Editor's Note: As this is a serialized story, the reader may wish to go to the Archives and pull up
the earlier episodes, before reading this installment. TDS.
As I turned off Arrow Springs Road onto Danbury Avenue, memories of my childhood came rushing back to me. This was where I had grown up. I used to roam these streets with all of my friends and now the entire area was merely a desolate, empty wasteland. We passed row after row of deteriorating homes before we finally reached Richard's singlewide.
It was the trailer all of us had lived in as children. Our parents sold it some ten years before the 'Sickness', but I had bought it back after my father became ill. Shortly thereafter, my sisters Tina and Rose returned home to tend our ailing father.
Richard reappeared around the 'end days'. He said it was because the family needed help fending off the Unluckys, but I think it was simply because he had no where else to go. He may not have realized it, but when he told them he would be their defender, he said a mouth full. Shortly thereafter, he found himself fighting off hordes of these creatures--after only a few months he had already killed off more of them than he could bury. The corpses began to pile up and he had to start burning them, but that practice quickly came to an end, as the smoke and stink of burning flesh attracted even more Unluckys to them. He eventually decided to pile the decaying bodies into his truck and take them to the outskirts of the city, leaving them to rot in the scorching desert sun.
As I pulled up near the trailer, I told everyone to stay inside the car. I wanted to take a quick look around and make sure we did not run into any unexpected surprises. Making sure my shotgun was loaded, I moved to the rickety wooden stairs that led up to the front door.
At the top of the stairs, I looked through a small window next to the door, but could not see anyone inside. Everything was very quiet--altogether too quiet, considering several people should have been living there. I tried to open the door, but discovered it was locked, which didn't surprise me, considering the circumstances. Hoping it was safe to do so, I banged on the door a few times and called out to Rich and the girls.
There was no answer. Thoughts of my sibling's terrible demise raced through my head and I wondered what could have happened to them. I had to find out, so I took the butt of my shotgun and smashed it against the window. With a gaping hole now before me, I was able to reach inside and unlock the door.
I pushed it open, slowly, the shotgun leveled and ready. It was dark inside the trailer and as the door swung open, I thought I saw something run down the hall, into the shadows. I tried to push the door open all the way, but it became hung up on a pile of debris that appeared to cover the entire floor. With a forceful kick, the door opened sufficiently for me to step inside. I waded through the trash on the kitchen floor and called out for Richard and the others, but again, there was no answer. I could not believe the condition of the trailer. Everything was in a shambles, as if something other than humans resided there.
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