2034 A.D. Somewhere between Medicine Hat & Lethbridge Alberta, Canada

They ran.  Morgan had to pick up his 9-year-old daughter Kasee, her small legs wouldn’t let her keep up with the rest of the family and the beasts would have devoured her or worse.  They were nearing an outpost, a grain silo that had been crudely converted into a fortified safe house, when Morgan tripped over a rake buried in the overgrown field of grass.  He stumbled and fell face first into a broken water can, tossing Kasee forward roughly on her stomach. Morgan’s two older daughters, Serrin and Quinn and son, Galen continued to run but his wife Carrie slowed down and ran back to his side.  Quinn halted when she saw her Mother no longer running beside her and turned to look at her parents not sure what to do; continue running or go help them.  Serrin called to Quinn, going from a full on sprint to slow backward steps watching everyone stop while the monsters continued to get closer.  Blood poured from a cut on Morgan’s brow and Carrie reverted to her maternal instincts by trying to mop up it up with a tissue.  It was such a mundane act, a normal thing for a wife to do for a husband.  It all seemed so surreal to Serrin, watching the affection between them even as the Chimera got closer and closer.

Serrin looked at her fallen parents then back to the grain silo with its scavenged metal and grain cutter blades fastened from the bottom to the middle of the building, leaving pieces of jagged metal jutting out at deadly angles.  It was to deter anyone from scaling the building or if the sight of the blades didn’t work, then to slice up anything that tried to climb to the windows near the top.  The cuts and gashes wouldn’t kill the beasts but would do enough damage to maybe sever a limb and slow them down before they could reach the top.  The beasts, the Chimera, were perfectly capable of doing such a thing with their razor-sharp appendages.

She took in the silo and her parents while still slowing moving backwards to the open door of the building and the 3 people with guns raised ready to fire if the Chimera came to close.  Serrin looked at her Dad and could see it his eyes – fear, exhaustion and defeat.  He knew his fight was over and that Carrie was joining him in this resignation.  The relief of letting go was overshadowed by a veil of dread and Serrin knew it wasn’t because of the undoubtedly painful and gruesome end that they were about to meet but fear for his children; they would continue the struggle to live and to adapt in this new world of suffering, hostility and fear of the Chimera and those afflicted by the virus, like her and her siblings.  With a grimace of pain and anger, Morgan’s face turned from broken to fierce as he yelled at Serrin and the others to run.  She turned and started for the door, pulling Quinn along as her little sister cried out, letting the pain and sadness carry her forward.  Kasee had been slowly crawling away from Morgan, stunned but not hurt after falling from her father’s arms.  Galen stood still watching everything happen, just as scared and confused as the others until Morgan’s cry pulled him from the shock.  He raced to Kasee, scooped her up and darted toward the silo. Galen held Kasee tightly in his arms, pressing her face to his shoulder to keep her from looking back at the Chimera that were nearly upon their parents.

Serrin was getting closer to the door but stopped within a few feet.  She couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop herself from looking back across the field.  Morgan was still on his knees a strange contentment on his face as he and Carrie, her face buried in his chest and body convulsing from crying, made no effort to move.  They had given up.  Not from weakness but to sacrifice themselves to the approaching monsters so that their children had more time to reach the safe house, to live.  Serrin wanted to run back, to try to help them make it to the silo so that she, so that all 4 of them, wouldn’t be left alone.

Three of the half-dozen Chimera reached Morgan and Carrie and let loose their savagery.  Serrin saw her Mother’s short blonde hair ripped from the scalp by deadly claw like fingers, stripping away hair and flesh to expose bone and crack through to brain.  Blood poured down her Father’s face as a skewer shaped finger plucked out his left eye.  Serrin whimpered and continued to run, trying to escape the horror behind her but not able to outrun the anguished screams of her parents suffering.  Tears clouded her vision, her chest burned from sadness and the exhaustion of running.  She saw the others lurch through the doorway and followed, stumbling to the ground a couple of seconds later as the heavy door slammed shut bumping the backs of her legs.  Serrin knelt on the ground, shaking, panting, trying to keep from vomiting and fighting to push away the images of Morgan and Carrie’s mutilation and suffering. A day that had started out with the calm of a spring morning had been tainted with sorrow and blood.

© 2013, Denise Pasutti

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