The First Day, of the Last Days
"It's us against the world"
As I wake up, from loud noises of airplanes flying low, and marching in the distance, I find myself on the pavement. I'm not too sure where I am. There are trees all around me and dusty fog in the air. I can hear the marching getting closer, but I don't see anyone around me. The road goes on ahead of me, and it's lined with trees on both sides. I feel the need to hide. I'm scared. I can't remember how I got here. All I have is my husband's golf sweater, which he had gotten back in high school when he went to state, the sweats I'm wearing, running shoes, and my grandma's golden heart-shaped locket around my neck. I run and hide in the trees, I can hear the marching getting closer, and men yelling, "Go find the live ones and bring them to me!" I turn and start to run into the trees, trying to remember how I got here and what happened. Where's Malachi? His smile is the last thing I can remember. I have to find him.
As I run into the trees, I can hear running water, and find a stream, with a log cabin next to it. I take a deep breath, as I go to the door. A deep voice says, "Who's there?" I reply, "My name is Kayla, I'm not sure what happened but I woke up and starting running in the trees and I found you. I need help." I can hear footsteps, then the lock unlatches. "You can come inside, slowly. Keep your hands up." I open the door and go inside the small cabin. There's a woman across the room, with a baby in her arms and another little child sitting next to her on the small bed put in the corner. Then a man holding a shotgun at me is standing on the opposite side of the room, asks, "How did you get here?" I explain what I remembered and tell him, "I just need to find my husband, Malachi." He said, "This is my daughter here and her 2 girls. I went and picked her up from the airport when it happened." I stop him, "What happened?" He explains, "We had been on the road for a while, then the sky got dark, and military planes started to fly over. They started dropping bombs. We were close to this place, so I started to drive through the median and shoulder and quickly got here. My dad built this cabin when I was a kid and we used to come up here and camp and fish." He goes on, "Once the bombs dropped and crashes started happening, people started to leave their vehicles and run. All I could do was drive faster and try to get us away from it. When I looked back, I saw soldiers dropping from the planes and shoot the people trying to run away."
As he explains, glimpses start to come back. I remember, Malachi, driving. I can see his smile, and remember telling him, "The sky is getting darker behind us", but not being able to make out what was in the sky, followed by loud booms. I remember grabbing Malachi's hand when I heard it, and he said, "Oh my God, what was that?!" Then, the next thing I knew, I was waking up alone, on the road, with not even an abandoned car around me.
I ask the man his name. The woman speaks up, "I'm Dah-coda, but everyone calls me Coda. This little one is Lilly, and the baby is Gracie-Marie. My dad is Merle." I ask Merle if there is anything they can do to help me. Merle replies, "If you feel you can handle it, come with me." I follow him out the door and we walk around to the back of the cabin, going to a storage cabin off in the distance. "My dad and I spent many years, fighting for this country. This is all the old stuff that we have kept through the years. Take what you need." He opens the door and leaves me be. I see old army bags and a few big unlocked chests. I start to scavenge through the old bags and put on camo covers over my clothes and pack an old army bag with supplies.
I am starting to feel like I need to hurry. Time is wasting, and I may not be able to find my Malachi. I take a minute and catch my breath. Leaning back against one of the chests, I clutch onto my grandmother's heart-shaped locket. It's golden and has the "Lord's Prayer" engraved on the back of it, and the front simply has the word, "Love". I recite the prayer and tuck the locket in my hoodie.
I quickly get up and finish gathering supplies and weapons from the chests. I know I have to leave soon. I can hear Merle shouting. I grab my bag and run back to the cabin, but before I can reach there, I see the soldiers pulling Merle, Coda, and the two baby girls out of the cabin. I run to the trees as quietly as I can. I say a little prayer for Merle and the girls. But try to and stay close so I can follow the soldiers, maybe they have Malachi.
I hear the soldiers yell, "Can't find anymore. Head out."As the dusk falls, I follow them to a gated community that had been taken over. These soldiers are not American. The language on the equipment that I can see through the fence, is not one I'm familiar with. I stay back in the trees and watch them escort Merle, Coda, and the girls, as well as, a few other people they had picked up on the way. I wait for the night to settle in, as I walk around the fenced area low and quiet, finding a place in the fence where it is already pried back. I look and make sure no one is around. I take some things out of my bag and find a safe place to hide it. Pulling the fence back, I climb through the opening. I feel anxiety come over me, but tell myself I don't have time for that. I approach the house that stands in front of the fence and look through the windows. This house is empty. There are street lights on, but most of the area is darkened. I start to make my way through the back yards of each house until I'm at one that I start to hear people, yelling and crying. I think to myself, "They have all those people captured here. If Malachi was captured, he's in there." I see the house being guarded by three soldiers just in the front. I have to be careful.
I get on my belly and army crawl to the house. When I reach there, I see a little window, going to the basement of the house. There I see people cuffed to the walls of the basement. I get closer to the window and look at the people. I hear the guards up front start to walk around. I go back and hide in the backyard. I can see him walk all the way around and then stay upfront. I go back and see if one of the people in the basement is Malachi. There I see him, in the corner with his arms cuffed to a chain, that was restrained to the wall. I can see the cuffs, are like old shackle cuffs. It should be easy to pick. I lightly tap on the window, trying not to make too much noise. He looked up and seen me through the window, and I see that same smile, I had remembered. We will get out of this my love. I see that there is a window just right above him. Then I look around the basement room and see Merle, Coda, and the girls. I army crawl around the house and hide in some bushes close to the house. Then I think, "If I can get Malachi something to get his cuffs off, then he can help the others unlock and getaway. I would have to cause a distraction." I had brought a few old-school, pull-pin, grenades, just in case. And now is the time to use them! I only have three, but that's all I need.
One of the guards turns a radio on and started speaking in a language I hadn't heard before. I make it to the window above Malachi. I feel like I can break it, without too much noise. Wrapping one of the handguns I have, with the sleeve of my jacket, I hit the window, with one hard swing. It breaks, without too much sound. I get a pocket knife and start to pull some of the broken glass out of the frame. I tell Malachi, "Oh my God! I can't believe I've found you!" Malachi stands up and whispers to me, "I can't believe your still alive. You need to be quiet, they're upstairs." I grab a handgun and toss it to Malachi. I start to tell him my plan. "Get yourself free and help that man over there. If not for him, I wouldn't have made it to find you. His name is Merle, he will help you." I straighten a bobby pin from my hair and reach down the window, dropping it in Malachi's hand. Then I toss a second handgun, for Merle and then tell them, "When you hear the booms, that's your chance. You have to get everyone out and run." I whispered to Malachi, "Run and meet me in the backyard. I will find you."
I make my way around to some of the bigger vehicles parked. I placed one grenade in the gas cap of one truck and ran to another. Before I could pull the pin of the next one, the first one goes off, and I start hearing a lot of yelling. I pull the pin and toss it under another truck, running towards the back of one of the houses. I start to quickly make my way back to the big house and try to find Malachi, as I hear a lot of chaos and yelling. I stay low and stay in the dark parts, making it to the big house, to find the basement empty. I go to the backyard and whisper out for Malachi. "Over here", He whispers, then I crawl over to him, in the very back. At last, I hug him bigger than I had ever. We cry some and are thankful to have each other. He asks me how I was able to find him. I say, "I will tell you all about it, but right now, let's go. We need to be fast and quiet." We quickly make our way to the pried fence. I ask him about Merle and the girls he had with him. He tells me that they weren't able to get away. "A guard restrained them when the crow of us charged through the house. I was able to go through the back door and I ran straight for back here. I don't think anyone seen me at all." We make it through the fence and find the bag of supplies. I give Malachi the bag and tell him to get the things he needs. He's surprised and says, "Wow, you did come ready. That old man helped you?" Then I explain everything that had happened from the time I woke up on the pavement until the time I had found him. I tell Malachi we should go back to Merle's cabin where there is food and more supplies. Then we can figure out what we need to do next. He agrees. We look back at the chaos that was started and start to run away in the trees, hand in hand. We don't know what is going on, but we know, we now need to survive. It's us against the world.