Nightmare's Paradise

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It has been nearly a year since former U.S soldier, Samuel Vesey Anderson, has returned home from Afghanistan after surviving three harsh tours of duty. Clinically depressed, disillusioned, and at a loss on what to do next, Samuel reluctantly accepts his concerned parents offer to move back home with them and his two younger sisters while he continues gathering the pieces of his life off the ground. The hopes of returning to some form of normalcy and balance seems within reach. Then it occurs… On a day like any other a surreal glow raises from the eastern sky, communications swiftly fail, and the city is beset by a bizarre assortment of lethal monstrosities that are slaughtering one another just as quickly as any survivors unfortunate enough to cross their paths. Now, with his family's whereabouts unknown, Samuel will risk everything to find them while descending further into a nightmare.

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Chapter 1

The nightmare yanked Samuel Vesey Anderson awake. Now he was left stranded in the waking-world, sitting there at the edge of his bed, in the all-too-familiar gray shade of his room. Despite being unable to recall the full details of the nightmare, as it continued rapidly splintering and dissolving against consciousness, he decided against trying to return to sleep.

Groggily turning towards the nightstand, Samuel carefully reached pass several prescription vials, picked up his phone and checked the time. He was not at all surprised to find it was 4:37 P.M. Avoiding most of the day through sleep was nothing new. The moment he began feeling pathetic, and sorry for himself, he reluctantly decided to do the one other activity that helped clear his mind.

Running his hands over the dark skin of his shaved scalp, then down over his face, he gathered enough of himself to begin what remained of his day. Moving from the bed over to the tall maple dresser across the room, he dug out a black t-shirt, track pants, and sweat socks. After dressing, he pulled on his running shoes, then grabbed the MP3 player off the dresser before leaving the room.

Samuel immediately noticed the silence while walking down the hallway on his way to the bathroom. It most likely meant both younger sisters, and his parents were out elsewhere. He loved them dearly, but their absence was preferable at that moment. He did not think he could handle a bombardment of questions to how he was feeling or if he needed anything. Despite knowing in his heart of hearts that they all meant well, it was no less difficult facing their continuously pitying eyes, and half-put on smiles of sympathy.

After brushing his teeth, and washing his face, briefly glancing into the mirror revealed his dog tags were visible, so more out of habit than conscience thought, he pulled open his collar and tucked them beneath his t-shirt before leaving the bathroom. Because Samuel was partially lost in thought about what to do after his run, while walking down the hallway, and untangling his earbuds, he nearly missed looking through his parents’ open bedroom door, and spotting what was lying near the foot of their bed.

With an abrupt double-take, he immediately paused at the steps leading downstairs, and immediately changed directions for their room. Sitting there on the crème and dark brown comforter, was his father’s large, black revolver next to the open gun safe. Pulling the left earbud free, he curiously looked around for his father, then checked the empty adjoining bathroom.

“Dad?!” Samuel finally called out upon returning to the hallway. “Hey, Old Man?” He called out again affectionately after going downstairs only to discover no one was in the living room or dining room. He checked the kitchen, backyard, and finally the garage with the idea that maybe his father was occupied at his work bench. As he initially suspected no one was home. Puzzled by this discovery, Samuel jogged back to his parent’s room, picked up the gun, and cautiously inspected it. There was some small relief in finding the chambers where empty.

It did not require any guess work as to who was responsible. Only three people in the house knew the gun safe’s code. His father, his mother, and himself. He knew he had not taken it out. And his mother abhorred firearms as instruments that have always caused more problems than they ever solved.

So that left only his father. But knowing the ‘who’ did not explain the why. His father was never this reckless. Samuel shook his head in perplexed disbelief as he placed the revolver back into the safe, and shut the small, but weighty door. Uncertain on what else to do he quickly walked back to his bedroom, picked up his phone, and called his father. Growing impatient after the sixth ring and no answer, he ended the call and instead sent a text about the gun, asking his if he somehow forgot to put it away.

Figuring he would check his phone when he returned, Samuel left it there on his nightstand, plugged into its charger. Jogging down both flights of steps to the lower level of the house, he crossed the living room, plucked his house keys from one of the three gold hooks immediately to the left of the front entrance, and exited.

While walking from the house Samuel placed both buds back into his ears and began searching the MP3′s playlists until finding the song he was looking for. Kiliarmy’s ‘Wu-Renegades’ began playing just as he reached the driveway and looked up to discover it was evening twilight. Even as he briefly admired the canvas of the sky, soft blues subtly bleeding into violet and gold, he knew there was an obvious discrepancy between what time his phone last purported, less than an half an hour ago, and what the all but missing sun was saying to the contrary. Either the time on his phone was wrong or the sky was broken. He easily decided it was the first of the two possibilities.

Half a block later, and around the corner, Samuel crossed the street on his way to the start of the nature trail that ran adjacent to most of his neighborhood. Separating the community and trail was a 6ft wrought iron fence. It was painted a blue green as if that somehow made it appear friendlier. No matter how many times he saw it over the last 7 months, since returning home, it never felt like any less of an inflamed eye sore.

As his mother explained-- with perhaps far more disdain than he could ever remember her expressing-- a large influx of new residents were buying up property throughout his old neighborhood and transforming it into a gated community, in all but name.

“Fucking techies.” Samuel muttered irritably after pulling the gate open. Before letting it close behind him he briefly patted his right pocket one last time to make certain he had his keys with him. Once, when he had forgotten and was forced to climb over after his run, someone had apparently called the police to report a suspicious man entering the neighborhood.

As the gate shut behind him, Samuel was too busy listening to music, and ruminating about the gentrifying plague sweeping over the area, to notice the strange sounds emitting from somewhere amidst his neighborhood as it moved closer to his location.

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