It's the Armageddon. All of America knew it was coming. Nobody knew how to prepare for it. That's why so many people died. The barren wasteland that was once a great, powerful country was dotted with survivors and camps. The highways were covered with hitchhikers. Nobody cared who you were, if you were a survivor, you were a brother. Survivors welcomed other survivors with open arms, for they were all that was left. It was a terrifying thought. Having to trust complete strangers because all of your friends and family are dead. The thought of having nothing left to lose. Not being scared of death anymore. How mortifying.
Mark was the first one to regain consciousness. He propped himself up on his elbows. He was laying in the middle of the street, the orange evening sun beating down on him. Next to him were three people that he'd seen at school before but never really talked to. Alison, the Asian girl, Shantae, the black girl, and Tyler, the gay guy. He stared at them, feeling no emotions at all. He looked around at the houses. They were fairly new and they were pretty nice, but for some reason, the paint was chipping off of them and the windows were broken and the roofs caving in. Mark was puzzled. He didn't remember anything since this morning. At least, he thought it was this morning. He had awaken to the sun streaming in his window. He had climbed out of bed and smelled breakfast cooking downstairs. He had walked down and seen his father cleaning the pool through the glass doors and his mother cooking breakfast in the kitchen. Both of his parents' faces were fuzzy. It was like a crime show when the criminals' faces were blurred because they didn't want their faces on TV or something. Then, he suddenly thought:
Where are my parents now?
Alison was beginning to stir. He looked over. Her hair was messed up. She looked at him and he could see she was just as puzzled as he was. Mark glanced at Tyler and Shantae. Shantae was half on the curb. She looked really uncomfortable. There was sand being blown across the once lush, green football field of the local high school. Tyler sat up. His short, brown hair was all ruffled up. It looked weird now that it wasn't gelled. Shantae sat up and Mark knew by the look on her face that the first words were gonna be a complaint.
"Damn, my back hurts." Shantae said, a disgusted look on her face as she rubbed her tail bone.
"Wh-whats this? What's going on?" Alison asked, her eyes growing wide as she realized she didn't remember anything.
Tyler seemed calm. Absolutely calm. He was at peace with everything, at least for the moment. Then his facial expression abruptly changed. He took on a horrified expression, like he'd just been socked in the nose, and began to frantically try to get up.
"Tyler, calm down. Calm down." Mark was using his soothing voice.
"Is this the end of the world or something?! What's happening?! Does anyone remember anything?!" It seemed as though Tyler was about to have a mental break down. "What the fuck is this?"
Shantae looked like she was about to throw up. Alison's hands were shaking. They didn't understand what was happening and, quite frankly, it scared the living shit out of them.
"Guys, calm down. Shhh. Lets take some deep breaths." Mark said. He was usually very good at soothing people, but for whatever reason, he wasn't soothing very well at the moment. "Lets inhale and exhale a few times, then we can try to figure out what's going on." Mark was a handsome, tan football star that was very good at talking to people. He could make people feel better no matter what the circumstance. It was, in fact, what he was known for at the local high school. He wasn't about to let his reputation slip through his fingers, even if there were only four people left on Earth.
Shantae suddenly looked horrified or scared or something. "My parents." she said quietly, staring at the ground, "Where are my parents?"
The entire group looked at each other. They all had to find their parents.
"W-what if our parents are... dead?" Tyler spoke everyone's exact thoughts.
Mark said firmly, "We aren't gonna think about that. We need to go check our houses." For the first time, Mark was noticing the wounds everyone had. Gashes on foreheads, arms, legs, cheeks, chests, rips in shirts, cuts, and bruises. It really made him wonder what it was that they weren't remembering. That they weren't getting.
The entire group stood up, except for Tyler, who had been pacing the street for a few minutes now.
"Who's house should we check first?" Alison asked. She seemed like she was blocking out her emotions so she wouldn't lose it just yet.
"Lets check mine first. It's closest probably." Shantae said. She started walking ahead of the group. Mark, Tyler, and Alison exchanged questioning glances before Mark shrugged and they all followed Shantae to her home.
Shantae kicked in the front door. "MAMA!" she screamed. "MAMA!" she sounded anxious and frantic and hysterical. "DADDY! IT'S ME! SHANTAE!" she was running into rooms. Furniture was tipped. Pictures had fallen off the walls. Cabinets hung half open. Windows were broken. Broken glass and plastic crunched beneath their shoes as they walked through Shantae's house. Shantae ripped open cupboards and closets and doors in a panic. When she had checked the last room a third time, she looked down at the floor and started crying. "Mama..." She gasped in between sobs, "Daddy."
Mark squeezed her shoulder. They all looked at Tyler and it was clear they were going to his house next. As they were about to head out the front door, Shantae half whispered "Wait." and ran to her bedroom. She came out a minute later with a small cloth bag filled with small pieces of jewelry a small picture frame. There was also a tiny notebook in the bag, and everyone assumed it was her diary.
When they reached Tyler's house, it didn't seem much different from Shantaes. "Mom... dad..." Tyler whispered over and over as he looked into the rooms of his house. Again: Tipped furniture, broken glass, no parents. Tyler had nothing to bring with him. He didn't want to bring anything. He didn't want the ghost of his old life to follow him.
Alison's house was next. She cautiously stepped in. The stairs had collapsed and her parents' bedroom door was half-open. She could see someone hanging off of the bed. Her heart stopped for a moment. It was her mother. She ran up the stairs. "Mother!" she screamed, tears of joy running down her dimples. "Mother! Mom!" she stood in the doorway and stared at the woman's body. Her eyes were closed. "Shes napping!" Alison laughed. She was laughing like she couldn't stop. Tears were streaming down her face. "She's only napping! She'll wake up! Mother, wake up! Oh, won't you wake up, mother?" She was laughing even harder. Alison ran up to the woman's body. She shook it. Her mother appeared to be sick. She was a certain shade of green that was notoriously known for being the color of toxic nuclear waste and such. Alison felt for a pulse. When she failed to find one, she stopped laughing. She sank to her knees. Mark came up next to her and patted her shoulder. Shantae and Tyler watched sympathetically from the hallway. Mark turned his head and looked at them for a second. They all carefully made their way down the severely damaged steps and out the front door. Not a word was said until they reached Mark's house.
"Well, I don't expect my house will be any different from all of yours." and he was right. Mark left his home crying, and they all sat down on the curb. For a moment, nobody said anything. Then, with a final sniff, Mark said, "Well. We have to put that behind us, ok? We can't talk about it. We have some decisions to make."