Decerto | Teen Ink


March 14, 2011
By Anonymous

Author's note: I had to write a short story for English class and this is it.

I look around my house. No food in the fridge. No food in the cupboards. Nothing. Not even anything canned. I sigh. Great. My stomach growls and I can feel the familiar headache of slight dehydration. I realize that I have to leave my home. My only protection.

Looking through the drawers in the kitchen, I find a very large and heavy hammer. I’m about to smash the boards of the door when I have a thought that makes me pause. What could be out there? What’s different? Is it really safer to leave?
I start to think. About how I would be the only person there. Nobody else would be left. I’d be all alone. I think about what caused everybody else to die. War, famine, terrorism. However, in the end, it all came down to the disease. I think about how I only survived because I was born with a one-in-a-billion gene that prevented me from getting it. But as usual, I think about my family. My little sister Michelle.
Sighing, I look around my house. No matter what is or isn’t out there, it’s better than giving up and dying without trying to survive, I think. I take the hammer and repeatedly hit the boards until they break off. Cautiously, I open the door and step out.
I walk a few steps. I turn around and look at my house. I’ve lived there all of my life. I think of all of the memories I’ll be walking away from. All the times I helped my mom cook. Played catch with my dad. Helped my sister with her homework.

But I also have to think of all the bad memories. Mom and dad getting sick. Mom dying. And then dad. Having to take care of Michelle by myself. Then her getting sick. I never expected her to get sick. I really didn’t expect her to die. She was just a kid. I suppose everyone thinks that kids are immortal. It still hurt so much. She shouldn’t have died!
I turn around and quickly walk away from the house. My eyes start to sting with tears. I walk away from my house for the last time. I don’t once look back.
Everything outside looks so…different. The world seemed to change so much in the years since I’ve last been outside. I’m not exactly sure how many. The plants all look rather withered and brown. The paint on all of the houses has already started to chip away. There aren’t any dogs barking or birds chirping. Everything looks lifeless.
I walk away from my old neighborhood. I walk away and don’t look back. I don’t want to dwell on the past. It would be too painful.

It’s been about 2 days since I started walking. I take a sip of water from the water bottle I found in an abandoned gas station. My stomach rumbles. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any food to eat. Sighing, I continue my journey.
A week later and I am still walking aimlessly. I take a small bite out of a granola bar I found in a random house I passed. I haven’t had much water in the past 24 hours. My head is pounding with the familiar headache of dehydration. I really need to get water soon, I think.

14 hours, and I am starting to get desperate. The lack of water is starting to make me feel dizzy. I need to get water, and soon. I think I’m starting to become disoriented. I actually think I see a person walking towards me! Wait. Maybe I’m not hallucinating.

“Hello?” The person says, voice sound full of a mixture of disbelief and shock. The person walks towards me and I realize that it is a girl. She looks to be about my age, give or take a few years, but she is a lot taller than me. She has long auburn hair and icy blue eyes. She has the face of a person who is a true altruist.
“Are you okay, man?” She asks. I start to nod, but with the headache, it makes me feel nauseous. So I just ask her if she has any water.

She looks at me. She looks full of concern and maybe a little bit of pity. It might be the raspy, wheezing sounds I keep making. She nods and hands me a water bottle. I immediately down almost half of it. The lukewarm water feels very soothing on my aching throat.
“Thanks,” I say.
“No problem,” she says with a smile. “My name is Lucy, by the way.”
“I’m Jude,” I say, not caring if Lucy finds it odd that I have a name that’s usually a guy’s name. I’ve gotten used to it over the years. She just smiles and shakes my hand.
I look around at the rapidly darkening sky. I look over at my new acquaintance.
“We should probably find a place to stay for the night,” I say, and Lucy nods.

Three days later and we seem to have covered a lot of ground. Probably a lot more than I could have covered if I were on my own. Sometimes it can be nice to have a companion. Although all of her constant talking is rather annoying. She just doesn’t stop! I think she wants me to talk with her, but I’m far from in a talking mood. I just smile at her and nod.
I don’t know where we are going. I’ve been walking aimlessly for almost 2 weeks. I guess there has never been a plan. Not that it really matters. But I wonder if we’ll ever get anywhere.
The wind has turned very bitter. Me and Lucy (Lucy and I, my inner English teacher says.), decide to find a house to camp out at for the night. We walk until we find a house. It’s an old pseudo-Victorian house. The paint is a repulsive, faded yellow-green color, and is starting to peel. In short, it’s very hideous; however, it will work as a shelter for the night. We open the door and step inside.
“What are you doing in my house?” a voice growls. I turn around and see a girl. She looks about a year or so older than me. She has long, dirty-blonde hair tied up in a ponytail and piercing green eyes. She glares at us. I notice she has a baseball bat behind her back.
“W-We’re s-sorry,” I stutter out, nervously, “W-We’re trying to f-find a place to s-stay for the night.” She looks at us uncertainly for a moment. Eventually, she sighs and sets down the bat.
“All right. I suppose you two can stay here,” she says, almost bitterly. “But only for tonight!” We both nod and thank her.
“I’m Lucy,” my foolish companion chirps, “and that’s Jude.” She points at me.
“Eleanor,” the other girl grunts. Lucy holds out her hand. Eleanor looks at her outstretched hand and after a moment, she reluctantly shakes it.

We all sit on the hard wood floor in Eleanor’s living room. We sit and talk. Well, Lucy talks, and we just occasionally respond. Eventually, the conversation somehow turns to out families.
“I lost my dad,” Lucy says quietly. “My mom died years before.”
“I lost my mom and dad,” Eleanor says, failing at hiding her sadness. “He was a psychologist. She was a military doctor. The tent she was working in got bombed.”
That led to us discussing the war.
“We never should have done it,” I say with a sigh. “It’s our fault.
“Huh?” Eleanor and Lucy say, in unison.
“Our country. Our scientists. Whatever. We never should have gotten ourselves involved in the war. It wasn’t our war to fight! It was none of our business! If we hadn’t have gotten involved, the scientists never would have made the virus!” By the end of the rant, I’m close to screaming.
“You’re right,” Eleanor says. “If we hadn’t all been such idiots and learned to get along…”
We sit in silence for a while. We sit with out heads down in remorse. Eleanor soon breaks the silence by asking us if we are hungry. We both nod and we all walk into the kitchen.
Eleanor looks through the kitchen cabinets until she find a box of crackers. She hands it too us then pulls three waters out of the fridge. We eat in silence, until Lucy breaks it.
“Hey, Jude, you never told us what happened to you.” She doesn’t specify, but I know she means my family.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I say quickly.
“That’s not really an answer,” I hear Eleanor mutter. “Why don’t you wanna tell us?”
“It’s none of your business,” I grumble, glaring at her.
“C’mon, it’s not good to suppress your feelings,” she prods.
“Alright, fine!” I bark. I stand in silence for a moment, and sigh. After a moment I speak.
“My parents died,” I start, with my voice melancholic. “First my mom, then my dad. So I was left alone with only me and my little sister Michelle. I tried to take of the both of us. It was…difficult, but I managed. But about a year later, she started to get sick. I was shocked. She was fine for so long, I just assumed she was immune. But I was even more shocked when she….you know. Died. S-She was so young! She was only seven! She wasn’t supposed to die!” Suddenly, I burst into tears. “Why did I live and she died? She was such a s-sweet, innocent little g-girl. Why did I live when they all couldn’t!”
Lucy puts a comforting arm around my shoulders as I sob. Eleanor looks at me with a look that seems part pitying, but mostly seems thoughtful.
“It’s not your fault,” she says, walking towards where I’m standing. I look at her with a look of obvious confusion. “It’s not your fault that they died. You didn’t kill them or cause it.” I glare at her.
“Shut up,” I snap, without thinking.
“It’s survivor’s guilt,” she muses to herself as well as to me. “I read about it in one of my mom’s psych books. You feel guilty because you lived while so many others’ didn’t.”
“Shut up!” I repeat. I feel Lucy squeeze my arm.
“It’s not your fault,” Eleanor repeats, “you shouldn’t feel guilty.”
I take a few steps toward her. Everything happens in a blur. All of a sudden, I hit Eleanor. I don’t know why I did it. I know I shouldn’t have. I don’t even know why I was mad. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. Eleanor and I look at each other for a moment. She holds a hand up to her mouth. I’m about to apologize, when my nose starts to hurt. After a second, I realize Eleanor just hit me. I fly halfway across the kitchen. Eleanor is apparently very strong. I fall over and Lucy helps me up. She glares at Eleanor.
“Self-defense.” She says, voice muffled by her hand.
“I-I’m s-so s-sorry. I d-don’t know what c-came-” I start. Eleanor interrupts me with an angry mutter of something I can’t hear. It might have been ’Whatever.’ She then walks out into the hallway. Lucy angrily storms out after her.
“Why did you hit her?” I hear Lucy yell.
“She hit me first!” Eleanor replied indignantly.
“You wouldn’t stop prodding her about it!”
“Fine! I’m so very sorry,” she yells to me, sarcastically.
They keep arguing, but I don’t really hear what they say, or even care. I remove my hand from my nose. I look at it an see it’s covered in blood. I look around and find some napkins to stop the bleeding. After a moment, Lucy and Eleanor walk into the room. Eleanor kneels down next to me. She moves my hand and inspects my nose.
“See? She’s fine!” She says.
“She’s bleeding all over the place!” Lucy replies.
“Exactly! It’s just a nose bleed. It’ll be fine in a few minutes.” She stands up. “I’m going to bed. If you still wanna stay, your beds are down the hall.” She leaves the room. Lucy and I go to bed after my nose stops bleeding. ***
I wake up in the middle of the night to screaming. I then realize I’m the one doing it. I’m drenched in sweat. I had nightmare a nightmare about Michelle. I was trying to prevent her from being dragged into darkness. I almost had her but…After a moment, I forget the dream and fall back asleep.

“Are you coming with us?” Lucy asks Eleanor as we get ready to leave. Eleanor says yes. She claims it due to the fact that’s she’s running low on supplies, but I think she just enjoys company. Even ours.
We finish gathering out things and leave. Still not knowing where to go. But we start walking.
After three days of walking, we still haven’t gotten anywhere. Nothing has really changed. I just I didn’t expect any different.
We are out of water. We’ve been rationing off the food. It’s been about a day since we ran out of the water. My head is starting to ache. I am very thirsty.

We’ve now run out of food. It’s been a week since we’ve eaten. We found water, but we’re just about out. But I’m so hungry. My stomach growls like a lion. I’m starting to feel dizzy. I look at my companions. They don’t appear to be in much better shape.
I’m starting to get very concerned. The temperature is rapidly dropping, we still don’t have any food, and we’re down to two water bottles. Only Eleanor and I really drink any. Lucy is saving it for us. She doesn’t look good. She’s pale and sweaty.
“Just drink some water before you kill yourself!” Eleanor yells.
“I’m fine.” Lucy replies.
“You’re such a martyr,” Eleanor retorts.
We find an old gas station and sleep there for the night.

“Out of water? How! Great. Just great” I shout. “Okay, now we really need to ration find more. Eleanor looks at me, startled. Lucy looks like she doesn’t hear me. Maybe she doesn’t. She seems disoriented.
“Are you okay, Luce?” I ask. She turns to look at me. She doesn’t look very good. Eleanor looks at her. She analyzes her for a moment. She turns and looks at me.
“I think she’s getting a heat stroke, combined with dehydration,” she says, sounding mournful.
“I-Is there anything we can do?” I ask. Eleanor shakes her head sadly. We both look at Lucy. We all reluctantly keep walking.
Lucy collapses a day later. Eleanor examines her. She says she’s only got a little while before she goes into a coma, and then dies.
I kneel down next to her, my eyes filling up with tear. Eleanor starts to walk away.
“Where are you going?” I shout at her.
“There’s not anything we can do for her.” She replies.
“We can still stay with her until she dies!”
Eleanor sighs and kneels down next to me. Lucy opens her eyes. She looks at me.
“It’s not your fault,” she tells me weakly. I look at her with confusion. “It’s not your fault about me or anybody else. Don‘t blame yourself.” She closes her eyes and I begin to sob.
After a while, Lucy dies.

Eleanor and I keep walking. As we walk I look over at her and see her randomly twitching.
“Are you all right?” I ask. She shrugs.
“You have to go on without me.” Eleanor says.
“Huh?” I reply.
“ I-I’ve got the virus.”
“What? How?” I exclaim.
“I think the virus m-mutated. You have to go. Now! Before you get it too!”
“No! I’m not just leaving you!”
“You have to if you don’t want to die.” She says, calmly.
I look at her for a moment, not saying or doing anything. Then, I quickly hug her.
“I’m sorry,” I say, crying. I tell her good-bye and leave. Constantly looking back at her.

I keep walking. I haven’t had anything to drink in like two days. I think I’m going crazy. I keep seeing shapes. And people. I’ll walk up to a person, and then realize their not there.
I suddenly stop walking. I start to think about Eleanor, and Lucy, and Michelle, and my parents. Everybody, really. I suddenly fall to my knees. I feel so guilty, contrary to what I’ve been told.
I start to laugh. Bitterly at first. It then turns hysterical. It then evolves into tears. Now I know I’m going mad. But as I do, I start to realize that maybe they were right.
I kneel there, crying for a long time. I have no idea how long. All of a sudden, I see a person walking in the distance. I might be hallucinating, but it doesn’t feel like it to me. I stand up and start to stagger towards them.
I don’t know who it might be or even how far they are. Or even if they are real. But I’ll keep walking until I reach them. I suppose I’ll find out who they are when I do.

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