Jerome was watching the crowd over and over for someone he knew. There were hundreds of faces of every shape and color. Some were yelling. Some were covered in dirt. Some had shallows cuts with dark blood still kissed to their skin in dried strings. One thing was for certain within this mass of wrecked remnants of humanity, each person had a gun, and everyone had lost someone they cared about. For Jerome his entire family was gone in the first night of the drum. He was out at McDonalds with his friends. He was in the bathroom when it started. He hid there all night. When he emerged from the dark building after the drum, there were only blobs of blood and parted flesh where his friends were sitting.
He found a similar scene at home with his family. He was so mad he burned the house down when he found them. Now he wished he hadn’t. He was tired of hiding beneath dumpsters whenever the drum would sound. He picked random ones nestled behind businesses along West Broadway. When the monster thunder first started it was crowded in those spots. Some people would try to fight or kill you over them. Now, a month into the faceless phantoms and their golden claws, and there was emptiness everywhere you looked. Vacancies in every standing structure made the world like a sea of concrete skeletons.
Jerome had heard about the attack from a few survivors. He expected everyone to sort of band together after these monsters had arrived, but people were as distant as ever. He wished his parents and little brother were still alive. Sometimes, he would walk by the playground in Robbinsdale just behind North Memorial Hospital and sit on the blue swings his brother used to love. The equipment was a green memory to what it used to be. The slide, jungle gym, and monkey bars were all wrapped with leaves and ivy, like the natural world had been waiting to pounce when the drum started. Jerome wondered as a whole what humanity had done to deserve such a punishment.
Jerome was 16. He was tall, thin, and African American. He had a small beard around his narrow cheeks and mouth. His dad never got a chance to teach him how to shave. A week before the apocalypse he had laughed about how Jerome had some small shades of hair growing on his face. He said once you start shaving you can’t stop, so he wanted him to wait if possible. His father was a teacher at Cooper. Sometimes, Jerome got jealous about how much attention he’d give certain students. Now, Jerome just missed him, and he felt stupid for having felt those things.
They were all settling into their positions for the battle. The counterattack against the monsters would take place between the empty skyscrapers of downtown Minneapolis. The plan was to form barricades along the streets and lure the monsters into a battle, so a few jet fighters could strafe the phantoms as they rushed towards the conflict. The idea sounded stupid to Jerome, but there was barely any military left, and the ones who were in-charge of everyone were old beyond reason. Still, they probably had plenty of experience in a war like this.
He just wished their enemies were human.
They gave Jerome a M-16 with a few clips of ammo. They put him next to a few girls on the corner of an alley behind a burnt-out car. They were covered in dirt and ripped up clothes. They didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what they would talk about.
Right before the drum started, a man with a little dog wandered up to the barricade. He looked destroyed, just like everyone else. The dog was a miniature dachshund. It had a tough time maneuvering the rubble and vines. It made him smile looking at it. They didn’t stick around too long. There were a bunch of deserters who didn’t trust the plan. They said it was suicide. Jerome agreed with them, he just didn’t have anything to live for besides himself.
When the drum started, all heck broke loose. The shadows grew like elastic, and the fiends stepped out of them like they had been behind a hidden door all day. They were all shapes and sizes, but all had the gigantic golden claws that glinted with evening light. There were a few of the red ones too, with their enormous right arm that can expand like a missile. There were too many gunshots and smoke clouds to keep track of anything once they attacked. Jerome could hear the jets firing in the sky above. He was behind the car firing into the gloom when he noticed some sort of shadow flying between the buildings. One of the women behind him screamed in a wet gurgle. A gold claw had pierced through the car and ripped her throat. Jerome ran away from the barricade as shapes climbed over its top in sharpened clouds. More screams started to fill the air. The plan had failed. Jerome knew it would. A thorn hit the back of his neck and he collapsed to the ground.
The man and the dog were right to leave. Before his eyes went dark he couldn’t stop thinking about them. There was something about them that gave him hope. Something different.
If you enjoyed this story you can find more like it by clicking HERE, plus the actual series based around this apocalyptic universe is free to read in a generous sample HERE. Right now, I do have a special in my store where you can buy any two books for $25 (or three for $30) with free shipping, personalization, and my signature. The Greenland Diaries, or any book for that matter, are included in this combination. Click HERE to check out my store. You can also find it on Kindle HERE. Thank you for reading!