Chapter 001: Day Eight

Sarah had been standing with her father below the tracks at the place the survivors called "The End of the Line" the day Benedict killed himself. It was where the giant concrete tracks ended, with large pieces of rebar and metal hanging off the end, like the dark rusty roots of trees. It was here that the rioters had detonated a car bomb, bringing the giant columns of concrete that carried the trains that were two stories above their heads to the ground. They were three miles south of the station and walking through the farmlands that Sarah’s father had been cultivating. While they had managed to remove most of the concrete blocks, what remained directly under the tracks was a twisted pile of metal that, within the explosion, had fused together with the concrete; creating a multi-ton unmovable mess. Sarah’s father was talking, once again, about what he could do if they could remove the last of the rubble from under the tracks when Sarah looked up and saw Benedict standing at the edge of the tracks high above her. Her father did not notice when she stopped and covered her eyes to look up in the bright morning sky to see what Benedict could possibly be doing so close to the edge on that unsafe portion of the tracks.

She was just about to shout up to him when she saw his eyes and knew what was about to happen. Her scream ripped through the morning air as Benedict's arms spread wide and he tipped himself silently over the edge of the tracks and onto the twisted metal ruins below.

Sarah must have ran, even though she would never be able to recall how she got to her uncle's body, and held him while he breathed in and then out for the last time.

The sun was bright and the air was warm around them, yet winter had arrived early to the survivors. The birds that chirped were not listened to and the crops that bloomed in greater numbers than ever before were harvested and forgotten. Their leader was dead and the sorrow of the survivors was absolute.

Sarah kept what she had witnessed to herself. She alone remained strong and carried on in a manner that the survivors needed. Overnight, she became the unspoken leader and made sure that in the days that followed that the people had what they needed, while the gray cloud of mourning settled across every family. All of which she did without complaint, and without telling a single soul the secret that was tearing her apart.

It had been Benedict's eyes. They had been milky white, just like all the rest, when he lay in the twisted metal; his body broken, just like the others before him. If The Shadow Men could do that to someone as strong and full of life as Benedict, then there was no hope for the rest of them. It was only a matter of time.

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