Chapter 4

Written by: Ray Stone

We finished a packet of chocolate biscuits and downed a last cup of coffee before packing more stuff into a backpack I found at the rear of the store. All the time we were getting ready I kept thinking about Benjamin’s insistence there was no wind. If there was no wind, then something must have pushed buildings over – but what? The biggest mystery was where the hell had all the people gone? It beat me, but I knew I’d find out sooner or later.

My brother, Hank, said that to me once after he found me dazed on the ground after I fell out of a tree. I wasn’t supposed to climb trees due to me bein’ four years old, so I lied and said I just tripped. Later, my mom told me off while we were having dinner for losing a shoe but Hank laughed and produced my shoe from under the table. He found it in the crook of two branches up the tree where it got stuck. He grinned and said, “I knew I’d find out sooner or later.”

Benjamin ended my thinking. 

“I’m just about ready,” he puffed, pushing a trolley in front of him. 

He took the backpack from me and slung it over his shoulder. 

“I reckon we could fill this with water bottle packs and get ourselves a truck or car. That way we can carry all we need. Right?”

We high-fived and he winked. “You can call me Ben if you like.”

I did like that. Ben was a nice kid, and I kind of took to him. He was no mommy's boy, and it was obvious he was used to work. 

“Okay,” I agreed. “Let’s see if we can find us a Caddie.”

“Don’t matter if there’s no keys,” said Ben. “I can hot-wire any darned set of wheels.” 

We pushed the trolley out of the store and started down the road. There was no Caddie, but there was a new GMC three-quarter ton with plenty of fuel. Loaded up, we hit the road although Ben couldn’t see much. His red Cardinal’s baseball cap just about popped above the dash.

There were a couple of service areas on the highway and each one became a rest stop for us. Huge eighteen wheelers, trucks, and cars littering the highway meant we had to keep slowing down as we weaved in and out amongst them.

As it grew dark, I suggested we stop for the night at the next place we came to – perhaps a motel 6.

Then the strangest of things happened. Our truck just died on us. I twisted the key, but nothing happened, and that’s when Ben screamed.

The sky turned black and a blinding shaft of light hit us.

“They found us. They’re here. I told you they’d find us.”

“Who, for cryin’ out loud.” 

I heard Ben shout like he was out of the truck – off in the distance.

Then I saw it. Staring through the windshield.