Rachel's Past

Rachel Valentine's story begins in the dark of the night when she was no more than six years old, sleeping in the room she shared with her brother. The sirens and lights that flickered by the window doing little to rouse the young duo, their restful night cut short by the sharp, horrible screams of their mother just down the hall from them. Hearts hammering in their small chests as they flung themselves out of bed and to the door to hurry out into the hall.

Their mother stood on the flat of the stairs, only her head visible as she stared into the light of the downstairs. Pain and horror etched into her sweat sheened face, her eyes never prying from what she was looking at. Their father peeled out of the bedroom just ahead of them, and in the dim light they could see the dark crimson footprints he left behind. The wet, sticky sounds accompanied by the sickly sweet scent of fresh blood did little to calm their frantic hearts, overwhelmed by it all on what seemed to be a normal night up until this. For a moment Rachel almost felt like she was dead, her blood ran cold and her vision faltered, the hall spinning away from her as she collapsed.

It would be some time before she woke again, all of them in the living room now, blood soaked into the soft white carpet just beyond the front door. A sheet was further off, a smeared pool of sticky crimson leading to it. It looked almost as if someone were hiding under it, like in her brothers games of hide and seek. Looking across the living room now she noticed that their neighbors were with them, gathered together. Some were whole, some missing mothers, fathers, or even the more distraught families missing their children. One of which she knew the parents, but Kloe and Joseph were nowhere to be seen.

Rachel didn't know what was happening, even as they were moved down to the basement. It was not a place her or her brother were allowed to go into, there was a heavy circular door on the floor that their dad didn't want them to be around. Everything seemed to be going so fast, watching the other families go down into the dark as the door was opened, their descent echoing down and back up. Looking to her mother and father she saw them exchanging words, both of them broken voiced and holding back the flood of tears that reddened their eyes and threatened to fall.

Rachel moved over to them and they grew silent, her mother breaking into sobs as their eyes met, her brother soon to follow her to them. In that moment, neither of them would know why they were crying or why they were embracing, but it was something they would never forget.

"Rachel... Tyler... *sob* I'm so sorry... *gasp* I love you.. both of you.. and don't you ever forget... *sniffle* Mommy loves you.." She would say to them with all the pain, love, and sorrow in her heart and soul. She held them tight and let it last for as long as she could. She was shaking, her body burning with pain, Rachel could feel it even when her mother pulled away. Her warm sunny smile was a thin, quivering frown, her lovely sun kissed skined tone reduced to a pale, veiny and clammy state. Her once bright eyes were now sunken and bruised, bloodshot and yellowed. Blood pooling from the back of her calf as she stood up, slowly slipping off her necklace and putting it over Rachel's head with shaky hands.

She pushed them towards the door in the floor. "Follow daddy.. *sniffle* I'll... I'll be right behind you..." She forced a smile and gestured for them to go. "I promise.."

And so they went.. following down after their father as he climbed down, sparing their mother one last kiss. And as Rachel climbed down into the hole, gripping tightly to the bars of the ladder, she looked up to her mother who stood over her, crouched down slightly with a smile.

"Can we climb down together?" Rachel asked, to which her mother shook her head.

"We won't both fit down that hole at the same time. Now go on.. Be my brave little girl. I'll be right behind you..." Her eyes would fill with tears as she spoke, lying through her teeth.

Rachel smiled back at her and began her descent, not just a few steps down she was met with the sound of the hinges groaning overhead. She figured it was her mother closing the door behind her, so she didn't look up. She kept going until she reached the bottom, looking up into the dark of the hole above now.

"I did it mommy!" She yelled loudly, but her voice quickly bounced back up at her, the light of the basement was gone.. Sealed away behind the door. "M-mommy..?" She called, her eyes slowly swelling with tears and as she called again she found her voice to be nothing but the desperate screams for her mother.

Twelve years later...

Rachel fiddled with the cross necklace around her neck, plagued by her memories of that night as she rested her back against the ladder that brought them all down here. They were no longer the rowdy young kids that they once were, none of them really had been since that night. They spent more time in the silent company of each other, sharing little words between them. Most of them dressed in black as they grew up, taking on the attire as being an eternal mourning for those they had lost be them friends, family members, or even acquaintances.

They came up with names for each other, sort of a gag for the whole apocalypse thing. Rachel became Ruck, and when she wasn't around it was Ruck the Ruined. Since that night she seemed to be the one that suffered most. She separated herself from everyone and often spent her nights staring up that long ladder, waiting for what would never come. She would scream and cry, letting out all her anger, beating her fists into the metal till her hands were black and blue.

Two years ago her and Tyler's father died, suffering a heart attack when his grief finally claimed him. He had started romancing one of the widowed mothers, they would console each other and it brought them close, but in the hopeless snares of sorrow his new beloved took her own life and soon after it would become too much for their dad to handle.

Rachel took on carrying his revolver, the gun always strapped to her hip. Tyler would spend his time with the others and soon Rachel felt disconnected from those she was saw as friends and family and became solitary in the dark of the bunker.

Two years later..

With everyone reaching into their twenties and the the supplies and pipelines failing them in being sustainable any longer, the proposal to open the exit door came to light. No one had been beyond the bunker since they arrived and it was a mystery as to what they would find beyond it, but with no other options it was obvious that action had to be taken, and when the time finally came.. they left.

The tunnel exited out into an overgrown river bank beyond the city, the water ran by them and the life looked like a sign of hope.. but it was only their first glance of what lie beyond..

As they breached the top of the bank they were met with the rolling of smoke from the city that still burned after all the years, the field beyond was overgrown, but the mangled bones of corpses long licked clean rose just above the snarling vines and weeds. The air smelled sickly, like rot and tar. Cars littered flat grounds and small plane laid crumpled in its blackened remains in a nearby treeline. With a few spared glances and a couple of silent prayers they set off towards the city to which they would never return.

Two more years later... Present time...

Rachel stared down at the ground, her brothers black bandana tied around her nose and mouth, hood keeping the light of the sun from her eyes. Speckles of blood stained her nearly white hair, her eyes distant and longing before she seems to snap to her senses and slowly stands, not even bothering brushing the dirt and grass from her legs. Behind her was a large tree and around that tree sat five individual graves. The bark on the tree had been stripped away over each of them to make a makeshift headstone with their respected names and nicknames.

The first was Julie Myles (Jackle).

The second was Neil Baker (Nickles).

The third was Tony Jacobson (Terrible Tony).

The fourth was Bridgett Ridings (Blight).

And the fifth was Tyler Valentine.


As children the names were jokes, but they stuck to them as a way to squeeze in some tension relief. Tyler was never given a nickname, he was just Tyler. He could never be anyone besides himself. He held everyone together when Rachel shut down, looking down at the fresh mounds of soil she wished she spent what little years they had left together..
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0 | Jan 24th 2020 03:50