"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
On the first day, we all went blind.
It was sudden. The last thing I saw was Catherine's smile, laughing at my disappointment, the disappointment from the cards I had been dealt. It was a Tuesday night, and Cathy and I were playing black jack, as we did so commonly. A ten and a six, tricky. I must have made a funny face, because Cathy went, "ha!" and when I looked up she was grinning, and her big brown eyes were just like her mothers.
I felt my hands weaken. I heard the cards drop onto the table, the same second Cathy's did. I felt her grab my arm, digging her nails into it. It didn't hurt much, my little girl couldn't hurt a fly.
"Dad," she cried. "I can't see anything, what's happened?" I didn't like the worry in her voice. I didn't like that I couldn't help her, I didn't like that I had no idea about what was going on. I told her I couldn't see, too. I got up, and took the five short steps to the kitchens light switch. I had lived in the house for fifteen years; past experience of blindly (ironic, eh?) reaching for the switch every night taught me where exactly on the wall it was. I flipped the switch. I flipped it again, and again, and again, but to no avail.
"I don't know, sweetie," I told Cathy. I heard her chair move. "Just stay where you are now, I'm going outside." She gingerly told me to be careful and I placed my hands on the counted next to the switch, and felt my way along to the door. I reached for the handle, and after moving my hand around I finally caught it. Outside, I heard yelling, screaming, crying, the sound and smell of fire.
Cathy, Allison (Cathy's mother, my wife) and I live right in the heart of town, about eighteen metres away from the main road. Fire was to be expected, with drivers suddenly losing their sight with no explanation. I thought of Allison upstairs, already fast asleep after a long day of work.
The familiar voice of a neighbour I spoke to every now and then yelled for his child. A woman demanded to know from no one in particular what was going on. Many people were just crying, or just yelling nonsensical fear.
Horror stricken, I retreated back into my house, to Cathy. I took her hand and told her to go to bed. I lead her upstairs, both of us guiding each other to the best of our abilities. Outside her bedroom, I took her face in my hands and kissed the top of her head, and she stumbled inside her room. I felt my way to my room, felt my way to my bed, to the side my wife did not sleep on, and closed my eyes.
"Maybe it'll get better after we close our eyes for a while." I said so Cathy could hear me.
"I love you, Dad," my little girl replied. I told her I loved her, too.
On the second day, we walked on stone.
I awoke, next to my still sleeping wife. I had lost all concept of time; I fell asleep around eight pm, I felt rested. I think I slept for about six hours. I didn't notice it at first, my mind was a mess, but we, my wife and I, were lying on stone. Not a particular bed of stone, not in a house, just stone. I got up and tripped over my wife, waking her up.
"Daniel!" Allison cried out, "What are you doing? Daniel? Daniel, I can't see!"
"Mum, dad? I still can't see!" Cathy had woken up too, then. I got up, and suddenly became aware of the voices around us. We weren't alone. The smell of burning and blood lingered through the air. People were still crying. I bent down and took my wife's hand, assuring her it was me as I did so. We made our way to our daughter, and I took her hand too.
"You're okay, baby," I told her. "We're here." She got up and squeezed my hand.
"Where are we? Why are we walking on stone?" Catherine asked me, and I just shook my head as I said I didn't know. I held onto my wife's and daughters hands for dear life, walking to nowhere in particular.
Voices begged and cried, and shouted and screamed. All of them were demanding to know what was going on. All of them so confused. There were new walls and my world was a riddle, a complicated one at that. As we walked, we occasionally bumped into people, we couldn't see. I mumbled an apology each time, and kept walking, hoping my family and I might find hope and salvation.
On day three, the land was bare.
Miraculously, the trees and bushes stood on stone, with healthy fruit hanging from the branches. I had picked an apple and given it to Cathy. She had thanked me, and her voice was full of sadness. No one had no idea what was going on.
The voices had become angry, and screaming terrified. The three of us avoided unnecessary contact with other people. We've bumped into a few people once or twice, and one man swore at us, pushed me away from him and the three of us just scurried off.
I think that's when people started killing each other off.
But I digress. When I woke up the third day (we went to a seemingly secluded part of the world-or whatever you'd want to call this stony hell) we walked, and we met no trees. Actually, I'm positive we had slept under a tree; I awoke and could not feel it. There were no bushes either. I know they didn't simply die; there would be dead remnants. All of the vegetation simply disappeared.
We were left with no water, and no food. I held my daughter and my wife, wondering what the world would come to.
On day four, there was no heat.
Come on, I thought, the sun can't have disappeared, no chance.
Of course I couldn't look. Still blinded, I just felt the windless air, heatless air. The past three days before hand were warm, comfortable. Now, we felt nothing.
As the hours crept by, he screaming, yelling, hating seemed to quiet down. Maybe more people were dying. Maybe they were calming down. Maybe they had lost their minds. It didn't matter anymore, though. As much as I wanted to keep those thoughts from my mind, I couldn't help it; it was inevitable.
I tried to stay positive for Cathy and Allison. I'd go and poke Allison's rib cage, and sometimes get a chuckle and a playful hit in return. I imagined her smiling. Big brown eyes and soft blonde curls. Soft smile. She was beautiful. I'd give anything to see her face again. Anything.
I'd go and pull Cathy up and swig her around, and sometimes she'd laugh because she knew it was me, or she'd scream and become restless in my arms, because she thought it was another attack. By some stranger near us, or by whatever took her sight. If she did scream, I'd sit her down and tell her it was me, and then I'd pull her into my arms and hold her. She'd cry and demand to know why this happened to us, to everyone. Why it was happening now. Why it was happening. What was happening?
"I don't know, sweetie," I'd tell her. Allison would rest her head on my shoulder, and pull us both into a hug. Misery was everywhere, there was no light and no heat, and every familiar safety net had disappeared. I was so glad the girls didn't see the tears I occasionally felt form in my eyes. I felt like I had to be strong for them- what am I saying? I knew I had to be strong, I have to be strong.
"Daddy I'm so cold," Cathy said and she lifted my arm up and pulled it around her. I hugged her tightly, with my other arm around Allison. To be honest, I wasn't very warm myself. I had an urge to just rub my hands on my arms and warm myself up, but my arms were providing heat for my family.
On day five, the animals were gone.
I had completely forgotten about the animals. It wasn't until the sounds of neigh's, and bah's, and barking and meowing had disappeared. Like the tree's, the water, sight, and presumably the sun, they had just disappeared. This didn't affect me very much, but our stomachs were rumbling. The last thing Cathy had eaten was an apple. My little girl had gone two days without food. I was overwhelmed with guilt.
I asked Allison how she was doing while Cathy slept. "Darling, I'm starving," I managed to mutter a syllable before she interrupted me. "I know you can't do anything, I'm sorry." This time I rested my head on her shoulder, and she stroked the back of my neck. This time, it was her turn to be strong. More guilt.
The world was not quiet, but I compared it to day one. Day one was an elephant and day five was a mouse. The lingering smell of blood was still there, but the smell of smoke had gone away. How could an individual start a fire without wood, any source of ignition, etcetera...
I think I held Cathy and Allison in my arms all day. We didn't say much; there wasn't much to say. Not much to say that was totally heart breaking, anyway. We just listened to the crying, moaning, the occasional scream, the rumbling of our stomachs. I was so thirsty, but I didn't care. I felt a tear roll down my cheek.
Allison had been crying. She rested her head on my shoulder, and my shit was soaked with her tears around that area. Cathy wasn't crying. I was so proud. I know Cathy, and I know she is loud when she cries. I smirk, because although her cries are heart breaking, they are also comical. My twelve year old, coming home, crying as loud as she can because she expected a card from the boy she admired on Valentine's Day. I find myself chuckling and bury my face in Cathy's hair. I whisper, "I'm so proud of you, sweetheart. I hope you know that."
I heard her signature crying noises, and her sobs shuddered her.
It's day six, and I've been awake for about thirty seconds.
My family and I were awoken by screams, so loud, and so horrible to hear. I clutched onto my girls and pulled them so close to me, holding on for dear life.
Now the world is daunting, and I've just been totally overcome by horrid feelings- not just guilt.
All at once, dehydration, fatigue, starvation, pain and illness strike me. If there was anything in my stomach I would wretch it up. By the smell of it, some of the people who had resorted to cannibalism wretched it up.
I feel like the end is drawing closer and closer, crawling towards us, ready to snatch us up.
"Allison," I began. I tell her how beautiful she is; I apologize for not telling her how beautiful she is everyday; I apologize for not asking her to marry me the moment I met her; I tell her about the horrible place I was in before I met her, and how she saved my life. How our story is my favourite story, and how she makes me the happiest man alive.
"Cathy," I'm sobbing, but I go on anyway. I tell her how clever and funny she is; I tell her how proud of her I am; I apologize for yelling at her when she didn't deserve it; I apologize for not spending every moment she could spare me with her and her mother; I apologize for not asking her how her day was every day; I tell her about how funny she looked the day she was born, and how now, twelve years later, she had blossomed into a beautiful young lady.
I tell them both I love them. They tell me they love me too. They tell each other. We hold onto each other. We don't dare to let go.
Suddenly, I feel emptiness, not inside of me but next to me. Cathy had disappeared.
"CATHERINE!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, and it hurt so much and I didn't care.
"CATHY!" Allison begins, but suddenly she's gone too.
I yell their names, not bearing the loneliness. I hear my voice breaking, until I'm just croaking their names. My voice is barely audible. I can barely hear myself.
I let myself fall back, defeated. It's my entire fault. I didn't protect my family well enough and now they're inexplicably gone. My whole world crumbles around me, into nothingness. I am nothingness.
I feel relieved when I am suddenly gone too, and I don't think anymore.