Author's Note: This story is based on a dream I had. It felt so incredibly real that I decided to turn it into story form. After thinking on it all day, I decided that if I get good enough reviews on this story, I may just turn it into a multi-chapter story.
The Apocalyptic Dream
The child pressed its chubby nose against the glass of the railway car, watching with interested eyes the scene passing quickly by. I couldn't help but do the same. All I could see was a vast expanse of snow. Even the mountains which should have held a hint of green looked completely white. It was unnerving scene, one I couldn't wait to be rid of.
"Are we there yet?" the child asked without peeling its gaze from the snowy scene.
"No, we still have a little ways to go, but it shouldn't be too much longer now." I combed my hand through the ruffles of the child's hair, trying to smooth out the strays. They were tough to defeat.
It seemed strange to me how motherly I felt towards this child. I could barely remember how I came across the child, but what I did remember still unsettled me. The child gazed at me with such fear I had never seen in a child's eyes before. I couldn't help but gather the child in my arms and whisk it away from whatever destiny it was about to find itself with. It was a move I had yet to regret. The child kept me company through this lonesome journey to find a new life in this new world.
This new world…
It had happened so suddenly. The creatures had come so quickly. I didn't have time to prepare myself for the new life I was about to lead. All I could do was grab a knapsack and quickly fill it with a few clothes, toiletries and what little money I had nearby. Of course once all was said and done, the money wouldn't turn out to be near enough, especially when I found the child and heard of the tickets that would lead us to our freedom of the voided world we used to know and love.
"Excuse me, ma'am. We'll be arriving in five minutes. Please have your things ready," a kind faced man in a suit informed me. It was difficult these days to find someone who looked so kind. It was quite refreshing.
"Right. Thank you." I found it funny when I grabbed the knapsack that he had said to have my things ready. None of what was contained in this knapsack was mine. I had traded the space inside for clothes and necessities for the child, but it wasn't something I regretted at all, not when that bright face turned its gaze on me.
"We're almost there?! I heard the man! He said we were!"
I nodded. "I know you're tired of sitting for so long, but you did so well."
The child smiled before turning its gaze back to the world through the glass. I did the same, watching the snowy scene suddenly change to that of a city. It wasn't any more relieving or welcomed. What was once a bustling city was now completely devoid of life, or at least human life.
The train finally came to a stop. I took hold of the child's hand and lead the two of us off the train. It only took one foot upon the crunchy ground for fear to completely engulf me. What was I doing getting off the safety of the train? We should go back. We don't know what we're getting ourselves into here. What if this is a trap of some sort?
"Hurry now! You and the child don't need to stand around out here for too long. You know they're watching," the voice of the kind faced man rung out behind me. It snapped me out of my crazy thoughts.
"Thank you," I told him before hurrying along to the building looming before us.
"Is this our new home?" the child next to me asked. I could hear the fear it was trying so hard to hide.
"Yes. I bet it looks better on the inside. Come on now." I lead him up the steps to what looked like a type of apartment complex. Before I could even lift my hand to knock upon the door, it swung open to reveal a man no older than I was. His eyes roamed about the scene behind me, searching for something I could only imagine in my dreams.
"Welcome. Come on in, and we'll get you and the child fixed up." Not wanting to remain out in the desolate cold of the quiet city, I rushed on inside, not stopping until I was a good distance from the door.
It seemed the child recovered from being out in the desolate world quicker than I did. Once my heart slowed to a normal beat, I noticed my hand seemed colder than it had been. When I gazed down to my side, I found the child had already run off to greet the children who seemed to be busy at play in what looked to be a type of parlor.
"What a tough child," the man said once he appeared at my side.
I simply nodded at his statement, not knowing what to tell him to add on to his conclusion. "So, I hear this is a place where people can start fresh and begin to forget all of what's happened? Sounds a little too hopeful."
"It's not at all. It's just as you heard it. I'll take you on a tour of the compound once I let you freshen up a bit."
"Unless I can take a shower, there won't be much freshening up to be done. These are my only clothes."
The man looked me over for a moment before offering me a smile. "No problem. We should have some clothes that should fit you. Now, if you'll follow me I'll show you to the place you and the child will be staying."
Seeing as how the child was too drawn into the games being played in the parlor, I decided to follow the man alone to the apartment that would be mine. It had everything I would need to make this my new home: a kitchen and, better yet, a shower. Once the man took his leave, letting me know he would have some fresh clothes delivered, I went straight to the shower to clean off the dirt and grim of the past couple months. The water running over my body was an absolute delight. It was the little things I missed the most. I could have stayed in the shower all day long, but I was sure it wouldn't be a good idea to waste any water. Once I was cleaned, I stepped out and wrapped myself in a towel.
I wandered out of the bathroom and went straight to the room I would call my own from now on. The man had been true to his word. Lying upon my bed was a fresh batch of clothes. They were simple garments, jeans and a t-shirt with a sweater to slip into, but they were perfect. I couldn't help but let a few tears escape as I slipped into my new clothes.
Freshly showered and clothed, there was one last thing to put on. I reached into my knapsack and dug into the very bottom of a secret compartment. From it I pulled out the only thing that I still had to remind me of the love I had felt for the man I called my best friend, my ring. I slipped it onto my left ring finger and played with it for a moment, a few more tears escaping me. I missed him so, but it wouldn't help to dwell on what I had lost. I had at least gained something of value in this new world. I went to the vanity and messed with my hair before taking my leave of the apartment.
"Ready for that tour?"
I jumped at the sound of his voice, my heart racing. "You scared me. I wasn't expecting you to be right outside my door."
"Sorry," he smiled. It made him look more boyish than the owner of this compound.
"It's alright. Yes, I'm ready for the tour."
The compound was bigger than I had ever thought. It consisted of a couple of buildings in the city that were connected by bridges. It was absolutely amazing and had me awestruck at the sight. Everything that the people housed in this compound could ever need was right at their fingertips without worrying about venturing out into the unknown. It was truly safe, and it made me flood over with relief and comfort I hadn't felt in months.
"What do you think of it?" he asked me as he led me back to the parlor where the child still played.
"It's amazing. How did you come up with this?"
"It was quite simple. We had to think of a way to meet our needs with as little danger as possible. We all know that the danger lies outside, it's why the streets are bare. So what better way of protecting ourselves than barring ourselves from the outside?"
"It's ingenious," I smiled. He smiled right back.
As we approached the front entrance of the compound, a frantic knock sounded at the door. The children's play quickly came to a halt as well as every other being within hearing distance. It didn't feel right, and even the man beside me seemed to be a bit on the fearful side. He looked to a woman who I could only guess had been set to the task of supervising the children. She only shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.
"We're not expecting anyone else today."
No one wanted to get too close to the door just in case the knocking came from something other than a person. If they smelled a human life, they would find the power to break down the door and this safe haven that was built using many man hours would be destroyed. The knocking continued. Someone had to answer the door, and I felt I was the one who needed to answer it. If it was that something we all feared, then it was my fault that they had been led here.
The man tried to keep me back, but I continued forward with a strong resolve. My heart pounded in my ears, the sound increasing in volume the closer I got to the door. I reached for the doorknob and wrapped my fingers around the cool brass. On the count of three I opened the door and found before me a small group of men and women, battered by the elements and frantically looking about them into the snowy distance. We all knew they had to be ushered inside quickly. They had been out there long enough to probably attract some unwanted attention. The children having been escorted to another area to play, the man and I guided the weary travelers into the parlor for some much needed rest.