Chapter One: While They Were Gone
“Mama, I’m hungry.”
“I know, honey,” says Carla Raymond, stroking her thin daughter’s hair. The year was 2221, and Carla, along with the other families, were counting down the days until their significant others would return.
Carla bit at the chance to use her knowledge and skill to board the ISS when Phil made her the offer, but she stressed demands to take her daughter along and that she wouldn’t be a bother or get in anyone’s way. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t be allowed by any means, but times then were no longer classified as normal. But it would give her the chance to see Clint when he docked at the ISS and introduce him to Maria.
Maria Raymond, Carla’s daughter, had almost no memory of her father other than what she told her. Her early childhood memories of her warm, kindhearted father were being replaced by hunger and the cold, steel walls of the containment center. And Clint hadn’t yet known he now has a daughter. The pregnancy came as a surprise to her about five weeks after Clint left for space. Now, as things stand, he may never see Maria alive.
“Mama, when do we get to go home?”
Carla didn’t answer. She’s busy thinking about her husband, but more than anything, she’s thinking about the zombies, and the delayed supply ships.
We don’t have much time left, she thinks, looking around at the dozens of haggard, starving faces. What if there’s nothing for him to come back to?
Just a little longer, she counters. We can go just a little longer.
She’s not so sure she’s telling herself the truth.
She looks back down at Maria. The youngest. Her baby. She couldn’t let her die. Not yet.
Her sons, Andy and Zach were with her parents on earth and prayed every day and night they were all safe. The devastation caused by the zombies drove them and her parents into an underground shelter that at one time, people laughed at her father as he built it himself.
“Laugh,” he said, “but one day this may save our lives.”
Carla hoped every day he was right.
Her sons weren’t little boys any longer. They are young, strong men but how long could they hold out? How long could anyone with what has been happening? There had been a few times bile would rise at the thought of her family being eaten alive and then becoming like them.
She should never have agreed to this. Never. She should have made Clint stay home where he belonged. With his family.
She wondered if they’d ever feel like a family again. Julie was never ready to be a mom. Clint had asked, and of course, she’d said yes. She could never say no to Clint, and had never really wanted to. And she’d done okay, with Clint by her side. But without Clint… she felt like she was letting her children down.
To Telos. That’s what they started calling it. Fitting.
Because she thinks she might be nearing her end. She’s given every scrap, every ration, to Julie. She’s always been on the heavier side. Even now, after a prolonged period of near starvation, someone looking at her might call her overweight. Her mama used to tell her she was built different. It didn’t matter what she ate, she was always teased. Always ridiculed. So many people might have been jealous of her. At this moment, she looked like she was well-fed, and of course, that made the rumors fly.
She paid no attention, merely kept stroking her youngest daughter’s hair. Their words didn’t hurt her. She had a wonderful husband.
A wonderful daughter and two fine sons. She had her life, and she didn’t care what anyone else thought, because they couldn’t take that away.
She looked up from her occupied lap at the man before her. It was the brother of one of the crew members, she recognized him from the liftoff. She hadn’t really talked to him before, but she always felt like he was a nice guy. She hoped he was a nice guy.
As it turns out, Mark Caruthers, brother to Dale Caruthers, was a nice guy. But he was also a coward.
And so, when the rest of the ship voted, he was nominated to act.
“We know you’ve been stealing food,” he says. “Eating more than your share.”
“I have not,” she says, keeping her voice steady. “I’ve been giving every bit to Maria, and I certainly would never deprive you or your kids, either.”
Now, she loses it, standing up and pushing Maria off her lap.
“No! Don’t you dare say my name like that. I’m not fucking lying, Mark!”
Mark stared at her, his face filled with pity. “Carla, we know this is hard. It’s hard for all of us. But you’re only making things harder by lying. We have an eyewitness.”
“An eyewitness? Liar! Whoever they are, they’re a liar!”
“Mommy, what’s happening?” Maria asks, tugging at her sleeve.
“Nothing, honey, don’t worry about it…”
Maria doesn’t believe her Mama. She wonders what Mama is hiding, and why nobody tells her anything.
She lunges for the bigger man standing next to Mark; she doesn’t know his name.
“Get away from my mama!” she yells. “Stop being a meanie!”
No one saw who shot the bullet. No one saw any smoke, or a gun.
There was only the earsplitting sound, and Carla Raymond crumpled to the ground.
“What have you done?” Maria whispers. “What have you done to my mama?”
She lunges, tears stream down her face at Mark, and all hell breaks loose. A second shot rings out and Maria slumps to the floor inches away from Carla.
Mark and the larger man just stood there, perplexed looks on their faces as if sorting out what just happened.
From behind them, a man and a woman snuck away. Right before everything got lethal, they crawled away, and they hid.
Their names were Darryl Addams and Elana Mycrovitch.
Written By: WhiteWolfe32