Hideaway

Serrin crouched on the dirty floor of the grain silo and tried to push away the thoughts of her parents and being infected with the Chimera virus.  She looked at her siblings- Galen still cradled Kasee in his arms, both of them weeping and Quinn had curled up at the base of a metal staircase, her face buried in her arms.  Serrin looked at them with a sinking feeling of knowing that she couldn’t break down, her and Galen were responsible for their little sisters and they both had to be strong.  Serrin wiped away the tears and looked at the 2 men and the woman who had stood at the door; their faces were somber and they purposely avoided eye contact giving her an opportunity to look them over, not trusting them.  The men were haggard in appearance as their facial hair was growing freely and all three of them wore clothes that had obviously not been changed or cleaned since the outbreak.  The men looked to be in their 30’s or 40’s, the woman maybe in her 20’s but they all appeared to be average, ordinary citizens.  This normalcy was offset by the weapons they held and the angry fear that marked their tired faces.  The silence of the room shattered with an eruption of something slamming into the metal door.

“Upstairs, run!”  The woman rushed upwards even as she barked the command at them.

Galen lifted Kasee and pushed Quinn toward the stairs, Serrin ran beside them and the men followed moving them forward.  The men rushed past and hauled up a makeshift door blocking the way, moving it just enough for the Gates and the woman to get through.  Galen put Kasee down and shoved her and Quinn through telling them to continue up the stairs while he helped Serrin lift the door for the men to climb through.  Adrenaline and fear combined to give Serrin the physical and mental strength to help lift the heavy metal barrier.

Only after they had made it to the top of the stairs and to another door, did Serrin think about how heavy the barrier had been and noticed small cuts on the palms of her hands that bled slightly but started to heal even as she looked at them.  One of the men opened the next door and the group filed into an open area that marked the top of the silo.  Seven people were scattered around, 2 looking out the window at the scene of horror below, waiting to see what the Chimera were going to do once they finished mutilating Morgan and Carrie.  The twins pulled their sisters to them and crowded together near the door, away from the windows and the strangers.

Serrin surveyed the room.  The woman who rushed them up the stairs had collapsed into the arms of a frail looking man with a splint on his leg while the other two men went to the window to see the activities below.  Another man knelt on the floor in front of a girl and a teenage boy, while a middle-aged woman, who had sat by the kids, went to the window.  They stood there for about 5 minutes not moving, not speaking, just watching the massacre below, then turned away to look at the new arrivals with grief and shame on their faces from watching the death of their parents.

“Where did you come from?”  The man with the splinted leg asked.  Serrin looked into his cold, hard blue eyes and saw a glimmer of hope behind coldness.

“We started out from Airdire at dawn.”  Serrin took the lead.

“Where are you heading?”  This time it was woman who helped them asking the question, her pale skin slick with sweat from dashing up the stairs.  Serrin thought she must be pretty when she can shower and comb her hair, something so simple but so hard for any of them to do now.

“We’re on our way west, to the coast.  We…”  Serrin was about to explain but the middle age woman, the one that sat with the kids, interrupted.

“Heading to the coast, to try to get to the islands and escape the Chimera.”  She spoke with a quiver in her voice underlined with anger.  “There is no escape.”

“Ellie leave them alone.”  The man with the kids gave her a reproachful look.

Serrin could hear exhaustion as he spoke and see an apology on his face for the way the woman, Ellie, had spoken.  He looked so tired, ready to give up and she remembered seeing the same look in her parents’ eyes many times over the past weeks.  She guessed this man would have given up already if it hadn’t been for his kids, Soma and Luke, who he held in his arms.  Serrin knew their names and that his wife’s name had been Helen who died before they made it to the silo; Ellie was his sister and his name was Arthur.  He was thinking about his kids and Helen and how Morgan and Carrie had sacrificed themselves and that if he had the will and didn’t promise Helen to keep them safe, he would have put a bullet in his hea-

Serrin gasped and looked away.  She hadn’t meant to listen to what was in his mind, to concentrate so fully on him that she would hear these things.  Control of her telepathy had become second nature and normally better as she rarely slipped into the minds of others these days.  Arthur’s thoughts were just so strong that they poured from him and she couldn’t help but listen.  She wondered if her siblings and his kids had alsoheard what Arthur unwittingly shared; Serrin instinctively knew that Soma and Luke shared their gifts.  The influx of thoughts from Arthur cut off when the older man from downstairs spoke.

“West.  That’s a good idea.  Better winter weather, isolated islands.”  He cleared his throat, wanting someone else to speak but kept going when no one did.  “My name is Steven.”

He turned away from the window done waiting to see if the Chimera were going to scale the wall once they finished with the Gates’ elders.  Steven walked to Serrin and offered his hand in greeting.  Tentative at first, she found her confidence and shook it.

“Serrin Gates.  This is my twin brother Galen, that’s Quinn and the little one is Kasee.”

Steven shook Galen’s hand and waved awkwardly at the younger girls before proceeding to introduce the rest of the room.  Michelle was the rifle toting woman from downstairs, her husband Aaron sat beside her massaging his splinted leg; he pointed out Arthur and his children then pointed to Ellie.  Steven introduced Tim, a fair-haired man close in age to the twins and the other man from downstairs, and his older brother Matthew.  Finally there was Brett, who seemed to be the oldest of the group but Serrin couldn’t be sure if his agedness came from years or from the trauma that they had all been through recently.

Silence filled the small cool room, no one really sure what to do or say to the newcomers.  Michelle jumped into action pulling a couple of blankets and a sleeping bag from a pile in the corner and gave them to Galen, then handed some packets of dehydrated food and bottled water to Serrin.

“Thank you but we have some supplies and blankets.  If you can’t spare them I mean, we’ll be fine.”  Galen spoke up grateful for the charity yet reluctant to accept it.

“It’s fine, really.”  Michelle said patting his hand motherly.

Serrin and Galen took the bedding and food and headed to a clear spot with the girls away from the others.  Kasee quickly curled up in the sleeping bag and Quinn covered herself with a blanket, leaning against the cold metal wall, letting Kasee rest her head on her lap.  Quinn closed her eyes but quickly reopened them after a moment, stifling a sob.  Galen moved to her side to try to comfort her, knowing that the horror of the past 20 minutes would not be easily numbed.  Serrin looked at them, then went to the window to get some air while being careful to avoid looking anywhere but at the sky.  The late afternoon sun had begun to dim and the air was cooling.  It had been just after 3 pm when Morgan had spotted the first Chimera running at them.  So much had happened from the start of the warm afternoon walk through the wheat field to now.  Serrin’s eyes drifted down and she had to force them back to the sky and the treeline.  She tried not to accidently see the bloody remains of her parents.

“Nice view.”  Tim came next to her and leaned out the window before realizing what he had said.  “Oh shit, I didn’t mean that.  I just meant the afternoon sun.”

“That’s ok.”  Serrin gave him a reassuring half-smile.  “I know what you meant.”

“Heading west, that’s the same plan Matt and I had.  We were heading more southwest, trying to make it to the coast too and maybe find some sort of sailboat.  Cruise to Hawaii or somewhere in the Pacific ocean away from the mainland.”

Tim kept his head down as he spoke, shuffling his feet through a thin layer of dust that lined the floor.  Serrin looked at him for a moment and thought that if things were different she might be flirting with him instead of talking about escape plans from civilization.

Then it happened, Tim’s thoughts began to run through her head.  It’s hopeless, even if anyone makes it to the coast it would probably be impossible to find a boat that hasn’t been pilfered of supplies and able to sail far enough out into the ocean to make a difference.  His thoughts turned blacker.  He was thinking that none of it mattered. This family won’t make it away from the silo, at least not all of them.

Serrin began to think about the last few days she had spent at college to try to cut off the barrage of thoughts from Tim and distance herself from reality.  The distraction worked so well that her eyes moved down to where the Chimera attack happened.  Vibrant splashes of fresh blood contrasted against the brown and beige of the dried wheat like an abstract artists brush gone wild.  The blood spray spanned over an area of 3 feet and there were pieces of…Serrin couldn’t rightly identify all the pieces because her mind was trying to shield itself from the scene.  Clumps of red with stringy strands of blood drenched hair were scattered about and Serrin knew this was her Mother’s scalp.  A small ball like thing with something trailing behind it laid among the debris.  She squinted to try to make it out and gasped in horror, realizing it was her Father’s eye that had been wrenched from his skull.

Serrin slapped a hand over her mouth to stifle a scream as fresh tears started to flow.  There was a hand, what looked like an ear and the lower part of a leg.  That was all that remained of her parents as she guessed that the Chimera must have taken the rest of them away for a purpose she couldn’t and didn’t want to know.  Serrin went into shock and didn’t feel Tim and Galen lead her away from the window.  Someone opened her mouth and placed a pill on her tongue, then poured water down her throat.  She swallowed reflexively and within minutes the world went black.

© 2013, Denise Pasutti

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