We Are What Remain

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The world has changed into something of nightmares. My brothers and I must adapt to a new life of survival quickly or death will end up being the only sanctuary worth having.

Taja Kartio
4.5 18 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

My neighborhood used to be so lively. Every other nearby resident had one of those annoying barking dogs. All the kids were together in the streets, screaming and laughing in the midst of some game they played. Festivities were weekly with the neighbors whether it was a baby shower, birthday party, a barbecue, or a ‘Welcome to the neighborhood’ party. If not some kind of celebration, then it was yard work. Not exactly my forte but the neighbors did seem to mow their lawns to perfection and tend to their cultivated plants often. In other words, there was almost never a quiet day. Activity had been on a continuous loop. At least, it had been until close to two weeks ago.

Now there was nothing. No dogs. No kids. No neighbors. That life and motion was gone.

With the exception of the heavy raindrops on the roof, my home was silent. I sighed softly and turned away from the window of the living room and let the curtain fall back into place. I had come downstairs to look for something to eat and if I took too long, my brothers would come looking for me. I stepped around the shattered glass coffee table and recoiled at the massive puddle of coagulated blood staining the wood flooring.

The kitchen was a wreck. Plates were smashed, tupperware was scattered, drawers and cabinet doors were wide open. I did my best to step around the mess with the toes of my boots but I couldn’t help but cringe when I stepped on broken glass or shattered dinnerware.

The cupboards didn’t hold anything that sounded too overwhelmingly appetizing. Not that there was much left anyway. My brothers and I had each brought a full arm’s load of food upstairs days ago, and none of us had come back down here since then. My measly choice selection over the food we did still have was disappointing― so this afternoon’s poignant meal was an unopened box of Captain Crunch and the last of the Sunbelt granola bars.

My brothers were exactly where I left them. The eldest, Kale, still beside the window with a .45 in his hand and Beckett, the second oldest, was sitting on my bed, back up against the wall.

Beckett winced at the box of cereal and few granola bars I unloaded in front of him.

Kale’s expression soured into a grimy pout, “Is that it? I’m hungry.”

I slumped down next to Beckett on the mattress, “Well no, this isn’t all that’s left but this is what sounded good out of everything down there.”

“And what is left?” Beckett asked.

They asked this question every time I came up with food. I picked up the cereal box and waved it in front of my face, “Another one of these guys, a near empty bag of tortilla chips, aaaaand a few lucky cans of mandarin oranges.”

Beckett frowned at my depressing report, “There has to be more than that.”

I shrugged and forged an exaggerated sigh, “Well if we’d gone grocery shopping like I kept saying we needed to, we’d be able to hold up in this place a lot longer.”

Kale eyed me with a subtle glare, “I’m feeling that was directed at me specifically.”

“It was.”

“For the hundredth time, fixing our fridge was at the top of my priority list.”

It was a bit of a coincidence (and a bit cliche) that our fridge had to break down two days before everything went to hell. We still miraculously had electricity but if we still had a functioning fridge, we could have had more than just cereal, we could have had milk and cereal.

“You don’t sound very sorry. We needed to get groceries even before our fridge kicked the bucket but you kept putting it off.”

Kale moved toward the bed with an outstretched arm. I shoved the cereal box into his hand and earned a dark scowl, “Then next time you can call the fridge dude and try to get him to figure out what the problem is.”

“How much do we really have Dani?” Beckett interjected quickly, hoping to put a stop to the argument he knew would start if he did nothing.

“I told you already. We have some food,” I said as I tore open the wrapper of a granola bar. I took a bite and spoke in between chews. I wasn’t usually one for poor manners but it pissed Kale off and that’s what I was aiming for. By the dirty look he continued to burn into my forehead, it was working, “It’s not like we’ll starve tomorrow but maybe we will in like a week or so.”

Silence followed and I watched Beckett draw his eyes onto Kale, who immediately avoided the look by turning to the window again. A few days after the initial breakout in our small part of the world, the local news said word that military operations were supposedly scouring through every and all residential areas for survivors but hell, our small town of Litchfield wasn’t going to be first on the rescue list. The alleged quarantine zone in Minneapolis was an hour and a half away and there were hundreds of neighborhoods to go through before ours, yet Kale seemed to think that at any moment, tanks and hyped up Jeeps would be rolling through the streets to take our hands and bring us to the freaking Promised Land or something.



With that, frustration boiled and Beckett threw a hand up. A single astonished laugh emitted, “We have to leave eventually!”

Kale spun, “We’re not leaving!”

“Not forever!” The rolling of Beckett’s eyes matched the rolling movement of his head, “Just to go find some food! Supplies! Anything! I don’t want to run out of things to eat and then have to listen to the two of you complain about being hungry all the time.”

Kale glanced at me, then brows scrunched together, “I don’t complain about being hungry all the time.”

“You were just complaining about being hungry ten minutes ago! That’s why Dani went downstairs in the first place!”

Kale shook his head, dismissing that, “Okay whatever, it doesn’t matter though because we’re not leaving right now. Dani said we had enough to get by for another week so we’re gonna stay in here for another week. That’s that. End of discussion.”

I watched Beckett rub a hand down his face in a nettled manner but he didn’t reply as he knew he couldn’t waver Kale’s decision.

The room fell into a silence and after a few minutes of us all chewing our unsatisfactory meal, Beckett turned the TV on. The news of course, because we all loved watching all the chaos unfolding throughout the world. The headline said it all,


Some virus that was first spotted somewhere out in the Middle East. It spread like the same bullshit in the movies, blood and saliva. Person gets bitten, bitten person turns into zombie, zombie bites person. The whole circle of reanimated corpses and crap. I hadn’t seen the cycle personally, not all the way through. I’d seen the zombies of course, and I’d seen them take down and bite others, but I have yet to watch a bitten person turn. I wasn’t looking forward to it and I hoped it was something I never had to experience. My chances of that wish coming true were probably about as high as this military rescue squad Kale was so keen on waiting for.

The problem had reached all four corners of the planet but society was still somehow functioning. Governments were still up and running. Airlines still flew and ships still sailed but I wondered how long all of that would really last. All the zombie lore in movies and books made it seem that the world would go dark in a matter of hours, that the undead took over and overwhelmed all of us in a tiny time frame. It’s been two weeks since Patient Zero hit the big screen and we still had power in our home. But how long would it be until we were deprived of even that? I couldn’t imagine what we would be doing then, or anyone else for that matter. If there even was anyone else around. Right now, around here, it looked like my brothers and I were the last normal living people on Earth.

I often wondered what had become of my friends, everyone I’d grown up with. I noted that some of my classmates were still on social media, but I didn’t care too much for them. It was the group of friends I’d been spending my time with for the last few years that worried me. None of them answered my concerning calls or texts. Were they still alive? Were they mindless monsters? Or were they a pile of bowels half eaten on the streets? In my mind, that just seemed like the worst ending of them all.

“You haven’t taken a bite,” Beckett nudged me with his shoulder, pulling me from my thoughts, “Still got that stomach ache?”

I looked down at the granola bar still sitting in my hand patiently, “Ya. I guess but I think it’s a little better than it was before.”

He pointed at the Ibuprofen bottle on the end table beside the door, “I’d take a couple more of those then. Hopefully that does the trick this time.”

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