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"Education as a Lifestyle"
It was like any other night; I was downstairs in the café cleaning, and Dad was upstairs in the living room watching the news. After finishing cleaning, I switched off the café’s signs, locked the doors, and went up to the second floor. That was when I realized how bad the sickness was. Dad was knocked out cold on the couch, holding that dang photo of my mother, who ran out after giving birth to me. But there on the television, a reporter was on the site of a huge mass grave with bodies layered upon others. I thought to myself about how lucky I was that the sickness here in Paris was contained. No one knows much about the sickness or at least no one, the government specifically, is willing to inform us much about it. I’ve heard of a few cases where the victim goes practically insane, hurting themselves or others with no motives. But for the most part, they told us it was contained, and we believed them. We were wrong to trust the government.
It’s crazy how a person’s life can be changed in less than a day. In my case, it was overnight. I remember waking up to a huge bang downstairs. I found Dad rushing to gather our belongings into a single bag. When he saw me, he looked up at the window, dropped everything, and grabbed my hands. It was then that I saw that on the other side of the window was complete chaos. Families were running on the streets fleeing from an unseen, yet present, terror. Dad dragged me out the door, and that’s when the deafening roar of yelling, screaming, and crying could be heard. We tried our best to stay away from places where shots and screaming could be heard and followed where the officers told us to go. We eventually made it to the subway where others were waiting to be evacuated. They told us we would be evacuated to a camp a few miles out of Paris until they could quarantine the city. Dad rushed us to the nearest train, trying to get us out as soon as possible. That’s when a wave of chaos went through the subway. In the confusion, I lost Dad’s hand and was shoved against the wall. Last thing I saw before blacking out was a cop firing into the crowd. A moment later, another man rushed the cop and upon reaching him, gouged the officer’s eyes. I realized that both men’s eyes were blood shot, filled with anger and happiness, surprise and amusement, fear and determination; their eyes were filled with craziness. Then, darkness fell upon me and black was all I could see.
Craziness of Life
Here I am, in the dark. There, in the sea of darkness, something or someone is moving about. I’m pretty sure it’s probably someone. Now and then, I can hear someone giggling to themselves. I tried moving, but there’s something over my legs. I keep myself calm by going over what had happened and what I’ve seen. I check my surroundings. The only constant light is coming from a hole in the ceiling farther down the subway, but now and then the subway lights flicker on. It flickers, and now, I know there’s someone there. I wait for the next flicker. I’m filled with excitement; it’s Dad.
“Dad, help! I’m over here!” I yelled with relief.
There was no reply, just a giggle.
“Dad, you there?” I’m questioning myself yelling out now.
There are now footsteps moving my direction. The lights flicker. It is Dad. I thought to myself, this is a sick joke. Dad has the same crazed eyes as the other men did.
“Dad, stay away,” terror fills my body as the lights flicker and I see he has the officer’s gun.
He’s at a chuckle now. I can’t see him, but I can sure hear him. He’s only a few feet away now. I’m crying, imagining what’s going to happen to me next. He must know I can’t move. He’s right next to my face laughing into my ears. He’s clicking the gun again and again to my head, but the chamber and the clip are empty. He’s trying to hold in his laugh, and I open my eyes to see that he’s pulled out a knife from our café. As the lights flicker, I catch some movement near the exit. Dad’s brushing the knife up and down my arms. I close my eyes, and then, I hear a rush of footsteps.
“Head down boy!” says a feminine voice from the dark sea of the subway.
In the next moment, there’s a splash of wetness on my face. I open my eyes just as the lights flicker. There’s Dad, and behind him stands a girl around my age. There’s a steel point staring at me instead of Dad’s crazed eyes. The girl slips Dad’s body off her katana and wipes it on Dad’s shirt. I’m petrified; my mind is having a difficult time processing all of this. One moment, I’m laughing with Dad and the next, Dad is laughing at me with a knife at my throat. But my mind does not want to believe that Dad is now gone.
“Boy, get up. We have to leave now.” The mysterious girl says as she pushes the rubble off me and offers me a hand to help.
I snap myself back into reality and I get up. I tell myself that what’s done is now the past and what I need to focus on is what’s ahead. I decide to leave with this girl who I do not know, whose intentions I do not know of, who has taken my Dad’s life, but I know that she knows what she’s doing in this “new” Paris.
It’s now dark, and I’m walking through the torn streets of Paris with this mysterious girl, who has saved my life. Paris isn’t quite how I left it. The buildings are all half ruined, some still on fire. The Paris sky isn’t blue anymore, but is now filled with smoke and dark clouds. I need to know more about what has happened, but first, I need to know who I’m with. I wasn’t the best with my social skills before this, but I’m sure this girl won’t judge.
“What’s up?” I awkwardly ask just to create some small talk.
“What is up? Really? That is all you can say?” She’s irritated.
I was wrong. She seems offended by what I’ve said.
I try thinking of how to correct myself, “Sorry, it’s been a really stressful day, if you haven’t noticed.”
“Yeah, I was there, remember?” she says with a bit more irritation in her voice.
That’s strike number two. One more try.
I try switching the topic, “Okay, then. What shall I call you?”
“Lexy.” She says this automatically.
Alright, I tell myself. Now, I’m getting somewhere.
“Nice name. I’m Anthony.” I say.
She stops and turns around. She’s putting a finger to her lips, signaling me to be silent. She’s moving quick now and I struggle to keep up. She finally stops and drops behind some rubble on the street. Ahead of her is the Eiffel Tower, and around the grounds of the tower is a huge wall. I want to ask her what that was, but she’s off before I can reach her and is gone around the corner. She wasn’t there when I turned the corner, but there was a gate. Two boys, I assume guards, were standing on elevated platforms inside the walls with swords at hand.
“Hello, nice swords you got,” I said, but regretting it the second after.
The two boys are just staring at me like I’m a joke. I don’t blame them though. I’m lost on what to say or do now.
“So…” I respond, hoping they’ll do something or say something at least.
They stand there for a while, still staring, but then one of them leaves their platform. He moves to the gate. He fumbles in his pockets looking for something. He finally finds what he’s looking for; a piece of candy. He’s offering it to me, extending his arm through the gate.
“Take it and leave,” he tells me.
I step up to reach for it when Lexy grabs the boy’s wrists and pulls him against the gate. The boy is trying to reach his sword that he’s dropped. The other boy has already left.
“What is this place?” Lexy asks, while twisting the boy’s arm.
“Lexy, chill,” I’m saying, still a bit confused on what just happened.
The boy is now crying, gasping for air. He’s not going to talk. Then a loud bang goes off, and I automatically drop to the ground. The other boy is back, but he’s got others. The bang was from another fella, dressed like a knight, on the black horse. My eyes fall onto the girl next to him wearing a vest, bulletproof I assume. Her vest is interesting, but my eyes are on her face and her features. They all look serious, obviously because Lexy and I have one of their boys against the gate. The knight lowers his rifle at Lexy.
“I’m only giving you one warning! Let Alfred go. Now!” the knight says, while pulling the bolt of the rifle back.
Lexy releases Alfred’s arm, and he goes running towards the other boy he was with. The knight lowers his gun and fires it near Lexy’s foot.
“Now leave us. Go!” he’s already pulling the bolt back as he’s talking.
“Wait!” I yell.
I finally figured it out. I know that girl from high school. Who could forget those features; her tall height, her long blonde hair that reaches below her waist, and those beautiful blue eyes.
“Hi, Emma Kiara. Don’t you remember me?” I’m hoping she remembers our relationship or at least she still values our love for each other.
“Anthony Sunhay? Is that really you,” she’s surprised to see me, almost at a tear when I nod, “Sawyer, put that gun down. Alfred, open that gate.”
They follow her orders instantly. She must be the leader of whatever this is. Emma jumps off her horse and throws her hands around me as I enter. She’s holding me close, and when she steps back, still holding my hand, I have the urge to kiss her, but I don’t have to think long before she’s already on my lips. After what seemed like eternity, we part lips, and she hops back onto her horse offering me Sawyer’s horse. We used to go riding together back in high school, so it was nothing new. I offer for Lexy to ride with me, but she looks disgusted and turns my offer down. We follow Emma into the camp. It’s filled with energy. There were other kids in the camp, probably hundreds. There are makeshift tents everywhere, and in one corner, there’s pens filled with animals. Emma takes us even deeper into the camp towards the Eiffel tower, which is covered in sheets that make it look like a huge tent.
“Welcome to our headquarters,” Emma’s voice is filled with pride and excitement, “you will be with me, and your friend will be with the others outside.”
“Sounds like a great plan.” I know I should probably ask for more for Lexy, but I really can’t say I know her well.
Sawyer takes Lexy back out towards the small tents, and I’m following Emma farther into headquarters. There are guards every now and then who look like stone statues, hardly moving. We reach a flap that must be Emma’s room because the flap has “Emma” written on it. She opens the flap letting me enter first. Her room is about the size of any regular hotel room. The floor is made from plywood, the walls are made of stone, and she even had a window. Her room is fully furnished. The floor has a few carpets here and there; there’s a dresser in the corner next to the vanity; she has a couch beside the “doorway”, and to the farthest wall, there’s a queen size bed. All over the walls are maps of what I assume to be what is left of Paris. She moves past me, keeping her eyes on me. She’s giving me that stare that makes my legs go weak. She sits on the leather couch, moving the pillows, making room for me to sit next to her. As I sit down, she throws her hands around me making herself comfortable. I let her lay there on me, embracing her. She hasn’t talked to me, but I know that she loves me just the way she had before all this started. We stay cuddling each other for what seemed like an eternity. I love it here already.
I’ve been in the camp for about a week now, and it’s been the greatest time of my life. I spend half my days with Emma and the other half exploring. I’ve assigned myself to scavenge around the area for what supplies are left. Emma didn’t want me outside her watch, but I’ve found out that I’m a pretty good scavenger. I’ve gotten myself a halberd and a short sword from the history museum and I lead a team of five others who all have their usefulness. It’s me the brains, there’s Klaudia and Eddy on long-range warfare with their bows and javelins, there’s Abe scouting up front for any dangers or treasures, then there’s Jacob and Lexy as our strong fighters. I’ve been able to convince Lexy to be my personal guard. I’ve made up my mind that Lexy is the best fighter in the camp. She’s always at the training quarters testing and sharpening her katana. I don’t know much about her still, but I trust her enough, and I owe her for saving my life. There are other scavenging parties, but none have been as successful as my team has. We’ve been able to clear a mile radius around the camp, making it safe and taking the supplies, but a mile clear is a mile farther to travel. I was able to convince Emma to give us horses for scavenging use. We are able to travel and carry more with our horses without being too tired out. We’re heading out today for more medical supplies for the clinic. There’s a whole bunch of apartments on the southeast part of Paris and there’s usually a good number of meds left. I’m already at the gate waiting for the rest of the team to make their last preparations. We pack as light as we can with equipment. We each have a few MREs, a canteen for our water; we all have a light ballistic vest, and we all carry our weapons. Jacob has a larger stallion and can fight well, so we have our extra survival equipment on him. Emma, like always, comes out to see us off. I jump off my horse to say my farewells.
“You finally coming on a trip?” I’m teasing her, like always.
“Maybe next time,” Emma responds while moving in closer.
“But that’s what you said last time,” I’m putting a finger to her lips keeping her at bay.
“Just let me kiss you goodbye already!” She’s pushing herself towards me.
I let her keep pushing against me, and then, I suddenly put my hands down, letting her stumble towards me. I catch her before she falls and give her that kiss. She looks a bit confused, but happy. She turns around quickly, looking embarrassed.
“Is Emma blushing?” I tease her.
“Shush, don’t say that,” she’s trying to pull herself together, “You know I hate when you make me blush.”
“Alright then, we’re going to head out now,” I’m getting on my horse, “Don’t you worry; I’ll find something nice for ya.”
She’s blushing even more that she dares not look back at me. Lexy is the last to meet up with the team. We head out the gate and stop to go over the rules we set.
“Okay guys, we’re heading southeast to the danger zone. We’re looking for anything of use, but meds are priority number one. The more we find, the less likely we’ll have to go back.” Abe is the one who knows where to look, so he makes up the travel plans.
No one argues with Abe. We’ve been through this many times and last time someone went against Abe’s words, he was found half eaten and dead in a building.
“Alright, we’ve got our work and a plan. Let’s move quickly and quietly. Remember, any sign of danger or doubts, report it to me. We’ll deal with what comes at us, but if it can be avoided, it WILL be avoided. DON’T BE A HERO!” I’m giving the team the last warning they’ll be getting.
We set out to the south lookout. It’s about five minutes on horseback. I’ve learned that these first few minutes are crucial moments that everyone needs to themselves. As we head down the road, you can tell everyone is having their moment of silence. They’re either praying for their safety or preparing themselves for the worst. I’m going through all the positives in my head. I’m glad for the camp that shelters me. I’m glad that Emma is mine. I’m glad that I’m able to change the lives of the kids in the camp. I’m glad I have a good team watching over me and fighting with me. I’m glad to have made it this far in this new life. I’m glad that Lexy saved my life that day.
“Anthony? Hey, Anthony! We’re here,” Eddy is yelling at me, “Yo, you sleeping on the job already?”
“Nah, just thinking about you Eddy.” I’m joking, trying to keep their minds on the positive side.
“Of course you are. Who doesn’t think about me?” he’s directing his attention to Lexy.
Lexy’s laughing this off. This isn’t the first time someone’s tried flirting with her.
“Alright, eyes up now guys,” we’re passing the lookout.
Abe has already went up ahead scouting our route. The guards there are on their lookout tower, sitting on the far side. Abe must’ve already told them what we were doing, because they didn’t ask any questions. We nod to the guards as we past, knowing they might be the last friends we see. We head down south a few more blocks before turning east. We stay silent the whole way, listening for any movement. You usually hear the crazy before you see them. So far, no signs of any crazy yet, but they’re out there somewhere.
“Hey, Anthony!” Abe’s off to the side of the road facing us with no fingers in the air.
We use fingers to stay silent as much as possible. One means there’s something around, be cautious, I don’t know where. Two means he’s seen one for sure. Three means he’s seen a few. Four means Abe’s seen a huge group. Five signals us that there’s a fight ahead. If Abe makes a zero, there are kids up ahead.
“Into the building on the right,” I’m pointing to dark brick building, “We’ll have an advantage there if we need to fight.”
We head into the building. It must have been an office building. It was big enough to hold all of us and our horses. Abe’s on the other side of the street, off his horse. He’s drawn out his silenced pistol, used in emergencies. Klaudia and Eddy are off their horses too, with their bows ready to unleash arrows. Jacob, Lexy, and I are in a triangle formation, ready with weapons to charge out on horses. We follow our rules, wait for a go or no go from Abe. We’re all focused on Abe, waiting to see what he’ll call. We’re standing there in silence, until Abe puts a single finger up. Since he called kids already, this meant there was a kid moving our way. We still wait for the second call to see what we do. I can hear the footsteps now. Abe’s eyes are like an eagles’. Without any signal, Abe rushes out of his building onto the open street.
“Damn it, Abe!” he’s never done this before, something must be wrong, “Everyone, move up!”
Klaudia and Eddy move behind us to reach their horses, while Jacob, Lexy, and I rush out. We turn out of the building and there’s a single kid laying on the street, dead. Abe’s already leaving, scouting the perimeter.
“What has he done?” I’m confused seeing what Abe has done.
“You’re right, Anthony. Should never mess with Abe,” John’s obviously amused, “Dang, did Abe do a great job!”
“Hey, Abe! Get back here. Now!” I’m a bit angry now.
“Quiet Boss,” Lexy telling me, staying calm, “We don’t want any more trouble.”
Just then, Abe turns around heading towards us. Abigail and Eddy are also heading towards us, with Abe’s horse too. When Abe reaches us, he doesn’t look happy or proud of himself. He looks scared.
“What the hell did you do?” I’m confused by the look he’s giving me.
“I swear I didn’t do anything,” He’s out of breath, pointing to the body, “She’s a scout from our camp!”
“He’s right. There’s an arrow wound on her. Abe doesn’t use arrows, and we didn’t shoot any.” Lexy is already searching the body.
“There was a note in her hand. It flew, and I ran for it,” Abe is handing me a piece of paper, “Here it is.”
I open up the note.
“There’s nothing but a drawing of our camp area. Wait. Why are there “x” on the guards at these towers?” I’m trying to understand the map.
“Weren’t we just at the south tower?” Eddy is pointing out curiously, “Abe you talked to them, didn’t you?”
“No. They didn’t ask me, so I thought they wanted you, Anthony,” Abe’s voice has fear in it.
I instantly turn my horse around. “Move! Something’s wrong. QUICKLY!”
“What is it?” Lexy is asking me. She never questions my orders.
“The guards at the south tower; they were leaning on the far side. I thought they talked to Abe too, but they didn’t. They didn’t even look at who was coming.” I’m anxious to leave as quickly as possible.
No one questions me anymore. They all saw what I saw. They all know what I’m thinking. The camp is in danger.
We rush our horses to the watchtower. Abe is no longer scouting up ahead. He’s beside me, telling me what he’s thinking. He doesn’t think there’s any danger to the camp, but he knows that something is up. I’m thinking of only one thing. Emma, please be okay. We reach the tower in a few minutes. The guards are still in the same position. Abe, Klaudia, and I climb up while the rest watch from the ground.
“There’s no sign of damage or sign of struggle,” Abe’s always looking for things that are out of place.
I noticed the same. Sawyer always checks his towers to make sure everything’s alright. There hasn’t been any report of threat from the towers before we left. As we reached the top, Abe and I check the bodies while Klaudia looks out.
“The bodies are cold” Abe says as he’s checking for a pulse, “dead long before this morning. Probably even longer than last night, but why weren’t there any reports from last night’s checkup?”
“Sawyer,” I say, “He’s in charge of the guards. They wouldn’t be suspecting him.”
“Anthony, listen to what you’re saying,” Abe sounds confused, “He’d never do this to his own guys. You’re making him sound…”
“Crazy,” I finish it for him, “Abe, he’s gone crazy.”
“Hey guys, There’s smoke coming from the camp,” Klaudia sounds panicked.
“It’s probably just the cooks with their cooking fire,” Abe doesn’t sound committed to his own words.
We head down the tower to the others. We tell them that we think Sawyer is behind the killings and the fire. Abe still doesn’t sound a hundred percent sure about the idea, but he knows it’s the only logical reason. We wait there at the tower for a moment, taking in everything that has just happened. Everyone is waiting in silence waiting for me to tell them what to do. My mind is occupied by images of what has happened and what might be going on as we stand here.
“The longer we stay, the longer it takes to stop whatever is going on,” Lexy says, in a calm voice.
“We might need these,” Jacob is holding two rifles, fixed with bayonets, “I knew they kept a few around the towers in case of emergencies.”
He hands them to Klaudia and Eddy. Eddy looks like a fool smiling at that gun, but I know he’s the best shot we got. Klaudia hands her gun to Jacob, telling him she’s better with her bow. Jacob offers the rifle to Lexy, who slings the rifle onto her back.
“Alright then, we’re set. Let’s move quickly. Anyone you’re not sure of, keep them away. Take no chances. We can only trust each other for the moment until things clear up,” I’m saying this with the most confidence I can, for I do not know if I’ll see them through this one, “Oh, and remember, DO NOT BE A HERO! Let’s move now.”
We set off toward Camp, and it’s not long before we reach what’s left of the camp. There’s not much to see from where we are, for the smoke is too thick here. We decide to keep following the walls of the camp to reach the gate. Some parts of the gate are ruined and torn down, but not enough to cross through with our horses. We’ve gotten into a tight formation, because of safety issues in the low visibility. If anyone is waiting for us in the sea of smoke, we’ll all be able to see the person, instead of just one person. Luckily, that’s something we didn’t come across before reaching the gate. The gates are wide open, but there’s no obvious signs of any prints leaving. The guards here are also laying on the ground like the ones at the southern tower. After going through our options, we decide to leave our horses and go on by foot. We grab our equipment from the horses and equip our long range melee. Abe is chosen his long sword, Klaudia has her javelin, Eddy with his new gun fixed with the bayonet, Jacob has his spear, Lexy with her trusty katana, and me with my halberd. We’re a bit more spaced out in here, but not by much, and no one seems to be bothered if someone’s too near to them. As of right now, I’m not sure what we’re doing in here.
“Hey, Abe…,” I’m struggling to talk in this situation, “Where…”
“Headquarters would be the way to go,” he’s a quick thinker, “But the armory wouldn’t be bad either.”
“Alright,” I see what Abe’s thinking, “Jacob, you take Eddy and Klaudia with you to the armory. Abe and Lexy, with me to headquarters.”
We’re all standing there for what seems like hours, just staring at each other’s faces. Eddy, being the flirt he is, is giving only the girls hugs goodbye, even though Klaudia’s going with him, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Jacob tells us good luck and he’s off with his team. I’m thinking to myself, I’ve either done the best option we had, or I might’ve just potentially killed half my team. I don’t think much before the smoke clears up, and Abe speaks.
“Aren’t you worried?” Abe asking.
“Naw,” I’m lying, “They’re one of us. They’re some of the toughest we have here.”
“Oh yeah. Sorry for doubting.” Abe saying, a bit more enthused.
We look around as the smoke clears. Most of the tents are burning, half the walls on the north side are gone, there’s blood all over, and the smell of burning flesh hits me before I notice the bodies dotting the camp. It’s a massacre. No one speaks, for everyone has seen what the other has. We start a fast jog to headquarters, and in no time, we’re there. There’s not much different in here than what’s out there.
We are greeted by blood stains everywhere on the floor of the reception room. Upon following the trails, we find bodies all against the walls, but these bodies are missing their lower half. On the other side of the wall, we find their lower halves, torn to smaller pieces. I feel like falling to my knees and crying, but if I do, there’d be no justice for what has been done.
“Abe,” No one’s looking at each other, but I know he’s listening, “You barricade that entrance and shoot anyone who tries getting in. Lexy, you take the south wing, and I’ll take the north wing. Look for survivors, but take no chances either.”
“I’ll help Abe, then go check the dining hall,” Lexy is already pushing a shelf to the block the entryway, “And Anthony, be safe. Please!”
She knows I’m a troublemaker alright, but I know she also means that she won’t be there to save me this time. I nod my head and set off into the sleeping quarters. I turn the corner, looking down a narrow hallway. I go from the first door on the right to the first on the left, then on and on. The first half is going just fine, until there is a sound from the next one I’m going to check. These doors open out into the hallway, so I can’t kick them in. I’m using my halberd to wedge the next two doors, and I have out my short sword for maneuverability in these tight spaces. I put my ear to the door. There’s no sound, but I’m sure I’ve heard something earlier. I grab the handle and take in a breath.
“On three,” I’m whispering to myself, “Three… two…ww”
I don’t finish counting before there’s a bang at the door. Then it goes quiet again, and I’m wondering if I’ve made it up. I finally throw the door open and rush in swinging my sword with my eyes closed. Taking no chances. After a minute of blind swinging, I open my eyes. There’s a rabbit in the corner, scared to death. It’s petrified and can’t move, so I leave it in there. I go on checking the rest of the rooms. Everything goes fine, but I’m always waiting for something to be standing there in the hallway behind the door as I close up the room. I finally reach the last room. It’s covered in so much blood that I barely recognized it. I come to this very room for half my days to spend time with the love of my life. This was Emma’s room.
I have no strength to do anymore planning. I enter the room like I have millions of times before. As I enter the doorway, there’s a scream from down the hallway.
“Anthony…Help!” It’s Abe from the reception area.
I lock the door behind me and without looking up; I know someone is in here with me. I sit on the couch and start crying. After a few minutes of listening to loud bangs and screams from the reception, I stand up and go straight to the bed. I cry and lay next to Emma. I turn around to face her; I knew she was already dead from the moment I entered. There’s a single bullet hole on the side of her head, a single gun laying on the ground, and a single empty cartridge next to it. I kiss her cold cheek and hold her cold hands. I close my eyes, I’m going through all the times we had together; the moments we had before this all happened and the great moments we had during this not so great of a time. I mostly remember the last time I saw her. She had just kissed me, and she was blushing. After I cry all my tears, I get out of bed and kiss her one last time on her beautiful lips. As I reach the door and turn the lock, Lexy opens the door and throws her hands around me.
“You’re okay!” And she’s kissing me, “I thought I was alone.”
“But Lexy…” I’m confused.
“Quiet Anthony,” She’s on my lips again, “I love you, Anthony!”
I’m not sure if she should’ve done that, but at that moment, it felt so good. Her lips and her body were so warm against mine. We were like that for a few minutes before she gets up.
“I’m sorry,” She’s apologizing, “I was just…”
I kiss her again to keep her quiet.
“They took Abe.” Lexy is back to her serious voice, “It was Sawyer.”
I’m rushing out of the room, grabbing my equipment. Lexy’s right behind me with her katana and she’s filled with a new energy.
We don’t get far before I find Abe. He’s lying on the ground with a pool of blood around him, and his guts are spilling out. I rush to him. He’s still there.
“Abe,” I’m terrified to see him like this, “You’re okay!”
“How long do I have?” It’s barely a whisper, “It hurts like hell, man”
“You’re good man. Just need a bit of work,” I’ve already have my sword ready.
“Ha! You’re a funny guy, Anthony,” He’s trying real hard to stay with me, “Sawyer went to the armory. You have to hurry. Oh yeah. Hey Anthony, take me “out” for a while, won’t you? Please, I won’t be long bef…ugh…thank you.”
I’m crying already. He knew what was coming. We have a code for death; “Take me out for a while.” He knew he wasn’t going to make it. He knew I was going to send him off. Even though I never had one, I loved him like I would a brother. Lexy pulls me up, and we head to the armory.
We run to the armory with all we have. There we meet two guards tearing at Klaudia’s guts. She’s either fainted or she’s already dead. Lexy and I quickly take out the two guards. I check Klaudia’s pulse and find none. I close her eyes and move into the building. Eddy is there in the corner with a dead guard. I pull the guard away as Lexy goes in to talk with Eddy. They’ve taken out Eddy’s eyes and have cut of an arm and a leg. Surprising how he’s still alive.
“Who’s there?” Eddy has the bayonet from his rifle in the good arm, “Stay back, or I’ll kill you too.”
“It’s me, Lexy, and Anthony’s here too,” Lexy’s keeping calm.
“I know that voice anywhere,” Eddy’s voice is happy, “Hey Cutie, why don’t you… how does it go again? Why don’t you take me out to dinner? That’d be nice, but I think it’s actually take me out for a while. Jacob went after Sawyer towards the gates. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to save Klaudia, but I’m glad you’re still…”
“You did great, Eddy,” and Lexy’s kissing him while driving her katana into him.
“Thanks Lexy, but I’m with Klaudia now…” And Eddy goes quiet.
Lexy stands up and runs out of the armory. I know she’s heading for the gate. I’m ready to drop to the ground, but right now, I’m ready to take Sawyers life.
We’re heading for the gates when we hear Jacob.
“Damn it! If anyone, not crazy, is listening to me, I’ve failed to watch over my team. I’ve failed Anthony, and now this crazy bastard is going to punish me,” He sounds unafraid, “Stop! Anthony you’re…, someone…help!”
Lexy stops and turns to the wall, where Jacob’s voice was coming from. There’s a loud bang of a gun followed by a silence. I turn and see a cloud of smoke. After the cloud disappears, Sawyer is standing there with a great big smile staring back at me. Lexy has drawn out the rifle Jacob had given her, but she’s shaking too much. I quickly grab the gun from her and take a shot at Sawyer, but miss. He’s trying to make a run now for the gate, and I’m running at an angle trying to cut him off. I’m running on anger now, and when we meet, it’s not pretty. I intersect him and pierce him with the bayonet right under the arms and toss him against the wall and pierce him again in the chest. He’s still has energy, so I take that away by cutting him again and again until he stops coming at me. Then, when he stares at me with his bloodshot eyes, I make a final pierce in his chest, and with the barrel of the gun at his heart, I pull the trigger. Sawyer stops moving all together at that moment and drops to the ground. I realize Lexy was right behind me the whole time. She steps up to Sawyer’s lifeless body and stabs him in the head. We both finally drop to the ground and cry.
I must’ve fallen asleep while crying because when I opened my eyes, it was a new day. Lexy has disappeared from my side, but luckily I find her covering something with tarp. I move over to her and find her covering up the team.
“I thought maybe we should burn them,” She’s back to her calm state, “so no one will be able to get a snack.”
“It’s sick how they could just eat flesh like nothing,” I feel like puking.
“I also brought out Emma’s body,” Lexy says this under her breath.
“Thank you, Lexy,” I almost forgot about Emma, “Thank you for being so thoughtful.”
We first burn the bodies of our friends, and then, we have breakfast. We spend the next few hours collecting the bodies of others into a big pile to burn. We have to start multiple fires before we were able to start the whole pile on fire. Lexy had gotten our horses from the gate last night and had released the rest. She also found more supplies for our next trip. She tells me she knows of a safe place not too far from camp, but far enough that we won’t be worrying about the camp anymore. After checking to make sure we had everything, we set off for her house.
It felt weird leaving that camp without Abe, Eddy, Klaudia, and Jacob. It was also a relief leaving the camp behind. Grief hit me when I realized that there was no Emma coming out today to see me out. Lexy must’ve caught me thinking about this.
“You still thinking about Emma,” she’s not asking a question.
“You’re not thinking about anyone?” I’m curious.
“I was able to say my farewells back there,” she’s talking about when we first split.
“Back there? When I sent them to their deaths?” I still haven’t forgiven myself.
“You did what you thought was right,” still no emotion in her voice, “You didn’t know what would be there. You at least told them something and not let them go wherever. Plus, if you hadn’t sent them there, we wouldn’t have been able to find them later.”
“I was trying to be a hero, Lexy.” I’m still mad at myself, “I wanted to save Emma, and I wanted to save the team, but I picked the wrong choice. My emotions got the best of me.”
“Look Anthony, we all knew you wanted to save Emma,” she sounds a bit irritated, “but none of us wanted to stop you. We all thought it was the right move or else we would’ve said something.”
“I guess you’re right,” still not totally convinced. “How far you think?”
“Until we reach my house? Um, we’ll probably reach it by noon, if we keep this pace.” she says.
“Well then, let’s move quicker. Don’t want to be late for lunch,” and I’m off.
We’re about half way there when Lexy decides to try to speak again.
“So, Anthony…we’ve been together for…a while now…haven’t we?” she sounds lost, “I mean, I really… how do I say? I really think…um… enjoy your company?”
“What? Was that a question or statement?” I’m surprised to see her like this.
“I was just…ugh…,” she’s lost and takes a huge breath, “I’m glad you made it. I’m sorry if I’ve been a douche to you. It’s just weird around you. Wait, that’s not what I meant. You’re not weird, I am. Wait, no…How have you been?”
“Really? You are asking me how I’ve been.” I’m remembering how she made me a fool for asking her what’s up, “Why don’t you try saying what you really want to say?”
“I…,” She’s lost already.
“Breathe,” I’m taking a huge breath to show her.
She takes a breath and chokes on her spit.
“Okay. Let’s stop for a bit,” I tell her as I’m getting off my horse.
I help her get off her horse and offer her my water. She’s having a tough time just looking at me. My mind instantly thinks of Emma when she’s blushing that day we left.
“Thank you,” she’s finally talking again, “you’re so sweet. Emma was lucky to have you all to herself. But is there a chance that…I don’t know…maybe you like me too?”
Now I’m choking a bit, “Are you talking about what happened in Emma’s room?
“Look, I’m just asking if you like me or not?” she sounds a bit mad now.
“To be honest, I don’t know how I feel,” I’m telling her the truth, “But I think I do… maybe. I mean you’re always there for me.”
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she sounds satisfied, “and for your info, I like you too. I enjoy being with you. I was so glad you choose me to be with you, but I’m sorry if I ever seemed scary. I was just trying to be tough so you’d think I was useful.”
“I’m glad too,” I feel closer to Lexy already, “But I always thought you saw me as a burden from the day you saved me.”
“I could never hate you. From that day I saved you, I thought of you as mine already, but then, you found Emma and tore my heart,” she’s getting emotional, “I grew up an only child, so even though you liked someone else, I felt I still needed to watch over you.”
“And I thank you for that,” I’m sincerely thanking her, “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.”
She smiles and hops back on her horse. I get on my horse too, and she takes off. It’s not too long before I catch up to her. This is a new beginning for the both of us.
We reach her house before noon, as planned. Lexy is half asleep on her horse that she barely noticed we reached her own house. I have to help carry her down from her horse. From there, I help carry her to the front door. She reaches up to the outdoor lamp and fumbles around looking for the key I assume. She stops and I have to reach for it while she’s asleep on my shoulder. I finally find the key and unlock the door. The door enters right into the living room with the kitchen/dinning room to the right and stairs on the left. There’s a layer of dust on everything, so I dust some off the sofa before laying Lexy down. I go back outside to grab our equipment and tie the horses to the lamppost. I come back inside and head into the kitchen to put the equipment down and find something for lunch. As I’m wiping down the counters, I find a photo book on one of the counters. It’s labeled “Family Photos”. I’m flipping to random pages. There’s a photo of young Lexy with who I assume to be her father; there’s one of her tenth birthday, another of her graduating primary school. And then I flip back a few pages and find a photo of Lexy’s birth. She’s all wrapped in a blanket, being held by her mother. You can tell it’s definitely Lexy, and the woman holding her; she looks familiar. My mind keep going back to that night before everything went wrong. I’m locking the door and heading upstairs and there’s Dad sleeping. It’s a bit blurry, but I can still remember. And in Dad’s hand; that’s my mother’s photo. She looks just like Lexy’s mother, but what are the odds. I’m thinking I’m losing it, until I flip towards the beginning. It’s the same picture Dad was holding that night. I find myself angry for the reason that my mother left me. I can’t control my anger. I can only think of one solution, I have to ask Lexy about this picture. I walk around the corner into the living room.
“Um, hey Lexy? Sorry to bother you but…” I drop the photo.
Lexy isn’t on the sofa anymore. She’s in the arms of a lady. The lady has those bloodshot eyes. Lexy’s covered in blood. She’s dead. She’s dangling lifelessly in the lady’s arms. The same lady in the photos. It’s so clear to me now.
“Mom! Why,” I’m broken, “Why do you have to ruin my life?”
“Anthony…sss…Anthony,” she saying my name and whispering others.
“You know how much pain I go through?” but it’s like talking to a wall.
“Anthony…why…” she doesn’t respond to my questions.
I drop to the ground, but I don’t cry. I don’t want to cry anymore. I don’t want to live anymore, in fact. I have nothing left. Lexy was all I had left. I loved Lexy, and I can’t tell her. I’m more furious than anything now. It’s all because of Mom. She ruined my whole life. She’s the reason I suffer. I grab my short sword at my side and stand up. I have nothing to lose. I run at Mother and she drops Lexy’s body. I push Mother, slamming her against the wall. I grab her collar of her shirt and jab my sword into her again and again. She’s trying to say something. I scream at her to speak louder. She listens to my command.
“Anthony, you’re crazy!” she’s sounds terrified, “Stop Anthony!”
I’m petrified, but my hands don’t stop digging in the sword into her stomach. Then in a split second, as I blink. Everything changes.
“Anthony stop!” it’s my dad’s voice, “Anthony, you’re crazy. Someone, Help!”
I’m back in the subway, but it’s not the same. Dad is laying against the ground and the train, like he’s been thrown there. I’m in front of Dad, and the sword is in my hand. The sword is being plunged into Dad’s guts again and again. I have no control.
“Anthony please stop,” Dad’s crying, “It’s me. You’ve gone crazy.”
I have no control over my body, but I’ve stopped. The blade is still in Dad’s guts. My hands start twisting the handle and in turn, so does the blade in Dad. Dad isn’t moving anymore and his eyes are still. There is blood everywhere. I turn my head to see where I am. There are bodies all over; a few bodies I recognize. Laying in the middle of the platform is the officer who got his eyes gouged out; Officer Eddy. In front of Eddy, there is a girl who he shot in the head; Emma. I’m getting a really bad headache now. My mind is playing in my head how the other’s died and in each one, I’m the killer. I ripped out Abe’s guts, I ate Klaudia, I shot Jacob, I stabbed and shot Sawyer, and I bled Lexy to death. I look around the subway and I spot each of their bodies lying around. I turn back to Dad. His torso is all mangled and his guts are spilling out. I look up into the window of the train and there is when I see the crazy man staring back at me. I almost didn’t recognize him, but after I looked past the bloodshot eyes, I realized he was me.