When the drum first started, neither sister wanted to do anything but hide. It was easier that way. They’d watched a few other survivors try to blast apart the monsters wandering the shadows with their guns and bullets, but almost every time the shapes would simply shrug off their popping steel and powder and dive into their bodies with their claws, until the earth was carved out with their bone and bile. The people would scream at first, but it would go wild and liquid as their flesh came apart. Most of the time the girls had watched people die at night, which was great to have that dark blot out the gory details. The sounds of their demises still echoed in their nightmares though, which had dominion with or without the drum.
The girls were on vacation in Florida with their family when the apocalypse hit. Their parents loved the Sunshine State. It was their favorite place to take their kids. Now that the girls were older, Disney World and Universal Studios were echoes to their adolescent past. They were more interested in getting the perfect tan, taking pictures of the lagoon outside their hotel, and sneaking sips of liquor off extra drinks their parents would order. Key Largo was the perfect spot for them. It was picturesque; emerald-fire water with flour-white sand, craning palm trees with jade leaves, and turning waves that never rolled high with frothy violence. It was like living in a postcard you’d find spinning in a metal rack in the corner of a gift shop.
Then the drum hit, and even though the beach maintained its natural beauty from the explosion of greenery, the ripped apart cars and buildings, and the streaks of devastation along the highway down the keys, both Hilda and Freya were tired of this forsaken paradise.
“Why do you think mom yelled your name first when it happened?” Hilda asked her sister. They were sitting on some lawn chairs behind the hotel on the sand, facing the turquoise bay. The chairs were permanently fused to the sand by vines and flowers, despite them sitting on a bed of sediment. The entire natural world had been turned upside-down when the drum happened.
“What? When?” Freya replied. She was in a pair of shorts and a pink shirt. She was blond and blue-eyed, just like her older sister. Their parents were Norwegian, and both girls looked it. They were four years apart but often people thought they were identical twins.
“You know when, when the sound happened and the monsters showed up. They came bursting through every door, one-by-one, until they reached us. Then mom yelled your name to run, and I just did, and we jumped off the balcony and hid in the palm trees next to us,” Hilda said.
“Oh, I see. I don’t know. She was playing cards with me. I was right in front of her. She just said my name.” Freya said.
Hilda stood up and placed her hands on her hips. She was wearing black tights with a green top. The skin on her legs was covered in bug bites. She was warm but trying to protect herself from the Florida sun. The heat of the summer hadn’t gone away with the rest of civilization.
“Just curious,” she said, letting her hair down to tie into a more complete ponytail.
“No more of this favoritism, Hilda? You know they loved us both the same. She just said my name because I was there,” Freya said, standing up.
“I didn’t say that. When did I say that,” Hilda said, walking down the beach. The shadow of the hotel was looming over them. It was a square building with white siding and balconies like vertebrae. Every window was shattered. There might be more shards of glass than there were grains of sand.
“Besides, she’s dead anyways,” Freya said, following her.
“We need to hide. It’ll start soon. She’ll be coming out. Where do you want to go today?” Hilda said.
“Anywhere but the dumpsters,” Freya said.