I walk down the empty hall, hearing old echoes of laughter drift through it.
A face appears before me, and I reach out a hand to touch it.
It is the face of an old friend, and the face is there before me- but no.
It vanishes.

I let my hand hover, then drop. Sadness grips my soul, sadness twists my heart.

They are gone. They are all gone. Almost every single one of them. Friends, neighbors, lovers.
Gone.
Vanished.
Like dust in the wind.
They were taken, taken by them.

I stop walking, and look to see where I am. I am halfway down the hall, almost home to my family. I look to my left, to my right. I see doors. Doors with big, angry red X's scored on them.
Doors that are burned on the edges.
I bow my head, hating the sight of those doors. Biting my lip, I force my feet to move forward.

I stop walking, and look to see where I am. I am halfway down the hall, almost home to my family. I look to my left, to my right. I see doors. Doors with big, angry red X's scored on them. Doors that are burned on the edges. I bow my head, hating the sight of those doors. Biting my lip, I force my feet to move forward.

But now, now I can feel myself slowing. I feel my head lift up, feel my face turn slowly to the right.
It is as I feared. The door, the door of my friend, it has become one of those doors.
It has become a dead door.
I step forward, stretch out my hands. I stroke the wood- it is still warm. One of my fingers brushes the burnt edges, before coming to rest at the center of the door. I lay my head against the wood, then jerk back in horror.

Blood.
I smelled blood.
My breath catches in my throat, but I know I must open this door, know I must find out what exactly happens to those that disappear.
I have to know if I, if my family, is safe.
I have to know if they are still here.
My hand grips the doorknob, and I turn it. The door swings open silently.
I see black, but I know that it is only because my eyes are shut.
I force them open.
And I wish I had not.

There lays my friend's sister, a girl child of but three winters, her blonde hair streaked with fresh blood.
She had been clubbed to death, along with my friend, with her family.
I reel back, stumble out the door. Bile rises in my throat, and my vision is blurred by tears.

They were here.
I shut the door tight, and turn back to the hall again.
Taking a breath, I begin to walk down the hallway, towards my family, towards safety.
Noises. Noises- screams. I hear noises.
Hurry. Hurry.
Faster, now, faster!

At last the end of the hall.

I am afraid, afraid to turn to the left, afraid of what I'll find…
No.
Red.
Charcoal-black edges.
Isob, hating myself. I hate myself for not being in that room when they-
Turn the doorknob, open the door.
I have found my family. I have returned finally.

Returned to death.