Quinn for help, nor could I ask Spencer to cheat on my exams.
“22 credits is all I needed, and I had 21.5,” I spoke in my head as I twirled a pen from my pocket in my hands, “and now I had to find a way to explain to all my friends, family and comrades that I wasn’t graduating on time.”
I looked down at my phone, eyeing a series of text messages towards my group chat from my online friends. My annoying Canadian friend Isaac, my weeb friend Addison, and then her; the one I dreaded telling the most. Lydia.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen her,” I thought to myself, “I really wish she hadn’t moved away so long ago. I miss her warm hugs.”
I sighed, reaching down and picking up a small rock off the ground that I had taken outside for comfort. He had two googly eyes glued to the front, giving it a goofy sort of look.
“What do you think I should do Pablo?” I asked the rock.
“Well if you’re talking about screwing that pink haired chick you like then wrap it up with a piece of rubber.”
I turned my head, eyeing another boy leaning against the front door. Hunter smirked at me, smoke puffing out of the plain white cigar in the corner of his mouth.
“Shut up,” I said as I shot him a glare.
“Still tired out from the firing range earlier today?” Hunter asked.
“Just thinking about things,” I replied as I shook my head, stepping past him towards the door. However, he held his arm out to stop me.
“Look, I wouldn’t suggest going in there just yet. Andrew and Spencer are still at each other’s throats,” he advised me.
I shrugged, “I can take it. Can’t be as bad as the science lab incident.”
And then a shout from inside proved me wrong, “just die already you scrawny little- “
The sound of a broken glass followed, and a girl I recognized as Maddie shouted back, “Andrew calm down already! It’s just a game!”
Taking his advice, I stepped back and walked back onto the lawn. While I generally didn’t agree with what he suggested, I’d take his suggestion on this one.
His look gave off a redneck-like vibe that told teachers he was trouble. And boy was he. The high school senior spent a majority of his time hitting on girls and skipping class, usually spending it with another one of our friends for their usual pastime, drug dealing.
Him and another friend of ours, Luis, had started their own little “business” around the school and local community. Just weed and opioids, never anything serious that’d get them in the stony lonesome for very long.
After the shouting quieted down, the door opened and a young girl with short brown hair, pale skin, and light brown eyes walked outside; our friend Maddie. Hunter and I turned to see her looking a bit worried, and she gestured us inside.
“You two should probably get in here just in case if you have to hold them back,” she said to us with a frown.
Hunter scoffed, “hold them back? Spencer can’t even lift a textbook without breaking a sweat.”
“No but you know how they are. Andrew’s gonna try and fight him, Spencer’s gonna try and stand up to him and well… I don’t want it getting ugly. Especially tonight,” she said as we followed her inside the house.
The two of us walked behind her, taking off our shoes and tossing them beside the others in the dimly lit hallway. We then entered the living room, illuminated by only the big screen TV displaying the video game from Spencer’s Px3 sitting on the floor beside a bucket of spilled popcorn.
“Guys c’mon!” Maddie shouted to the two, “take a break from the game and let’s calm down. Andrew, you go into the bedroom and Spencer, you go into the- “
“Sorry, not sorry Maddie! I’m in the lead and I’m not giving up!” Spencer shouted at his girlfriend.
She groaned, turning to the two of us. Hunter scoffed, stepping past her rudely, “look, I’ll keep Andrew from beating his ass but I’m not babysitting them 24/7.”
Maddie then turned to me and I replied by walking behind Hunter, “I may be a guy but Andrew still scares me.”
“Glad to hear,” Andrew replied, “now Spencer put down the controller and let me beat your ass into the ground!”
“Kiss my thumbstick! Now get over here and deepthroat my sword!” Spencer shouted.
“Shove it up your-” Andrew retorted before Maddie interrupted.
“Language you two! Honestly you two are the most immature boys I’ve ever met,” she shouted at the two before stomping away in a huff.
The two rolled their eyes at her and continued playing, their avatars on the screen mimicking their controller movements. Spencer was leading the game, his fast reflexes and video game prowess giving him an advantage over Andrew.
Andrew and Spencer were both similar, yet very different. Andrew had short unkempt brown hair and wore a black hoodie and jeans, his emo attire he wore on a daily basis. Spencer had messy brown hair and a blue hoodie along with a pair of black and yellow sweatpants. However, Spencer had bright emerald eyes, while Andrew had ocean blue eyes.
“Actually Maddie,” commented Quinn sitting at the kitchen table, “I believe you fit that role quite accurately as well, judging by the number of cartoons you watch.”
Quinn had tan skin, short black hair, and piercing black eyes that he used to stare into your soul and unravel your darkest secrets. His appearance showed off his intelligence as well, the boy wearing a white button up and black jeans.
“They are not cartoons, they are anime,” Maddie retorted, sitting down at the kitchen table with him and another girl.
I sat down on the couch beside Hunter, scooting a few inches away so we weren’t as close. I then looked into the kitchen, watching as Maddie began to watch two of our other friends who were in the midst of an intense card game.
“Um... checkmate?” the girl said with a confused look.
The other one sighed in disappointment, “we are not playing chess Sarah. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one. Well, besides me of course.”
“Yeah I know I know! Sorry I’m just really tired. I’m not used to staying up this late,” Sarah answered.
“It’s only nine o’clock,” I chimed in.
“And on a school night no less! I should be home in bed right now,” she said as she flipped one of her cards over.
Maddie gave Sarah a hug from behind and smiled, “oh relax Space! We have a half day tomorrow, so we can leave early and do whatever we want!”
“I-I was planning on staying after to study for exams. We only have a month y’know,” Space muttered.
“I vote we stay after school and hack into the school’s mainframe and set the schools fire alarms to all go off at the same time,” the other boy said with an excited smile.
“Why in hell’s name would we do that?” Hunter asked as he slammed a bottle of soda down on the table.
“Senior prank? Is that not good enough for you?” he said, his smile fading.
Hunter smirked, “now now Quinn, if you wanna screw with the school, you gotta go big. Hook up the intercom to a cell phone, lock the cell phone in a locker, and blast memes on a playlist for five hours straight.”
“Sounds good, but I can do better. Glue all the doors shut, so then nobody can get inside any of the classes,” Maddie replied.
“But then we won’t be able to take our final exams!” Space exclaimed, “then we’ll fail... and I’ll have to work at McDonalds!”
“Relax Sarah. Your grades are so high you could fail the final exam and still pass with all A’s,” Quinn replied.
She pouted, “I guess...”
“Now that that is taken care of, shall I deal us another deck Sarah?” Quinn asked as he picked up the deck of black and red cards.
“Sure but stop calling me Sarah. It’s Ace or Space,” Space told him.
I smiled at Space, admiring her cute attire. Unlike the rest of us, she took her time to choose her outfits. She wore a cute white t-shirt with an owl on the front and a cat beanie.
“Come on just die!” Andrew shouted at the screen as he spammed the attack button, beating Spencer’s avatar’s body with his own severed limb. Animated blood spewed across the screen as he slammed the flesh down at his enemy, a devious grin growing on his face. However, Spencer’s avatar quickly retaliated, grabbing onto the other end of the severed limb and flinging Andrew’s avatar across the map.
“Haha! Beat that muffinsack!” Spencer exclaimed with a big grin. Andrew looked angrily at him, cursing beneath his breath.
Quinn sighed and stood up, “I will settle this. Madeline, you take over for me.”
“Sure thing,” Maddie said with a smile before sitting down in Quinn’s spot and starting a conversation with Space on anime.
Quinn approached Andrew and Spencer and sat down in between the two, picking up the third controller laying on top of Maddie’s hoodie. He joined the game in seconds and began playing, his avatar levitating across the screen towards the two.
Andrew scoffed, “Pshh, Quinn as smart as you are, there is no possible way you stand any chance against-”
Within two minutes Quinn had taken out all three of their lives, losing only fifteen health points in the process. Andrew and Spencer were sweating from the intensity by the end of it and Quinn simply smiled in satisfaction.
“Dude... we gotta enter a tournament at some point! There’s a huge tourney in Los Angeles next month and we could totally dominate!” Spencer exclaimed in astonishment.
Quinn chuckled lightly and stood up, “I do not have time for frivolous things such as gaming tournaments. Though the extra cash would be nice though.”
“How’d you even beat us? You’ve never played this game in your life have you?” Andrew asked him in shock.
“Simple, I analyzed your movies and countered them with my own, while making sure to dodge each and every one of your attacks in order to take the least amount of damage possible. It is really quite simple, once you do the math,” he said before walking away and leaving the controller behind.
“Screw math, I’m glad I finished that last semester,” Andrew said as he went back to playing, fighting a CPU due to Spencer turning his controller off. The young boy stood up, taking a drink of the energetic drink sitting on the couch beside him: Lemon Ripple.
I came up behind Spencer and glanced at him as he opened his laptop, logging into an unknown browser on his desktop and typing in a web page.
“Guys! Spencer is buying illegal firearms off the dark web!” I shouted in a somewhat sarcastic tone.
“Gimme a bazooka and I won’t tell the cops,” Hunter said as he walked up beside me.
Maddie and Space joined us, crowding around Spencer’s couch as he began scrolling through the internet. He scoffed at my claims before giving his own answer, “I don’t buy illegal firearms. However, this is the dark web I’m looking at.”
“Spencer why are you on the dark web?” Madeline asked curiously.
“Probably trying to buy some of those anime pornos for cheap,” Hunter commented.
“For one, it’s called hentai,” he said in a condescending tone, “And two, nobody downloads porn, they stream it.”
Ignoring his somewhat questionable comment, we watched as he navigated onto an unfamiliar forum site chocked full of weird posts. Claims, theories, and news reports. Nothing you’d ever see on the morning news, but more or less things that navigate under the radar. Things you wouldn’t want releasing to the public.
“What are you looking at? New trailer for DragonLight Online being released next week?” Space asked, reading over one of the posts.
Andrew looked a bit closer, “hey hey that post is labeled from last week. The trailer just came out yesterday. How’d they know?”
“It’s the dark web, it does what it wants,” Spencer said with a goofy smile.
“I can’t tell if that’s scary or comforting,” I said, crossing my arms and staring at the screen.
“What’s that new one?” Maddie asked, pointing out a post towards the top of the screen labeled “URGENT”.
Spencer shrugged and clicked on it with the touchpad, bringing up a news article written by the site itself. It was long with several photos attached. Spencer’s smile quickly faded as he scanned the text but none of us could see what it said due to him sitting on the other side of the couch.
“What’s it say?” Space asked.
He didn’t answer.
Andrew swore under his breath and snatched the computer out of his hands, setting it down on the back of the couch and showing it to the rest of us. As we read through, our smiles seemed to wilt away and our faces just dropped.
“Spencer… what the hell are you reading? This shit can’t be real can it?” Andrew muttered as he read it over.
“That’s... that’s propaganda, right?” Space muttered, “some kind of troll post?”
“It seems so. There is absolutely no way this is possible. An attack at this level would certainly have been detected already,” Quinn said.
Spencer gulped, “no no no... that’s real. It’s the truth. Anonymous#0099... he’s the real deal. The first, the leader, the owner of this entire operation. If he says something, it’s the truth.”
“Then... how do we go about this?” Maddie asked, unsure of what to do for once.
Andrew scoffed, “we ignore it. Look, this is the most absurd claim anyone could make. The world is ending? That’s a joke. If the world was gonna end, it’d be by global warming or nuclear fallout or something.”
“Um, that’s exactly what this is,” Space told him as Andrew marched towards the front door.
“Believe what you want, and I’ll do the same. We’re meeting at two tomorrow for the movie, right?” Andrew asked as he slipped on his shoes.
Maddie tried to stop him, “um yeah but where-”
Before she could get another word out he walked out and slammed the door behind us, leaving us in the dark. I looked towards the others, who were all confused and worried.
“Maybe we should just ignore it. If this really is happening, they’ll have it all over the news in a day or two,” Space commented in her shy tone of voice she generally spoke in.
Hunter and I both nodded and he spoke, “and if this does go down, we can always catch a plane outta this place and vacation in Fiji with some bikini babes.”
Maddie slapped him on the back of the head, “jeez and you call Spencer a pervert. I’m gonna go take a nap.”
While Space, Quinn and Hunter walked towards the front door, I turned my head to see Madeline sit down on the couch next to Spencer and asked,” you’re not going home?”
“My parents are home for once to take care of Julia and Sarah. Plus, if Spencer’s gonna be all sad and depressive I may as well stay to cheer him up,” she said as she patted the nerd on the head. He looked up at her, smiling weakly for a moment or two before returning to the handheld video game in his hands.
I chuckled and shouted back at her as I followed the others out the door, “use protection you two!”
I snickered to myself as I walked out, closing the door lightly behind me. Quinn immediately walked off, popping in his earbuds and strolling across the street towards his house. Hunter whistled to himself as he followed behind, due to only living a few houses down from Quinn. Space stopped at the side of the road and looked both ways before crossing, her small figure darting through the night.
I pulled out my phone and took the left path, heading down the sidewalk so I could cross the street and get to my house a few blocks away. I sighed to myself as I scrolled through my notification wall, which was mostly empty. There was something at the bottom that caught my attention though. A missed call from Lydia.
I quickly called her back, the young girl answering after the first ring.
“Heya!” she exclaimed in an energetic tone, “where’d you go?”
“Hanging out with the group,” I replied, my tone being a foil of hers.
“Ah, I had a feeling you were so I called Andrew. He declined before the first ring ended,” she told me.
“That’s expected, he’s especially irritable tonight,” I informed her.
“Spencer?” she asked.
“Spencer,” I confirmed.
She chuckled, “yeah the little douchebag gets on my nerves sometimes too. Anyways, what’s up? You sound a little worried.”
“Nah I’m fine, just read some crazy online post about a bomb threat,” I told her.
“Link it to me, I’m curious,” she requested.
I sighed, “can’t, it’s on one of Spencer’s dark web sites.”
“Isn’t that bad though? The dark webs supposed to have all the secrets and illegal stuff right?” she asked.
“Maybe… maybe…” I muttered as I walked down the street, my former worries about failing high school finally being pushed to the back of my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about what we read. Was it all real, or was it a lie?
The next day answered my question in ways I never could have imagined...
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