Scot C. Morgan, GFWW member, moves the story forward and adds a twist. We hope you enjoy it.
Here we sit, the four of us, huddled at the base of the ladder in the cellar. Zoe is quiet. Is she praying? Sera is crying now. I’d tell her to keep quiet, but the howl of the wind and the clatter of smashing debris is drowning out everything else. If the Inner Sanctum men saw us going into the cellar, it wouldn’t matter. I pull my gun and point it up the ladder at the cellar door, waiting for my first target. Caleb does the same. The whole world’s dying. Why do we have to face death from these idiots too?
The light coming through the cracks in the cellar door above accented the top of my hand like a spotlight on a stage actor. Showtime! A shadow darkens my hand. I fire. Three shots. Caleb chimes in, emptying his gun. There is no return fire. We hear a grunt, that must be the sound of unexpected pain. The cellar door showers us with light from the seven holes, then the light spigot is shut suddenly as it is blocked by the fallen body of our would-be executioner. The impact on the cellar door bumps a cloud of dust down on us. Silence… except for Sera’s soft crying. Moments pass. I smell the powder in the air from the guns.
“I think that’s it,” Zoe says.
“What about the other four?” Caleb says.
“I’m hoping the storm persuaded them to go somewhere else,” I say, “preferably in bits and pieces.”
“I don’t think we should sit in here waiting to find out,” Zoe says, “if they see those two up there, they’ll figure things out real quick. Then we’re fish in a barrel.”
“Zoe’s right,” I say, “we need to get out of here.”
I holster my gun and climb up four rungs of the ladder. I heave my shoulder up into the cellar door. It moves an inch, but no more.
“Our luck. We’ve got dead weight up there.”
Caleb rises and holsters his gun. “Let me help.” He climbs onto the ladder with me.
“Ok, now.” We both thrust our shoulders and necks into the bottom of the cellar door. Two inches.
“Shit.” I climb down.
“What are we going to do?” Sera says.
“Out of the way, Caleb.” I draw my gun. “Sorry ladies.”
I fire six shots into the corpse on the other side of the cellar door.
“Oh! You’re kidding. That’s… no,” Zoe says.
“I’d say he’s lost a few pounds now.” I holster my gun again and watch as the blood streams down through the cracks onto the ladder, pooling on the floor below. The smell of the blood fills the small cellar in short order.
“Watch your step, Caleb.” I climb back onto the ladder. Caleb joins me. This time we manage to shove the door open, as the body slides off to the side.
Climbing out of the cellar, I see the other man, who was considerate enough to die a few feet away from the cellar door. I retrieve his gun from the floor beside him and tuck it into the waist of my pants. I nod at Caleb and then to the dead doorman’s gun. He picks the weapon up and sticks it under his belt.
The wind is filled with dust, but the boards and bigger debris are settled now. I step forward and look outside. The clouds blanket the sky, blurring everything below with gray and a lack of shadows. The air is hot one second, then cool the next. One. Two. Three. I look for another moment, but I can’t see the fourth body anywhere.
“Our friends are testing their views on religion now. You two can come up. It’s safe.” Safe as a world can be three weeks into the Apocalypse, anyway.
Sera reaches her hand through the cellar opening at the top of the ladder.
“Let me help you,” Caleb kneels and takes her hand, as Zoe gives her a little boost from below. “Are you alright?”
Sera looks at the two bodies on the floor, then turns her gaze away from them. “No. Maybe.” She climbs out and stands, then leans into Caleb’s chest. “What are we going to do?”
Caleb holds her face to his chest and says nothing. The only response he has is to be there for her.
Zoe climbs out of the cellar. “We must keep trying,” she says, placing her hand on Sera’s shoulder. “There is still hope.”
I walk outside knowing she’s right. The land around the farm is shredded and disfigured. If there was a road leading to the farm, it wasn’t to be found now. In the distance, blocking the last few miles to our ark, the Ultima rages.
“Caleb, throw a few things in one of those saddlebags. We’re not done yet.”
I step back inside and look over the two bikes. “They’re alright. It’ll be rough, but it’s the only chance we have.”
Zoe moves to the doorway and looks outside. “There’s nowhere to ride, Drake. We’ll never make it.”
“That’s not acceptable, damn it!” I look at Sera and what could’ve been my future. Then I turn to Zoe. “Look, I’m not a good man, but I’d rather die trying to undo that than to give up on you three now.”
“My mother knew what she was doing when she sent me with you,” Zoe says.
“Drake!” Caleb drew his gun and stepped between Sera and whoever was coming through a door at the back of the barn.
“Please, don’t shoot.” A young girl walks forward. She is all of twelve.
A gangly boy comes up behind her and takes her side. “Can you help us?”
Caleb lowers his gun.
“Oh no,” I say, “this keeps getting better.”
Zoe walks over to the two. “Don’t be frightened. Are you alone? We’re friends.”
The girl answers, “We were supposed to wait here. It was only going to be a day, but they never came back.”
Zoe looks at me, “We need to take them with us.”
I turn my palms up and shrug.
“It’s not a question, Drake.”
I look out at the tempest on the horizon and the unforgiving landscape it has created. “The ride is too dangerous. There isn’t room.”
“There’s another way,” the boy speaks. His voice is deeper and more mature than I thought it would be.
“Let’s hear it,” Caleb says.
“The pipeline,” he says.
“No good,” I say. “We came here through the pipeline and it ended in your pond over there.”
“No, it doesn’t,” the boy says. “There’s another branch to it. I can show you.”
Zoe walks over to me and takes my hand. “You’re a good man.”
For a few seconds, I forget that we’re on a farm surrounded by destruction, with two dead bodies at our feet, two old motorcycles as our only transport, and two too many passengers looking to hitch a ride to avoid the end of the world.