Avoiding the Shadows
A match was lit and was held over a candle. The dark room was illuminated by the small flame as a man walked over to a table. He placed the candle on it and walked over to a window. Darkness shrouded everything outside, and he was able to hear voices outside but no sign of anything living. The man sighed and returned to the table and sat down. He pulled out the matchbox and opened it, only two sticks left. Someone coughed, and he turned his head to see another man laying on the floor. He was shivering and was wrapped with four blankets. He coughed again and spoke.
“Can I get some water?”
The man got up and walked over to the cabin and grabbed a cup then filled it with water. He said nothing any all and handed the cup to his sick friend. He drank a bit but coughed out blood into the glass.
“You’re dying.” The man said as he walked over to the table. “Think it’s time you leave this place.”
“I’ll fight this disease.” The sick man sat up. “John, you won’t let me die out there, would you?”
John said nothing while looking out the window. He tapped his finger on the glass, and something hit it from outside. John gazed at the smoky figure as it backed away from the window.
“John!” The sick man shouted.
“I heard you but what would be the point of both of us dying together.” He turned his head. “You got caught, and now your body is dying, so I’m not going to have a phantom with me inside this place.”
“And how many matches do you have until they get you?”
John shook the box and looked back outside. “I’m planning on leaving this place.”
The sick man laughed then coughed out more blood. “You’re not going to make it out there. The light is only able to protect you so much.”
John walked over to another room where there was a fire on. He grabbed his things and took a torch then lit it. He came out of the place and looked at his friend.
“Wait you are leaving now?”
“The sun has not been out in days.” He adjusted the backpack then heard something hitting on the window. He looked at it, and it was the smoky figure. “There must be a place where its safe and I don’t plan on dying here like you.”
“John don’t you dare leave me alone.” The sick man tried to get up. “I don’t want to die alone.”
John stood by the door and began to unlock it. When the final lock was released, John opened the door and held the light in front of him.
“We all die alone. You might have everyone you know around, but when death’s hand is there by your side, no one can help you. Your time is almost up. By the time that candle goes out, you will have passed away.”
“You are a crowd!”
John said nothing more and stepped out as he closed the door behind him. He could hear his friend calling out to him and pleading to help, but John ignored him and walked straight ahead.
The outside world was covered in a fog, and the torch gave some light but not much to see past it. Voices echoed around John as he silently walked. He kept his eyes on the ground and only looked up to see if something was in front of him. Noises of buildings crumbling were heard in the distance, and more dust filled the air. For a few hours, John had walked and stopped by a rundown store. He moved the torch overhead and peeked through the glass. There was not much inside but got a glimpse of several cans stacked on top another. He leaned back and checked both sides of the building. In the right was the doorway and appeared that it was boarded up. He went to investigate and found a small hole which only a child would be able to enter. John looked around and found small footprints which were too big for a child. He kicked down the board and went inside. A foul smell was in the air which made John sick to his stomach. It was quiet inside, and all the shelves were empty. The only things in the store were the stacked cans. He walked to them and saw that they were opened and empty. He shook his head and continued searching. In the back, the smell was stronger, and it came from a door which was locked. He jiggled the handle, but it would not budge.
There was nothing else, so John returned to the entrance and left the area. He walked for several hours and stopped at another store which still had canned food and bottled water. He grabbed what he could carry then went to the back and locked the door to rest for the night. Placing the torch inside a basket, John opened a can to set it over the flame. While the food was cooking, more voices echoed behind the wall. He shouted to shut them up, but they kept speaking nonsense.
“The world ended, and yet you still keep speaking as if everything is fine.” John stared at the flame. “Maybe it would be better to end it here.”
He removed the can and lifted the torch, something told him not to turn it off, but he did not listen and extinguished it. The darkness filled the room, and John felt something inside with him. A voice shouted to turn it back on as he quickly grabbed the matchbox and lit it. The darkness faded as John seized the torch and relight it. He sat there thinking and gazed at a figure that was by the doorway. John moved the light closer to it, but it was gone as only the door was there in front of him.