Oak Ridge Apocalypse : Dusk of Man


by W.H. Gilmore

1:30pm, September 10, 2016

Jack Brooks peered out the front window through the blinds of his home.  The large group of shambling figures was still milling about.  They had only been out there for about ten minutes.  He had nearly gotten the kids ready to leave before they showed up.  Now he would never be able to get the kids to the car safely.  He could see it, just thirty feet from the front door, but it may as well have been thirty miles for all the good it would do his family.

Jack missed his wife, Rebecca.  He hadn’t seen her in a week.  She never returned home from work, or even called to say she had run into trouble.  He had only waited this long to give her time to get back.  Now it looked as if he couldn’t even get his three young kids out of the house.  At least those things seemed content to stay outside.  For the moment they weren’t trying to get inside.  He glanced back and saw little Ethan playing with some colored blocks by the sofa, stacking them in his approximation of a tower.   Ethan had just turned two the day before, and it hurt Jack’s heart that he couldn’t even give his baby a birthday cake.  With the power out they couldn’t cook anything, and the food in the fridge was starting to turn.  The food in the freezer might still be edible, but it all needed to be heated up in some way first.  All the crackers, chips and other snacks found in homes with small children were long gone.  Along with that the house phone was dead and the cell phone circuits stayed tied up.  He gave up trying to call out because his battery was nearly dead.  He had no way of recharging it.

Ben, his ten-year-old, was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, looking at him expectantly.  Ben still looked at him as boys often see their fathers – as all powerful and invincible.  He trusted his father completely.  Even still, Jack could see the worry and lack of sleep showing in his son’s eyes.

“Son, where’s your sister?” he asked quietly.

“I don’t know,” Ben replied.  He was clutching furtively at his shirt, likely unaware that he was doing it.

Sarah was the free spirit.  Being confined to the house for a week with no power, no entertainment to take her mind off of things, and her mother missing with no explanation, was the hardest on her.  It was a lot for an eight-year-old girl to cope with.  They heard a small scream come from the kitchen, and the back door slamming shut.  Jack started that way, but Sarah came bolting into the living room and ran into his arms.  He heard a sharp thud coming from the back door.

“I didn’t mean to,” she cried as she hugged him.

“What didn’t you mean to, honey?” he asked.

“I just wanted to go outside for a minute,” she stammered.

“What do you mean you wanted to go outside?  Did you open the back door?”  Then something slammed into the back door again and they heard the tinkling of broken glass.

“It’s not my fault,” she cried defiantly.

“Did you go outside?” he asked again more sternly.

“Only for a minute, but they weren’t looking,” she said.

Just then the front door shook from another something hitting it hard.  Jack went back to the window and saw four shadowy figures on the porch, and more were on their way.

“We have to go upstairs now,” he told the kids.  He scooped up little Ethan who started crying for the loss of his leaning tower of blocks.  “Go up to Ben’s room now,” he directed the kids.   Another thud shook the front door violently.  He heard the door frame splinter.

Jack herded the kids up the stairs as the front door exploded inward.  Zombies stumbled in the door and turned towards the stairs.  He watched as the first one started to climb clumsily up the stairs.

“Ben, take Ethan,” he said, handing the baby to his son.  “Go to your room and shut the door.”

“Are you coming?” Ben asked.  He was trying hard not to cry.

“Just go,” he said again.  “And do not open that door, no matter what you hear, do you understand me?”

“Please come with us,” Ben pleaded.

“Promise me you will not open that door,” Jack demanded.

“Don’t leave us daddy,” Sarah begged.

“Promise me!” Jack yelled.

Ben couldn’t speak, he just nodded.

“Now go,” Jack said again.  He looked back and saw the first zombie gaining the top landing.  “I don’t have time to argue with you.”  With that he unceremoniously pushed his children into the bedroom and shut the door.

The last time Ben saw his father alive, he was turning to face the zombies as the door clicked shut.  His dad shouted, “Leave my family alone!”

Ben hugged little Ethan tighter to his chest.  Ethan’s crying had subsided to sniffles, his little tower of blocks having been forgotten.  Sarah looked back and forth from Ben to the door, tears running down her face.

Outside the door they heard the scuffling of feet and their dad’s grunts.  They heard fists hitting flesh and bodies colliding with the walls.  The scuffling grew fainter as it got farther down the hall, away from the bedroom.  Their dad cried out in pain.  Then they heard the loud thuds of several bodies falling down the stairs.  But, then there was silence.

Ben could feel Sarah pressed against him as they stood in the back corner of his bedroom, not knowing what to do.

A few moments passed and Sarah asked, “Is daddy okay?”

“I don’t know,” Ben replied, listening to the quiet after the storm.

“Is he coming back?”

“I don’t know.”

“I want mommy,” Sarah sniffled.

“So do I,” Ben said as he hugged her closer.

Then, a faint shuffling sound came from outside the bedroom door, like feet dragging on carpet, like somebody building up static electricity to shock you.

“Daddy!” Sarah cried out.

“Shh,” Ben hissed.

Sarah started towards the door and said, “I want daddy.”

“Sarah, no,” Ben admonished her.

Sarah screamed as the bedroom door crashed open.  A zombie came shuffling in.  It turned to face the children and moaned.  Chills ran down Ben’s spine at the sound.  He looked frantically around for a way of escape, but there was none.

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