by W.G. Sweet
Alabama Island is a new society that rises from the ashes of the old… These are the people who build it…
Joel came awake with sunlight streaming in through the windshield of the small car. He looked around at the road. Stalled cars for as far as he could see in any direction He was somewhere outside of Rochester, but where, he wondered. He thought back to Rochester.
The drive into the city in the early morning had seemed uneventful right up until the attack had come. Afterward he had berated himself, cursed himself for not taking the events of the night before more seriously, but he knew that the truth was that none of them had. None of them had, and now he was the only one left. The only one left, and he was alone because of that decision.
They had just passed a large mansion, or what had once been a large mansion on East avenue: Nearly into downtown when the attack had come. The last Jeep, Ed… Terry, Gina? He couldn’t remember for sure, but it didn’t matter, they were only the first to go. The Jeep had blown up behind them. One second it was morning silent; birds whistling from the tree lined street, and the next a roaring fireball had erupted from the Jeep. The Jeep had lifted into the air engulfed with flame, and had come back down a split-second later a twisted, shattered wreck. The roof ripped open crudely as if a giant can opener had done the job: Glass gone, body twisted. Blackened shapes, still moving, clearly seen through the flames.
They had all panicked. Joel had hit the brakes, somehow convinced they had driven over something in the road. Landmines. The word leapt into his mind and kept repeating. The second Jeep had rammed into them, Scott, Lilly, Jan, and that had distracted him further. As he had lifted his eyes he had seen the men squatting beside the once elegant mansion. A rocket launcher on one man’s shoulder, and he had known the truth.
His foot had seemed to leap forward of its own accord and slam into the gas pedal, but it was too late. His eyes swiveled back, and he saw the rocket leap from the launcher. A second later a black curtain had descended.
He had come to hours later. The vehicles’ nothing but twisted husks, still burning in the black night. He could feel the heat from the fires. He had lain for what seemed like a long time trying to orient himself, make sense of what he last remembered, and what he now saw. Time did nothing to sort it out. It still made no sense some time later when he had first tried to sit up. Pain had flared everywhere and the black curtain had descended once more.
The second time the fires had been out. Heat still came from the blackened shells, but the fires were dead. The moon was high in the sky, bloated, bright silver.
He had moved slower, and while it had been close he had managed to fight past the first pain when he had moved.
His left leg was bad. Not broken, but cut badly, maybe sprung, after all he had lain with it twisted to one side for what he assumed was a very long time. He used part of his shirt to wrap his leg as he let his head clear.
His head was worse. Pain inside every time he tried to move too fast. It felt like liquid sloshing around inside his head, his brain shifting with it, slamming into the bone cage of his skull, and he wondered if it were true, or just something his mind provided in explanation of the pain. As he sat the pain eased enough for him to stand. Standing helped to ease it even more, and he began to search.
What was left was hard to understand at first. Pieces. An arm here, a leg there, bones blackened in the wreckage. A pool of blood where his head had lain. No other blood anywhere, and more than enough pieces and bones to make him sick.
Vomiting had pulled the pain back full force and he had found himself exiting into the black curtain once again. It was dawn when he had found his way back and a sense of urgency to be moving had set in…