When the World Ends...

In the projected future the Earth and it's people will witness an all out war among humans themselves. Those who die, will be forgotten, those who live, will have no choice but to scour the wasteland that was once their home in search for serenity. Nate Kassel is a survivor, along with his father's friend's children and British tourists who got caught in America. When a strange boy, only slighter older than Nate himself, joins their crew of misfits, what troubles will await them? And what's all this talk about the New World?

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2. ...Pasts Will be Remembered

February 19th, 2055 –Friday – 15:20

Nate Kassel sat perched in the thin oak tree in the front of his lawn. It was not raining, the skies were not black, there were barely any clouds in the blue backdrop above him, and the birds chirped. In fact it was almost a perfect day, if it weren’t for the fact that the only cloud was blocking half of the sun. He grimaced at the cloud, urging it with his mind to move onward, to leave his presence immediately. But instead it mocked him, staying put and not daring to move a muscle.

His calloused hands dug into the bark around him as he steadied himself on the branch more, trying not to let the brown and yellow of the tree tarnish the blue of his clothes. He had worn a suit that day, well as much of a suit a seven year old would wear. Blue shorts accompanied his blue blazer and white dress shirt, along with the deep black on his shoes.

The suit, despite his dislike for it, was required for the events that had occurred earlier that day. Although a black would’ve been better than a navy blue, as it is tradition to mourn in black, not blue. However the boy did not care, he felt as though wearing black would mean that he would be accepting that his mother was gone, blue was much more suitable, and less gloomy. His father had gotten a little lucky at least, the blue was by no means bright, and blending in a little bit better than he thought it would.

Once the dull affairs of the day had ended he wanted nothing more than to go to his room and bury his nose into one of his many books. But much to his avail his room was being used as a room for people to mingle, sharing stories about one Erin Kassel. So he was forced to the tree just outside, disappearing into its leaves and branches without a word to his father or anyone else.

Some would say that he was not sad at all, not with the way he was so calmly staring as the coffin lowered into the ground, but in all honesty it was quite the opposite. He could barely hold himself together; she was his mother for god’s sake! But he had already gone through the crying stage, back when he was first told that she had died, and the mourning had ended a couple of days before the funeral. He found no reason to continue being publically sad if he had already gone through those stages, so he bottled up what wretched emotions he had left and decided to wait out the after party.

It was proving to be quite difficult though, as he had to deal with too many unknown relatives (some perhaps twice removed) asking him how he was doing. Each time he’d reply with a smile and a quiet ‘I’m fine, please go back inside.’ He obviously wasn’t fine, but he’d rather be alone in a tree than inside that house listening to stories about his deceased mother.

Lowering his hands onto the branch below him Nate steadied himself out, swinging his legs down to kick them back and forth. Staring down at the grass below him he tried to get his brain out of the gutter, counting the blades of grass to exile the thought of her face.

The pain would never get easier, he knew this, he saw her face every time he closed his eyes. To Nate, everything around him was dead, just like her. He no longer wanted to smile or laugh, he could barely keep his breathing steady, there was no way he could accomplish those kinds of things. Nate could feel nothing but a numbing pain in his mind and soul. His chest felt hollow where her love for him used to be, as if he would always be in pieces. No one could console him fully, not even his own father. Sometimes he could only anger for everything, the world, God, even his own father. He hated the people who couldn’t save her.

He was smart though, he knew that once someone was gone he could never see them again. Never. To him, and to most people, never is a long time to hurt. It would never end, not until he could finally come to terms with it, fully. Not just partially, but come completely to terms with the fact that she was dead. Every once in a while the pain would be unbearable for him, as if he’d lost a part of himself that he would never get back, for, it had been buried with her that day. In a way, he felt betrayed. After everything he’s done, after all the times he’d prayed, she had left him on that earth to be alone. Or at least as alone one could get with an emotionally distraught parent.

Who could he rely now? There was no one. His father was emotionally disconnected, and he was only seven, he couldn’t care for himself like she did. Who could he turn to? No one. This all pained him to no end, to know that he’d forever be alone. But he swore to himself that he’d never forget her. He wouldn’t forget her blonde hair, the small specks of blue in her brown eyes, the slight crook of her front teeth due to the boot to the face when she was a kid, yes, he would never forget. And that, gave him a little more comfort in the whole situation. That is, despite the fact he felt as though his world was being torn to shreds.

He’d describe the feeling more as if you were walking up stairs, thinking there’d be another step only to raise your foot and touch nothing. Your heart stops, you lose a gasp of breath, and you fall flat on your face. He of course picked himself up and dusted off, trying to act cool about the whole situation, but circumstances like that, where all you wanted to do was not to act calm, it attested to be very tricky.

Somehow, he managed though. Even that day, when he watched that coffin lower into the ground, when he did not shed a tear, when he saw others cry. There was a moment when a small drop of salty water dripped down his cheek and onto the soil, he had noticed this and quickly wiped it away, cursing himself for doing that when his father had been so calm.

The sound of a car’s firing engine brought his attention away from his darkened thoughts and up to the driveway of his home. There a small blue Buick with a sliver trim and white tires that had just seemed to pull up, taking whatever space was left in front of the house. The parking job was horrendous, and whoever it was took little care when it came to their car in the first place.

Scratches covered most of the body of the blue car, along with an awfully done paint job to cover up some keyed in swear words. Immediately he knew who it was. He’d only seen the man a couple of times before this, but he resembled his mother so perfectly. Paul Emings, Erin Kassel’s brother. He only came around when he wanted to, not when he was needed. Which really raised the question why he was there, why he was there even after the funeral. Surely his father wouldn’t be happy.

“Bastard!” Speak of the devil. Nate thought, directing his attention to the brunette man walking out onto the driveway, fists clenched and tie slightly undone from his tuxedo. “Get the hell away from here now!” He screamed, approaching Nate’s uncle with such ferocity that it even scared the boy. “Now!” He yelled, grabbing Paul’s shirt and tugging on it to shake the man a little.

“She was my sister Scott, and I didn’t even get invited to the funeral! Do you have any idea how disrespectful that it!?”  Paul yelled back, pushing Scott off of him and clenching his own fists. Nate had never seen the two actually get into a physical fight, but he’d definitely seen them get angry enough at each other to throw out a couple of curses. “At least let me inside to see my parents!” Paul growled, looking over Scott’s shoulder.

Nate leaned forwards a little, ready to jump down from the branch and stop them if he needed to. Not like someone of his stature could really stop them, but the least he could do was drive some sort of wedge between the two, he being a kid and all. “They don’t want to see you; you’re just an accident waiting to happen!” Scott noticed something moving out of the corner of his eyes, looking up to see Nate swinging partially off a tree branch. He swallowed some spit, knowing very well he wasn’t putting up a very good example for his son.

“It’s not like I killed her!” Paul hollered, a little angry that Scott was now ignoring him. Grabbing Scott’s shoulder and directing his attention to back to him. “You shouldn’t just exile me out of my own family like this Scott!” He slurred his name, grinning a little at the grimace on the man’s face before him.

Scott removed Paul’s hand, staring at the ground now, figuring that he better get this over quickly. “You moron,” His whispered, his lips barely moving. “Do you have any idea how much she loved you? You were her brother, the only one who knew everything about her. And yet, you did nothing. You didn’t show up for her birthday, for Christmas, hell, you barely know her kid’s name. And you still have the audacity to complain about not being a part of this family.” He looked up at the blonde man before him, his eyes full of sorrow. “But then again, here I am, feeling pity for you.”

Taking a moment to collect his thoughts Paul stepped back a little. Scott had a point, he was complaining about not being a part of his family when he never tried to. If it was anyone’s fault that he was being exiled like he was, it was his. He ran his hand through his greasy hair, slicking it back some before letting his hand fall. “I just…feel so guilty.” He whispered, hoping that Scott didn’t hear him. Funerals were supposed to be a time when everyone came together to celebrate the life of someone they loved. Secrets would be spilled, fights would break out, but more importantly families would come together, and join as one. Yet he had the nerve to show up late to the after party.

Emotions were supposed to run wild that day, people were supposed to be upset, but not this man, not the man who was never around for anything important in her life. Nate despised him, he hated him, he wanted him dead. Yet, he’d never actually met the man. Nate however was not one to hold a grudge, even if he had just developed it, because like that what was said, he didn’t know the man.

Scaling down the side of the tree he made sure not to slip, grabbing every available handhold and foothold as possible. Soon enough he could scrape the ground with his toes, deciding to let his fingers straighten out and let his feet slam to the ground. The dress shoes that may have at one point been clean were now covered in dirt and specks of leftover mud from the rain a couple days before. He shook most of the mud off so the shoes didn’t drag down his feet, and stepped in the grass.

His shadow stretched over part of the grass and even onto the driveway as he made his way towards them, calm as ever when Scott began to talk again. “You really need to leave. Feeling guilty and showing up now, is just stupid.” His voice, much like his posture, was solemn, but his words were bitter. Much like Nate, he hated this man, but he knew that he was going through practically the same thing that he was going through. But that didn’t mean he would get special treatment.

“I…I will leave,” He said quietly, staring at the ground. As much as he wanted to stay, there was nothing that he could do to change Scott’s mind. He was angry, upset, stressed, and much more, which really just added to the whole situation. Paul looked up to Scott, keeping his face at a serious expression. “But I want to come back one day, and I want to talk to him, I want to talk to my nephew.” Scott stepped back a little, a slight tinge of pale covering his skin.

He wanted to see…Nate? But he barely knew his name, why would he want to see him? Even Nate was taken a little aback by this, he didn’t want to talk to this man, his father didn’t seem to want to talk to this man, but yet here he was, requesting a meeting with him. No. He refused to do something like that; he would never talk to someone like him, never.

Scott stretched out his hand, taking Paul’s and shaking it properly. “One day, when he’s older, but for now, leave.” Paul nodded, letting go of Scott’s hand and thanking him before crawling back into his car. He had only been there for five minutes, and he’d already fought with Scott, apologized to the world, and asked the impossible of Nate. Needless to say mostly everyone was glad that he was leaving.

The car backfired a couple of times, despite the era it came from, and Paul put the car in gear. There was a moment of pure silence, when not even the wind and the birds made the noise. He shook his head, a little surprised that Scott actually agreed to his request, and began to pull out of the driveway. Having to squeeze through a couple of cars to get to the street he ended up taking a lot longer than he would’ve liked to actually get to the road. But as soon as all four tires touched asphalt, he slammed his foot on the pedal and sped down out of the narrow street.

Nate grimaced, watching as the red blinker turned on and the man sloppily turned onto the main street. His father seemed to be watching as well, a little bit more of a scowl on his face. He did not say anything as Nate stepped up to him, he knew that the boy had been listening and watching, and he knew that Nate knew everything that needed to be known. “Well, at least something interesting happened.” Nate muttered, turning around and heading back towards the house.

“Hmm,” Scott breathed, quietly following Nate back inside.

 

March 22nd, 2059 –Saturday -23:05

There were two things Nate hated, bad dreams, and bad memories. He woke up a little dazed, blinking his eyes and reaching around his night stand for a flashlight, too lazy and way too tired to turn the room light on. The radio was blinking red in the haze of the night, catching his attention and causing him to lean over and shine the flashlight on it. Ever since the impending threats of world war three started, radios began coming with features to record the notices about said world war, giving people who weren’t around radios 24/7 a helping hand in terms of the war.

He clicked the play button, leaning back into his bed and waiting for the warning to play. He expected it to be like every other warning just that other countries were almost breaking the borders, but not succeeding yet. It was pretty predictable though that sooner or later (probably in less than a month) that they would break through the borders and everyone would be pretty much screwed.  Figuring that the military would bail as soon as that happened, both he and his father had ‘prepared’ enough to be able to get up and go when the time came.

We regret to inform the barriers have been broken around all edges of America. As we reported yesterday, they were not supposed to last long, but as they have now been broken we ask you to stay in you homes and wait for further instruction from the military. The small wars that have occurred in other countries have gotten bigger, and there have been reports of nuclear weapons aimed at said countries.

He turned the radio off, surprised that they had already broken into the US. The news report the day before was suggesting that they had at least another week, so hearing that they had less than a couple of hours, was a little surprising. Shining the flashlight around his room he spotted the black backpack hanging on his door and grinned. His feet touched the ground lightly and he made his way towards the door, grabbing the backpack and picking up his shoes off the floor.

Having had slept in his clothes, even his socks, he didn’t bother with getting more, and just swung the door open to the lit up hallway. He smiled at this, looking up and down the hallway to see his father rushing around and grabbing the last of the important things. “Ah, Nate, good, you’re up! Make sure you have everything you need and head for the car, I’ll be down there as soon as possible.”

“Where are we going?” Nate asked as he stopped at the top of the stairs.

Scott looked over at him, clenching his fists, hating to uproot him like this, hating that the war had to break out when he was still so young. “The hospital, Grundy’s there, so I can drop you off and head for the base.” Not but a year before the threats began Scott had joined the military, deciding that he might as well serve his country before it went down in flames. However he didn’t expect the war, and he sure as hell didn’t expect being told that he had to give up his child either. But since he enlisted he was told that as soon as those barriers were broken, he had to cut any ties to come and help. To the government Nate was just collateral, so he had to be done away with.

Of course he wasn’t going to just kill the boy, he was nowhere near that demented, but he had arranged to have him dropped off with one of his closer friends. Plus the hospital was where most of the people who weren’t a part of the military were going to be. Grundy just so happened to be a doctor at said hospital, and was one of the few people that Scott trusted well enough to leave Nate with him. That and the doctor had two children of his own, so he would know how to take care of one more.

“Okay. I’ll be in the car with the keys!” Nate said, smiling a little and stomping down the stairs. Scott just sighed at this and headed back into his room, scanning it one last time to make sure there was nothing he was leaving behind. Hard drive, flash drive, guns, Erin’s photo, and this necklace. He thought, naming the things in the duffle bag in his hand and the small golden chain intertwined in his fingers.

“I don’t even know what this is for…” He mumbled, remembering her words when she had given it to him. When Nate was five Erin had been diagnosed with skin cancer, and despite the day and age she lived in, the cancer spread too fast and soon killed her. But a couple of weeks before she died Scott had sat at her bedside, silently watching her breathe.

Give this to him when he knows what it will mean. She had said to him, dropping the locket and chain in his trembling hand. He looked at her, eyes wide and mouth agape a little. He’d seen the necklace before, it was something that her mother had given her, but he himself had no idea what it meant. What was he supposed to do if Nate never knew what it meant? That whole moment would just be in vain. But he took it from her, clasping his hand around the small necklace.

He smiled a little at the memory. “Of course I will.” He whispered, mimicking the same words that he had said to her that day. Stuffing the necklace in his pocket he closed the door to his room and stood in the hallway, taking in that part of the house that he would never see again, most likely. Throwing the duffle bag over his shoulder he made his way to the stairs, closing the rest of the doors on his way there.

It was almost midnight, and he was pretty tired, but he was still shocked nonetheless. The time for them to leave had come so soon, sooner than he had expected, along with the time for him to leave Nate for good. The boy was only eleven at the time, only four years older from when his mother had passed, and he was practically losing his father as well. Yet he still grinned and laughed at him when they talked about leaving.

Heading down the stairs after Nate, who already seemed to be in the garage and possibly in the car, he turned the corner of the stairs and slipped into the laundry room. Scoffing at the mess he had to admit that it was nice to be able to leave his home and not worry about paying mortgage on it or anything like that, same with his car and the bills. He was already pretty much broke most of the time, even when Erin was still alive, so it was nice to no longer stress about paying the government for his house.

Yanking the door open he noticed the lights were on in the car and grinned, seeing as Nate was already blasting some rock music as loud as it would go. “Honestly Nate, do you always have to blast your music like that?!” He yelled over the speakers, opening the back hatch and shoving the duffel bag in right next to a rifle case. Having already loaded the some of the bigger guns in the car, he didn’t have to worry about carrying them out, however it had been a little awkward driving around with a bunch of rifles and shotguns in the back of his car.

Slamming the hatch down he rounded the car towards the driver’s side, glad that Nate had chose to turn the music down just a couple of notches, and jerked the door open, not really caring when it hit the side of the garage. Hoping into the car he turned the key farther, hearing it roar to life, and pressed the door opened on the visor. “Alright-y then, you ready?” Nate was too busy flipping through the pages of some book with the words ‘Advanced Space Plasma Physics’ to notice his father was talking to him.

I’m not sure if he’s reading that, or looking at the pictures. Scott thought warily, peeking over to see that Nate’s eyes were in fact scanning across the page rapidly at the words. “Ready as I’ll ever be.” Nate mumbled, smiling up at his shocked dad. Letting his face relax he put the car in gear set both hands on the steering wheel. Listening when he’s not hearing, a skill he and Erin have in common. The car pulled out of the garage and he didn’t bother to shut the door before sliding out onto the street.

Nate found himself staring at the tree he had seen in his dreams, wishing there was some way he could stay there, stay with that tree. He narrowed his eyes. Doesn’t matter anyways, the trees already cracking.

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