Dated: January 25, 2009
This was an early story idea that I might eventually turn into a full-fledged novel. I wrote this as one of my assignments in Creative Writing Workshop 1. My professor at the time compared my work to Cormac McCarthy who was best known for the post-apocalyptic novel, The Road in 2006 which was then adapted to film with the same name in 2009. Enjoy!
“Where should we go?” I suggested to the group, as I walked down the gravel pathway towards the dock.
The sky was like a black, burnt fire, charcoal filling up the last forms of oxygen in the air. It was hard to breath. In a landscape of high grass and dense fog, almost every living thing in sight was not moving. I was leading a small group of about ten survivors all from different backgrounds. Unfortunately, there were many others from the beginning. The group, excluding me, consisted of a black middle-aged high school janitor, a younger man in a ripped suit carrying a briefcase, an old homeless hermit with dirty clothes, wearing a cap with holes, three differently aged attractive women, and an entire family of four; mom, dad, older daughter of seventeen and youngest son aged twelve.
They all followed me in a single line formation passing the horrid images of rotting corpses, while crows and small birds were hacking at their remains. I could only see about twenty feet in front of me, so the entire group stayed close. The thick smoke that filled the atmosphere created a seemingly endless fog. This forced us to cover our mouths so the smoke would not reach our lungs. I continued through the dirt track until my eyes stumbled across a wooden dock leading to a body of water.
“Follow me! We’re going to walk down to the dock,” I told everyone, and looking back I noticed the hopeless faces and the weakness showing through their eyes. They were all scared of dying.
It had only been a month since it began. I was living in Paris, when it happened. I was on a holiday enjoying the scenery and the French culture. It started with rumors, which spread throughout the city that a plague was killing all the homeless within the area. No one knew how or why it was happening, but it was getting worse each day. Symptoms of this plague would have victims screaming and acting violently towards nearby people for no apparent reason. Like a parasite, the plague would take over the infected person and kill them within a day. It was all over the newspapers with headlines such as “The Deadly Plague Spreads”. The TV broadcasters went on the air to tell everyone in their homes to lock their doors because the plague was contagious and could be easily spread by the bite of an infected person.
At the time, I was staying at one of the hotels and from a balcony I noticed how the city began tearing itself apart. Each night the screams got louder, car accidents were frequent and although the hotel staff boarded up the building, guests inside started getting sick. I decided to wait it all out and stay in my room until I received more information. Possibly, wait for a rescue helicopter to arrive.
Unfortunately, a helicopter never showed up, and everyday when I went down to the lobby, the number of staff and guests decreased. Being in the room alone was difficult; I was starving, paranoid, frightened, confused and hopeless. The smell of death began seeping through the gaps of my door. Finally after two full weeks, I walked down to the lobby and no one was there. What once was a busy hotel full of tourists, walking in an out of the heavily polished checkered lobby floor and white tuxedo-ed ushers carrying the massive luggage, was now an empty hallway. There was no sign of human activity. I looked around, pressed the counter top button and there was no response. I then walked around the counter and saw the most awful image I thought I’d never experience. It was the dead corpse of the hotel clerk lying on the floor. It smelled of rotten flesh. I covered my mouth as I noticed the gouged out eyes, the pale and dried-up skin, black blood dripping over areas of the body and a few exposed bones by the fingertips. I knew that I had to escape the hotel and find a way out. I grabbed one of the chairs in the lobby and started stabbing the wooden planks blocking the front entrance doors. Suddenly, a man coming from one of the halls grabbed my attention and began helping me break down the blockade. We each threw the heavy chairs through the glass doors and squeezed ourselves out. I then noticed that the city was in shambles. The cars on the streets were smashed into each other, dead bodies lay on the ground, and street lamps were down. Telephone lines and traffic lights were down and fire seemed to overcome many parts of the road. Beyond this, the French native and I made it to a shelter. I lived there for two weeks and then moved into the country side. However, I lost sight of the French native along the way and never seen him since.
I’ve made it this far, and now I’m about to set sail on a boat that my companions and I discovered when we walked down the dock. Someday, the survivors and I will find refuge.
If you enjoyed this and would like to read more from Anthony, check out his novel ‘Stay Awhile’ on Amazon amazon.com/Stay-Awhile.