Till the End

by Lydia Bowers

Preface

Tiller used to live in the bustling city of Chicago and have a normal life, like you. She used to go to the gym, go shopping, and hang out with her friends. But, one day, everything changed, and a government experiment went wrong. Now Tiller is trying a make a life for herself and her brother in a world that is crowded by monsters. The only thing is, can she survive?


Screams echo through the darkness, sending shivers down my spine. The sharp metallic clicking noise of an Unidentified, close by rings in my ears, urging me to run. But, I can't. I have others to take care of. I must not leave them.

"Tiller? I'm scared"

I grab my little brother's hand in my own and squeeze it tightly, making him fall silent. He knows what he must do. He must keep quiet at all costs. I can still see the blood of those who were dead. I can still hear the screams of toddlers whose parents had abandoned them. I can still feel the pain of losing. Losing my parents. A small whimper jerks me back in the real world and I crawl over to the corner of the room and quickly scoop up Daisy, the orphan I saved about a week ago. She was lying in the dirt, barely a month old, her mother torn to pieces beside her. Her cries were sharp and loud, full with pain. I recently found a large cut on the side of her belly, the mark of an Unidentified. It scared me for a moment, but then I remembered she can't become one of them. She's too little.

"Hush now" I whisper in her ear, my nose brushing against her curly blonde hair.

Daisy squirms for a moment before falling asleep once more, and this time, I place her in the baby pouch on my back. If we need to run, I must be ready. I take check of our supplies, which is a meager amount. One water bottle filled to the brim, 3 packs of crackers, two knives, and a flint and steel that I stole from the nearby outdoors store. I grab Tobias's hand again, and pull him to his feet. I am glad that he doesn't protest. The room that we are in is dusty and dark with no furniture in it. I'm guessing that the earlier inhabitants took off as soon as the word came about the Unidentified taking over. They are pretty normal looking, the Unidentified I mean, but only if you count out their long metal hand like nails, which are used for slicing open their victims and cutting flesh and the random spikes of metal that are scattered all over their body, like needles waiting to puncture anyone who gets close. They grind them together, their hands I mean, which makes the weird metallic sharpening noise. I hate the sound of it. They were created to be used in wars by the American government, but things took a turn for the worse. Some scientist guy on the news said that they pumped too much oxide and sulfate into its system, which was supposed to make it immune to a lot of gases used in fighting, but it actually turned them crazy and into monsters. Of yeah, did I tell you that the scientists used human subjects? It is bad. They were presenting one at the presidential election last year, and of course, everything went wrong. In the middle of a speech, it stabbed the presidential candidates with these metal hands that just randomly appeared and jumped into the crowd, killing innocent people with its newly discovered weapon. It wasn't long before we figured out that as soon as they stab their metal things into you, you turn into one of them. It usually takes about 2 minutes for the process to be completed. Are you wondering how I know this? Because, my parents turned. As if on cue, I hear one approaching. Its footsteps sound normal, like a human's. That's why so many people have turned already. They don't know they are mutants until they see the hands. I draw my knife and hold it steady, motioning for Tobias to go in the corner of the room. As soon as he does, the door flies open. I try not to think about it. Try not to remember that I am killing what used to be a person. As soon as its down, I go through its pockets, smiling as I find a lighter and a small penknife. I motion for Tobias to come as I step out of the room, knowing that we are exposed.

"Where will we go now?" Tobias asks quietly, grasping my hand and stepping over the gross body on the floor.

I cough, getting rid of the dust that is in my lungs.

"The police station"


Tobias's eyes widen and he shakes his head.

"There will be so many of them" he whispers.

I hesitate for a moment before crouching down so that I am at the same height as him. I grasp his shoulders tightly and gaze into his eyes, feeling ashamed that he has to grow up so fast. He should be playing outside and reading books, having fun. But, that's not going to happen. The sooner we both realize it, the better.

"We need guns, and you need to be brave, for Daisy"

As I say the words, I slip the penknife into his little hand. He glances down at it, and then back at me. Even in the fading light, I can see the fear in his blue eyes. It scares me. I grab his other hand and lead us outside. As soon as we step out the door, I see two Unidentified. They run toward us quickly and I pull out my knives, pushing Tobias out of the way as I do so. I throw the steel in a flash, so quick that I can't even see them speed towards the mutant's foreheads. They crumple to the ground, immediately killed. I sprint toward them and pull my knives out of their skin, wincing as crimson blood splashes all over my hands. Tobias is by my side in a second, and helps search them. All I find is a pack of cigarettes, Tobias finds a pocket full of lint and a wallet bursting with cash. I throw all of the stuff away. There's no use for money these days and I don't smoke.

"Where's the police station?" Tobias asks, tearing off a piece of the Unidentified pants and throwing it to me.

I wipe my hands off on it, and glance around, trying to figure out an answer for his question. We are currently in a very small town called Woodberry, so I am guessing the Police station would be in the smack in the middle of the town. But I don't see it. There is a post station to our left, a gas station to our right, and a row of civilian houses in front of us. The Police station or Sheriff's office should be here, next to the post station. Maybe it's a long shot. We should probably just make camp in one of the houses.

"Tiller."


I look back at Tobias and shrug.

"I don't know. But let's go ahead and search that gas station."

Tobias grins and jumps to his feet. We haven't eaten a good meal in weeks, ever since the accident, so, I let him lead the way. As we step into the building, the bell rings. I grip the handle of my knife, ready to kill on sight. But, there is no one. Not one Unidentified. The Shelves are filled with chips, soda, donuts, noodles, crackers, and jerky that are years from their expiring date. Tobias grabs a bag of chips and opens it, his mouth splitting in a smile. As he pops the junk food in his mouth, I survey the area, hoping that the building is clear. When I am finished, I walk back to Tobias, who has laid out a meal for us. I smirk when I see how unhealthy it is. He chose Pringles, beef jerky, and a large serving of chocolate donuts. I sit down beside him and take Daisy off of my back , surprised to see that she is still sleeping. Tobias pops another chip in his mouth, his face filled with childish pleasure. I almost laugh. We haven't been in a calm place like this for days. For the last few weeks, we have been staying in sheds and treehouses, as far away from the Unidentified as possible. Daisy whimpers and stretches out her hands to me. I pick her up tickle her in the stomach, making her giggle.

"Where will we go next?" Tobias asks, handing me a donut.


I bite my lip and jiggle Daisy up and down, ignoring the donut.

"Maybe we will stay here for a while." I say, glancing at him.

Tobias wrinkles his nose and looks around.

"I don't know. It's too quiet"

I chuckle. Tobias and I grew up in the large bustling city of Chicago, so anyone else but there doesn't feel like home. Just thinking about the city, makes a smile appear on my lips. The loud voices of people rushing to work, the decorations at Christmas, and the fireworks on New Year's Eve, made it home. I admit, it wasn't the perfect environment for a 16-year-old to grow up in. But, at least it was home. At least we were a family.

"Tiller? Are you ok?"

I jerk as Tobias speaks, the sound of cars and city life disappearing from my ears. My brother is staring at me, the sides of his mouth crusted with chocolate. I smile and nod. That moment right then, was perfect. Daisy was gurgling on my lap and Tobias and I were talking of Chicago. But then. They came.

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