End Times: Civilized

It was quiet. Eilen could have said it was as quiet as a crypt. What once was a shelter against the elements of winter became a tomb in the spring. She stepped through the opening where there had once been a pair of heavy steel doors. One door hung to the side, barely held up by a single creaking hinge. The other laid in the center the room in three pieces; thrown by some powerful force.

The leader called this room the fortification chamber. He designed it to be a main line of defense against invaders. There was a similar chamber in their last encampment. Unfortunately, the defenses were no match against the enclave’s armies; most of the barricades were not damaged.

Eilen climbed over the first set of barricades. She slipped and came to rest next to the charred remains of one of the defenders. She knew everybody in her clan but this body she could not recognize due to the extensive burns. Looking around, she realized that corpses surrounded her. One of the bodies appeared as if something ripped it in half.

She fought hard to suppress her instinct to scream. She pressed her fists to the side of her head as hard as she could. The first time she came through this chamber, she did not notice these horrors. Maybe it was because she was alone now; Jessi was a distraction and she needed to keep her calm. Either way, the gravity of what she saw weighed on her.

As she stood and brushed dirt and debris from her dingy clothes, a pair of insects flew without any sound into the chamber from outside. They flew about the chamber in an erratic loop. Eilen’s eyes followed them as they darted back and forth. One of them flew into the command room and back out. Eventually, they flew through an opening in the wall and into the darkness.

The opening through which they flew was the one through which Eilen needed to go. She realized that her breathing became hard and sweat (or tears) dripped ran down her cheeks. There was a churning in her stomach. What was beyond that dark opening was worse than what surrounded her. Death was in that chamber. To get to the food and water, she had no choice but to enter.

After climbing over another barricade and debris, she turned on her flashlight and stood before it. There should have been another metal door. Everybody called it the F-150 door as it featured a tailgate from a long-destroyed vehicle with that name. The door was heavy and there should have been an even heavier barricade behind it. She glanced at the door jamb. The attackers had cut the hinges through the door itself.

Eilen closed her eyes as she entered what they called the common chamber. Her lips quivered in anticipation of what she would see when she opened her eyes. They watered as she tried to keep them shut. She tried to keep her knees from buckling. She could not avoid the truth any longer.

She opened her eyes.

In the far corner from where she pointed her beam of light, there was a pile of bodies. The truth was that It did not matter if you were a man, woman, child, or infant. The enclave killed everyone. She wonders how people who considered themselves to be so civilized could do something like this. Everyone she knew and loved was in that pile; some of them were kin. It hit her like a ton of bricks. She collapsed to the ground sobbing. She could not go forward, tears blurred her vision.

After what seemed like an eternity, she picked herself up and sat on the ground next to the wall. She noticed some vermin had started scavenging among the dead. Their tiny beady eyes glinted at her in the light. Her eyes caught the entrance of the tunnels on the far wall. They led to the sleeping quarters and other places to answer the call of nature. Straight down that tunnel was where she hid the body of her father. If the vermin had come for the others, they surely would come for him. While she did not have the strength to give the others their proper respects, she could at least give them to him.

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