NEW YORK CITY
New York City fostered some of the most architecturally exquisite infrastructures in the world. The buildings that once reached to the skies, now barely stood a few feet tall. The remaining enacted structures had pieces falling towards the streets, leaving massive indentations in the war-ridden streets. Sheets of darkness covered the skies in every direction. There was no sign of life except for a woman, Trish, her daughter, Abby along with a few other survivors.
The winds echoed with the screams of the thousands of departed souls. Numerous abandoned cars filled the inner-city streets and interstates. The once vibrant city had become a snapshot of an apocalyptic scene. The aroma of engine fluid and gasoline filled the surrounding areas, making the lonely warriors’ trek extremely difficult. Trish’s group made their way through one of the world’s biggest graveyards in order to find any remaining signs of life, and she hoped to find a safe place. Trish found staying alert was difficult with the city had possessed a disorientating essence.
“Abby, keep going baby. You have to keep going. And you will not stop!” Trish tried to urge Abby to continue, but her little one couldn’t move anymore.
“Momma, where are we supposed to go?” Abby fought back her tears, yet she was unsuccessful. The whispers of the others in the group drowned out her mother’s reply. Abby began to panic, and her breathing became erratic and uncontrollable.
“Abby is right. Where are we supposed to go, Trish?” She turned around, and saw that Tim Stevenson had asked the sarcastic question.
“Tim, anywhere that is safe.” Trisha answered. He rolled his eyes with disapproval of her answer. Trish saw that he didn’t agree with her plan, yet she didn’t care because the only person that she worried about was Abby. She couldn’t believe how far that Tim had fallen since the attack. She remembered him as the most energetic spokesperson she heard, and she loved how he delivered messages of hope on Sundays.
“I don’t know. We just have to get away from the city. I do know that we can’t stay here anymore, and we can’t let them find us,” Trish attended Abby, who started having a panic attack. Trish was determined to comfort Abby, but she found it difficult because Abby’s attack worsened as time passed.
“Breathe, baby. Slow your heartbeat and breath.” Trish rubbed Abby’s back. She prayed Abby’s nerves calmed.
“Why, momma? Do they want to hurt us?” Abby ran into her mother’s arms due to the fear of the mysterious predator.
“Baby, I have no idea. I do know that if they find us baby, they will try to separate us. You need to know that I won’t let that happen.” Trish firmly hugged Abby, not letting her daughter move an inch.
“Momma, I am really scared.” Abby locked eyes with her mother, and she channeled her mother’s strength.
“My Abby,” Trish kissed Abby’s forehead.
“Momma, I will protect you. I am strong.” Abby stood tall for her mother to see.
“Baby girl, you are powerful because you are my daughter.” Trish gathered Abby and her belongings, and she motioned to the others to continue moving.
They continued their pursuit to find a safe area. None of them had seen any other survivors. They had been running in between the debris of fallen buildings, catching sight of the hundreds of abandoned vehicles on the streets, and avoiding what appeared to be falling brush fires from the sky. The ash from the tree fires filled the air, creating a non-breathable environment for them.
“Momma, why did people leave these cars?” Abby pointed to the abandoned vehicles.
“Well, baby, they had to leave them. They left them the day the light appeared in the sky, remember?” explained Trish. Her inner monologue started to rush through her head, ‘How are we going to get through this? Oh my God, I don’t know what to do. Who were those things? I can’t let my baby hear the fear in my voice. Who are the ones in cloaks? I don’t think that we are going to survive.’
All the emotions and thoughts washed over Trish, leaving her feeling disorientated. A wave of fear paralyzed everyone, hearing the impact of burning debris hit the ground. The shock waves spread throughout all of the remaining areas. The survivors stood still, reminiscing of what once was. An entire flaming tree crashed down in front of their eyes, which forced them to scramble. The impact of the tree threw Trish into the side of an abandoned vehicle.
“Momma! You’ve been hit! You have burns on your arms! Momma! We need to get you some help!” Abby tried to examine her mother’s injuries, but Trish shielded the horror from Abby’s innocent eyes.
“Honey, listen to me. You have to stay calm, and be quiet. They will hear you. Do not worry about me,” Trish hushed Abby.
Out of the corner of Trish’s ear, she heard, “Will you tell your daughter to shut up?” She immediately came to Abby’s defense as a lioness readied to pounce on her prey.
“No one will speak to my daughter. You have a problem then you can leave.” Trish stood ahead of the group, and she wait for a response.
Trish heard a faint whisper, “Abby.” She turned to see which one whispered Abby’s name, yet she found nothing. She examined the area for any indication of a new survivor. Trish only saw the same individuals that she had been with the entire time.
“What the hell?” She thought that she had started going crazy. Her felt that her fear started turning into extreme paranoia. She took another step, and she heard the same faint whisper, “Abby.” Trish braced herself for a fight, yet she was left standing against herself.
“Momma, what’s wrong?” Abby stared at her mother.
“Oh, nothing baby. Keep moving.” Trish felt horrible for lying to Abby, but she knew that she would make the situation worse had she mentioned hearing a ghostly voice.
“Abby.” The voice materialized within the somber mists. Trish about-faced to catch the culprit, and what she found left her speechless. She squinted her eyes to see if what she saw was real. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
She bored into the eyes of a mysterious boy. She was in disbelief. The boy didn’t look over the age of seventeen years old.
“Hello?” Trish tried to gain the boy’s attention, yet he didn’t respond. The boy’s face was inconclusive. Trish became relentless with finding out the boy’s identity.
“Abby.” The boy mourned for Trish’s ears, which forced her to cease her pursuit. She stood face-to-face with the boy, and all she saw was his pajamas he was wearing. She saw glimmers of blue markings on the boy’s face, hands and arms.
“What are you?” She rushed over to the boy with the sight of a falling, burning bush.
“Watch out!” Trish lunged to rescue the boy, however; she passed through his corporeal body, and she crashed into the ground. She whipped around to see if the boy had survived, but there was no evidence of anyone being there. Trish became a firm believer that her mental instability and delusions have won, and she had officially lost her mind.
Henri suddenly woke from a deep slumber, and jolted him self out of bed. He felt disorientated from his dream. He tried to focus his sight onto a stationary object so that he could regain focus. His senses were on high alert, and he continued to hear the screeching sounds of falling debris, and the whimpering screams of the survivors from his dream.
He felt the droplets of sweat coursing down his face and back, and the aroma of burnt tar was lingering in his nostrils. He knew that his equilibrium was off balance, which left him feeling as though he had spilt him self into two. One name continued to mull over in his mind, and he couldn’t take the throbbing migraine from the recycling of the name, so he tried to relinquish her from his thoughts, “Abby!”
His mother ran into the room, “Honey, what’s wrong? Why are you screaming?”
“Where is she? Abby!” Henri locked eyes with his mother, and for a second, she didn’t recognize who was looking back at her.
“Henri, calm down. Please, stop screaming.” His mother stared at him while she held back tears. Henri freed himself from the trance when he realized that he was sitting on the edge of his bed. His mother stared at him, alarmed and confused. Henri became annoyed at his mother for still starring at him.
“Honey, you’re all wet. Your heart is racing. What is wrong, Henri? And, Who is Abby?” She examined Henri from head to toe to find anything that explained why he screamed bloody murder.
“I…. have…. no idea,” his disorientation forcedly pulled his attention from the present reality. He realized that Abby was the little girl who was in his dream. For a second, Henri contemplated whether or not he knew her. Henri snapped out of his bewilderment, and he scanned his entire room to regain a sense of where he was. He noticed that he was looking at the poster his parents gave him for his tenth birthday, of his favorite comic book character, Phoenix. For as long as he could remember, Henri wished that he could be like her. He didn’t want the responsibility of having a cosmic influence because he could barely handle doing his morning chores, but he loved the idea of escaping from his reality. His mother did love to remind him constantly. He did, however, wish that he could to somewhere new. He wished that he could fly away.
Henri had a wave of thoughts rush into his head, ‘was that? A dream? It felt like I was watching a movie. It was not normal. I could feel the mother’s pain of losing her daughter. The little girl was ripped away from my fingers as well as her mom’s. I could also hear the voices of the people running around, searching for sanctuary. All of the panic and fear came over me as if I was the one experiencing this terrible event. I could feel the heat on my skin. The scent of burnt concrete was nauseating; and I could feel the adrenaline as if it was still pumping through my veins. What is happening to me? I didn’t watch any scary movies last night. Maybe, I ate something bad.’
“Are you okay, Henri? Your screaming terrified me. I have never heard you scream like that before,” his mother pulled him into her arms if it was her first time holding her child.
“Mom, would you stop it. I don’t need a hug right now. I’ll be okay. It was just a nightmare…. that’s all,” he readied him self for bed. He was not in the mood to discuss what he had just experienced, and he didn’t want to hear how church could make him feel better.
“A nightmare? About a girl named Abby?” She continued to examine him to see if he had hit his head on anything; maybe that would explain what her son was saying to her.
“Henri, you are really worrying me. You have become distant, and we don’t talk anymore. What is going on with you?” His mother instantly started crying at the thought of her son pulling away from her. She stood up front his bed, and she started to walk towards the door. When she reached the threshold, Henri stopped her,
“You know me, Mom. I just love those Indie horror flicks. I can’t get enough of them.” Henri mumbled under his breath so she didn’t hear him.
“Um. Mom,” Henri stopped himself from telling her his secret, but he the internal struggle again, and the idea of telling his mom terrified him. There had been so many times that he wanted to just say the words, but every time, Henri found an excuse not to tell her. He looked at his alarm clock, and he noticed that many minutes passed, and he needed to get his mother to leave.
“There is something that I want to say, but I don’t know how you will take it.” He slowly glanced at her to see her expression. For a moment, Henri told himself that he decided to tell his mother. He didn’t want his fear to get in his way anymore. He went to say three simple words, yet his fear popped its ugly head in, and Henri shut his mouth before he said anything to his mother. He hated the idea of not telling her the truth because he knew how much pain that she was feeling because his dad was gone, and he knew that she had a problem with blaming her self for his withdrawal. Henri knew that his secret was the reason for the dissolution of their relationship.
“You need to get some sleep. Your first day of school is tomorrow, and I don’t want you to be exhausted. If you need me, come and get me.” She walked over to him, and kissed him on the forehead. To re-assure his mom, Henri smiled, and he uttered, “Night, Mom. I’ll see you in the morning.” He hated how things were anymore, and he knew that things would change when he told his mother the truth. He wasn’t ready for the possibility of losing his mother.
“Good night, Henri.” She left the room, and returned to her room. Henri sat in his bed, replaying the dream in his mind. He wondered what was happening in his dream. Everything about the dream felt unbelievably real. For what seemed like hours, his thoughts of Trish and Abby raced in and out of his thoughts.
Henri wished that his dad could be with him. He knew that his dad would listen to him. His thoughts returned to his dream. Henri wondered about the light Trish had mentioned. He didn’t know why the city was abandoned, and there were almost no other people around. He couldn’t stop asking himself what had happened. Yet, he was intrigued by whom or what the light was, but a part of him didn’t entirely want to know the identity of the light either. He remembered the smells and the sounds. The eerie chills that filled the city’s rubble, and Henri felt an enormous presence in the city.