Inhabitable | Invasion Survivor Book Two | Chapter Twenty-One
Bodies were scattered across the ground from the spaceship, and by the looks of it, they were all dead. Several others who were on their feet didn’t last long and quickly collapsed before dying in the street.
“Help,” Paige heard someone choke out before succumbing.
What is happening here? Paige wondered.
People started coming out of the buildings and falling in the street.
“You think it’s because of the explosion?” Paige asked in shock.
“I guess so,” Willow replied with a shrug, looking up at her. There were bags under her eyes from everything she’d been through. She spoke so softly, it was almost a whisper.
It appeared that those who had been infected with the black mass were dying if they weren’t already dead. Paige suddenly remembered AJ saying that if the black mass was inside them, they were already dead.
Did that mean when the ship was destroyed, they became officially dead? Paige wondered, though the evidence was right in front of her eyes.
The black mass was inside of me, Paige reminded herself. For some reason she felt compelled to look down at her hands. She expected to see the black mass coursing through her veins before it killed her as well, but nothing like that happened.
Why am I still alive? Why am I not dead? Not that she would complain about that.
Once again, Paige thought she was still a functioning human being, despite the black mass inside of her.
They weren’t out of the woods yet. They still had to reach the NASA compound. They were all so young, but it felt like they’d done all the heavy lifting while the adults did nothing or hid the truth from them for so long. If only her father had come when all this mess started and picked them up like the rest, then maybe they could have avoided this mess. “Paige,” Angela said suddenly. Despite sounding calm, Paige knew she was anything but. “When we get to Maryland, I’m going to ask your father why he didn’t come get us.”
Despite her previous matching thoughts, Paige frowned, feeling the need to defend him.
“Dad told me he couldn’t. He was being held prisoner there,” Paige explained.
Paige looked at Willow to see if she agreed with her, but she stayed silent and once again turned her attention to the scene outside.
Poor Willow, Paige suddenly thought. Her sweet little sister had seen things no little kid should see.
They were still here, and they needed to continue fighting. So, all their sacrifices wouldn’t be in vain.
“We mustn’t lose a second. We should go. Who knows how important or fatal one second can be,” Angela said.
“Come,” Paige said and took Willow and Peter by the hand. Together, they silently followed Angela out of the apartment and to the streets.
“Wait,” Angela said, forcing them all to stop. “I need my stuff. Hopefully it’s still just a few blocks away.”
The gang headed back to where Angela had been hiding, and luckily, her bags were still there.
Angela rummaged through one of the pockets and pulled out her amber bracelet. She slid it on, and she was no longer glowing.
Once they collected the bags, they started making their way through the city again, and Paige noticed that it was almost empty. The spaceship that was to blame still burned in the background, and there was a terrible smell that lingered in the air because of it.
Walking in those moments, Paige felt like this wasn’t a real town that was once full of life, drama, and all kinds of commotion. It was instead some set of some post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie. She’d never seen such a thing before in her life, and it felt odd being there. All the destruction and dead bodies that littered the streets gave new meaning to the phrase “all alone in the world.” Even though they’d seen a few people walking here and there, it was obvious they were in shock. They aimlessly walked about, unsure of what to do or where to go next.
“Go to the NASA compound,” Paige tried to tell them, but no one listened.
“Paige, stop doing that,” her mother snapped at her while frowning.
“Why?” she asked in return. They were the last survivors, and they deserved a chance to get out of this hell, too.
“Just do as I say,” was her mother’s only response.
Paige let it go, too tired to argue anyway.
“This is so sad,” Paige said, mostly to herself as she looked around.
Nobody answered her because there were no words to describe the total devastation that surrounded them. Each one of them was too lost in their own thoughts.
“Mom, will we be able to reach Maryland? What’s your plan?” Paige asked once they retrieved their stuff. Of course, her Mom had the most, so even Peter had something to carry. Paige only asked because she needed something to distract herself.
Her mother smiled while picking up her pace. “We’ll walk during the day, and we’ll hide during the night. What else can we do?”
Paige nodded. “I guess you’re right. Hiding is the best.”
Despite her reply, Paige couldn’t help but shudder, remembering the past twenty-four hours of her life.
The aliens had destroyed the world, the entire freaking world. How can one recover from that? Can the world?
As they walked, Paige took note of more spaceships on the horizon. They were far from them, but they existed, and they were here in the Earth’s atmosphere. There had to be more of them, too. She imagined they were in the outer-atmosphere, far enough away they just couldn’t see them all.
AJ blew up one ship, but there were still many more. Somehow, his efforts and sacrifice appeared to be in vain. That small act of rebellion didn’t accomplish anything.
And then it occurred to her that her mother always talked about the good aliens fighting on their side, but where were they now when they needed them the most?
They aren’t here. They’d abandoned them all to die!
At that moment, Paige hated all the aliens, no matter the side they claimed to be fighting for.
Still looking at the spaceships, Paige wished she could blow them all to smithereens with her thoughts alone.
Suddenly, Tilley started to sing. Paige frowned, recognizing the song. It was “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. She had a lovely voice, and a catchy song was infectious. Pretty soon, Willow smiled and joined in, and even Paige decided to sing a verse or two.
The song really brightened the mood. It was Peter who started to dance right in the middle of the street, doing the moonwalk, then the running man. It wasn’t long before the girls joined in. Paige was amazed by their ability to bounce back so easily, and she was grateful for that.
While Willow, Peter, and Tilley continued to sing along, Paige decided to have a chat with her mom.
“Mom, do you think those spaceships are far enough away from us?” Paige asked.
“Yes, they are,” her mother replied instantly. “But it doesn’t mean they can’t come closer.”
“Is our last name really Moon?” Paige asked.
She laughed. “What do you think?”
“That’s my girl.”
The kids moved on from singing to doing impressions. At the moment, Tilley was imitating a famous actress, and Paige couldn’t help but laugh.
“Let’s walk this way. It’ll take us out of the city,” Angela said, taking the lead.
They followed her and headed for Maryland. On their slow travels toward the NASA compound, they would pass by people, but her mom made their group avoid them as much as was possible.
“Don’t look at them,” Angela warned. “Who knows who they are? They may be Shadows interested in you. Try to be invisible, ok?”
The children nodded, petrified of the idea of being taken again.
“Look, neither of us have weapons,” Angela said to her. “We’d better find things we can use.”
Paige pondered about that before replying. “That’s easy. We can enter any abandoned apartment and find something there. Of course, I’m not counting on finding a gun, but finding a knife should be pretty easy.”
She wasn’t sure what a knife could do to a Shadow since a gun had shown poor results, but it was still better than nothing.
“There’s my clever girl!” Her mom laughed softly.
Paige smiled, feeling rather proud of herself that she could still do that.
As darkness approached, they entered an abandoned apartment building they’d found on their way.
“First thing, we must find is a suitable wardrobe to hide in,” Angela commanded as she searched all the bedrooms one at a time. “How wonderful!” she exclaimed. “Just look here. What a huge wardrobe.”
Paige got closer and looked. It was a rather big wardrobe with lots of space inside, but Paige couldn’t say she was too excited about spending another night in one.
“Let’s find some knives,” Paige said in return, entering the kitchen.
Her mother followed suit while Peter, Willow, and Tilley remained in the bedroom.
Opening the first drawer, Paige was fortunate enough to find rather large knives and decided to split them among the members of her little gang.
Angela found some food in the fridge. After laying everything out on the counter, she called out for the children to join them.
“Dinner is served,” her mother said, and those were the magical words. They were all ravenous.
“It seems like ages since I ate anything,” Willow said, letting out the sounds of pure joy.
“We’re lucky to be here,” Paige replied. No one could guarantee when would they have their next meal. In a rush, they ate all the food they could fit in their bellies and drank some cool water from the tap afterward.
Spending the night in the wardrobe reminded Paige of AJ and Dave. The thought made Paige laugh. Now AJ and Dave were stuck together in a tiny escape pod.
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