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A prompt that got out of hand, I began writing and could not stop. Enjoy.

By S.N. EvansPublished about a month ago 15 min read
Top Story - March 2024
Photo by Ilona Panych on Unsplash

Climbing from her apartment window onto the rusty fire escape, she carefully avoided the sharp bits she had snagged herself on before. Up a few more ladders and landings, she finally ascended to the rooftop. Laying on her back, she peered up at the stars that began appearing in the night sky. She had done this since she was a girl. Long ago, it became too dangerous to travel on the ground, significantly as night fell. However, from this particular vantage point, the world looked the same as before the reckoning, except for the decrease of smog. She felt like she could reach up and touch the twinkling lights above her and swirl them around her fingers like diamond rings.

A sound caught her attention as she heard the rungs of the ladder squeak. Someone else was ascending, and she was almost sure she knew who. But unwilling to take risks, she pulled the bucknife from her boot and moved into a more defensible crouch. When his blond hair crested the edge of the building, fluffy and silver in the moonlight, she returned her knife and sat down again.

“I didn’t think Mabel would let you go,” she muttered, fidgeting with a piece of broken glass. She had almost cut her hand on it and flicked it off the edge of the building.

“Mabel doesn’t control me.” He muttered, “Not like there’s more to do in our apartment than I’ve already done.”

“How much longer do you think it will be?”

“Until the military deals with all the creeps?” He shrugged, “Though it’s been years.”

“At least we can go out for supplies during the day. Dad’s been trusting me on gun duty while he and the guys raid and trade.” She chewed the inside of her cheek and remembered the creep she had ended that morning.

”This whole situation sucks.”

“It sucks to suck, but it’s what we have to live through.” She grumbled, “At least we live in the same building.”

He nodded. He came to lie down beside her and took her hand while they both gazed up into the stars. " There’s no use getting mad at it, is there?” He frowned.

”What do you think the creeps do with the people they take?” She asked, “Is that how they create more creeps?”

“I don’t think so. Most likely, creeps eat those captured.”

“If they ate them, wouldn’t we see some remains?” she grimaced, regretting her thought.

“Not necessarily,” he sighed, “Can we talk about anything else?”

“Elsie’s baby is due this week.” She said, sitting up and crossing her legs, “We’re gathering everything we have that might be useful,”

“Mum might still have some of my old things, but they’re probably WAY past their prime.”

“I think she will be grateful for anything she can get. The last three supply runs have involved trading for baby food and formula, if and when she needs it.”

He nodded, “Crazy to think we’ve been here long enough for Elsie to have a baby. She was just a kid like us when this began.”

“Well, when this started, she and Justin were already a thing. I suppose this was the natural conclusion of their dating. It is odd to imagine us as parents.”

“So, what are your plans for tomorrow?” he asked. “It’s another extermination day, so none of us are allowed outside the building.”

”Mum and I are on meal duty. We’ll be gathering the foods that no one wants or needs and making soup out of them. Then, we will take them from apartment to apartment until they are gone.”

“It’s better than nothing until we can resupply in a few days. Thank goodness the extermination makes the creeps retreat for a while. I’m not sure, but I believe it actually kills them.”

“I don’t know, but the fact that humanity was able to create a deterrent so soon is hopeful that this will not last forever.”

“Oh, before I forget,” he said, sitting up beside her. I found something in one of our old drawers, and Mum said I could give it to you.”

He reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a flat tin containing a pack of colored pencils.

“Get out. Are those what I think?” She questioned excitedly.

“Yes, some pencils that mum bought before the fall of society. I know you like to draw, and all they did was gather dust.”

She was so excited that she hugged him and opened the tin, revealing an almost complete set of colored pencils. The ones that remained showed barely any use. A small rectangular sharpener sat on the edge of the tin. Her mind reeled for anything she might have in their apartment to trade him back. He had said it was a gift, but she knew no one could afford to give anything for free that was not a necessity. Chewing on the edge of her lip, she wasn't sure.

“Missy, keep worrying about your lip like that, and we’ll need to go down and get the medicine kit.” He chuckled.

She immediately stopped chewing her lip, “Sorry, bad habit.”

“What are you so anxious about?” He teased, but she met his eyes, and he looked away.

“Oh, nothing important, just trying to think of something I’ve forgotten.”

“Don’t force it,”

Missy sat the tin between them, “Are you sure it’s ok that I take them? I’m sure someone might barter for them.”

“Dad tried to barter with them last time they went out. He grinned. He practically got laughed out of the stalls.”

“Thank you,”

”Just create something beautiful with them. Maybe I will know a proper artist when all this is over.”

“Sure,” she blushed. He was one of the few people who had seen her sketches. Oliver?”

He looked up at her, “We’ve been doing this for a long time; we’ve been nice to each other, and life is concise around here. Are we just friends or something more?”

“What’s brought this on?”

”Oh,” She muttered, “Sorry, forget I said anything.”

“You didn’t say anything wrong. I just wanted to know what you’re thinking.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about my future, possibly ours.” She fidgeted with the sleeve of her sweater, “The more I think about it, the more I want to spend the rest of my life with someone I know and trust, like Elsie. I trust you but don’t want to put you in a weird spot. If you don’t feel the same, that’s ok too.” She began to talk, and the words continued to tumble out of her, piling on the ground between them. She could not look away. It was like a proverbial car crash.

“Sometimes,” he answered honestly, “I can see us together, but other times, I think you might find someone better if you can weather this storm. If the world returned to normal today, you would be off to some fancy art school, and I would remain here, taking care of my mother and sister like always.”

“But, we do not know when the world will return to normal.”

“I’m afraid if you start a life with me now, the world will resume, and you will feel like I clipped your wings one day. I could not live with that.”

Silence passed between the two of them. They sat searching the stars for answers but found none among the many diamonds. Yet the words cast between them did not feel like a barrier. It still felt like they were having a conversation, only silent.

“Oliver,” She began again, but he hushed her.

“Did you hear that?”

Missy looked around, confused. Was someone else coming up? She could not hear anything.

“Something below.” He muttered, scooting to the edge of the building.

“Be careful.”

She scooted to the edge as well, but she could see nothing below except feeling vertigo as she peered down. Pulling herself away from the edge, she felt her nerves fray.

”What is it?”

“I think the creeps have someone, but from this high, I’m not sure. There’s not much we can do from here. Stay over there.”

“Why do I need to stay over here?” She winced.

“I think the creeps have learned to climb, and I don’t want one of them to get you.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Missy gasped.

“I’m not.” He frowned, eyes not turning from where he peered down,” Is there anything up there I can use as a weapon?”

“You’re not going to fight it, are you?” She asked, removing the bucknife from her boot again and handing it over to him.

“Not if I don’t have to, but we may be here until dawn if we can’t get it to leave. Next time, we will have to meet somewhere inside the building.”

“If we survive.”

“Don’t be so pessimistic.” He insisted.

Missy held her breath while waiting for him to tell her everything was ok, but no such encouragement came. Instead, he swore beneath his breath and tightened his grip on the blade.

“Missy, listen to me carefully, I need you to come over here.”

Missy came to him and sat beside him, “It moves every time I look away, so I need you to look at it when I tell you I’m going to look away.”

“Alright,” She squeaked, her heart beating in her ears as she looked down at the creature. It was on the second floor, pawing at the fire ladder. With a slide, they heard the rungs snap into place. However, the grotesque thing did not move up the ladder. She stared at it hard.

”Let me know when you’ve stared at it so long you need to blink.” He replied.

Missy agreed as she heard the scraping noise of the ladder. She wanted to look at him to see what he was doing, but she couldn’t afford to look away. It could be the difference between them ending up dead.

“Ok, Missy, I will lower myself to the nearest apartment and see if they will let us in. If they will, I will watch it as you climb down. You’ve got to keep watching it, ok?”

”Ok,” she muttered, “But I’m going to need to blink a few times soon.”

“Hold tight,” He said, sliding down the ladder, “Ok, I’m looking. You can blink. Rub your eyes if you have to. I’m on the landing.

Missy stretched and rubbed her eyes before laying down on her stomach to watch the creature again, “I’m watching.” She muttered to Oliver.”

“Good job, you’ve got this,” he says, turning to knock on the window of the nearest apartment. It was dark. At first, he tried to open the window to see if it was open but had no luck. Tapping, he watched as a lick flicked on, and a man came to the window with a gun.

“Don’t shoot,”

“Jeez, Oliver, whatcha doing outside like a peeping Tom?”

“No time to explain. Please let Missy and I in, and we can explain.”

“You best get in here soon,” He said, noting the urgency.

“Ok, Missy. I’m going to look at it now. Come down to the window and get inside. I’ll stop looking at it once you’re in and get in.” He strategized, “Once we’re both in, please shut and lock the window as fast as you can. Some creeps can climb.”

The man’s eyes got wide as he shook his head affirmatively. Missy did as she was told, quickly sliding down the ladder, ignoring the bite of the rusted iron. Her hands might need to be doctored, but their lives were on the line. The man tugged her in, and she told Oliver to come on.”

The moment Oliver broke eye contact, the skittering began. It grew loud as the creature pulled down ladder after ladder to get at them as swiftly as possible. It wrapped its spindly fingers around Oliver’s ankle as he dove in the window. It took both the man and Missy pulling Oliver to get him in. He managed to kick himself loose, and the window slid between them. The three watched the window in horror as the creature tried to open it. But the man was faster. He slid the lock in place.

Panting, they looked at each other and fell into hysterical laughter. They had almost been ended by a creep, which nearly breached the building. Once they knew they were safe, the gravity of the situation finally settled in. The man, Mr. Parsons, sat Missy and Oliver down and asked for their full report. He listened patiently and told the kids to stay there. He would go down and call an emergency meeting of the men in the building. Oliver was upset why they couldn’t just go home, but there was nothing to do about it.

They sat tight until two dozen men stood crowded in the small apartment. Oliver took over, explaining what was happening and how they managed to narrowly escape the monster. But, when Missy’s father came forward, she looked away, remembering she was supposed to be in bed. The disappointment that swept over his face made her want to shrink away. However, she clung to Oliver’s words instead as though they were a lifeline.

“Mr. Parsons says that you were touched, boy.” One of the men stated, “That true?”

“Yeah, but I kicked him off at the last second.”

“Let us see your leg, son.” He said, his voice softened as though he were preparing to give bad news.

Pulling up his pant leg, Oliver swore. He guessed he had been bleeding. He had not noticed through the adrenaline.

“Missy, come here,” her father said sternly, reaching his hand out for his daughter. Are you wounded as well?”

“No, Olly made sure I was inside. What’s wrong?”

“We are in a peculiar situation, son.” A man who seemed to be the leader stated, looking Oliver up and down, “We’ve never had anyone wonder by the creeps return.”

“What does that matter?”

“We don’t know how creeps are created. Stay calm, and I will talk with the boys about how best to handle this.”

“These are unprecedented times,” Missy heard one of them mutter. Another called for Oliver’s quarantine, and another demanded that he “die for the good of the complex.”

“Papa, he saved my life.” Missy demanded, “We can’t let them kill him.”

“Missy, I know you and Oliver have been friends forever, I don’t know the nature of your current relationship, but whatever decision is made, it will be for the good of the community.” He reassured her, “We must accept it if we want to make it through this.”

“I want to make it through with Oliver,” she frowned. Let me stay with him.”

”There are some empty apartments in the lower levels,” A large man scratched the stubble of his chin, “We can quarantine him there. One creep isn’t so hard to take out if something happens. What we have here is an opportunity to learn. We either learn that these kinds of wounds don’t turn people into creeps, or we learn what stages someone goes through to become one. It would be a waste to waste him now.”

Oliver stood up, “Do I get a say in this?”

The rest of the men went silent as Oliver stood and moved toward them, “I want to quarantine, and I want Milly to document any transformation that does or does not happen. But you all need to make sure she stays safe. That’s all I care about.”

“Brave lad,” Oliver’s father said, stepping forward. He wrung his hat between his hands. When you are ready, we will escort you to seclusion. If nothing happens in a fortnight, you are probably well enough to return to society. You may get released sooner if the wound heals before then.”

Oliver nodded, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. Missy and I should not have snuck out.”

“There was no way you could have known a climber would be here. That is our fault for not warning you all that we spotted a couple of them today on patrol.”

“It was the climber that slashed me.” Oliver mutters, “We may not learn anything more about creepers.”

“All the same, we need to document your condition. You can have limited contact with others if you show no signs of infection.”

A doctor came forward and began cleaning Oliver's leg. It did not bode well when Oliver couldn’t feel the cleaning chemicals. But Missy watched as he was taken away.

Missy returned home with her father, who said nothing when he sent her to bed. She closed her eyes and prayed for Oliver before falling into exhausted sleep.


About the Creator

S.N. Evans

Christian, Writer of Fiction and Fantasy; human. I have been turning Caffeine into Words since 2007. If you enjoy my work, please consider liking, following, reposting on Social Media, or tipping. <3

God Bless!

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (2)

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  • Andrea Corwin 29 days ago

    Is there a sequel??? There has to be! What happens?? 😳❣️

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

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