CHAPTER 2: LIVING THE NIGHTMARE

 Numb, I stared out the window as we drove farther and farther away from home. Everywhere I looked, I saw nothing but chaos, absolute chaos. People stuffed cars with as much belongings as possible, children cried while the parents argued, and dogs ran loose. No one seemed to care about anyone but themselves.

Once on the highway, the traffic was stuck as I had ever seen it, and car honking seemed to come from everywhere. Nearly at a complete standstill, walking seemed the fastest option. While travelling by foot was the logical thing to do, everyone stayed in their cars, using the horn to voice their frustration.

In the car next to us, two boys fought over a comic book. The comic book went back and forth between them, until, all of a sudden, only two halves were left.  The children’s hysteric outbursts reminded the parents they had their kids in the backseat. Although, I didn't get the impression they would end their own bickering to make sure the kids got along again.

After watching what had to be a stellar example of bad parenting, I turned sideways in my seat. With the back of my head tucked against the window, the vibrations of the engine traveled through my body even more. I listened in on the hushed conversation between my brothers in the front of the car – no doubt, protecting me from the evil things our world contained, like the deaths of our parents for example.

Before I could catch anything interesting of whatever Jason said to Hunter, they both fell silent. The male voice on the radio filled the car.

“This is an emergency broadcast. It is strongly recommended to leave your homes and go to your designated safe zone. At the entrance of each safe zone, the military will hold thorough controls to keep the infection out. Before we end this broadcast, I will list the different safe zones and the symptoms of this – as yet – unnamed disease once more. Zone A is assigned to the people who live …”

I sighed and closed my eyes for a moment, ignoring the annoying voice that brought the same ‘news’ every thirty minutes. Having listened to the message five times already, I couldn’t make myself pay even the slightest bit of attention. The list of all the symptoms to look out for, and the different stages of infection hit too close to home. Pressing my nose to the facts wasn’t making it any easier on me to deal with my parent’s ill fate.

Why did this stupid disease have to exist? Life had been good for me. To think that over the course of twelve hours, so much could change. Instead of dancing to the most ridiculous songs, I had been forced to say goodbye to my parents. Lina’s dad bursting in her room every so often to complain about the loud music, getting angrier every time, was no longer our biggest concern. If anything, I regretted spending so many days at Lina’s house while I could have spent the time with my parents. Perhaps no one would have been infected. Maybe Mom and Dad would have been arguing about .

My parents, my loving mom and strong dad, I’d never see them again. Without wanting to, I thought back to only a couple of hours earlier. The images of Mom crying, Dad’s smile… The entire hour and a half I had been home kept flashing before my eyes. The memory was so vivid I couldn’t make it disappear. The images would haunt me, for what I expected to be, all my life. Death was never something I had to think about, it had never come close enough for me to give it much thought. And now, my parents would die with no one else around. Mom in particular. No one would sit by her side. No one to tell her everything would be all right. No one to hold her hand.

What if the military couldn’t contain the disease? What if eventually everyone became infected – no one would survive. My friends, was I ever going to see them again? Were we going to get to our safe zone in time? No, because these stupid cars weren’t moving. We were stuck, in every possible way; stuck inside this car, stuck on this road, stuck in a life without our parents. We’d be stuck in that safe zone, and if we’d ever get contaminated, we’d be stuck outside those fences. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.

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