Chapter One: First Night

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"What if you look them in the eyes? Will you die?" Jeremy shoves another mouthful of mac and cheese into his already puffed-out cheeks. I wish I knew. I haven't looked one of the feral vampires in the eyes... yet.

"I don't know. I wouldn't try it though. I heard you'll freeze or become their slave." I laugh and cross my eyes, sticking my tongue out to make him smile. His toothy grin as he chuckles makes the gap between his upper front teeth stand out. My brother still smiles, even when the world is slipping away from us just outside the window.

I slip my fork onto my plate before taking it to the trash can. We've decided to stay the night in our house. It's sturdy, elevated, and surrounded by high wrought iron and breezeblock walls. It's an island unto itself, a sanctuary on our residential street. Sure, it isn't pretty on the outside with its crumbling paint job and fortress-like appeal, but in the middle of the chaos turning our neighbors into bloodthirsty animals, it's as good as it gets. Inside, the house feels cozy, safe. I still make sure to check the barred doors as often as possible, hoping our vulnerabilities are taken care of.

Our furniture is barricading the doors we don't use often, and the windows have been sealed with not only plywood, but are also glued shut. They are double plated and impossible for a human to break through with even rocks and especially bare hands. A high-powered rifle might make it through, but luckily, the creatures have no use for such things. It's them we hide from now, as the evening turns to full dark and the moon shines high over the rooftops of the houses along our street. The second floor windows have bars on them, so we left them alone. I make sure to enjoy the night sky and peek out through the curtains to watch the stars twinkle and the lights of the city flicker as the power plants continue to run, probably unsupervised by now.

How long will we have power? How long will the comforts of our lives be available to us like they had before? These things we're losing, the luxuries, the modern world itself, will we get it back soon? Or has the sun set on that world forever?

These thoughts make me draw the curtains shut as tears make their way to overflow my lids. I can't let them fall. I can't give up yet. It could be just a fluke, a temporary disaster which the government is surely on top of, flying in hazmat workers and CDC people to figure it out and clean up this mess. How long will they take? When will it end?

This is just the beginning, and I'm afraid to ask anyone how long it will last.

Tonight, we'll sleep in the living room. Together. My mother is already draping sleeping bags, pillows and blankets across the couches and the floor. This way, we'll be together to escape to our van in the garage if something went awry during the night. We've covered all the windows so none of the light from our lamps can sneak out into the night and bring unwanted guests our way. I really hope this is enough to keep us safe.

"We need more pillows." My mother gestures to me to help her spread a sheet across the array of mats she's laid out on the floor. "I put our best blankets into the van already, so we're using our old ones." She seems to be chatting to keep herself busy as she moves about the room, but I don't believe she cares for any response. I tuck the sheets under the mats and peer over to watch Randy, my mother's boyfriend, take a swig of cold beer.

The man is drinking, and we might die tonight. I have nothing but loathing for Randy, so I flick my eyes over to the pile of blankets my mother is sorting on the couch. I grab several and place one on each mat. He brought lots of supplies earlier, but now he's relaxing on the couch, flipping through TV channels to find any news on this strange outbreak. He may have been a nice enough guy to get all that stuff to prepare the place to keep us safe, but watching him drink now makes me realize his true nature which I've suspected all along. He puts up a good front for my mother, but to me, he's a lazy, two-faced alcoholic. How do I trust someone like that?

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