“Picking our way through the rubble proved difficult.” Jess utter a strangled cough of a laugh. “I don’t know why we thought we’d be able to find Mom and Dad, after…”
Teri, her face pale, nodded. “We hid out in the drainage system for days before we decided it was okay to go outside and look around. We figured if the air was toxic… poison, radiation, whatever… we’d already be dead.”
We all–Vance, Dale and I–nodded encouragingly. “Why do you think the planes were ours?” Vance asked. That was a stunning revelation.
Jess sighed. “They were flying low. Even across the river, you could tell. Dad was retired military. We’ve been to so many air shows…”
“They were ours,” Teri asserted.
Vance looked scandalized, but Dale only nodded thoughtfully. “It’s what we feared,” he said. “It’s the reason we built this place.” He added, “Go on, son.”
“We were scared, but we came out because it was so… quiet. Like… dead quiet, you know? No traffic, no birds, no voices; just nothing!”
“The bridge was damaged, but not so badly we couldn’t get across,” Teri added. “We pushed our bikes, mostly. It was slow, and every little creak made me want to… uh…”
“Nothing looked the same.” Jess took up the narrative, sparing his sister the need to articulate a need to pee her pants or jump out of her skin. “Our parents had gone to a walking mall downtown, but we couldn’t figure out how to get there. Roads were destroyed or buried; buildings had collapsed or burned.”
“We wanted to find our parents, but…in the end, it was all about finding decent food and water–”
“While avoiding all the bodies–”
“And getting around it, and out.”
“It’s huge. It took us ages.”
Teri sighed. “And, yes. Alone.”
Author’s Note: Inspired by a prompt on Writers Unite!