“I ran. The snowy skies muffled the sounds, but I could still hear the screams. I knew what they were, I knew exactly what it was, and I thought that maybe… maybe I could stop it. But something in me just refused to accept that, and before I knew it I was sprinting as fast as I could. I had to get away.”

Everyone’s eyes stared straight at me as I continued to talk. The campfire provided a small warmth to an otherwise cold world. “Everything I had was back with them. All I had on me were the medical supplies I scavenged an hour or so earlier. For the month before the attack, I was a sort of supply runner for my group. I made almost daily runs into small nearby neighborhoods and towns. I didn’t even carry a weapon. My only defenses were my strong legs and huge lungs. You could never forget the things I saw in these towns…so many group suicides… decimated military operations…and it didn’t help that I had to searches homes, either. When I first started out, I used to look at old family portraits and photos on tables and mantles…I still can’t sleep when I think of them.

All I wanted was for things to go back to the way they were…and when I’d bring back special oddities to the fort…it almost felt like we all went back in time. Once, I even found an old board game. You’ve never seen adult men and women get this excited over a children’s game before.”

“After I was too tired to run anymore, I found an old shed to sleep in. I listened to my headphones that night, even though it was the last of the battery. I needed something to drown out the screams in my head…I’ll never forget those sounds…no matter how hard I try. But at the same time…those scars changed me. I used to be afraid….so afraid. Of what? I don’t even know. But nothing scared me more than dying alone…in some cold, abandoned house. If there was just one other person out there…maybe I didn’t have to be afraid anymore. So I left town. I needed to find someone. So for the next few years, that’s pretty much how things went. I’d go from town to town, sleeping in empty houses, scavenging what I could here and there–”

A strange noise was heard in the distance. One of the older men listening doused the fire, and the sentries stood up to begin their nightly patrols. I moved into my tent to wait for my night shift to begin.

Several survivors finally returned to the camp with fire wood just as the sun was setting. After the trip wires had been set, everyone gathered around their respective campfires. The floor was mine. I hadn’t finished my story yet.

“So…I think I was explaining my living conditions for the next five years. I’d go into abandoned homes and take whatever useful things I could find, usually canned foods. It was just when the leaves were starting to turn brown that I found this quaint little Cape Cod home. The door was barred, so I had to go in through the window. I couldn’t hear any feet shuffling, or other noises, so I was pretty sure the home’s former residents were long gone.

The inside of the house was torn apart almost entirely…some sort of major struggle clearly took place. The cabinets and shelves where completely devoid of goods, in fact, the whole home was. After I finally searched the first floor, I headed upstairs. The first door I came to was closed. I put my ear to the wall to see if I could hear anything and I decided to go in…it was untouched. A chilled breeze rolled in through the window, blowing the transparent white drapes like phantoms. Two rainbow-colored small cribs sat on opposite sides of the room. The wall paint was unfinished…one of the mobiles slowly turned. I closed the door gently, and left through the window I came in. They say it was the judgment of God, this whole thing. And I used to think the Devil finally got to us…But no being, real or not, could  cause this kind of darkness.”