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It Ends Here

Disclaimer: This story contains disturbing imagery and scenes. There are scenes with murder, grief and Filicide (the act of killing ones own child). This story is disturbing in nature, reader discretion is advised.

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 7 min read
Top Story - November 2023
31
It Ends Here
Photo by Random Institute on Unsplash

Disclaimer: This story contains disturbing imagery and scenes. There are scenes with murder, grief and Filicide (the act of killing ones own child). This story is disturbing in nature, reader discretion is advised.

It had been far too long since the world erupted in turmoil and that would continue to be the case for some time.

Many years ago, a disease swept the nation. 

It presented as nothing more than a common cold with a groggy, scratchy voice. But would soon take over the host and turn them into something inhuman. Something that fed on human flesh after being driven into madness.

The problem was there was no way of knowing how it was transmitted or who had it until it was too late. The only indicator would be the gravely voice, which meant even the common cold was a death sentence.

No one could cough or have a sore throat without it signing your death warrant immediately, and so the human race began to dwindle in numbers. Only a few would survive and fewer would be able to live with themselves after the things they had to do to survive.

* * * * * *

I had survived the initial wave of chaos, eventually finding another group of survivors to begin rebuilding my life with. That was how I had met Doron, the man who helped bring Mallory into this lawless world.

Being the only child in our group, she proved the saying right, it did indeed require the whole village to help raise her. Or so we liked to think.

One day while Doron and I were out on a hunting and gathering mission, I heard it.

He coughed.

“Pardon me.” Doron choked in a gravelly voice, “I don’t know what happened, there.” He explained, then grunted in an attempt to clear his throat.

“Doron,” I muttered in a small voice, as my heart rate quickened in dread.

Instinctively I raised my crossbow and pointed it at him, tears started to well up in my eyes.

“I’m fine, I feel fine. I swear.” He croaked in his groggy voice. His eyes were wide as he pleaded with me, the fear in his eyes grew by the second. His arms outstretched in my direction in apprehension.

My bottom lip began to tremble and my hands shook, I couldn’t believe how cruel fate could be at this moment.

For a long moment, we stood staring into each other's eyes, several feet apart.

Doron’s eyes fell to the ground as the realization set in and he knew what must be done. “Do it for Mallory.” He muttered in a barely audible voice, then started emptying his pockets.

I nodded in agreement, “I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” He replied as he placed his belongings at his feet and braced himself for what I had to do.

The second he stood back up I pulled the trigger and watched the arrow slice through his chest. It propelled him backwards and his body hit the ground with a solid thud.

 I closed my eyes tight, wishing to erase what I just watched myself do.

At that moment I felt like my soul had left my body and I was on autopilot, doing what needed to be done. Tears began to stream down my cheeks, but before I could allow the grief of the moment to overcome me I was interrupted by a groan.

I opened my eyes to see Doron, his eyes bloodshot as his head popped up and he struggled to get to his feet. The disease had taken hold and he was resurrected by the very thing that made me kill him.

My moment of sorrow was over as I scolded myself for not being strong enough to have executed a headshot in the first place. But it was too late to change that, so with a breath of fatigue I reloaded and made this shot count. It landed right between his eyes and then I collapsed to the ground in a weak sob of defeat.

I had lost my best friend and the father of my child. But that wasn’t even the worst part, the worst part was now I needed to go back to camp and tell Mallory what I had done.

I wicked away a few stray tears and pulled myself to my feet, collected Doron’s possessions and the supplies we had gathered.

I don’t remember how I had gotten back to camp or dropped off the supplies. I only remember the look on Aiden’s face when I returned without Doron.

“I’m so sorry.” He muttered with a pat on my shoulder.

“Where’s Mallory?” Was the only phrase I could muster.

“She’s in the back with Mel, building sandcastles.” He replied, his expression darkened with pity.

“Thanks,” I said, with a weak smile and took a step in that direction.

But Aiden grabbed my arm and held me in place for a moment, “You don’t have to-“

“He was her father and my mate, I have to be the one to tell her,” I explained with a heavy sigh.

He only nodded in response, then let go of my arm but held an expression of empathy.

I walked in what felt like lead-filled boots to the back of the building.

I paused at the door, looking through the window and watched her as she played with Mel. I hated myself for what I was about to do, I was about to ruin her childhood.

I swallowed the last of my fear and summoned my courage once more. Before I let out a quick breath and opened the door which creaked to life.

“Mommy’s back!” Mallory called. She ran to me, with an excited smile and wrapped her little arms around my legs in an embrace.

“Hi hunny,” I replied with my best faux smile.

“Hey Megan, how was-“

I immediately looked up and gave Mel a leery look, which cut her off mid-sentence. Then shook my head before Mallory could see, what I was trying to say to Mel with my eyes.

“I’m sorry.” She murmured, “I’ll let you two be.” She stated, then stepped around us and walked into the building as tears began to well up in her eyes.

“Show me what you and Mel built,” I spoke to Mallory, with another forced smile.

She immediately grabbed my hand and pulled me along to the edge of the cement pad, where the desert sands licked at the last bit of civilization we had left.

Mallory babbled on excitedly about all the features of the sandcastle Mel had helped her build.

I wish I had listened a little more closely but I felt frozen and numb as I waited for the phrase I feared to leave her mouth.

“It’s beautiful dear,” was all I could say as she finished explaining what each room was.

“I want to show it to Papa.” She squeaked excitedly.

“I need to tell you something sweetheart,” I began, but was interrupted by her coughing and hacking in a way that made my heart sink. My hand instinctively moved over my hunting knife that sat on my hip.

“What did you say, Mommy?” She asked in the telltale gravelly voice.

I bit my lips together and felt the tears begin to well up in my eyes.

“I asked if I could have a hug.” I lied, with one last forced smile.

“Okay Mommy,” she agreed, then got up and wrapped her little arms around me where I sat.

I pulled the knife out of its holster and held it tight, as I gave my baby one last squeeze.

“I love you, Mallory,” I spoke in a weak voice as I let her pull away from our embrace.

“I love you too Mommy.” Her tiny but gravelly voice replied, she smiled at me fondly as I watched the red veins in her eyes grow darker and begin to connect.

“Close your eyes, sweetheart, Mommy needs to do something,” I mumbled as tears began to trickle down my cheeks.

“Okay, Mommy.” She growled in her gravelly voice.

I knew my time with her was about to end, the disease would soon take her over and ruin this moment. I placed a hand on the back of her head and thrust the knife through her chin and into her skull.

She opened her eyes wide in surprise as her body went rigid in death.

More tears trickled down my cheeks as I watched the light leave her eyes and I allowed her body to crumple to the ground.

Wiping the blood off the knife on my pants, I put it away and sobbed uncontrollably into my hands. I wailed so hard that I felt like my lungs would burst.

I remained this way, undisturbed, until I could cry no more.

Sitting at the desert's edge, I watched the sun start to set and I felt numb with grief. A slight wind blew my hair across my face and I felt an emptiness begin to overtake me.

Engulfed in the desert’s parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind.

Short StorySci FiPsychologicalLoveHorrorCONTENT WARNING
31

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

Thank you for stopping by!! 💚💙💜🩵

If you are interested in longer works by me, I have two books published on Amazon.

Jogger's Trail and Fox in The Hole.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

Add your insights

Comments (23)

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶4 months ago

    Heartbreakingly sad... well done with Top Story & the challenge.

  • Harun rashid5 months ago

    Good,This content is very fine,so I love that it was a Challenge story and Congratulations on your top story.

  • Lamar Wiggins5 months ago

    Wow! Some really tough but necessary choices this woman has to make. Great entry, Donna and congrats!!!

  • Novel Allen5 months ago

    Very well written and executed Donna, A brave woman living in a beastly world. We are not very far from this reality ourselves, if we are not careful. Kudos on a Great Top Story.

  • Powerful, heartbreaking story. Well done!

  • Through this whole story, I felt a sense of despair. I kept thinking they were all going to get it. It started to dawn on me that this was an entry into the Arid Challenge as the sheer hopelessness built because what else could you do in a situation like this but walk off into a desert and wait to die? You really captured me with having to kill Doron but Mallory was a punch to the gut. Very well done!

  • Kendall Defoe 5 months ago

    I knew you'd get the TS for this! 🏅

  • Zara Blume5 months ago

    This is so damn good, and very brave of you. It takes courage to allow yourself to write something like this, and even more courage to publish it. You risk putting yourself and your readers through such brutal emotions, or you even worse, you risk it not evoking emotions and coming off as tasteless, gratuitous gore. I’m glad you went all the way there. Even though a zombie apocalypse seems unlikely, you touched on incredibly real themes we all deal with. Do we want to bring a child into this world with how bad it is? If we have a loved one or pet become terminally ill, can we summon the courage to put them out of their misery? Because both murders in this story were an act of love. And survivor’s remorse is something all survivors must process, even if it doesn’t mean people you love dying. Anyone who has ever been through some real shit knows that not everyone makes it through. Even something as simple as partying too much in your youth—you might have to make the choice to dead the friendships you have, and lose everyone in order to grow up. Fantastic entry to the challenge. 🤍

  • JBaz5 months ago

    I am so happy this won a Top Story. You brought such emotions and feelings into a dark tale. Congratulations

  • Mark Gagnon5 months ago

    Donna, first you created a dystopian world and then interlaced it with heart-rendering emotion. Excellent story and a strong contender for the contest. Congrats on Top Story!

  • Maggie Elizabeth 5 months ago

    Congrats on the TS! This is such a well-written, heartbreaking story. I can't wait to read more of your work!

  • Andrew C McDonald5 months ago

    While not a fan of “zombie-esque” fiction this is a beautifully written, heart wrenching story. Very well done. Congratulations on TS.

  • Alexander McEvoy5 months ago

    ummmm.... Wow... Ok... Donna, you're amazing! This was a wonderfully tragic story! I loved the soft worldbuilding so that the narrative could focus on the tragic human horror of the plot. Just enough to get us invested, then left aside for the real meat of the story! Poor Megan, she really deserved better. I can almost hear an internal monologue for her, like Frodo talking to Gandalf in his "I wish the ring had never come to me" speech. This was an awesome story! I loved it so much! Congrats on Top Story and best of luck in the contest!

  • Paul Stewart5 months ago

    Uhm...I saw this got Top Story...had held off reading it because of the content. Just finished and....oh my word, that was a difficult read in the end. Such beautiful writing, though Donna...brutal, horrific, but beauty and you handled it with the necessary level of tact. No sign of joy...but a sense of deep love and just how hard the level of sacrifice necessary in that life to keep going was. I'm in awe of you, Donna. I thought my two entries were quite strong, but this, completely blows them away. I'd happily lose to you with this, though, so I'm not feeling glum about it. Congrats on a well-deserved Top Story, brave an unflinchingly realistic piece of writing, pal! Tiniest of editorial questions though - "I wicked away a few stray tears and drug myself to my feet, collected Doron’s possessions and the supplies we had gathered." - drug, feels a bit wrong? I've never heard of drug being used as a different form of drag. Dragged just feels like it might...be better? Please feel free to tell me to shut the hell up though. You know I love your writing and would always want you to point out anything like that. Well done again!

  • Gerald Holmes5 months ago

    This is a spectacular entry for the challenge. That ending took my breath away. Congrats on an excellent Top Story.

  • Lol, I literally grinned when I saw filicide in your subtitle. Although that was a spoiler for me, it made me even more excited to read your story! You wanna know what I think of Doron? I think he's a moron and Megan too for bringing Mallory into this disease filled world. I mean like, who does that? 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️ I don't feel sad for Megan. She knew this could happen. I do feel sad for Mallory though. Two irresponsible morons brought her into this world just to kill her. She did nothing wrong. Watch out Megan, Mallory will haunt you and get revenge! Lol! Also, I was shocked at the ending because I would have never guessed this was for the Arid challenge. I loved how creative your take was. Awesomeness story D!

  • J. S. Wade5 months ago

    Brutal and authentic story telling. How many tears did you shed writing this? Love your impassioned narrative that forced me to feel the pain, the price of survival and make me question if it would be worth the cost to remain. 🥰 Cough, cough! Oh oh, you don’t have my address do you? 😎🤣

  • Caroline Craven5 months ago

    Ooof. That ending. Gosh. Think this is a cracking entry. Great writing Donna.

  • Brin J.5 months ago

    Ouch. Your poor protagonist. Honestly, death sounded merciful in that world, and she knew it, which was how she had the strength to do what needed to be done. A heart-aching story, but well-constructed. <3

  • JBaz5 months ago

    Ah shit… that went through my head as she drew out her knife. So well written and captivating from beginning to the end. Beautifully written Donna.

  • Hannah Moore5 months ago

    Horrific! We were warned!

  • Dana Crandell5 months ago

    OMG. This is horrible and beautiful. An amazing entry, Donna!

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