Spring Will Come After Winter

2015 Voorheesville Short Story Contest Runner Up, by Grace Newton

runner-up2Grace’s story was one of two runner up stories in the 2015 Voorheesville Short Story Contest.

It’s been seven years since the world was normal. Seven years since there was a government. Seven years since Earth had any kind of society. Seven years ago, the end of the world or as some people call it, the apocalypse happened. I was only eleven when those creatures took over the world. Some would call them zombies, I just call them undead. They took everything from us. Everything that mattered. The government fell, as the undead population rose. Society was soon to fall afterwards. With no government to control us, we were free… into an anarchy.

The undead took everything from me as well. I was sixteen when I lost my parents. They were all I had left. As for my other family, who knew where. I couldn’t even know if they were dead or alive. My parents and I were traveling together for six years after the world ended. Not really having a destination in mind, we just roamed over the years, just trying to stay alive. I learned to grow up pretty quickly in that atmosphere. Together, we became pretty good at surviving. Until of course, one day as fate would have it, they died. It was just like that and they were gone. From the age of sixteen, I had to get used to not having my parents around.

I’m eighteen now…two years of being completely alone. My parents were the last people I had ever really talked to. Sometimes I would talk to myself, but it wasn’t the same. I figured if I kept doing that, I would go insane. My strategy for surviving was the same as my parents. Stay away from everyone, don’t trust anyone. So that’s what I do. They were right…in this world, it’s perfectly reasonable to be naturally weary. Most people who are left are not people you’d particularly want to be around. So that was my fate and I accepted it. I was going to be alone forever.

One day, just like any other, I was in the middle of nowhere just roaming around not unlike the undead themselves. I had spotted a village in the distance and wondered if it had been abandoned. I decided that there was only one way to find out and that was to explore it. Hiding behind a tree, I scoped out the area. It was relatively safe, there were only a few of the undead around.

It wasn’t until I took my first step towards the village that I was knocked to the ground by an undead. My face had hit the dirt on the ground and I knew what was happening. I was about to get ripped apart by these zombies. I managed to roll myself out of the undead’s grasp just in time to sink my knife into its head. Unfortunately, the commotion had attracted other undeads. There suddenly seemed to be way more than I had previously thought. Using my first instinct, I turned around to run but I didn’t make it very far. There were undead at every turn and they seemed to be closing onto my position. I readied my knife because my pistol would make too much sound, but I knew it was going to be futile. At that moment I was ready to accept my fate.

However, it seemed fate had other plans. One by one, bullets silently flew through the air and landed in the undead’s head. The corpses just simply fell to the ground and after a short while, they were all gone. Every single one of them was dead. I looked around, for the person who had just saved my life. I was very puzzled. Who would go through all that trouble to save a stranger’s life?

“I thought you could use some help,” A voice from behind me called out. I turned around and noticed she was standing on the road leading to the village. She had a sniper rifle with a decently sized silencer on the muzzle. She began to walk towards me and I started to panic.

I pulled out a pistol on my belt and shouted, “Don’t get any closer!” The gun was pointed straight at her, my hands gripping it firmly.

She immediately halted her advance with a dumbfounded expression on her face. Her arms rose up slowly as she said, “You know, usually when someone saves your life, you thank them.”

Following my instinct, I kept the gun pointed at her. I wasn’t about to trust her, she could be a real danger for all I knew. “What do you want from me?” I asked her.

She looked at me incredulously, “Are you joking? Seriously? I just killed all those-”

“You can’t have any of my stuff,” I said sincerely.

“Your stuff? I don’t want your supplies. I thought maybe we could stick together. I’ve lost everything and everyone,” She looked down at the ground. Her hands were free and none of her weapons were loaded. However, despite her innocence act, she probably had people watching me in their crosshairs.

“I used to live in that town. There’s nothing left anymore. Everyone’s gone.” She looked at me with sincere eyes and for a moment I wanted to trust her. However, the moment passed and I gripped my gun harder.

“How do I know that you’re not lying to me and the minute I start trusting you, your people ambush me and take my supplies when I least expect it?” I asked. My eyes glanced around from side to side, trying to scan the tall grass around me. This really was a good spot to get ambushed in.

She huffed at me and frustratingly threw her sniper rifle on the ground along with her other weapons. “Look, if I wanted to kill you, don’t you think I would have by now?! Why would my ‘people’ wait to befriend you?” Her arms were completely in the air.

I regarded her for a moment. Thinking it over, she did have a point. My pistol was still pointed at her, but I was considering putting it away. She looked at me with a mixture of genuine bravery and courageousness and I could tell that no harm was going to come from a person like her. I lowered my weapon and she smiled.

“That’s more like it, right?” She began to pick up her weapons as I put away mine. She looked at me with curiosity. “My name’s Skye by the way. If you want, we don’t have to stick together. It’s okay. I know I kind of rushed this upon you.” I knew right then I was going to have to make a decision. Would I want her with me? I could already tell that she wasn’t going to slow me down. If anything, it would be the other way around. It also would be the first time I’d ever really been around someone other than my parents. I regarded her for a second time and I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I wanted her as a sidekick, not a friend. I decided after my parents died to not to get close to anyone just to evidently watch them die.

“I have just one question,” I stated.

“Shoot.”

“Why do you trust me?”

She looked at me and said, “Well I figured if you wanted to kill me you would have right? What do we have to lose together?” Her logic made sense. I agreed to have her come along.

“You headed anywhere in particular?” Skye asked later that afternoon as we were headed down a road with minimal obstacles in the way. Not much was said since our initial exchange. I was used to the silence and she could tell I didn’t talk much.

“I’m not headed anywhere. I just wander around. I have been for a long time, “ I explained. She nodded in understanding and agreed.

So that was that. We decided to band together one day. We had been traveling together for a couple of weeks and in that short amount of time, Skye had managed to save my life almost a dozen times over. Everyday I promised myself I wouldn’t get close to anyone ever again, but everyday I got to be more and more friends with Skye. I hated it, but I couldn’t help it. I also was starting to believe that being alone wasn’t my fate, but rather spending my time with a friend whom I had just met.

One night, we had made a small fire just into the woods a ways. Looking around for the undead, Skye said, “I think here’s relatively safe. We should be good for tonight.” I nodded and was able to lean back and relax a little bit. Something I haven’t done in a very long time. It was nice to know that someone had my back.

Studying me she asked suddenly, “So what’s your story?”

I looked up from the fire at her. “What do you mean?”

“Like where you came from. Where were you when this whole thing started?”

“I was just a kid. Eleven, I think.” I spent my teenage years learning how to survive in this world.” I paused. “That was until two years ago, when I was sixteen they died. It was stupid really, I was spared that day. We had found a small cabin in the forest and decided to stay there a night. Everything looked safe, so I volunteered to go by a nearby stream and fill refill our water bottles. When I got back, the undead were swarmed around the little cabin and that’s when I knew what had happened,” I paused again and a single tear fell to the ground. “So I ran after that. I just kept running and didn’t want to stop. I wanted to leave it all behind. Nothing mattered to me anymore. I ran for miles until I collapsed with exhaustion. After that, I mainly stayed out of the way and just kept wandering around like we had before.” Skye was silent when I finished speaking. I sat up suddenly realizing I had never told anyone that story before now. I thought it would remain a secret until I died.

“You’ve been through a lot, I understand. I lost my parents and little brother as well when I was younger,” She told me. I noticed our stories and our past weren’t that much different from each other.

That night was one of the best one’s I’ve ever had. After we told our tragic backstories to each other, Skye changed the topic and we began to discuss happier subjects. Earlier that day, we had found soup in a can at a local grocery store, so we were able to enjoy a nice meal of something. We eventually put out the fire and took turns sleeping and staying on watch.

After that, I should have known that things weren’t going to stay nice forever. I should have known that my brief bits of happiness weren’t going to last. My fate was already decided. I truly was going to be alone forever. Because as soon as I got used to having a friend, she died. Just like that Skye was killed. One day, we were just scouting around a small town and one of the undead came out of nowhere and killed her. There was nothing I could do for her. She was dead in a couple of seconds. I was so angry, with myself really. I knew right from the start that I shouldn’t have gotten close to her. I let myself slip, became friends with her, and lost her the same way I had lost my parents.

I did the same thing as before. I ran straight out of there without turning back. I ended up in the woods when I was done. I wondered why my life was like this. Why was I destined to always be alone? It was a couple hours later, I decided to keep moving. I walked throughout the forest, just like usual: with no place to go. In the woods, there was a clearing with a bunch of spectacularly beautiful flowers in a meadow. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Sitting down on a rock in the meadow I looked out at all the different types of flowers and realized that it must have been springtime. A time of new beginnings. Spring was a time where life is just started to begin. It was then I realized I could just start a new journey. I didn’t have to let fate just tell me what to do anymore. I knew that Skye was watching over me in heaven. And I knew that I could control my own faith if I wanted to. So that’s exactly what I did.

About Grace Newton 221 Articles

Grace Newton is a senior at Clayton A. Bouton High School.