Chapter 1

The IU

It was a normal day. No one expected it. No one.

I was home that day, or I would have died for sure. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better to die then and not have to go through what we are still dealing with today.

But either way it happened.

I was sleeping, trying to get over an extreme fever. A loud explosion woke me up. I lived ten minutes out of the city limits. There was no way I should be hearing explosions. I got up and walked to the nearest window, groggily tired.

Outside, though, it was terrible. Smoke rose from town. My family, father, mum, sisters, brother, were all in town that day. It was a Monday, our family day out because my sister had work off. My heart was in my throat as I grabbed the nearest phone and dialed my dad's cellphone number.

"Come on." I muttered as the phone continued to ring and nobody picked it up. "Come on!" I shouted at the device I held in my hand. Then it picked up!

"We're sorry but the number you have dialed is either incorrect or nonexistent. Please try again later-" I muttered a soft curse, one of the few I knew, and ended the call. I tried my sister's cellphone. No one picked up. By this time my hands were shaking.

I looked out the window at my dad's parked truck. It was the only vehicle within a mile. I considered going to my best friend's house, she lived only two minutes away but I discarded the idea. They'd tell me to stay put.

But I didn't want to.

I grabbed the spare keys, my knife, a gun of my dad's- if there was that much smoke something had to be happening- and some food and bandages. I got in the car and turned it on.

The radio blared out a message: "This is the alert system of the State of Arkansas! Please stay in your homes and wait out the attack! I repeat, wait out the attack! Do not attempt to leave your homes! Stay indoors and keep all entrances locked! The United States is under attack!"

I sat in the truck with the engine idling. This couldn't be happening.

A plane flew overhead, as they normally did since we lived on top of a hill, but I didn't recognize it. It flew too low and there was a symbol on the underside of the wing.


The Iranians were invading us.

Another plane loomed overhead and I heard a whistling sound. I knew what it was. Wrenching the gears down to reverse, I hit the gas and the truck bounded backwards down the hill. A second later, the house exploded. The shock wave pushed the truck sideways and I fought for control.

I shouted in frustration and despair, stopping the car to stare at the ruins. My dogs, home, belongings, pictures, everything I owned of importance was gone.

Tears were flowing down my face.

This was bad.

". . . The president is issuing a warning to all people within the states that we are under attack." The radio slowly grew louder as my hearing returned. "I repeat; the United States is under attack. Those who are able need to get to the nearest bomb shelter and wait out the attack. Those who aren't should get into the woods, stay out of buildings. Keep in small groups and head towards the nearest government building to seek assistance."

I spun the truck around and went back to the house, picking my way through the smoking debris till I got to the gun-safe my dad had. Using my hoodie to protect my hands, I opened it and took out what weapons I knew were loaded. I was going to go prepared.

I dumped the guns and knives in an unceremonious heap on the other seat in the truck- my dad would have a fit about that if he knew- and got in. The little ammunition I had left was good enough for now. I'd raid a weapon's store soon if needs be.

I went down the road, keeping an eye out on the sky with the windows open.

It seemed to be an attack mainly by air and it wasn't a good sign. That meant the invasion was just beginning. Invasion, I thought grimly. That's what was happening to us now. We were being invaded.

I got onto the highway and hit the gas. Who cared about speed limits now? I needed all the speed I could get. The needle on the speedometer crept past 100mph and still no sign of cops or other cars. Except for a smoldering pile of iron and melting plastic that used to be a semi.

I hit town and headed towards the National Guard. My dad would have driven there if at all possible. He would know that was the safest place he could go. He had to be there. They all had to be there.

The National Guard building was in utter chaos. People were running back and forth, some carrying stretchers, others weapons, some heading to cars and tanks. I ran into a guy and he turned to look at me. "James!" I exclaimed in joy. At last, a familiar face. He was a medic, I knew him from school. "Have you seen my family?"

He shook his head, his eyes distant. "No, I haven't." That was a relief. "They'd be in the bomb rooms, if they're here." He said.

A stretcher came over and James turned to the patient. I almost puked, the person on the stretcher had maybe half of his body intact, and the other half of him was missing. "Emergency treatment." James said without a moment's hesitation. "Get this guy there as fast as you can."

The stretcher went away and James put a hand on my arm. "Look, I haven't seen your family at all and I've been all over the buildings." I nodded, understanding what he was trying to say. "You stay here and I'm sure they'll show up." He said. "I've got to go."

I mustered up a smile and nodded. "I know. Thanks." I moved past him and headed to the buildings.

I spent another hour searching. The guns were given out to those who didn't have weapons but I held onto the SKS.

But there wasn't a sign of them. And the planes kept coming.

All night long the planes came, and came, and came.

We heard them blow up the rest of the city but they left the National Guard alone. That bugged me. Wouldn't the depot be the first place they hit? Why were they leaving us alone? What could possibly persuade them to leave the most dangerous place alone?

I pushed away the thoughts and focused on staying alive.