Dark Winter – Part 9

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I feel wrong
I’m so human and flawed
I’ll break down even though I’m still strong
And time will make fools of us all
Build us up and then laughs when we fall
You pull me through
When I’m alone in the dark and the fear is my truth
– The Goo Goo Dolls, “All That You Are”

“You can’t go back out there!”

Lindsay grabbed Katie’s arm as she pulled out a box of ammunition from the supply closet. Shaking it off, Katie pried the metal box open and knelt to begin reloading her empty magazines. Have to go. Have to go. Taking too long. Hurry, Katie! She fumbled with a .22LR round and instead of snapping it into place, it slipped out of her hand and skittered across the floor to roll beneath the dresser. Her vision swam as she moved to reach for it and her eyes felt so heavy she could hardly keep them open.

“Get me a 5 Hour Energy,” she said, reaching her hand beneath the dresser to feel for the round. She could have just gotten another one from the box but wasting ammunition felt wrong. She had to get this one. It was very important to her for some reason. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 8

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And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
– Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

The dead were coming for her.

Katie stood where the snowmobile should have been, but in its place was only rutted snow and torn up shards of ice and grass. Where was it? Who might have taken it and how? She stood there, rooted to the spot. The impossibility of it, the unfairness of it, made her hesitate. That hesitation nearly cost Katie her life.

Something cold grabbed her from behind. Stiff fingers clutched at her jacket, dragging her backwards while another clutched at her arm. A hiss slid across her ear, the infected’s breath a fetid wind of blood and decay. It leaned towards her, teeth snapping for her flesh. If she didn’t move, if she didn’t fight, she’d die. Right here in the dark and the cold.

Fight, Katie! Fight! She could almost hear her father say the words, just like he’d said them so many years ago. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 5

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O bhr bhuva sva
Tat savitur vareya
Bhargo devasya dhmahi
dhiyo yo na pracodayt
– Sanskrit, Gayatri Mantra

When she woke again, Katie was warm. It was the type of warmth that promoted turning off the alarm and sleeping until noon. A good, lazy Saturday morning, and when she finally got up, her dad would chide her for being lazy. They’d have a late breakfast of eggs and scrapple and orange juice on the cabin’s porch and let the sun warm her face and brown her skin. The birds would sing in the trees but beyond that, it would be so quiet. Peaceful.

Safe.

Safe from her mother. Safe from the kids at school who knew. Safe from the mothers who picked up their children instead of letting them ride on the bus with her. Here, no one bothered her. No one knew except Lindsay and they hadn’t even talked about it. Her dad knew, he had to know by now. Didn’t he?

She’d talk to him when they went fishing. They always fished in the early afternoon if he wasn’t teaching his survival classes. She loved those too. They taught people how to shoot, how to prepare, how to survive events like…

Like this. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 3

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“Darkness closes in. Will you stand against it or lead this world to its bitter end?” – Morrigan, Dragon Age Inquisition

 The phone buzzed again and again, but Katie couldn’t will her right arm to bend. She clicked the answer button and thumbed the setting to put it on speaker. She hoped it would be enough.

“Katherine?”

“Dad!” she said, shouting above the wind and rain.

“Kather—ca—ear me?”

The phone was cutting out and she couldn’t see how good her signal was. Beside her, Lindsay was flagging, her legs stumbling more often than walking. They tripped, going to their knees and the phone fell from Katie’s hand, skittering across the road. She cried out and nearly dropped Lindsay in her haste to retrieve it. Hoping her dad was still on the line, she pulled it to her ear with her left hand. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 2

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“I am the swarm. Armies will be shattered. Worlds will burn.” – Kerrigan, Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

There was darkness and pain, terrible pain. It burrowed deep, shocking her to the core and exploding into her mind. Rational thought was beyond her. All she could do was draw a breath, first one and then a second. A third. A fourth. Slowly, her mind began to clear.

Where am I? What happened?

The screaming was so loud. Was she screaming? Katie brought a hand up to her own lips and found them shut tight. Something wet and warm coated her fingers. She tasted copper. Blood. She was bleeding. Her tongue was on fire. Had she bitten it?

There was a heavy thump above her, followed by wild, erratic bangs, like someone pounding on a car roof. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 1

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“Sing to me about the end of the world… There’s still hope left in it yet.” – Flyleaf, Arise

“Dad? Dad please pick up, pick up.”

Katie Fox shook her cell phone, willing her father to answer. The roar of the storm was loud, drowning out his voicemail message. The freezing rain came down in sheets of thick needles that crashed against the Plexiglas roof of the bus stop. The wind was nearly as bad as the ice, blowing straight through her parka. It was too late to get back on the warm bus. Its tail lights were barely visible through the storm now, even this late at night.

“Don’t cry,” she told herself, sniffing back tears that threatened to fall as she shoved the cell into her pocket. “Think like dad. Think.” Continue reading