Prologue: Judgement Day
The streets of Manhattan were as busy as ever. Cars sputtered and honked as they slowly crawled through traffic. People hustled by, apathetically going about their daily lives. Daniel sat in a chair and gnawed on a pizza crust while staring at the unfamiliar faces zipping by.
"Well, look who it is," someone said merrily.
Daniel lazily cocked his head and turned toward the voice.
"Missed ya at work today, pal."
"I asked you to cover for me, didn't I?" Daniel questioned.
"Have a little faith in ol' Ross! The foreman would have your ass if I hadn't," the all too familiar passer-by said.
Daniel thought to himself that Ross was the kind of guy you'd see in a biker flick. He was an underachiever with an air of confidence about him. He was wearing blue jeans and his favorite leather jacket. The jacket accentuated his large physique and broad shoulders. His clean-shaven face and short-cropped hair gave him a very professional look.
Daniel was much younger than Ross. Ross was a tall, strong guy. He towered over Daniel with his enormous stature. Daniel often made jokes that whenever Ross stood up straight he would "blot out the sun." Daniel was still strong enough to get his work done, but Ross just made him feel weak. Fresh out of high school, Daniel went looking for a job as quickly as possible. Ross, and manual labor, found him.
Daniel shoved the pizza crust back into his mouth and said, "I've been busy."
Ross glanced over at the young girl at a vending machine across the room. She was small and short with long, blonde hair. She wore a pink sun dress and matching sandals. She was almost like a doll. She stared intently into the glass, trying to decide what to take. A snide grin crept across Ross' face.
"Busy playing hooky, right?"
Daniel ripped a bit of the crust from the rest and placed it on his plate.
"It's her birthday today."
Having finally decided on and bought a drink, the young girl skipped toward Daniel's table.
"You never change. If I didn't know better, I'd probably mistake you for a young father."
Daniel looked at the girl sleepily.
The girl looked up at Ross with a beaming smile.
"Uncle Ross!" she exclaimed.
"How's it going, Birthday Girl?" Ross asked with a smile, "How old is little Kasey now?"
"We'll have you lifting sandbags in no time!"
"Are you a floor-man yet?"
"Hah! Still on with that, eh? Not yet, but I will be by the time you can work. Count on that!"
Ross let out another chuckle before turning to Daniel again.
"I'm heading out," he said, "so don't you dare miss work tomorrow!"
Daniel nodded. Ross strolled out of the pizzeria and disappeared into the crowd.
"We should get going too, Squirt," Daniel said and stood up from his seat.
As he started toward the door he noticed Kasey's face. She had puffed out her cheeks and crossed her arms.
"If you're gonna pout, I can leave you here."
Kasey didn't budge. Daniel looked at the clerk.
"Hey, buddy. How many pizza pies could you make with this squirt?"
Kasey squealed and clung to Daniel's arm. He laughed and walked out toward the subway station entrance with her.
In an electronics store nearby, Daniel could see the image of the local news station on one of the display televisions. Daniel recalled hearing that nuclear strikes had been called for. He read the text plastered across the screen. From what he could make out, the government was boasting to the nation that America was safe, due to its sophisticated missile-defense systems.
Before descending into the subway, Daniel's cellphone began to beep. He had gotten a text message from his mother. It read We love you. Stay safe. He didn't think much of it and headed into the subway. Daniel and Kasey sat on a bench and waited for the train to arrive.
"What do you want for your birthday?" Daniel asked Kasey.
"I want a waffle cone."
"You'll get fat, though."
"I will not!"
"Hmm… If you say so. Don't say I didn't warn ya."
The train rolled into the station and came to a halt before the pair. When the doors opened, a group of fully-armed soldiers stepped out and onto the boarding platform, then walked toward the subway exit. Daniel thought this was puzzling, but pushed it out of his mind.
"Probably some weird flash mob or something," he said to himself.
He boarded the train with his sister. Kasey sat in one of the seats lining the walls of the train. Daniel stood and held on to the bar overhead. The metal doors slammed shut and with a slight jerk the train started rolling. Kasey gleefully glanced about the train while Daniel stood and watched. He felt content to see his beloved sister smile. The lights flickered. Kasey looked at Daniel, confused. The lights went out. Almost as suddenly, with a grinding hiss, the train's brakes locked. Daniel stumbled down the aisle and nearly fell over. The wheels slid along the iron tracks, creating sparks that dimly lit the cabin of the train. Daniel frantically struggled to find his sister. Kasey called out to her brother in a panic, but he couldn't find her.
"Kasey!" Daniel shouted, "Where are you?!"
The train jerked Daniel around, causing him to lose his footing and fall over, before coming to a stop and leaving the train car silent in pitch black darkness.