Excerpt for The End Days of Earth: Pilot by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The End Days of Earth

Pilot- No Return

By: C.A.Jarest

Do you remember where you were on the day everything fell apart? The Day people started the countdown. When life as we knew it crumbled and fell into chaos. When the reality, that the human race had an expiration date hit us in the face? We as a people could no longer plan for the following year or many years to come. We now live second by the second and minute by minute. The future, our future, had a deadline. A finite end, to all humanity, in hellfire and the mighty fury of the cosmos will engulf Earth. An asteroid made of the thickest metal known to mankind was on a direct collision course with Earth. The official name of the killing asteroid, as dubbed by the Government, is Embargo. A year ago today is when it all began. I can still remember the exact time and date of when the world found out. A best laid secret kept from the people. What were they thinking? Secrets and the Government are never a good combination. The governments’ secrets somehow always find a way to the front page of the newspaper, no matter how desperately they try to keep them from the public.

You don’t realize how quickly things fall apart when people stop going to work. You suddenly recognize how much we as a society rely on the things we have made and created. That we as a whole, no longer rely on Mother Nature, Earth was simply dirt beneath our feet to step on. That we as a people have grown apart from Mother Nature in our corrupt ways.

With no one going to work, it’s a slap across the face as to how fast society broke down and how everything became chaos. In all the books and movies created about all the horrors of Hell on Earth. They do not even come close to what it is like to live in Hell on Earth; to experience it firsthand. To watch as loved ones are killed, innocence no longer exists, only the damned and evil walk free.

I can still hear the news anchor’s voice ringing in my ears, as if I were hearing the news again for the first time.

Day 365:

We have a year to live. A year before what the government is calling a killing asteroid will collide with Earth. They have named the asteroid Embargo.” Those words ring the loudest in my head even to this day. After that everything was different.

Justin! Lucas! Mom! Where are you?” I shouted out in the darkness of the house. I shuffled my feet slowly on the floor, not sure where the furniture was anymore. Cody, the family dog, a 3 year old German shepherd and Rottweiler mix, followed me.

Shh, we’re down here.” Justin, one of my younger brothers said in a hushed voice. They were down stairs in the basement of the house. Cody trotted around as I made my way to the stair case.

“Do you have a flash light?” I whispered back.

“Lucas is looking for them honey. You’re almost there.” My mother said to me. Just then I heard a noise. It sounded like glass breaking. Cody was at my side now and he was growling. I could feel goose bumps cover my body as a cold sweat started. I stopped walking. Again the sound of a window breaking echoed in the stillness of the eerie darkness. My breathing quickened as I now heard footsteps in the living room.

Hurry up Sandra, they’re coming.” My mother told me in a commanding voice. I knew they were coming, but I couldn’t move. With all my effort and muscles in my body I couldn’t seem to move my legs anymore. Cody really started to growl now. Another set of footsteps echoed in the living room.

This way.” I heard a masculine voice say. Horror and sheer fear struck me down to my bones.

“I found a flash light.” I heard Lucas say as he turned it on. Light shinned up the stair case and into the kitchen, showing the intruders where I was and my family.

Turn it off!” Justin said in an angry hushed voice as he turned the light off. That gave me enough light and courage to finally bolt towards the door and down the stairs.

In there look!” I heard one of the men say as I grabbed the door knob.

Cody come!” I shouted at him as I slammed the door and locked it behind me. I stood holding tightly to the door knob as I looked at my family. The men on the other side of the door tried turning the knob.

“They locked it.” One of the men said.

“We’ll break it down.” The other one said. I heard them walk away in search of tools to break down the door.

Where’s dad?” I asked as my voice came back and my nerves started to settle a little. Cody was standing at my feet growling at the door.

“He went to the prison to get some things. He said he’d be back shortly. He should have been here already.” My mother sounded concerned as she looked at her wrist watch. I could hear the intruders walking back to the door.

Justin, Lucas, go find some weapons to defend ourselves.” I told them.

Good idea.” Justin said as he pulled Lucas down the stairs into the basement.

We don’t keep weapons down here Sandra.” My mother told me as I turned to the door and gripped the door knob even harder now. I knew the men on the other side were going to break through and when they did, we would need to fight them off.

I know mom, but these men are going to hurt us.” I told her in a soft voice. My mother was a gentle person, not one mean bone in her. Things were different now; we were going to need to be tough.

Just then the men on the other side of the door started their assault on the door. The edge of an axe tore a small crack in the hard wooden door. Wood chips started to fall on my head. I could feel the impact of the axe against the wood in my bones.

Sandra, we found some.” I heard Justin shout. I looked at my brother. They had found a metal bat, a pool cue and some ice skates.

Perfect.” I told them. An axe broke through the top half of the door now. They had made a small hole. I looked up and saw one of the men looking at me. I gasped as I let go of the door knob and ran down the stairs. I grabbed my mother’s hand on the way down. Cody followed. I took an ice skate, all of us standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting now.

Thud after thud the intruders broke away at the basement door. Finally they had made a hole big enough to put their arm through and unlock the door from the other side. I held my breath as I watched the man reach through the hole in the door and placed his hand on the door knob as he unlocked it. He pushed the door open. There stood two well-built men standing at the top of the stairs looking at us. Our flash lights shined upon their evil faces.

“What do you want?” I shouted at them.

“Your father.” One of the men replied.

He’s not here.” Justin told them in a steady voice.

“Well then.” The other man said as he took a step down the stairs. Cody stood in front of us as he snarled and barked at the men, his fur stood on end.

“I guess he’ll be coming home to an empty house.” The man said as he raised the axe and sneered at us.

Run.” I said to my family, we scattered. Lucas and I went one way as Justin and my mother went another. Cody stayed with me as we ran through the basement trying to find a place to hide. I could hear one of the men running after us, tossing things around. Lucas was four years younger than I was, he was the baby. I felt I needed to protect him, and so I did. I looked frantically around for a place to hide him, shinning my light in the dark to find a place. I heard one of the men close behind us.

I can hear you.” He said to us as his flash light shinned through the clutter of the basement. My heart was racing, I was breathing heavy and I had a cold sweat. My hands were shaking. There I found a spot for Lucas to hide. I pointed it out to him.

“Hide.” I told him firmly.

“But…” He stuttered.

Do it.” I told him firmly. He sighed as he quickly crawled into a wooden barrel tucked away near the wall in a dark corner. I shoved my hand into the ice skate as I turned to face the man, ready to fight, Cody at my side. The man rounded the corner as we made eye contact.

Why are you here? Why do you want to kill my father and my family?” I asked the man as I held the skate on my hand.

Your father is the warden of the prison. After hearing the news about that asteroid, I figure with all the police staying home with their families. Might as well get my revenge, it’s not like they’ll arrest me.” The man spat on the ground. He lifted up the axe above his head as he walked even closer to me. Just then I heard Justin shouting.

Mom!” I heard him yell and my mother screaming. Fear gripped me now, my heart was racing. The man smiled.

“Don’t fight this.” He told me.

I’ll fight until my last dying breath.” I ground my teeth. Cody suddenly lunged at the man as he dug his teeth into the man’s leg. The man swung his axe at Cody as I blocked his swing with the ice skate. I pushed the man down on the floor. I lost my grip on the flashlight, it fell to the ground. The flash light cast an eerie light upon us both as we fought in the cluttered basement. The man dropped the axe as he hit the floor. Cody shook his head from side to side as he tore into the man’s flesh, ripping muscle from bone. The man shouted out in pain as Cody tore his leg apart. The man started to beat Cody in an attempt to get the dog off of him.

Nobody touches my dog!” I shouted as I stood over the man now, ice skate raised above my head. My shadow painted on the wall behind me as the man raised his arm up to block me. The man looked at me as he continued to beat Cody, screaming the whole time. I brought the skate down upon the intruder. The dull blade sliced open his throat as I slashed open the man’s flesh. The man’s hot blood splattered on my face and clothes, I could feel the warmth from his red hot blood. I do not remember when he stopped screaming, all I knew was I had to stop him. I kneeled down on the floor as I hacked violently into the fleshy body that lay before me. I could feel the skate’s blade pulling against the man’s skin and muscles as I cut him. The blade was dull and the flesh tore away from the man’s body. My knees were wet with blood.

I finally stopped when I could no longer breathe. I heaved for breath as I sat looking at the bloody mess before me. What used to be a man was now a pile of torn flesh, blood and clothes. My heart started to slow down and my breathing was steady now. Cody sat looking at me, blood covered his muzzle. What had I done? I could feel my stomach suddenly turn as vomit spewed from the mouth. I cried as I vomited, the horror of what I had done hit me. I killed a man, horrifically too. He would have killed me and my brother. I had to kill him, in order to save our lives.

Sandra!” I heard my father’s voice calling out to me. I wiped my mouth as I grabbed the flashlight. I took my hand out of the ice skate and left it next to the dead man. I looked for Lucas. He was curled up in the barrel with his eyes shut tight.

“Lucas, its ok, it’s me. Dad is here.” I reached in for Lucas and pulled him out.

Sandra, Justin, Lucas, Amy! Where are you?” I heard my father shout out in a panic.

We’re over here dad!” I yelled back. I heard him fumbling around in the dark. I looked at Cody, he was bleeding but not badly. I turned to look at Lucas. I did not want him to see the monster I had turned into, what I was capable of doing.

Do not look over there, close your eyes.” I told him, he nodded his head as he did what I asked. I took his hand as we walked away from the dead man.

There in the darkness my flash light shinned upon my dad. I smiled as tears came to my face, he looked worried.

“Dad.” I cried.

“Sandra, Lucas!” He shouted as he reached for us, we hugged him.

“What took you so long?” I asked him as he looked at us.

I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have left.” He told us, kissing us on the foreheads.

“No you shouldn’t have.” Lucas said to him.

Where are Justin and Mom?” I asked as if he had already found them.

They are not down here?” Dad sounded even more worried now.

“How many intruders were there?” Dad asked as he pulled out his gun.

Two, I killed one.” I said slowly. My father looked at me then and starred into my eyes. He wiped some of the blood off my face as he studied me.

And you will kill again.” He told me as we left the basement.

Cody, go find Justin and Mom.” I told him, he bolted out of the basement as he started his search.

“I heard them screaming right before…before I killed that man.” I told my dad as we walked over to the basement stairs.

“I looked through the whole basement Sandra, they are not down here, nor is the second intruder.” My dad told me.

Suddenly we heard Cody barking violently outside and Mom screaming. Dad exhaled as he bolted up the stairs, Lucas and I hot on his heels. I held Lucas’s hand as we ran up the stairs. All three of us raced outside, my flashlight leading the way. There in the back yard the second intruder had my mom and Justin. My dad raised his gun and pointed it at the man. Justin lay on the ground and my Mom sat crying next to her boy. Cody stood over Justin as he barked at the man. The intruder held a bloody axe at his side. The man knew someone was standing behind him now. He looked to see who it was. The man gasped as he saw my father. My father aimed his gun and pulled the trigger. A loud popped filled the night air along with gun smoke and blood. The man fell hard to the ground as the bullet entered his heart, killing him. My father never missed. Lucas ran over to Mom and Justin. My dad holstered his gun and went his son. I joined them, shinning my flash light on Justin. My dad looked at Justin.

He is alive. We need to get him in side. Lucas, get the first aid kit.” My dad ordered him. Lucas grabbed the flash light next to my mother and ran inside. My dad picked Justin up. I followed him into the living room. My mother followed us. She held Justin’s hand the whole time. Dad laid Justin on the living room couch just as Lucas came back with the kit. Justin had been hit with the axe. He had a big wound on his side and another wound on his face across his cheek and forehead. My dad looked at Mom.

Amy, he’ll be fine. He’s just in shock. He needs lots of blankets. Can you and Lucas get blankets my love?” Dad asked Mom kindly. She wiped her face clean and kissed my Dad. She and Lucas walked off to find blankets leaving my dad and me alone. Cody sat by the back door keeping an eye out.

Will he really be ok dad?” I asked concerned for my brother’s life. My dad opened the first aid kit and started cleaning the gouge on Justin’s side. He did not look at me as he cleaned the gouge.

Yes he’ll be fine. I have some antibiotics upstairs.” He told me. I watched as my Dad cleaned and bandaged the wound.

“Who were those men?” I asked out of the silence. My dad sighed.

“Do you remember the man I killed four years ago?” He asked me. I thought for a moment.

“Yes, the one who shot your partner?” I said, he nodded his head.

Those men, they were the sons of the man I killed. They wanted to take my life, in exchange for taking their father’s.” He explained to me. My thoughts then wondered off to the asteroid that was going to hit Earth in a year. The asteroid they called Embargo, the end of humanity.

What’s going to happen now? I mean with the asteroid coming?” I asked. My dad finished cleaning and bandaging Justin.

Now, we will need to survive.” He looked at me.

You will, we will, do things now that will not seem right, will not feel right. Things that, will condemn us, but they will be necessary to live. You will kill again Sandra, whether you want to or not, but if you want to live you will take lives. I will teach you and your brothers how to shoot. You’ll need to know how.” My dad told me. How true his words were. I did kill again, and I have become very good at taking lives.

“Will there be more people after you?” I needed to know.

“Yes. I have put many people away to prison. People’s families will be seeking revenge, or will want to force me to let their loved ones out. I cannot do that. I have to go back to the prison tomorrow, and finish what I started there today.” He did not say what he needed to finish and I did not want to know what it was either.

Up until four years ago, my father was a police man. He applied for the position of prison warden, and got it. My father was now the warden of the prison. Where most of the prisoners in there, were put there by him.

Mom and Lucas came back with blankets.

You should get cleaned up Sandra, change your clothes.” Dad said to me. I looked at my hands, they were covered in blood. I nodded my head as I stood and walked up to my room. I pulled out a new pair of jeans and shirt from my bureau and went to the bathroom next to my room. I flipped the light switch. Nothing happened, the power was out. I propped the flashlight up so I could see what I was doing. I threw my old clothes in the trash and grabbed a wash cloth. I turned the faucet, some water came out, it was just enough to wet the towel.

I took in a deep breath as I stood and looked in the mirror at my reflection. My face was covered in blood. I did not recognize the young woman looking back at me. My eyes were different. I looked different. Why didn’t I stop hacking away at the man? I knew he was dead, but I didn’t stop. Why? Did I enjoy it? No. I had to kill him, or else Lucas and I would be dead instead. I then told myself what I thought I needed to hear to make myself feel better. I told myself that I didn’t stop because I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to get back up again. Even to this day, I still tell myself that. Does it help? I’m not sure any more, it did at first. But now, I’ve killed so many that I cannot justify it any more.

I slowly wiped the dried blood off my face and cleaned my hands. Once I was done and sure I had gotten all the blood I looked at myself in the mirror again. There I was, or maybe a fraction of who I was looked back at me. Even without the blood I still did not recognize who I was looking at. I knew then that I never would recognize myself again. I heard my Dad calling my name. I looked at myself again before I left the bathroom and rejoined my family.

We will sleep here, together.” My dad said as I came into the living room.

Day 364:

I woke to the bright sun shining in my eyes, Cody lay sleeping next to me. I looked at Justin. He looked better than he did last night. Dad had given him some antibiotics last night. Justin was sleeping as was Lucas and Mom. I did not see dad anywhere. I slowly got up and walked to the kitchen. There I saw a note Dad left. He had gotten up early and gone back to the prison. I sighed and patted Cody. I could feel the dried blood on his head.

Come on you, let’s get that cleaned up.” I told him. I went to the bathroom and flipped the light switch, the lights did not come one. The lights had gone out last night, as did the power to everyone’s house.

The power had been out since last night. It was a soon as the news about the asteroid aired that people just went home. They didn’t care about work anymore. Everyone had gone home to their families.

Flipping the switch at that point was a habit, a hard one to break; but one I still continue. Even now, when I enter a room, I flip the switch. Just in the hopes that maybe the power will come on.

I grabbed a wash cloth and turned the cold water knob, a tiny bit of water came out. It was enough to clean Cody’s head with.

I sat on the toilet and cleaned Cody’s face as I thought. We will have to find a source of water now, wood for the fire place. I might go to the grocery store and see what food is left. Or maybe we should eat what is in the refrigerator first before it goes bad? We were lucky. We had a gas stove, so even though we had no power, we could still cook, for a little while. I still wanted to go see what was left at the store. I would have to take Lucas with me. I did not want my mom to leave Justin’s side. I would have to find a weapon to carry with me, the other ice skate. I suddenly felt my stomach turn and I gagged. Just the thought of seeing the man I killed again was enough to make me sick. Cody whined as he put his head on my leg. I looked at him.

I have to go back down there. I have to.” I said in a firm voice as I got up. I walked quietly to the basement stairs and took in a deep breath. The man was dead, what did I have to fear? I told myself as I took the first few steps down the stairs. My knees were weak as I walked down the stairs, my hands shaking. Cody ran down the stairs and waited at the bottom for me. It seemed the closer I got to the bottom the easier it became to walk.

My feet touched the basement floor where I stood for a moment before I got the courage to continue. Cody wagged his tail as he trotted off into the basement. The daylight shinned through the basement windows, making the basement bright enough to see in without a flashlight. I smelled the air, it smelt like blood and death.

Get it together.” I said out loud to myself as I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. I needed to find weapons. I exhaled as I started my search. I started where Dad kept all his old tools that were going to be thrown away. I found a hatchet, hedge clippers, and some screw drivers. I circled around the basement to see if I could find the other ice skate. I stopped dead in my tracks. My breathing was heavy and I was starting to sweat as I looked at the dead man. The corpse was stone cold and the pool of blood it laid in looked black. I stood there just looking at the dead body. His blood had emptied out onto the floor, his flesh torn from his bones, veins, tendons and his face slashed. I did that. My eyes were fixated upon the body and the blood. The way the sun light was coming in through the window, it somehow made it all look as if it were a scene from a movie. A graphic picture, yet beautiful to the eye. Deep down inside I suddenly felt a stirring in my soul. I wonder if all dead people look this beautiful. I wanted to find out now. It is something I still look for to this day, beauty in death.

I heard my mom talking from upstairs. Her voice brought me out of my trance. I saw the other pair of ice skates lying in front of me, I grabbed them. Cody ran upstairs. I looked one last time at the dead man before I too rejoined my family in the living room.

Oh there you are.” My mother said as I emerged from the basement.

“I thought I’d go to the grocery store and see what they had left for food.” I told her as I placed the weapons on the floor. My mother looked at what I had brought up.

“What are those for?” She asked.

“They will be weapons Mom. After what happened last night, we need to protect ourselves.” I replied as I looked at her.

“Where’s your father?” She asked.

He went to the prison. I think I’ll take Lucas with me to the store. I don’t want to go alone. Plus Justin is too weak to walk and you should stay with him.” I told my mom. She looked at Lucas. He was 16 years old, he was still young, but I knew he was going to have to grow up soon and quickly. I knew he was the baby of the family and my mother had a soft spot for him because he was the baby.

“Why can’t you wait till your father gets home?” She asked me as she looked at her baby.

Because it will be dark by then and it will be dangerous at night. I need to go while it’s day light out. A lot is going to change mom, the world has changed overnight. Lucas is going to have to toughen up.” I told her.

“And you’ve changed already?” My mother questioned me. I looked out the window.

I have.” I said in a whisper out the window. I looked back at my mother.

“I killed a man last night mom. There’s something to be said about killing a person, it changes you deep down inside. Even Dad, he would be a different person if he had never killed. We’re all going to change mom, even you.” I told her. She sighed as she looked deep into my eyes now.

“I know. Be careful, take Cody with you.” She said to me.

“No, you’ll need him if someone intrudes again. He’ll protect you.” I patted Cody. He was a very good boy, I loved him. My mom nodded her head.

“Come Lucas, let’s make some weapons.” I said to him.

I’ll never forget what happened this day, never. It will be with me until the day I die. Everything changed for me that day, I’ll never forgive myself.

Lucas and I had made our weapons, said goodbye to our mother and left the house. I had fashioned the ice skate blade to the hatchet, making a dual bladed weapon. Lucas had broken down the hedge clippers, so that he had a small spear like sword.

Lucas reached for my hand, I held to his tightly. His hand was shaking, he was scared. He had a right to be scared. The horrors we saw on the way to the store, were just that. Horrors.

People had been brutally murdered, entrails, flesh, body parts, and blood painted the streets as we walked. The streets were empty of the living, but they were filled with the dead. We stood hand in hand now outside the store. Lucas was as white as a sheet. He had vomited many times already. The store windows had been broken. The door had been ripped off of the hinges, and carts lay scattered about the entrance. There were a few dead bodies lying about the entrance. There was an older man hanging over the side of a broken cart, his skull had been slashed open. His brains lay on the ground below him in a pool of his own blood.

A young woman was sprawled out on the black pavement. Her pants had been torn off and her shirt ripped open. She had cuts all over her body. Her throat had been sliced open. Her eyes stared off blankly into the sky. I turned my gaze to the store entrance. I wasn’t sure what we were going to find in there. At that moment I regretted coming, I should have waited for Dad. We were here now though; we had to get some food. I stuck to my guns and looked at Lucas.

“Stay with me in there. I don’t know what is waiting for us.” I told him.

“I’m scared Sandra.” He told me. I squeezed his hand.

“So am I.” I started walking towards the store, Lucas close behind me.

I pulled a small flashlight from my pocket and turned it on. The store was dark. I exhaled heavily as I took the first steps into the store. I shinned the flashlight around, the shelves had all been destroyed and all the food taken. I let go of Lucas’s hand as I jumped over some rubble into the store. I held my weapon in one hand and the flashlight in the other. Cans, boxes of food, candy and liquids covered the floor. Lucas jumped down and joined me.

“Where do we start?” He asked me as he grabbed a basket.

“Cans.” I told him as I walked in front of him down the aisle of what used to be cans.

“What kind of cans?” Lucas asked me. I stopped and looked at him.

Cans with food in them Lucas. We’re looking for food.” I sighed and rolled my eyes as I looked to the shelves. We moved slowly down the aisle as we scanned the remainder of the cans on the shelves and the ones on the floor. We only found a few canned goods, some mixed fruit, baked beans and vegetables. I shinned my flashlight down the next aisle. I stopped Lucas, there was a dead boy in the aisle.

Stay here, I’ll go down this one. Just stay there.” I told him as I took the basket. He nodded his head. My gaze turned to the dead boy in the middle of the aisle. Boxes of food lay on him. His blond hair was stained with his blood and his throat had been cut wide open. Dried, clotted blood tarnished his skin. His eyes were closed and his mouth was open, as if he were still screaming out for help. I looked away quickly as my stomach lurched and I could feel the warm contents wanting to come up. I swallowed hard as I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing. It took me a few minutes but my stomach relaxed and I was able to continue. I grabbed a few boxes of food and left that aisle. I couldn’t stand the site, the disgust of what someone was capable of doing to a young boy.

Alright Lucas, let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough.” I said out loud as I climbed out of the aisle. I looked up. A man held a knife to Lucas’s throat. Lucas looked at me, fear in his eyes and panic on his face. I stopped dead in my tracks. Fear washed over me like a tidal wave. I heard someone approaching from behind me. I glanced back, a tall skinny man stood behind me with a spiked bat, rusty nails had been hammered into the man’s bat, flesh hung from the nails and blood stained the wood. I looked back at the man who had Lucas. The man sneered at me.

“Did you kill that boy in the aisle?” I asked him. The man spat on the floor as he grunted.

Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Who cares?” He said to me, the man behind me was creeping up ever so slowly.

I care, he was a little boy. He didn’t need to die.” I growled at the man. The man raised an eye brow.

“There are no rules now missy. We can do whatever we want, to whoever we want.” He told me. Lucas grunted as the man pressed the knife into his flesh. A small droplet of blood dripped from the knife. Panic struck my heart as I looked at my brother. I heard the man behind me take a few quick steps.

I quickly spun around and crouched as I thrust my weapon at the man. I looked up. The skinny man had his bat raised above his head as he looked down at his torso. My ice skate had dug its self into his warm body. Blood flowed freely from the wound I had carved in his flesh. The man groaned as he fell to the floor and died. I quickly turned back to Lucas. The evil man who held the knife to my brother’s throat looked genuinely shocked. Just then he pulled out a gun and pointed it at me. I fell to the ground as I heard Lucas shout and the sounds of a gunshot echoed in the ravaged store. I breathed heavy as I looked to my brother.

The evil man fell dead to the floor with Luca’s weapon sticking out of his chest. Blood dripped from his open mouth as his dead eyes looked at me. The pink color in his skin faded as he exhaled his last breath. I smiled and looked at Lucas as he turned around and looked at me, his skin grey and he seemed weak. Just then I saw blood pouring out of his chest where his heart was, he had been shot. I ran to him as his knees buckled under his weight. I caught him as he fell. I held him in my arms as I sat on the ground, tears welling up in my eyes as he coughed up blood. His body felt cold and his eyes were dimming.

“Lucas, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen.” I cried out as I rocked back and forth with my brother as he was dying in my arms. He sighed and placed a hand on my face as he gazed up into my eyes.

Sandra, I love you. You’ve been the best sister ever.” He coughed again, blood covered his lips. Tears rolled down my face as I sobbed quietly holding my brother. Lucas looked out the window now up at the sky.

“Do you remember that summer when we were at the camp? There was a tire swing tied to a tree over the lake?” He asked me. I remembered that summer like it was yesterday.

I will always remember that summer. It was the best four months of my life. We had rented a cabin up in the Lake’s Region of New Hampshire, Squam Lake. It was our last year renting the cabin. I was off to college that fall and my brothers were both in high school now. My parents said we wouldn’t have time any more to come up. So my brothers and I made the best of that summer. We would spend all day on the lake, swimming, snorkeling, water tubing and roasting marshmallows at night.

“The sun was so warm that summer.” Lucas spoke softly.

Justin had a sun burn the whole summer.” I continued. Lucas laughed.

“Yeah, even though mom told him to wear sun block.” Lucas laughed up blood. His arms had gone limp now. His shirt was soaked in blood.

“I’m cold Sandra.” He started to shake now. I looked out the window, tears blurring my view. I saw a cloud pass over the sun.

“See that cloud.” I pointed, Lucas nodded his head.

As soon as it moves out of the way, you’ll feel warm again.” I told him. His breathing was labored. I sniffled as more tears fell from my eyes and I looked at Lucas. I watched him. Just then the sun came back out. Lucas gasped.

You’re right, the sun, it’s so warm.” Lucas whispered as he reached out his hand towards the sun. His breathing suddenly became shallow and slow he gasped every time for breath. I could see him struggling. I bite my lip as I tried to hold back my weeping.

I’ll always remember this moment. It’s burned into my skull like a bad tattoo.

I looked out the window at the sun as I placed my hand on Luca’s chest. I slowly applied pressure to his chest, a little bit more every time he took a breath. I could feel his breathing become less and less every time I pushed down. He gasped for air now.

“Thank you Sandra.” He whispered in a soft weak voice. I bit my lip so hard just then I made it bleed.

“I love you.” Lucas told me as I looked down at him and he looked up at me.

I love you Lucas, you’re the best brother any one could ask for.” I cried.

He died in my arms along with a piece of my heart and soul.

I cried openly now. I pulled Lucas close into me as I rocked back and forth. My heart wept with sorrow and my soul bleed for Lucas. My whole body convulsed with anguish for my dead brother. A death that I caused and I could have prevented. It was my fault he was dead. I killed him. I was to blame. My hands were stained red with his blood now. My life, who I was, who I am, would never be the same ever.

Being the reason why a family member is dead, it changes you. It changes you forever.

How was I going to tell my Mom, Justin and my Father? How could I show my face to them again? How was I going to live with myself? How? How? I kept asking myself that question over and over again. I don’t remember how long I was sitting there in the store with Lucas. I do remember when I came to, out of my anguished coma, it was getting dark out. I couldn’t just leave Lucas lying in the aisle of the store. The store was located next to a grave yard. I got up carefully as I placed Lucas on the floor. I went in search of a trolley to carry Lucas on to the grave yard. It was getting dark fast now, I had to move.

I made my way to the back storage room of the store. There were several dead bodies in the storage room. They had been piled up on each other like firewood. The blood from the bodies had all drained out of their fleshy encasements and onto the cement floor. The large trail of blood flowed to the drain in the middle of the room. With tears still in my eyes I walked through the pool of blood towards the trolley and back to Lucas.

I’m sorry Lucas. I should have never asked you to come with me. I should have come by myself.” I sobbed as I gently picked up his cold stiff body off the floor. I lovingly placed him on the trolley and kissed his forehead.

“Come, let’s put you in the last bed you’ll need.” I blubbered. I can still remember helping him to the bath room when he was young, changing his sheets because he wet his pants. He was my baby brother. I looked out for him, always. The one time I let him out of my sight, I’ll never see him again.

Only in my dreams do I see him now.

I picked up a shovel as I walked through the grave yard, looking for a freshly dug grave. The sun was setting quickly. I had to find one soon, I did not want the wild animals to pick Lucas apart, or anyone else. I shinned my flashlight around frantically now. I walked along the fence line of the grave yard. There, by a large oak tree, there was an empty grave. I looked at Lucas one last time and kissed his cold cheek.

Good bye my brother, I’ll see you again in time.” I said as tears soaked my face. I tipped the trolley up, I could not watch. I could feel Lucas’s body roll off the trolley. The hallow thud of him hitting the ground shook my soul. I wailed as I lifted the shovel and began to burry my brother. Shovel after shovel I tossed down the dark dirt on top of Lucas, never to see him again. I then gathered rocks and placed them in the shape of a heart on the cold dark dirt above Lucas.

By the time I was done burring Lucas, it was dark out. I was exhausted, emotionally and physically. I sat. I no longer had the tears or energy to cry any more. I was covered in dirt from my head to my toes. I collapsed on the ground, shovel in hand. Lucas was buried now. I whimpered as I closed my eyes. Just then I heard my father’s voice calling my name.

“Sandra! Lucas!” I gasped as I struggled to my feet and shinned the flashlight.

Dad! Dad I’m over here!” I shouted as I saw the beam from his flashlight. I dropped the shovel as I ran towards him. My dad ran towards me with open arms. We wrapped our arms around each other.

Where is Lucas? Your mother said you two went to get food at the store.” My dad asked. I did not know how to tell him, how to tell my father that I was responsible for Lucas’s death. That because of me his son was dead. I started to cry again as I held onto my father.

Lucas, where is he?” My Dad asked as he looked around. I rubbed my head on his chest as I opened my eyes and looked at the grave I had just finished. My Dad followed my gaze. He just stood looking at the freshly dug dirt. He slowly let go of me as he stammered over to Lucas’s grave and collapsed to his knees. I stood and watched as my father said goodbye to his youngest son. Never to hold him, look at him, play ball with him, or enjoy any more days with his son. Because of me, he was never going to watch him grow into a man. I took that away from my father, from my entire family. My father spent several minutes kneeled next to Lucas’s grave, his head bowed and his hand on the grave.

I wiped what little tears I had left off my face as I watched my Dad. My father finally slowly stood. He wiped his face as he turned away from Lucas’s grave and walked slowly back towards me. His head was drooped as he stood in front of me. I touched my father’s arm and he looked at me with sad eyes. I noticed then that he too was covered in blood, from head to toe. He looked like he had been through quite a bit today, his eyes looked tired. They looked hallow, as I would imagine my eyes looked right now too. We just stood looking at each other.

I’m sorry Dad, I killed Lucas!” I shouted as new tears fell from my eyes and I sobbed. My Dad wrapped his arms around me and hugged me.

I sobbed on my father’s shoulder as it took me a very long time to explain how things went down. My father did not say anything. He just listened and rubbed my back as I wailed. As I explained to him how his son was killed, and how I was the cause of his death. Even now I still blame myself for Lucas’s death. I think about Lucas’s death all the time.

“I killed him Dad. I killed Lucas. If I hadn’t asked him to come with me, if I hadn’t gone to the store, none of this would have happened. I understand if you hate me.” I cried. My father pulled me away from him and looked deep into my eyes.

“I do not hate you Sandra. You are my daughter, you are my family. You did not kill your brother. That man killed him, you did not.” He told me firmly. I sniffled a little as I digested the words my Dad said.

“But.” I started to say.

No, ok. The world is cruel and unforgiving. You cannot blame yourself for the acts of another.” He told me sternly now. I nodded my head.

“Ok?” My Dad asked me. I cleaned my face.

“Ok. I’ll try.” I replied in a weak voice. I had no energy left.

“Why are you covered in blood?” I asked him now. He sighed.

There was some business at the prison I had to take care of.” He told me. I knew he wasn’t telling me something. What business did he have to take care of?

Like what?” I questioned him. He sighed.

All you need to know is that the prison is secure now.” He told me. I had a feeling my dad was not going to tell me what he had done today.

Let’s get you home. Your mother and brother are worried sick about you.” My Dad told me as he grabbed the flashlight and we started back home.

That walk home was terrifying. I wanted to go home, but at the same time I didn’t. I didn’t know how to tell my mother her baby boy was dead. I was the oldest and I was supposed to watch out for my brothers. How could I face my mother now? What would she think of me knowing I was partially responsible for Lucas’s death? Would she look at me differently from now on? What about Justin? How was he going to deal with this? How was I going to live with myself? How? How? That question kept repeating over and over in my head as my Dad and I walked.

“How am I going to tell them?” I finally asked my Dad. He was silent for a while as we walked in the darkness of the night.

There is no easy way to tell them.” He told me. I waited for him to continue talking but that was all he said. I was hoping he would give me some words of wisdom. But he said nothing of the sort. Maybe that was his way of punishing me for Lucas’s death. I never did ask him why that was all he said to me that night.

I could hear Cody barking as we approached the house. My heart was beating so fast and I had broken out in a cold sweat now. All I could see was Lucas’s face as we walked up to the house. The front door opened and my mother flung herself at me. Her arms clung to my neck as she cried openly. I saw Justin standing in the hallway with Cody.

“Oh my baby girl. I was so worried about you. Where’s Lucas? Are you ok?” She asked me as she looked at me now. Her tears shimmered on her face in the light of the flashlights.

“I’m, I’m fine.” I told her. She looked at my father and then at me. She gasped as she placed a hand on her mouth.

“Where’s Lucas? Where is my baby?” She demanded. I could feel my knees start to buckle as I looked her in the eyes.

He…he’s not coming home mom.” I told her. I didn’t want to cry in front of her, or Justin. I had to own my mistake, I had to be strong.

Sandra.” Justin said my name as he walked over to me. Cody rubbed his head on my leg. I looked at my brother, deep into his eyes.

Lucas…he won’t be coming home again…ever.” I said slowly to him.

Dad?” Justin asked him in a shaky tone of voice. My father put a hand on my shoulder and kissed my forehead.

Your brother, will not be coming home. But he will be with us in spirit.” He told them. He was able to tell them with more grace and dignity than I was. Justin did not cry, he just stood there looking at me. My mother cried. She cried for the longest time. I know she’s told me she didn’t blame me for Lucas’s death, but I know she really did.

I felt my heart sinking as the sounds of my mother’s crying hit me like a hammer. I ran out of the house, Cody following me. I opened the door to the back yard and fell to my knees as I covered my face with my hands. I could feel my eyes swelling with tears and the sorrow coming back. I started to cry but stopped as I heard someone walk up behind me. Cody lay on the ground with his head on my leg. I sniffled as Justin kneeled next to me and grabbed my hand.

You’ll always be my sister. Just like Lucas will always be my brother.” Justin started to speak. I looked at him. He was straight faced as he looked to the black sky. There was a single star shining brightly in the night sky. Justin pointed to the star.

What was it Lucas always used to say when the first star of the night came out?” Justin asked me. I sniffled and looked up at the star. I smiled.

Star light, star bright. May I wish, May I might, make this wish I wish tonight.” I closed my eyes and made a wish. A wish I made every night after that. Justin and I were quiet for a few minutes.

Yes, that’s what he used to say.” Justin squeezed my hand. This was our way of remembering our brother. From that night on, we would both wish upon the first star of the night. I always wished for the same thing, though it has not come true yet. I’m not sure it ever will come true at this point. By now it is almost too late for my wish to come true.

The meteorite is so close now. We can now see it in the daylight out in space as it races towards earth. I wish for so much now, only to realize it is all coming to an end. An end, that began a year ago, almost to the day.

Justin and I sat in the back yard holding hands looking up at the star for a very long time. Our father finally wandered out into the back yard and sat next to us.

Things are going to be very different from now on.” Our father said to us.

“They’re different already.” I replied. My father hung his head and looked over at me.

Yes they are.” He replied.

I sniffled as I choked back more tears. I let go of Justin’s hand as I stood and went back inside. I stepped into the kitchen and saw my mother standing there. I stopped and looked at her. Her face was wet with tears and her lip was trembling. She slowly walked over to me; her gaze was harsh and sad. Every step she took towards me was painful heartbreaking. My mother stood in front of me now, her eyes were pained with the loss of her youngest son, her baby. She stood now in front of the one who had killed her baby. My mother looked deep into my eyes; she slapped me across the face. She slapped me hard. I could feel the sting of her hit on the other side of my face. I felt tears swelling in my eyes. I exhaled and stopped myself from crying in front of her. I was not going to let her see me cry from that. I wanted her to know she did not hurt me. She was not going to hurt me ever again. I looked back at her.

“Satisfied?” I asked her blankly. Her lip trembled.

I don’t want you risking any one’s life ever again. I only have so many sons to lose.” She told me. What about your daughter? I thought to myself as she spoke.

“Fine. I don’t want to talk about this again.” I told her as I walked by her and up the stairs. I pulled out my flashlight and climbed the stairs to my room. I collapsed on my bed in exhaustion I had only felt a few times before. It was emotional and it had drained me. I closed my eyes and passed out.

Day 363:

Sandra, wake up. Sandra.” Justin said my name as he pushed on my shoulder. I moaned as I rolled over and slowly opened my eyes. I saw Justin standing there.

“Yeah?” I asked as I lay on my bed as the sleep I was waking up from lingered.

“Dad wants you down stairs.” He told me.

“Ok, what time is it?” I asked him. He smiled at me.

Just come down stairs.” He said as he left my room. The sun was bright and hot. It shinned in my eyes as it came in through the windows. I sighed and sat up, my legs hung over the side of my bed as I looked out the window. I closed my eyes as the sun bathed me in its warm rays. In that moment I changed, I felt as if Lucas was there with me. Watching me. I had become someone else. It still shocks me to this day that so much could happen to one person in a day. So much that it changes you. We all changed that day but I turned into someone I did not recognize. I did things that prevented others from being hurt or killed. I risked my own life now. I could not risk anyone else’s life for my own anymore. My father taught me how to kill and I taught myself not to put any emotion into killing. It was a part of life now, kill or be killed. I became very good at killing people, taking lives.

Hey Dad.” I said as I finished putting my hair into a messy bun. My mother sat at the table with Justin and my father. My dad looked up at me and pulled out a chair. There was a hot mug of coffee waiting for me. I sat down and took a sip from my coffee. We were all silent. Finally my dad broke the quiet.

We are family. No matter what happens, or what has happened we are family. We will always be family.” He said. I drank my coffee. I could feel my mother’s eyes on me. I looked at my dad and Justin. I then turned and looked at my mother.

Yes we are.” Justin replied.

Sandra and Justin. Today I need to teach you how to protect yourselves. How to fire a weapon. You need to know how to kill, how to survive.” Our dad told us.

Ok.” Justin replied.

After Breakfast

Dad, where did you get all these guns?” I asked as I looked at the seven different guns lying on the ground.

Don’t worry about it.” Justin said to me jokingly. I smirked a little as I looked at the silver handgun.

“That is a Magnum.” My dad said as he watched me.

Let’s start with a 9 mm and see how you and your brother do.” Our dad said.

Our dad pulled out a box of small silver bullets and placed then on a table. He then handed Justin and I guns. The black gun I held was heavy, cold and rough in my hands. The grip was jagged against the palm of my hand, which was contrasted by the smooth metal of the gun. My dad came over and put my hands where they were supposed to be when I was firing the gun.

You’re right handed, so your right hand is going to be squeezing the trigger. Hold the gun like this.” My dad said as he wrapped my right hand around the grip of the gun.

Your left hand is then going to support your right hand by holding and supporting here.” He put my left hand on the other side of the gun so it would help to support my wrist and the gun when I fired it. My dad had set up targets against the tree line in our backyard.

“Now show me how you think you’re going to fire the gun.” My dad asked me. I smiled as I stepped forward and stretched out my arms with the gun pointed towards the target. My dad laughed.

What?” I asked as I looked back at him and Justin.

“First off, don’t step forward like that. Stand like you’re going to straddle something.” He told me. I did what he asked.

“Ok maybe not that wide apart.” He pushed my legs closer together.

“Better. Now your arms need to be extended but bend at the elbows. They will absorb the shock better if they are bent.” He bent my elbows.

“Like this?” I asked him as he looked at me.

Good, now for some important rules.” He looked at me and I looked back at him. Justin was standing next to me.

“You both have to commit these to memory.” Dad said.

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