By Carrie Ann Golden
A writer and her adolescent muse
Rob gripped the steering wheel as he watched a brown leaf roll across the gray hood. His haggard face covered with salt and pepper beard helped conceal the white scar across his right cheek. He stared ahead as he half-listened to the car radio.
“The President is expected to address the nation tonight for the final time.” The radio garbled. “Before leaving with his family to an undisclosed location.”
He leaned over and changed the stations.
“CDC still have no answers as to what is causing the flu-like pandemic, nor are they any closer to an effective vaccine or treatment…”
“With the death toll skyrocketing across the country and hospitals completely overwhelmed with the sick, medical personnel are urging everyone to stay indoors in hope of slowing down the spread…”
“Ten more police officers gunned down by looters as they struggle to protect the civilians still in the downtown area…”
The radio went silent when Rob opened the door. He didn’t bother to close it as he staggered into the expansive cemetery. Shadows lurked everywhere yet his own moved with each faltered step. His shoulders slumped forward as he buried both hands deep in the pockets of the ragged trench coat.
He passed rows and rows of old and broken stones until he approached a mangled oak tree. He stooped over a particular headstone, half-buried in yellowed grass. He pulled his right hand out and pressed it on top of the cold stone.
Born March 3, 1972-Died November 12, 2010
Born April 15, 2008-Died November 10, 2010
He bowed his head, eyes closed. “Jules…three years, Jules.”
He stood still for several moments. A dark lock of hair fell over his left eye as his lips quivered. Rob then deliberately reached into the right pocket, and pulled out a pistol.
“I’m so tired of just surviving.” He mumbled as he shifted the weapon to his left and then back to the right hand. “Everyone’s gone.” He pressed the trigger back. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.” And raised the gun towards his temple.
He suddenly paused midway when the branches of the nearby tree swayed and creaked. A breeze swept over his thin body as his hazel eyes searched each and every stone.
“Jules?” His voice shook.
Everything grew still. Including the shadows.
Rob sucked in a trembling breath as he extended the free hand into the left pocket, and extracted a tarnished, gold-colored pocket watch. He used the thumb to flip the lid open.
“7:15.” He whispered.
He blinked several times. There was something engraved in the lid as he continued to stare at it.
79 S 30 W
A smile slowly spread across his lips. “Dad, you son of a b–” He chuckled as he snapped the lid shut, and dropped the watch back into the pocket.
Rob leaned against the headstone as he pushed the trigger back down.
“There’s something I need to do, Jules.” He muttered with excitement. “I’ll be back to…” His voice trailed off when he turned around.
A piece of wood slammed against the side of his head, and he instantly slumped to the ground. As he lied in a heap, his eyes remained open.
They saw nothing.
A murky shadow moved across the earth and enveloped the body, and lifted the watch out of the pocket.
“Whatcha got, Jim?” A scrawny girl in a tattered dress appeared next to the corpse.
The male teen’s crooked smile revealed two missing front teeth as he grasped the ticking object in his grimy hand. “Lunch!”