Chapter 001: Page Five

One day, there were simply no more people below them, as if a river had been dammed upstream. The sounds of car alarms, breaking class, and gun shots that had always echoed across the night were replaced with a silence that seemed to the 113 to be louder than all of mankind combined.

In the years to come, they would learn that in order to stop the ongoing violence, the government declared martial law and, in another stroke of unimaginable luck, the military drew boundaries on a map that put their small train station in the dead center of a quarantine zone, and the 113 were simply forgotten. No one was allowed in or out of the quarantine zone and the rest of humanity went off on its own to die; while the 113 were left alone to survive.

Within a year, the 113 had gathered or mapped out enough supplies that remained in the Walmart, Giant Foods and the Tysons Corner Mall to last them a decade. Construction generators were found in a storage facility under the station and slowly, day by day, the 113 built a foundation that would last for a hundred years and beyond. However, none of that compared to the garden that Sarah walked in alone.

Sometimes in buckets, sometimes in pales, but more often by the handful, the earth below was brought up and onto the remaining tracks. Like ants that never rested, the tracks were slowly and methodically turned into a habitat that would provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the 113 and their children. Even in recent years, as brave individuals in the colony moved back onto the ground below, the garden served a symbol of their perseverance. Somehow, the giant trees survived on the tracks two stories above the earth just as the 113 had survived and prospered in the decades that followed the fall of modern mankind.

Sarah knew that by the time the sun set beneath the decrepit buildings, it would be her responsibility to not only keep the garden alive but also the 439 survivors; as they called themselves. It was not a burden she wanted because, unlike her grandmother and the 113 that came before her, Sarah had lost all hope. She knew that the colony was dying and knew there was nothing she or anyone could do to stop it. Being asked to be the final leader was akin to asking a nurse to sit at a dying man’s bedside so that he would not have to leave this world alone. Their fate was inevitable and unescapable.

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