Chapter 1:

Part 1: Nashville


The world was devastated by an unknown virus, nine years ago. Since then, the cities were abandoned, left to nature. The rest of humanity broke into camps, raiders, or became wanderers. This is a story of two wanderers on a search for a safe home.

. . .

“Welcome to Nashville.” A tall auburn haired woman says caressing the overgrown sign that was in the middle of the street, having been torn off from its original resting spot. She turns around towards a smaller figure in a makeshift poncho who has stopped behind her. She kneels in front of the small figure, removing the rain drenched hood. “How are you doing?” She says to a young blonde girl that looks to be seven.

“Very cold.” The child responds.

“Then take this.” The woman says taking off her scarf, wrapping it nice and cozy around the girl’s neck.

“Thank you, big sis Eve .” The girl says smiling.

“Just call me big sis. No need to try to say my name.” Evelyn says pulling the hood back over the girls' head. “Stay next to me and hold my hand.” She says as they walk into the city suburbs, looking the houses that were on either side of them. “Pick a house, any house that looks cool.” Evelyn says stopping in the middle of the street. The girl looks around at the many house that were in the neighborhood. “That one.” The girl says pointing to small two-story building that was towards the end of the road. The building from the outside looks plain with white stripped paint covering walls. The windows and door seemed to be untouched with no signs of fighting or explosives. The reason the girl chose the house was for the sun painted on the top part of the front seemingly breaking the bland outlook of the building.

“Good choice, now let’s go check it out.” Evelyn says taking a crowbar out of her bag, walking with the girl towards the house

The window shatters as the crowbar breaks through it. The weapon then clears any remaining glass that was still present on the window still. After checking that it was safe, Evelyn climbs inside the house, reaches back and lifts the girl inside. Placing her on the floor, she wipes the droplets off girl’s poncho leaving a puddle underneath the girl. “Leave your rainboots on. The floor here is more dangerous than the outside.” They wander into the kitchen in which Evelyn pulls out a wooden chair, motioning again towards the girl. “ Okay Avery, I’m going to check upstairs on the off chance that there might be supplies. You stay here and play with the toys in your pack. Ring the bell if it's an emergency and I’ll come running back down.” Avery nods placing her backpack on the table, taking out a perfectly good gold colored bell and a slightly battered old plush. Evelyn smiles exiting the kitchen knowing she would be entertained, while she looks around the rest of the house. Evelyn first goes into the living room, stopping in the middle to take in the scene.

The interior of the room looks about the same as any other house you would find in the city. Nature had crawled its way inside the room through the open windows, plants already growing on the ceiling and walls. On the other side of the room, the wall was torn open exposing the wood that was previously inside. Taking in a deep breath., Evelyn heads up the stairwell going to the second floor. She stands on the landing, looking at the only three rooms that were present on the floor, one being a bathroom and the other two bedrooms. She notices that the bathroom had been clearly locked on purpose with a large chain wrapped around the doorknob with a padlock attached. Rather not wanting to cause a stir, she decides to go into the left bedroom pushing against the door, realizing that this room was locked as well. Sighing, Evelyn draws an old paper clip and a knife while kneeling down in front of the doorknob. After fidgeting with the lock for a few minutes, she successfully pushes open the door revealing eight to nine sleeping bags laying on the floor. At that moment, she froze with fear knowing they were in the worst place they could possibly be. What sets her off though was not the sleeping bags on the floor, but rather the symbol of a dark broken castle painted on the wall.

The ringing of a bell broke her out of the trance, making Evelyn rush back down the stairs to the living room. Avery comes out of the kitchen, runs into her arms as a bullet shatters the railing besides them. “Go upstairs and don’t come back down until I tell you to.” Evelyn says pushing her up the wooden staircase. Once the kid was gone, she removes an assault rifle that was attached to the side of the backpack. Taking out cartridges with it, she slid them into her pocket.

A man wearing an old sweater and a scarf that was covering his face walks into the room with his gun raised up. He stops in the doorway, staring at her. For a second. they both remain motionless until he moves his finger back onto the trigger of the pistol. Evelyn notices this, and fires her assault rifle multiple times hitting him all over the chest. As he collapses, a second man comes into the room wearing very similar clothing to the first. This survivor stops as well, noticing her with the gun barrel smoking in her hands and the body of his fellow survivor on the floor; soaking on a pool of his own blood. He angrily whips up his weapon firing around four shots towards her before taking cover behind a decayed sofa. As he ran, she takes the opportunity and back tracks up to the landing attempting to line up a shot on the attacker. When the opening becomes available to her and she goes to pull the trigger, the front door bursts open as another five-armed men come into the house. Upon seeing them enter the living room, she realizes that there was no other choice than to use the last grenade she had; unclipping the explosive and tossing it over the landing. A loud explosion shakes the house followed by bodies hitting the wall and objects breaking from the force of the blast. Evelyn and survivors cough loudly from the dust thrown up into the air revealing themselves to each other. She reloads her weapon; then stands up shooting the two guys who were still standing. Once they fell, blood flowing out from their shirts, She reattaches the gun to her backpack. Getting up, she walks into the room she saw Avery run into. Opening the door, a final survivor grabs Evelyn throwing her to the wooden floor. Using his hands, he manages to pin her arms and reaches for a dagger attached to his belt. As he fumbles for the dagger, a small foot comes in between his legs going upwards. The man screams in pain giving Evelyn time to grab the weapon and stick it into his neck. He falls to the floor besides them and bleeds out to death.

“Who are they?” Avery say shaking.

“Castle or ex-Castle. I really don’t know.”

“Castlle?” Avery says attempting to help Evelyn to her feet. She pats the kid on the head, grabbing her hand. “Castle was something good in the past, but they’re no better than raiders nowadays.” she says as they exit the house. Avery looks up towards her confused about what her big sis had told her. “There will come a time when you understand what I mean.” She says closing the door to the house, leaving the bodies to nature.

Later in the day, Evelyn walks with Avery to the edge of the city thinking about what happened, how one decision she made in the past caused all of this. Her thoughts ran wild as she recalled the story from her past.

“Seven years ago. I felt bored and unsatisfied with the ideas that were being put forward for the new government. Some of my subordinates are questioning whether or not an eighteen-year-old is the right person to follow. I exit from the command post, taking a second to stare at the logo we decided for the group. A broken castle. We decided on that symbol showing how the country was left after the virus, but I feel that we’re becoming the symbol ourselves. I touch the spray-painted image moving away towards the street ahead of me. I take an empty can sitting on a crate near the exit, throwing it to the floor. I kick it a few times releasing all my anger upon the little can. As it travels down the street, I could start to hear a strange noise from further down the road. Stopping, I listen more carefully trying to figure out what that sound was. I soon realize that it was a baby crying. Why would there be a baby here in the middle of a city? I ask myself moving towards the sound. I had decided to investigate, continuing to go down the street until I came up on a baby wrapped in a shaggy blanket with two older corpses besides the kid. I flip the closest corpse to me over to find bullet wounds in their chest with dried blood covering their shirt. Looking back at the baby, I picked the child up and ran into the night, not looking back at what I would leave behind.”

“Exit?” Avery says bringing Evelyn back to the present.

“Yeah, say goodbye to Nashville.” She says smiling. In her mind, she thought, “I tell her the entire story when she’s older.”

Avery touches the nearby sign and returns to Evelyn “Goodbye Nashville.” She says in a high voice. Evelyn laughs as they continue, going onto the highway.