The End: Story One
The Final Prelude

By: David K. Montoya

As we burst through the doors and were welcomed by the warmth of the sun, I did not realize just how dim that structure had been. The sudden flash of light temporarily blinded us, but we continued to move toward the SUV.

Once we reached the vehicle, I tried to open the door but found it was locked. I was slow to remember that I had the kids lock up while I ventured out to find the damsel in distress. Fumbling through my pockets trying to find the extra set of keys, I kept looking over my shoulder for the last Unlucky that was still scurrying around.

Finally getting the key into the door, I flung it open and found myself staring down the barrel of a revolver. The only thing I could do was yell out to my son not to blow my head off. Even though I had been startled, I was secretly pleased to find that my son had the balls needed to confront these things, if required to. Realizing who I was, he lowered the revolver and I pushed the lady inside the SUV and slammed the door, then ran round to the other side and jumped in.

I tried to turn the engine over, but it wouldn't start! On the third try, I was interrupted by screams of the others in the vehicle. I looked up from the ignition to see the last Unlucky climbing up onto the hood and it then began to smash its fist against the windshield.

Still trying to start the SUV, the motor finally turned over, so I threw the transmission into drive and took off, causing the Unlucky to be thrown forward, slamming its head violently against the windshield. It lay there, momentarily stunned, until the demon's eyes opened and it looked straight at me as dark, tarry blood slid down his face.

The creature hissed, then began pounding against the glass, again. I quickly hit the breaks and put it in reverse causing the Unlucky to be thrown from the hood, to the road. It lay there on the asphalt without moving a muscle, but I waited, expecting it would get back up.

And indeed it did. Once the Unlucky got unsteadily to its feet, I punched the accelerator, quickly closed the distance until we hit the devil head on and it became impaled on the spear I had placed underneath the bumper. You could hear the Unlucky bellow out in agony as the wooden spike penetrated it's lower abdomen.

I slammed on the breaks once more to try and force the Unlucky off the spear, but the exact opposite happened— he was pushed forward and his chest met the grill. Despite being impaled, the creature still attempted to climb on to the SUV, but, all it could do was to scratch its lengthy nails against the top of the hood.

You could see the pain in his eyes, but there was something else you could see—hatred. Even though the Unlucky had only moments left to live, it could not detour himself from his original objective — Killing us. As I took off across the parking lot, the Unlucky was forced even closer to the front grill, but as I threw a hard left, the creature's body was torn violently from the wooden spear, causing him to be launched from the post.

As it was tossed through the air, it almost appeared as if a dark, tarry rainbow of blood followed him. The beast crashed to the asphalt, ripping away even more of its ruptured belly.I left a wide trail of blood against the black top as loops of blackened intestine were flung about as he continued to roll from the force of the impact.

It finally lay there, dead, in a pool of blood and loose guts. I put the SUV in drive once more and headed straight for the carcass. I hit the creature and as we climbed over it, I could hear the cracking of its bones. I did not look back in my rearview mirror to look at the damage, but just continued on until I was back on the road heading for Richard and the rest of my family.

#

We made our way a few miles up the road to the old Elm Street Park. It was our half way marker on the way to Richard's, as well a point to stretch our legs and hopefully not have to worry about those damned Unluckys. Since it was completely fenced in, I let Michael and Maria head off to find a fully loaded fruit tree to enjoy a couple of apples and to escape the direct sun light. I reminded them to stay in plain sight of the SUV and made sure Michael still had his revolver with him. As for the lady, I could tell she was still quite shaken, so I left her inside the vehicle to collect her thoughts.

I myself looked over the damage caused by the Unlucky that got in the way of the SUV. I was hoping there wouldn't be any significant damage— after all if we were to lose our only means of transportation, this whole expedition would come to a crashing halt. No living being could make that journey by foot and live to tell about it, especially when you had to go right through Corpseland. We would never make it out of there alive.

After careful inspection of the vehicle, I was pleased to find that the only damage was cosmetic. The grill was broken and the bumper was slightly dented, but there were no other damages spotted. Afterward, I reinforced the straps that held the spears in place, just in case we would be in need of them again. And then I found myself a nice shady spot under a tree.

I laid there for a bit sipping on my water — I only wished we could produce ice again— and began to relax. The wind had picked up gently and brought a little comfort from the dreaded desert heat. I was in the midst of planning our next move, when our mystery woman sat down next to me.

I offered her my cup of water, which she quickly accepted and guzzled down in mere moments. I then realized that she probably had not had anything to drink in some time, as her lips were chapped and her skin was a blistery red from being in direct sunlight for what might have been days.

After her attack on my cup of water she leaned back against the tree and seemed to go to sleep. She let her head drop to her chest, allowing her ungroomed blond hair to fall down over her face. However, I could see her crystal blue eyes gazing at me from beneath the golden locks. We stared at each other for a few moments in silence, until she introduced herself as Renee.

Slowly, she went on to tell me that she had lived in Airepseh for most of her life and that after the sickness hit, the majority of her family had ventured off to find the City of HAVEN, but she stayed behind to tend to her dying fianc¨¦. A month later, after his passing, she found herself alone and out of food and water. She went out in search of sustenance and a few days later she found herself at Airepseh Lake.

There she found everything she needed; drinkable water from the lake and plenty of fish to eat. Despite being lonely, she said it was a peaceful place to live. To her, it felt as if she were a queen of her own land.

Renee said that she had lived there for about thirteen months before she encountered any Unlucky Survivors. It was the beginning of summer and on that particular day, she remembered looking at an old outside thermometer and it read one hundred and fifteen degrees. She shed all her clothes except her undershirt and tried to fall asleep under the shade of a large oak tree, but the heat was to intense so she could only doze, fitfully on a bed of leaves.

Sometime later, she was awakened by a wicked cackle of laughter. As she quickly came up from her resting place, she realized that she was surrounded by what seemed to be a small handful of Unluckys. They chased her up to a stream and not knowing anything else to do, she dove in. The current pulled her some eight miles down stream. Once she was able to get free of the current, she found herself about a three day walk from the city. Hoping to find another life, she headed to Airepseh, but shortly after she arrived, she was discovered by four salvaging Unluckys, which chased her into the old abandoned supermarket.

Renee stated quietly that at that moment, she honestly thought she was as good as dead. That was until she heard the gun shots and realized that someone else was there, to perhaps help her. She paused for a moment and looked up from behind her hair with those blue eyes of hers. Without saying a word she leaned over and gave me a small kiss on the cheek. As she pulled away, she simply said, ' Thank you for saving my life.'

We sat there for a few moments feeling kind of awkward, or in my case floored, until I asked her to follow me. We walked over to the back of the SUV and I pulled out some of Maria's clothes. I told her that I believed she and my daughter were about the same size.

#

Once everyone was well rested, we all loaded back into the SUV. As we pulled away from the park, Renee asked me where we were heading I laughed because I had completely forgotten to explain what we were doing and what our plan of action would be.

I told her that we were heading to the south side of Airepseh to meet up with my brother and my two sisters. Once reunited, we were all going to head for the city of Haven. She did not respond right away. Finally, she turned to me with a smile and asked if she could join us on this adventure. I told her as long as she could handle the excitement she was more than welcome.

As we headed down the street I peeked into my rearview mirror to check on my kids. I was surprised that they were snuggled up together fast asleep. The image of them as babies flashed into my head and for some reason that gave me a feeling of hope— I didn't know what lay ahead of me, but I knew that we, would see it through, together, to the very end.

To be continued…

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