“No, It Was You…”
The Jackson family never imagined they would experience the apocalypse.
Before the zombies came, Sarah and her husband, John, along with their twin sons Joshua and Jacob, never imagined they would have to live through the downfall of humanity. This close, tight-knit family of four who lived in a small suburban house on the outskirts of Chicago never imagined that one day they would have to live in the woods. Never imagined they would hunt their own food. Never imagined they would make their own weapons. Never imagined they would kill each other.
But the zombies did come. And this little family found themselves living in a small, remote campsite out in the woods. They had done as the government advised, while there still was a government, and had left civilization to avoid the zombies. Less people, less chance of the infection spreading, less danger. Or so they thought. So now they lived in a rudimentary lean-to shelter near a small campfire. Their camp, nestled in a clearing approximately thirty feet wide, surrounded by limbs and underbrush arranged into almost a wall, was all they had for protection along with a few makeshift wooden weapons. And one pistol with only three bullets. The only true weapon they had in the house when they evacuated.
In the two years since they escaped, the family had learned how to live off the land and had even built up enough food and supplies to live fairly comfortably. At least, as comfortably as one can in the middle of the forest during a zombie apocalypse.
But then, one day, everything went terribly wrong.
“Where is all the food?” Joshua questioned as he returned from the storeroom they had built on the outskirts of the encampment.
“What do you mean, where is all the food?” his father replied, looking worried. “Its all right where we left it.”
Sarah, slightly startled by this new revelation, but not necessarily trusting the judgment of her teenage son, went to check on the storeroom. “He’s right,” she said to her husband. “Some of the food is definitely gone. Something must have gotten into our stores.”
Nodding his head and promising to investigate further at a later time, John quickly forgot about the whole incident.
About a week later, the thief struck again. “More of the food is gone.” Sarah exclaimed looking around sternly at her family members.
“I haven’t been near the storeroom in ages.” They all replied in quick succession.
“You know that is all the food we have. If it was any of you, just confess and I promise, the rest of us won’t get angry.”
“I promise,” Jacob assured his mother, “None of us have taken more than our allotment of food.”
“Ok, if you say so.”
This new development did not quickly leave their heads this time. Over the next several days, the family began to watch each other’s every movement. Why is Joshua going off into the woods so often? Does John seem quieter than normal? Why is mom always glancing towards the storeroom? Is Jacob gaining some weight? Although they never directly accused each other, the questions remained, food kept disappearing, and slowly everybody grew more and more on edge. Until one day, all the food was gone.
“Now what are we going to do?”
“Who ate the last of the food?”
“We are all going to starve!”
“Winter is coming, and we have nothing stored up!”
“How dare you steal it all?”
“Me steal it all? It wasn’t me! It must be him!”
“No way! It was you!”
“Me? It couldn’t have been me! It must have been her!”
“Don’t blame your mother! It must have been one of you two! Ungrateful teenagers, eating us literally out of house and home!”
“Dad! How dare you accuse us? How do we know it wasn’t you?!”
“Will everyone just SHUT UP!” Sarah finally yelled, trying to restore some calm. “All of this blaming each other is not going to help!”
The three men calmed down. Winter came. Hunger set it. Along with the hunger came the bitterness.
“If you had not eaten all the food, we would still be fine.” Jacob said to his brother one day while their parents were out checking the traps for food. Joshua, blinded with hunger and angry for being accused once again, pounced on his brother. The two boys fought viciously. A primeval kind of fight, brought about by hunger and bitterness. Through this fight they released the built up anger, disdain for their living conditions, and their growing hatred and jealousy for each other. Reaching its climax, Joshua had Jacob pinned to the ground and was choking him. Jacob struggled, but it was in vain. Gradually, the struggling became weaker and weaker. Joshua, blinded with rage, did not notice as the heartbeat he once could feel through his hands, still firmly clasped around the neck of his brother, eventually stopped.
Joshua, emerging from his wrath induced stupor, looked down at the lifeless form of his brother and sobbed. Suddenly, he heard a shriek from across the clearing as his mother ran to the still form of her son. As she hugged him tight to her chest, her husband grabbed Joshua by the throat and pinned him to the nearest tree.
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE DONE?” He screamed in rage, spit flying in the face of his only remaining son. “YOU KILLED HIM! HE’S DEAD! MY SON IS DEAD!”
Joshua, still reeling from the death of his brother could only sob. The sound of the sobbing only served to enrage his father more. “WHAT…WHERE…YOU…THINKING?” He screamed, with each word slamming his son against the tree. On the last word, Joshua’s head snapped forward and then back, his neck making a sickening pop as he slumped, dead, into his father’s arms.
In shock, John let the body of his other son fall to the ground. Collapsing down next to him, John could do nothing but stare at the lifeless form. His son, both his sons, now lay dead. Letting out a cry of agony as his heart broke, John cradled his son, just as he had done when Joshua was a baby. Tears streaming down his face, John stiffened as he felt something cold and metallic press into the back of his head.
Sarah, who had looked up just as her only remaining son fell to the ground, pressed the pistol to the back of her husband’s head. “It’s all your fault,” she whispered in his ear as she put her finger on the trigger. “You brought us out here. You ate all the food. You stole from us. You killed him. No… you killed them both.”
He denied none of it. “Just do it,” was all he said.
A bang echoed around the clearing as John slumped over the body of his dead son, blood running from the fatal wound in his head. Sarah looked around. All alone, she put the gun in her own mouth. A slight pause, then a second shot rang through the forest.
Startled from the storeroom, a small fox, the remaining food clasped tight in his teeth, darted into the darkness.