Cataclysm: Survival in a Barren World
by Robert F. Lundrigan
Genre: SciFi Fantasy
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highway that leads towards Nashville. There hasn’t been a single car or truck on the road so far but, now that he’s on the main drag, there’s bound to be traffic.
He looks both ways and there’s nothing coming in either direction. “I know that there’s light traffic in the south as compared to the north, but this is ridiculous,” he mutters to himself just before he sees the two cars overturned in the ditch beside the road. He stops and gets out to investigate. There’s nobody in the cars but there’s clothing
scattered about in both of them. He gets a terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach. The road is straight and flat affording good visibility. There’s no traffic in either direction. He waits for five minutes and nothing shows up. Something is wrong, terribly wrong.
He climbs back into the driver’s seat and proceeds slowly towards Nashville. He sees more and more overturned and smashed vehicles along the way but investigation always reveals the same thing - No people in evidence but there is always clothing scattered inside of each vehicle. There’s even watches and jewelry in some of them. His
head is beginning to pound. None of this makes any sense. He turns on the radio to get the news, to find out what in the hell is going on. All he gets is the shoosh of the open airways. He scans the band over and over but either his radio is broken or nothing is being broadcast. He turns on the CB and gets the same shooshing sound, nothing more. “Oh my God,” he shouts. “What is going on?”
His shout wakes up the rest of the crew and they find him sitting in the driver’s seat shaking like a leaf. “Dad, what’s the matter?” asks Marty. “Are you alright?”
“There’s nobody out there,” is all that he can say.
Diana is the first to notice the smashed vehicles alongside of the road. She shakes Bill and he snaps out of it. He tells them what he has found, or has not found. The details are enough to numb them all into a sort of semi-shock but Bill decides to press on towards Nashville until they at least come to a McDonald’s or someplace where he knows that there are always people.
For a while they stop at every empty vehicle to investigate but it’s always the same. They soon learn that it’s useless to stop, and keep going until they come upon a sign that tells them there’s a Burger King at the next exit. When they get to the exit ramp there are several smashed vehicles and an overturned eighteen wheeler blocking the way. The restaurant is nearby so they leave the motorhome and walk. There’s no sound except the sound of a soft breeze murmuring through the trees, and there’s no movement save for that moved by the same breeze, and when they start walking, the sound of their footsteps are like drum beats. The parking lot of the Burger King is nearly full of cars and the big yellow and red signs glow with the electricity that’s inside them.
“Looks like there’s somebody here. The place is open,” shouts Mike as he dashes on ahead followed by Marty and the girls .
When Diana and Bill get to the top of the ramp the children are on their way back, their faces as white as new fallen snow. There is shock in their eyes. “All there is inside are piles of clothes but no people. All the lights are on and there’s even Whoppers ready behind the counter, but there’s nobody anywhere,” says Debbie. “Oh, my God! What is happening, Daddy?”
“I don’t know, honey. I don’t know.” He takes a sobbing daughter into his arms, feeling helpless and confused.
They go into the restaurant where Bill notices on the small computer above the counter that the last order was taken at five-thirtyeight PM. “Whatever happened must have happened at about five-thirtyeight last evening,” he tells them, pointing to the screen.
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