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Nineteen

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Nineteen

"Just around this curve there should be a hidden driveway," Arryn announced.

Her eyes fixed carefully on the road illuminated by the headlights on the SUV. The sun had started to set, allowing darkness to devour the lingering rays. Overhead, thick leaves blanketed the branches of the trees, blocking out the moonlight.

"Great. I feel like I've been driving for ages. I hope your dad has plenty of food. I haven't eaten since breakfast," Claire said. The vehicle lurched to the side slightly, leading everyone to lean left.

"Right there!" Arryn exclaimed, pointing at the narrow gap in the woods. A gravel driveway could be seen in the light. Claire gently pressed her foot on the brake, turning on her blinker.

"Really, Claire?" Austin asked. His lips drew back in a smirk, displaying his white teeth. He moved his balled fist up to his mouth and hid his smile. Arryn felt a smile threatening her lips as well. It was literally the end of the world and Claire still used her blinker.

"Oh, shut up. All of you," Claire snapped. Arryn could hear the embarrassment in her voice.

Mateo cleared his throat behind Arryn, sounding as if he was struggling to mask a chuckle. He hadn't said much after the initial questions.

His family owned the Santiago Dairy Farm in town. His sophomore year of college just ended. He was traveling home when all this started. He found his parents in the field. A herd of dairy cows huddled around his mother, father, and little brother. Instead of grass, the cows had hair, flesh, and organs dangling in their mouths. Mateo said he ran inside, packed up, and drove around aimlessly until he ran out of gas.

The car vibrated as the tires rolled over the gravel. The popping sound of rocks filled the silent SUV. Everyone seemed to think the same thing. This was the moment of truth. Would Arryn's father be here? Or would this place be empty?

They rounded the bend in the driveway to find the path littered with small branches from the overhead trees. Larger branches had fallen on the grass beside the rocks. Muffled cracks accompanied the popping of rocks as Claire drove over the sticks.

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