Howl of Time

3. Another Chance

I had a dream. In my dream, I walked across barren wastelands, broken and crumbling cities, poison filled marshes, and all manner of hazardous environments. The horrors I witnessed no matter where I went stained my mind.

When people lose hope and every day is a struggle to stay alive, lines between right and wrong suddenly vanish and without the concept of law and order, one doesnt have to look far to find the darkness humanity had been suppressing for millennia. The world howled with anger, the screams of the less fortunate played on repeat, night after night, leaving those listening to wonder when they would be next.

”Please… I want to wake up… I want to wake up. ” The middle aged man sitting in the corner of our makeshift camp had lost his mind and repeated those words on a endless loop in the days following the apocalypse. He only managed to survive this far due to an upstanding young man who rallied what survivors he could find together. Of the 12 people gathered together, 3 were elderly, 3 were insane and the rest, including myself, were physically and mentally exhausted.

”Somebody shut him the hell up already!!! ” A woman in her early 30s had finally lost her patience with the man. ”I swear if we have to go another night with his whimpering, Ill bludgeon his skull with a rock! ”

A young girl that looked to be around 18 or 19 years old stepped forward to try to calm down the angry woman. ”Miss please, just give him some more time. Not everyone is able to adjust to our new reality so easy. ” She paused, clasping her hands to her chest. ”I know we are all exhausted, but if we start fighting amongst ourselves, then humanity might really end. For all we know, we are the last ones in this world left alive. ”

This kind girls name was Myra. She was often the encouraging voice in the group. You wouldnt immediately tell by looking at her dirty and worn appearance that she was definitely a beautiful girl. Which in this new world might actually be a curse.

”Thats right, Cynthia. We need to get along and give him and the others the time they need to cope. Those beasts have been stalking us for days, waiting to pick off any stragglers. If we start conflict with ourselves they may take that opening to tear us to shreds. ” The one who spoke up after Myra was Donovan. He is the upstanding man, in his early 20s, whos been leading us since a few days ago, managing to keep us together since the start of this disaster.

Cynthias eyes shook at the thought of being eating by the beasts and decided to back down quietly. The fire crackled as silence descended the camp for a brief moment before a young man named Ethan in his early 20s spoke up. ”Donovan, what are we going to do now? Its been 5 days since this apocalypse began and we havnt found any other survivors, plus 6 people have already been eaten so… ” Ethan put his face to his knees and his face darkened as he remembered each death.

Donovan was silent in thought. Its true that our situation was not good. The airport where we started was 10 miles away from the outside of the city. Each day we made some progress and you would think we could cover 10 miles in a day, however we had to move slowly, not just because of the danger, but because several members of our group were quite feeble. ”Young man, you should leave us behind. We are too old to make this journey through such danger and you will all be held back by us. There may be hope for you youngins to survive but theres really no point for us. Even if we did survive the journey back to the city and we manage to find people we would still be a burden, we can no longer have children and we cant perform labor. Please think of yourselves. ” An elderly woman named Rose who gave you that ”caring grandmother ” vibe spoke up and told Donovan. The other elderly woman and an elderly man who sat next to Rose nodded in approval of her words.

Donovan had insisted on not leaving them behind before we had left the airport, much to the chagrin of some of the others among us. He bit his lip and then answered back to her, ”Its okay, we are very close to city limits now. in the morning, we will make our final push and get there safely. We will definitely get.. ”

Before he could finish his words a series of howls pierced our ears. The walls of the barn we made our camp in vibrated from the sound. ” ”Eek! ” ” the survivors exclaimed in fright. ”D-d-don panic. They dont know we are in here. As long as we stay quiet until sunrise they will probably pass us by. ” Donovan said to calm us down.

I looked at the barn door, thinking about how that flimsy wooden thing wouldnt be able to withstand a single hit from the claws of one of those things. My mind wondering how I went from a college student a week ago to a slab of meat waiting to be devoured today. Once the howls stopped, silence enveloped us once again. No one dared make a sound, but that didn mean any of us could sleep either.

The sun had risen and light peeked through the walls of the barn. Donovan was the first to get up and began checking our surroundings through the slits in the wooden planks. ”Looks like we
e clear, everybody get ready to move. ”

He pushed the barn door open and slowly we emerged from the barn. I walked out alongside the others and covered my eyes to shield them from the brightness of the sun. Next to the barn was a old truck, though I wish we couldve used it to get us all to the city quicker but the few people who tried to escape the airport by vehicle had quickly died as the sound of the engines had attracted the attention of the beasts and they were killed easily as some of the beasts outside were faster and strong enough to flip the vehicles over. At that time none of us had any hope of driving to our destination, instead opting for moving quietly on foot.

We had managed to find food and water in the farmhouse on this property but no one wanted to spend the night inside due to the corpses that we found there.

We moved down the road, everyones eyes open and alert for danger. Wed been followed for a few days by a type of beast that resembled large mutated dogs. They were at a size comparable to a tiger but didnt approach us while we were in a group. Instead moving cautiously and picking off anyone who strayed. One man walked off to take a piss and got himself silently snatched away and the mans wife who went to check on him earned the same fate. Her screams attracted another man who tried to play hero and was killed as well. from that point forward the group never separated.

We walked and pushed onward at a snails pace. Myra walked beside me and asked ”Jason, do you think we will find people there… the city, I mean. ” She was scared and I could tell but I think she was trying to get me to open up and talk more than anything. I had been staying silent for most of our journey only speaking when necessary. But this time I decided to answer.

”I think there will be. I dont know why everyone suddenly died but the fact that we survived means theres a good chance others did as well… ” I paused for a moment before continuing to speak. ”And those monsters… I think those were local animals, like pets and wildlife from the area that may have mutated. ”

Myras eyes opened wide and her body shook. ”Y-y-you mean those dog monsters that have been following us, m-might have been someones pets? ” she shuddered at the thought. Of course this was only my conjecture.

It had been strange since the start. The first thing that happened that day was that people started collapsing with blood coming out of thier eyes and ears. We spent a day in the airport with the survivors panicking and trying to call thier loved ones only to realize thier communicators were offline. When people tried to leave by vehicle, a large elk-like creature with bloody antlers flipped the first car and began devouring the people inside. I had seen others such as large rat types, dogs, cows, and even a monster that appeared to be a squirrel with red eyes and fangs the size of kitchen knives.

Myra didnt ask anything else, likely afraid of hearing my answers. Donovan led the group and we had been walking for hours when he suddenly turned to us, ”Hey I think we are only an hour away now! We
e almost there! I can see the buildings of district 3. ” And once again after he opened his mouth with words of optimism… A buzzing sound filled our ears.

What we saw from the approaching sound filled us with terror. A giant fly with bloody claws was flying toward our group. ”Oh my god! ” ”W-what the ** is that?! ” ”Run! ” the group began to panic. It was a single fly and its size was approximately the size of a washing machine, two claws covered in dried blood arched forward like a raptor.

Donovan tried to rally everyone to stay calm but a few people ran ahead of the group as fear gripped them. The remaining survivors who stayed behind included myself, Donovan, Myra, Ethan, Cynthia and the elders. I gripped a tire iron in my hands and Donovan held a baseball bat. Cynthia held a kitchen knife but was shaking badly and Myra and Ethan had spears that were crudely fashioned from broom handles.

”Kids, you should all make a run for it. Let us distract it so you youths can flee. ” Rose and the elders behind her, even though I could see how frightened they were, somehow they seemed to stand taller than the rest of us.

I know Im a coward and I was almost about to flee immediately, but… When I heard Rose say those words… ”Old lady, just shut your damn mouth! ” I held my tire iron up and looked at Donovan. He was surprised by my words but we nodded at each other in understanding. Theres no way either of us could let such grandparents become a snack.

(I mean, **… I cant help but see my grandma overlapping with her somehow.)

”Crazy! Y-you want to fight that thing?! ” Cynthia stammered and backed away. Donovan and I stood forward. My legs were shaking so bad, I thought I might collapse.

The fly got closer and closer until it was right on us. Donovan swung his bat once the fly entered his strike zone, but it dodged to the side and tried to zig zag around him. I mustered up the courage to swing my tire iron only for it to be met with the flys claw. A sound of metal striking against metal echoed out.

Donovan stepped in and swung his bat again but instead of dodging this time the fly counter attacked and cleaved the bat in half. Donovans eyes opened wide in surprise as the claw stuck into his shoulder. ”Ahhhhh!!! ” He shouted in pain as the fly prepared another strike against him. I frantically swung my iron down and managed to hit the joint of the arm the claw was connected to.

Unfortunately the battle was not over. Ethan and Myra in the back hadn moved yet out of fear and Cynthia had fallen on her butt and was crawling backward at the sight of Donovan getting wounded, fear plastered on her face.

The fly rebounded from my attack and decided to switch targets. It zigzagged around me and Donovan and went after Myra, its remaining claw lifted up ready to strike. I tried to swing on it as it passed but it nimbly evaded it.

Myras eyes bulged in panic. Death only moments away from her. Everything seemed to slow down at that moment. I was sure she would die. But once again the bravery of the elders showed itself at that moment. Rose had thrown herself toward Myra pushing her and what came next…

The claw arched at Rose and at that moment I thought I saw her smile… before her head fell off her shoulders. If there was ever a moment that felt like eternity it was that one. ” ”Rose!!!!! ” ” Everyone shouted the heros name simultaneously. Myra sat wide eyed on the ground, blood spattered across her face.

Having just killed one of its prey the fly buzzed in delight. There was no time to think, we had to kill this thing! If we didnt we would surely follow Rose. Donovan and I lunged forward, moving solely on instinct. The fly lifted its claw once again, aiming to finish off its original prey… Myra. Me and Donovan were too slow to reach her as were the other elders.

The flys claw descended but this time a spear impaled its body and the person wielding that spear… Ethan, who moments before could not move from fear and only watched had finally stepped up. Tears rolled down his face, his body trembled as he struggled to hold the wooden spear lodged inside the fly.

The fly swung its claw madly at Ethan coming only inches from his neck. Ethan held on desperately trying to keep it at bay. I found an opening and finally connected a hit with my iron, knocking the fly off the spear and stunning it as it hit the ground. I pounced and hit it over and over again. Each hit making a squelching sound that would make someone with a full stomach vomit on the spot.

What remained of the fly was now motionless and the only sounds heard were the sobbing coming from Myra as she kneeled next to the body of Rose. No one spoke. What can be said after going through such an ordeal. We needed a moment to come to our senses. But… the world is cruel…

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