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A Heart Shape Locket

A promise of survival

By Duncan AinsworthPublished 3 years ago 6 min read

The locket had meant many things to Jared, but first and foremost it had been a promise to Gwen to survive. The events of that day still haunted him, and although he no longer had the nightmares, he will always struggle with how they were abandoned to fend for themselves. By the authorities, by their friends, they were forced to defend themselves against roving packs of zombies and looters alike, all because they did not want to leave their home to fate or allow it to be destroyed. How naive he had been, if he had known what was to come, leaving as a group to form a new community or to try and keep up with the retreating military did not seem like such an awful idea now, but that was one of the many, sometimes painful, lessons Jared had learnt over the years. What he had seen and been forced to do to survive had twisted him and made him bitter. The people he had lost and the betrayals over the years all weighed heavy on Jared, but the one thing that kept him going was his promise to Gwen as she lay dying in his arms had become his sole purpose.

It had been a bad few days leading up to Gwen’s death. Supplies were running low, there was no running water or power anymore and no fuel to power any of the generators and trips to nearby towns and survivor camps had produced dwindling returns. They were still struggling with the fallout of everyone leaving Jared felt angry about it and had been struggling to sleep because of it. This lack of sleep is one of the reasons Gwen got killed, according to Jared and he still beat himself up about it. If he had not have been so tired, he would not have fallen asleep so easily on watch that evening, he would have heard the gang of looters break into the house through the back door. He tells himself, he could have stopped them, despite being outnumbered and outgunned. The first gunshot had him sitting bolt upright from his slumped position on the chair in the watchtower. At that moment he knew he had messed up as he raced down the ladder and across the street to the sound of more gunshots his heart was pounding in his chest and all he could think of was Gwen. Panicking but not wanting to rush in entirely blind, Jared ran round the back, to try and get the drop on the intruders. By the sounds of it a scuffle had now broken out as he attempted to sneak up the stairs. As he reached the landing, he found that Gwen had at least got the drop on one, or even more, of the intruders as the body of one laid sprawled out on the floor. As he raced up the stairs, he discovered blood on the flood and really started to panic. It was at this moment another intruder burst through a door up ahead of him, as Jared and the intruder stared at each other, Jared realised the other man was bleeding, but armed with a baseball bat and there was blood on that too. He went to charge the man without paying much thought to the fact that he was armed Jared was not, all it took was one lucky swing from that bat to Jared on his back and another to break his nose and knock him out cold. When he came to, it took him a few moments to truly process the horror of what happened and then he remembered Gwen. In a panicked rush, he stormed into the bedroom and was almost immediately knocked back by the chaos that he saw. A second intruder lay dead by the door, and the rest of the room having looked ransacked. On the bed lay, Gwen slumped up against the headboard and covered in blood. “Gwen?” Jared sobbed, he moved to the bed without thinking “Gwen?” he whispered through the tears, he noticed that she was taking small shallow breaths and her eyelids flickered, Jared quickly moved the last few steps to be as close to her as possible “Gwen, I’m so sorry, I’m sorry, this is all my fault” uncontrollably sobbing now, he held Gwen as close to him as possible, he knew there was anything he could do for her now and he hated himself for it. He did not immediately register it at first, he was too much in shock to be aware of it, but eventually, he realised Gwen was trying to whisper something in his ear. “Survive” Gwen said weakly, blood flowing from her mouth as she did so “Survive, for us, please?” she whispered “Gwen, please stay with me” he said as he looked around the room for things to stem some of the bleeding. “I can’t, please just survive” she murmured even fainter now. She was weakly trying to give him something as she died, breathing her last breath as Jared cursed himself for being asleep when the looters came through the neighbourhood. He looked down to see what was in her hands and saw her heart-shaped locket, how she had managed to keep a hold of it, Jared had no idea, but he knew which pictures were inside of it. He felt anger then, at himself for being such a useless idiot at the others for abandoning them and finally at the looters for killing Gwen. As he tore out of the room, he figured he would come of with a plan later, he only had one thing on his mind then.

Initially driven by anger and revenge, he burnt himself out and almost got killed many times over trying to find out who had attacked them, but having no idea where to start, he made mistake after mistake. He met opportunists and gangs who he thought he could control or fight to get what he wanted, but in the end all it got him was trouble. For years he fought to get what he wanted only to lose more times than he won, but he was never going to stop until he got what he wanted for Gwen.

It was only when he was rescued by another group of people after being taken prisoner and tortured, that he came to his senses and gained enough clarity to remember his real purpose, it took a lot of work but seeing that strangers were willing to put in the work in order to get him back on the right course eventually helped Jared realise what he had to do in order to truly make it up to Gwen. Surviving meant more than just existing now, the group who had saved him gave him hope and had built something worth surviving for. Despite the horrors of the last few years, life is much more worth living now than it ever was before the apocalypse. The world had changed, not necessarily for better or worse, but Jared was determined now more than ever to make the most of what was left. He had learnt that now the world could be whatever he wanted, humanity had been given a second chance, of course, there was debate amongst the people of Hill Rise and the other communities that had been discovered, about whether humanity deserved it. All he knew was that he wanted to help work towards being better than who he used to be and doing what he could to help others, for Gwen, on her heart-shaped locket he had promised it and on it he had hope.


About the Creator

Duncan Ainsworth

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