It always took longer than I wanted it to. Not all the pieces would come together at the same time. I hated that. I wanted all the information as soon as I could get it. A piece here and there was frustrating. Ever since I was a kid, I knew things. I would draw what I saw in the beginning. Mom and dad told me I had a vivid imagination. I didn’t feel like it was, but they kept telling me that. Maybe they were right? I mean as a kid, aren’t all adults to be listened to without question? That’s what I was taught anyway. I feel like I need to back up first and start at the beginning.
When I was about five years old, I fell into the family pool. I was learning how to swim but I panicked. I felt the consciousness slipping from me as I drown. The edges of my vision went dark and I didn’t know anything else. Then suddenly, everything changed. I felt calm and relaxed. A voice spoke to me, whispering sweet words into my ear about the future and how important I was to the plans. I had to live and this voice, whoever it was, was going to help me do so. I didn’t want to die.
I was shocked awake and vomited water immediately. My parents were there, crying and worried about me. I told them I didn’t know what happened, even though I certainly did. That voice stuck in my mind. It was important to remember, and I knew that. It wasn’t long after I recovered that I knew something had changed about me. My dreams, once childish and safe, were now wrought with war, pain, suffering, and death. I was not afraid though. This was something that became normal for me. I would tell my parents about it and they told me it was nothing. Just night terrors. I would grow out of it as long as I knew they were just dreams. They said it was because I fell into the pool. They were correct about that anyway.
I continued to draw what I saw and would show my parents. It started to cause problems. Mother was blaming father for allowing me to entertain my wild imagination. Father blamed mother for not being around as often as I needed a mother. She did work a lot, but I didn’t blame her. I started to draw normal things like rainbows and dogs with happy families. They were happy and believed I was growing out of my bad habit. I was just hiding my thoughts from my parents. I didn’t want them to be upset. I wanted to have that happy family again. I kept my real drawings and notes in a journal under the floorboards in my room. No one knew it was there. I kept it that way on purpose. I really tried to be normal. I didn’t like it.
As I grew up, I knew that what I was seeing was real. It wasn’t there in the present, but I knew, felt it was coming in the future. I didn’t know when. I felt like I was a fortune teller you hear about or even a psychic. As I got a little older, I understood the world faster than others. Did I mention I had a voice in my head from time to time? My parents thought it was sweet I had an imaginary friend when I was little. Not so much as I was getting older. I stopped talking about the voice in my head. I felt like the voice ‘won’ in a sense since I couldn’t tell anyone about it anymore.
I was seven when the world went to hell. Literally. I wasn’t surprised. I had seen this coming. No one believed me. They thought I was just weird. I told my parents that I knew two men would be sitting in a bar and having a conversation, and then the world would end as we knew it. They told me to stop with the fantasy world I was living in. A few months before that conversation, I had submitted and published, under a pen name, some of my thoughts and visions if you will in a short book. No one knew. They wouldn’t have believed me anyway. My pen name was an anagram of my real name.
The day after the book came out on the bookshelves, was the day the world changed. I had timed that perfectly. Suddenly, my parents looked at me differently. They knew I was weird but now I think they feared me. There was fear in their eyes. I pretended not to see it and act normal once more.
When I was eighteen, I wrote more about what I was seeing in the future. People still didn’t want to read about the things I saw. That didn’t bother me in the end. There were still some places that published books and they took mine and ran. Said it was great for people to read about the end days and how it was going to affect things. I just smiled and nodded, letting them think what they wanted. I know they thought I was lying and just trying to exploit the masses. They put it out there as far and wide as they could. I wasn’t sure where it was going to end up but that was fine. I seriously doubted that most would even read it. Who would want to read about their future anyway? The world was scary enough in the end. I was almost sure it would end up being burned. It was still going to be helpful right?
Rumors spread far and wide about what was going on in the cities. They weren’t rumors though. New cities popped up everywhere. New Delphi. Vega. The Camp. Helena. I was sure there was more but those were near where we currently were headed. We started out in a city though we left as soon as we were taken over by angels. We stayed on the move as much as physically possible. We needed to find cities occasionally to get some supplies. It was becoming harder and harder to keep on the move without drawing attention to ourselves.
My parents wanted to stop in a place that I didn’t feel comfortable. It was just a tiny town, nothing special and likely abandoned, by the look. I knew better. I told them that things would happen here, and they told me to stop once more. It was like a child again. So, I gave in. We stayed there in the old motel. In the middle of the night, I got up and left them. I knew it was dangerous, but I also knew I would be fine. This wasn’t my time yet. It was rare I was able to tell anything about my own future. Still, I never walked in fear. I had this skill, power if you will, for a reason.
I camped out in a trailer down the street from the motel. I woke up to screaming. It was my parents and the lower angels both. I peeked out the back window carefully, mindful not to draw attention to myself. Five lower angels and my parents were engaged in a fight. I heard my parents asking where I was and one of them, I think it was my father, yelling they should have listened to me. I readied my rifle and snuck out the door of the trailer. Crouching down to steady myself, I took a breath. Holding it, I lifted the rifle, took aim and fired. I hit the lower angel right in the head. She dropped dead instantly. The attention was turned to me then.
The fight wasn’t very long. I took on one more with my rifle before I needed my pistol. My father and mother helped and together, we took them all down. I felt a horrible headache coming on. That usually meant that I had displeased the voice in my head. I shook it off as much as I could. As my parents cleaned up their minor wounds and talked quietly, I made breakfast. It was a hellva way to wake up.
I could hear them, once in a while, talking about me and that maybe I wasn’t lying all these years. I hoped they were more open to listening to what I had to say now. I wasn’t going to believe it until they really did listen and ask questions. If they only listened, I doubted they would be full committed to my words. I had a teacher like that once. She would listen and ask questions, truly invested in what was going on. I trusted her so much. Then she retired, and I didn’t see her again. I missed her a lot. When they came into our make-shift kitchen, I turned to listen. They wanted to know how much of what I was saying all these years was true. This was going to be a lengthy conversation.
The sun was just going down when I finally answered their last question. It felt like they were really listening for the first time in forever. That was a good feeling for me. Father was more active than mother. Her looks suggested she wondered if she was good enough for this. Maybe she was just wondering how she had failed. Yet, they never did. This wasn’t their fault in the least. I never blamed them, and I didn’t think that it was their fault I drown when I was a kid. I told them as much several times during my speech. And that was in fact what it was. I did most of the talking. They asked what was coming next. I told them. In 15 years the true battle would begin. Until then, we all just had to survive. Michael, the Arch Angel, was in Vega and doing what he could to protect all of us from Gabriel, his twin.
It was when we connected with The Camp that I realized what happened with my book. Someone had turned my book and my visions of the future into a religion. They knew they Chosen One was a person but not who. I had been careful in what details I allowed to be in my public works. I didn’t want to ruin the boy’s chances. The child had been born 11 years prior to this moment in time. The Camp was welcoming enough, though it was all on the barter system. Labor for items if you didn’t have anything to trade. If we wanted our own little space there, and it would have been little, we had to work for it and contribute to the society somehow.
I offered to cook, my father offered labor, and my mother offered to educate the children. It was accepted, though my mother also had to cook when she wasn’t teaching. There were only a few children after all. She didn’t mind. She had been a preschool teacher before the world caved in. She was very happy to pick that up once more. I learned as much as I could from her, though we traded for books over the years. I still had a few of those which I gave up to The Camp. I didn’t need them anymore. I was happy, for more than one reason, to pass those along to someone else. I didn’t mind cooking, though I rather do something else. I had considered offering to go on scouting missions and scavenging, but I knew my parents wouldn’t let me. I was still a child in their eyes and for some reason, now I was someone to protect.
Three days after we arrived in this mobile city, tragedy hit hard. Their scavenging group limped back into town that night, carrying one of their own and dragging another. The group of five had been ambushed by lower angels, 8-balls they were called here. Apparently, the group was edging closer to Vega to see what was in the surrounding city. It was all ruins they said, though some 8-balls seemed to have called it home. They barely made it back. Two of them died from their injuries. The Camp was going to move on.
That was fine. I didn’t mind if we moved on. Being this close to Vega put me on edge anyway. We traveled with them, keeping to ourselves and helping out how we could. There was talk that they could need to find someone else who would be able to scavenge. I knew I was able to do it, but would my parents let me do it? I was an adult, so they wouldn’t really be able to tell me no. I did respect their words though. When the community was told of the need for someone to do it, I offered. My parents were not happy about this.
The first time out was funny to me. I was armed with my rifle and pistol. The three men I was working with kept looking at me like I was a liability. They didn’t trust me. I wasn’t the picture of a rough and ready gunner either, so I couldn’t blame them. My parents and I had our own fights along the way, though it wasn’t anything like this. I wasn’t worried. I was curious how this was going to play out when we did get into a fight. I knew we would. There was no possible chance of avoiding all detection from whatever was out in the world. People or angels.
We were combing through a small trailer park. There were at least 20 trailers, many of them looking like they hadn’t been looted already. Doors shut and locked. They were just about ready to kick in the door when I stopped them. I picked the lock quickly and silently opened the door. They looked only slightly impressed. We ventured into the trailer and found a lot of good things. This was a good place to hit it seemed. Everything we found had to be turned over so there was no secrets or thievery. We looted clothing, food, a few books, and some jewelry from that first place alone.
I spent time rolling up the clothing as best as I could to put them in my pack. We had big, hiker backpacks with us, which was helpful. The second trailer had much the same. Things like drinking glasses and plates were stacked in one place so we could come back for it later. It might be useful. As I rolled my clothing, I was considering what it would have been like if the world hadn’t been destroyed. Everything would have been different. I might be off to college this year instead of making sure we have all the clothing packed in a bag. I suppose there was worse things I could be doing.
We search half the trailers before we started running out of room. Some had been looted, probably by the owners as they fled. That was what we thought anyway. I rolled a few more clothes, children’s clothing this time. The men with me had heavy bags of food. As we left the last trailer we were going to search today, I spotted a puppy. Of all things, I found a small living creature. I studied it a moment. I could pick him or her up and bring them back. Would they be welcome? Probably not. The men looked at the puppy and then at me. One of them told me to take it and keep it. I looked shocked. He said it was nothing, since he was on the council he wanted to repay me for such a big haul, since it had been my suggestion to go to this location. By this time, the little puppy had come over to me, happily pawing at my foot and shins. I looked down and picked them up. The little one was male and soon, became my best friend.
Keeping a puppy, I thought, was going to be hard. The pup bonded with me immediately. That made things so much better. The council agreed I could keep him, even though I offered him up when we got back. They said it was already given away and was more than enough of a reward. I continued to go on scavenging runs, the pup refusing to be left behind. I named him Chance, which seemed like a fitting name. He came immediately. Mom and Dad thought I was lucky to have a dog so well behaved. I agreed.
The years slowly passed. It was an easy life. I was able to keep up scavenging and my parents didn’t feel as nervous because I had Chance with me at all times. I was able to train my handsome pup to alert silently when someone was around. Laying down meant everything was fine. Sitting meant there might be someone nearby. If he stood and stared in one direction, someone was there. he was so easy to train. I came to find out about a year after I got him that he was a golden retriever. They were very smart breeds which made the training and easier and the breed was very loyal. His coat, which was very blond as a puppy, was a darker color now. Someone mentioned one of his parents must have been redder in color.
My parents were considering leaving The Camp. I wasn’t sure what I would do. I would want to leave with them. I didn’t mind The Camp. Sure, it was rough at times and you really had to be on the top of your game. We met a lot of nice people. I was sitting in the main area brushing Chance when he stood up and stared. I looked up and my breath caught in my throat. I knew this man. He was an archangel. As he walked into the area, others moved away. They didn’t treat strangers kindly anyway. The council would have to deal with this. As he passed me, I wrapped my arms around Chance and he sat down. Gabriel looked down at me, spared me only a glance and then moved on.
I had had a dream months ago about him coming here to explore. He was looking for his own and recruits. He didn’t like humanity as much as his brother Michael. It was wasted, and the reason Father was gone, or so Gabriel believed. Even I didn’t know the reason He was in fact gone but it couldn’t be us, right? We were His children as much as the angels. At least, that was what I had been taught. This world changed all of that and more in the blink of an eye. The voice in my head was oddly quiet as well the past few days. Now, it wasn’t as silent. Gabriel’s name was hissed in my head like someone was truly upset over his presence. I said nothing and made no reaction. I felt like leaving now. Not that Gabriel even have an idea of who I was. I didn’t want to risk it though.
A week later, we announced we were leaving. The frigid winter was coming soon and still we made the choice to leave. I thought we going to be fine. I mean, we had lived on our own for years and only recently hooked up with The Camp. Chance trotted after me faithfully as we left. There was no bad blood which was nice. I still felt like this would be the last time I would see any of these people. Not because they would die, or I would, just I never expected to come back. Things would work out as best as they could I suspected. My dreams came more often once we were back on the road. There were buildings we would camp out in as we traveled. We had no set place to land. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to find a place to live permanently.
Winter was hard. It was very cold and cruel. We started out traveling around from house to house we cleared but we had to stop moving so much and hunker down. It was just too cold. The snow as thick and it was too hard to push through it. Father wasn’t doing well either. He had stepped on a floorboard that wasn’t as strong as we had hoped. It caved in and his leg had been scratched up with the broken boards. We had treated the wounds as best as we could, but I think it got infected anyway. It wouldn’t be hard to do out here.
I went out with Chance several times to find supplies and we were lucky. I found a pharmacy while I was out, and it hadn’t been completely looted. We had to be careful though. There were lower angels around and lurking. Chance was always very faithful to me and never left my side. While out in the afternoon, Chance ran off away from me. I was shocked to say the least. I called after him, but he didn’t come back right away. He did finally come back with a friend. I was surprised to see another dog at his side. I crouched down and let the other dog inch closer. I could see it was a poodle. Our neighbor had one when I was a child. I always thought they were so fluffy and cute.
The three of us went back home after I looked around the area a little more. This new dog was another mouth to feed but that was ok. I didn’t mind. I would work harder to find food for all of us. It turned out the poodle was female. We named her Curly. When the dogs got out of line of sight, I would whistle and call CC. They both came running. Dad fell in love with Curly and she with him. It was rather sweet. The items I found helped dad get better and we were able to move on when the winter passed enough for us not to get into a blizzard every step of the way.
Curly and Chance made an effective team. They were silent without being told to be. Curly learned quickly that there were things she could and could not do. Chance was also there as an example. It helped a lot. With two dogs, it was easier to be alerted to what was going on around you, especially in the darkness of some of these buildings. I felt safer with them around to be sure. I think mom and dad did too honestly. They helped a lot during the evening hours. One little sound and they were alerting just to see what was going on.
We found an apartment building that was in pretty good condition. It wasn’t the best but some of the top apartment weren’t damaged much. It was curious to look at things lost to time. It was almost like they hadn’t been touched. The owner just walked out and locked the door. We decided to make this place our home for now. One had rooftop access and the escape ladder was in good condition. We used that one. It was a large studio apartment. We gathered items from other apartments to make sure that we had all the things we needed. There was a generator I found at the gas station nearby. It was heavy but between dad and I, we managed to get it back to the apartment.
For the time being, we felt like things were normal. We didn’t use the generator much, just because it was loud, and the exhaust was bad. We considered putting it on the roof. We didn’t want to carry it up the stairs again. Chance and Curly were content to cuddle up on the mattress we found for them and watch us do whatever we were doing. I was writing again in the open. It had been a long time I was able to do that. I had to wait until the late evening hours when we were with The Camp. On the road, it was dangerous to have a light on in the middle of the night without some protection. Now? I could do whatever I wanted within reason since we weren’t on the ground floor. I knew being safe wasn’t true. No one was safe anymore. No place was truly safe from angels of any kind.
Three years after we started living in the apartment, someone came by. There was a couple we could see looking around in the ruins of the town. We watched them for some time, not sure what their plan was. The woman in the group looked strange to me. She was hanging back and didn’t seem like she wanted to do much at all. the man with her was protective, looking everywhere all the time to see if things were safe or not. A lower angel appeared out of no where and the man panicked. The woman was scared but she didn’t scream. I leveled my rifle, took aim, and fired. We had found a sniper rifle with a suppressor along the way to this point in life and it was handy. The angel dropped dead, and the people were shocked. I went down to them and invited them to our apartment for the time being. It was getting dark.
The man didn’t really want to come with me, thinking I was going to rob them. Chance and Curly bounded out of nowhere and I smiled. Giving them each a pat, I looked at them once more. They had a choice to come with me or suffer outside on their own. I explained my parents were in the apartment and watching us at the moment. They eventually gave in and followed after me. It wasn’t all that hard to accept someone in, especially since we hadn’t seen anyone in months and these two were clearly scared and on their last nerve.