the short story project


Benjamin Mailloux

A Brother’s Wisdom 

“The darkest hour is always before the dawn.” Kyle said.

I looked at him and nodded. This was always true as he had said this so many times.  During the end of the world, there was always something that the both of us had to look out for; such as other people, wild animals, and most importantly, the Vampires. Kyle and I have been on the move since the Outbreak. There was no one around and thankfully the two of us were both on top of an apartment building in the city. Looking down, there was nothing around. No people so far, but packs of wild dogs ran through the alleyways in the city. The two of us were trapped in the urban jungle that was Thornton. The streets were deserted and looted. 

“Come on, let’s go down and see what we can find.” He said.

I followed him to the edge of the apartment building and followed him down the fire escape that lined the side of it. The two of us didn’t make it far down when we realized that the bottom half of the fire escape was twenty feet below us. Kyle went over to me, reached into the backpack that carried our things, pulled out a crowbar, and opened up one of the windows. Kyle went in first, carrying the crowbar and then his flashlight in the other. I followed closely behind him, hoping that no Vampire was in the apartment building. The two of us were on the third floor and only had two more floors to go before reaching the bottom. The hallways of the apartment building were dark. Furniture was thrown all over the place and pieces of paper fluttered around. There was another hallway to the left and when I looked down there, all I saw was the darkness beyond and doors half opened. I jumped as a door closed from the wind outside. Kyle left the window open and forgot to close it, but I decided against going back to close it. The main hallway that Kyle and I were going through led to a staircase that led to the bottom floors. So far there were no Vampires at all, which was the good thing. Kyle and I creeped down the staircase, trying not to make any noise. Vampires heard noises and would fly right for you, even the slightest noise. Which is why I stopped when one of the stairs creaked. Kyle looked at me. The both of us were silent. My heart was beating in my chest and was getting sick to my stomach. A few more minutes passed and Kyle nodded at me. I nodded back and followed him down the rest of the stairs. We both stopped at the second floor and peered down the hallway. Nothing of value was there for the taking, so the both of us moved on to the first floor. It was just as destroyed as the third floor, with furniture everywhere, papers, large plants, and other things. It just seemed to me that when the Vampires came, everyone fled. I don’t blame them because I would do the same thing, but they left all of their stuff. Kyle was still carrying the crowbar and the flashlight and he pointed the beam all around. The first floor had little light coming from the door that was opened and from Kyle’s flashlight. There was a vending machine that leaned up against the wall. Kyle and I crossed the first.

“Help me with it Jack. Maybe we can smash the glass and take the snacks in it. We are running low on food.” 

Kyle was right. Between the two of us, our small canned vegetables that we found a couple days ago wouldn’t last us a night and Kyle couldn’t cook most of the time. When Kyle didn’t cook he was on watch, keeping the camp that we had safe. There was no sense in giving our position away when there was no need to. The both of us crept towards the vending machine. On the left was a desk, probably used for checking people into the apartment before the Outbreak. Hoping not to make any sound, Kyle was the first one to the vending machine. I turned around and Kyle rummaged through our backpack. Since when I was the youngest, I had to carry everything for the both of us. Kyle rummaged through the backpack for a couple of minutes, before finding a marble. Kyle backed up a little bit, took aim, and threw it at the vending machine. The marble sailed right into the vending machine and broke the glass. Before moving, the both of us stood still. The sound of the breaking glass echoed through the first floor. I felt my heart beating inside my chest and I was beginning to sweat with worry. When the both of us were sure that there were no Vampires nearby, Kyle and I went towards the vending machine. The backpack was already opened and the both of us emptied the vending machine. The bags of snacks would keep the both of us going for a couple of days, maybe more that, if we rationed it right. Kyle and I finished cleaning out the vending machine by taking a few quarters that were left behind inside. I zipped up the backpack and followed Kyle outside back into the city. Being on the ground was a lot different that being up on top of the buildings. The only sounds that I heard were the sounds of our footsteps, along with the howling of a wild dog pack in the distance. Kyle judged that the pack was too far away to get us. The rest of the day dragged on with the both of us heading back to our camp, which was our house. Our house was located on the outskirts of the city and with only the two of us going in and out, the city itself was almost picked clean of supplies. Walking to and from our house to get supplies was exhausting work, but it was worth it when Kyle and I were eating at night, while others were either starving or dead. Hours went by with only the two of us in the street. I looked behind me to see if anyone was following us but all I saw was an empty city. Kyle was always talking about getting a car and getting out of the city, but that would take a lot more work. There was only two of us and I highly doubted that there was gas left in the cars. When the Outbreak happened, everyone left their houses, cars, and possessions, only because they wanted to save themselves. The Vampires feed off of this desire to live and turned into something evil. I turned forward and caught up with Kyle, who took a right turn onto the street where our house was. 

By the time the both of us reached our house, the howling of a wild dog pack was close. Thankfully, Kyle locked the door behind us. I prayed that no one saw us in the apartment breaking the vending machine. There was no real way to tell if anyone did, but I always had my doubts. I gave Kyle the backpack and he emptied it. He did this every night to keep track of what we had. Every door in our house was blocked off. The only way to get in our out was the front door. 

“We should really unlock the back door.” I said.

He looked at me.

“No. Remember last time?” Kyle asked.

I nodded. The last time, a Vampire slipped into the house and we didn’t know, until Kyle found it eating our canned food. I remembered how it screamed as Kyle bashed its head in with the crowbar. Since then, the back door was always locked. Kyle rummaged through the backpack. 

“We have thirty bags of snacks and candy, all from that one vending machine. Plus our canned vegetables. We don’t have any batteries, so we should not use our flashlight anymore, just in case.” Kyle said.

“Between the both of us, we just have the crowbar.” I said.

“Exactly, so we should try to find another weapon for you.” Kyle said.

The both of us tried to find another weapon for me when the Outbreak started, but when we got home our house was looted of all the kitchen knives and tools. The only thing that remained for the both of us was the crowbar, which was beginning to rust with age. Kyle and I then put all the bags of snacks and candy with the canned food, which was piled into crates that Kyle made. He was good with wood and it took us awhile to find enough wood for him to fashion into a crate. He wouldn’t stop until he got his wood.

“I don’t want anyone to steal our food.” Kyle said.

“No one will. At least I hope not.” I replied back.

Kyle grabbed the crowbar.

“I am going to take watch. You go and sleep.” Kyle said.

“You haven’t been sleeping. You need to sleep.” I said.

“No. I will take watch.” Kyle said.

“Fine, I’m going to bed.” I said.

“Ok. It’s always darkest before the dawn.” He said.

I then found my bed laid out on the floor. I curled up in it and Kyle turned off the lamp that was on the floor. I then closed my eyes and went to sleep.


I woke up the next morning. Kyle turned on the lamp and stirred in his bed.

“Did you sleep?” I asked. 

Kyle nodded.

“Yes for a little. There were no sounds of Vampires, so after a while, I went to sleep.” Kyle said.

“What about the wild dogs?” I asked. 

“They weren’t a problem. One of them came scratching at the door, then it left.” Kyle said. 

“Are we going to leave today?” I asked. 

“I was thinking of going into the department store and seeing if there any tools left. We need to get you a weapon.” Kyle said. 

“Ok, then let’s go.” I said. 

The both of us did not want to get out of bed, but it was worth a shot of seeing if there was anything left. For breakfast, the both of us had a bag of chips along with a sip of the last water bottle that we had. Kyle found it in a car, a full forty pack of water in the back seat. Whoever bought it was planning for a party, so we both took the paper plates, napkins, and plastic spoons, forks, and knives for us. The both of us ate like kings that night when Kyle cooked some canned chicken for the both of us. Those days were over. Kyle ended up using all the gas for the stove and there was no way to get anymore. For the last few days, the both of us lasted on bags of chips and small snacks. The find in the vending machine yesterday was a huge help for the both of us. I packed up the backpack with some bags of chips and couple of candy bars. I hoped that it would be enough to hold us for the journey. The department store was only a couple of blocks away, but walking in the street in the morning was always tricky. The Vampires would almost do going back to their holes and other dark places. Kyle grabbed the crowbar and the two of us headed out of our house. The street was empty and the air was a little cooler than yesterday. Soon it would be fall and then winter. Kyle was determined to get as much food as possible in order to survive the winter. Once when the snow set in, there was no guarantee of going out to get food all the time. Kyle led the way, gripping the crowbar in his hand. He was in a little of a rush to get to the department store, as if he knew something that I didn’t. I was oblivious, so I continued to closely follow my brother through the street. The sun was on the rise as we passed by numerous empty houses and abandoned cars. Kyle would stop to peer in them to see if anything was inside. Most of the time, there was nothing inside and he kept it as is. The next block of houses was in view and then there would be the shopping mall on the other side of it. I hoped that it was not too badly sacked, as I would need a weapon to defend myself. As much as Kyle wanted to protect me, he couldn’t all the time. There would be a point where I had to learn how to defend for myself. It was only going to be a matter of time. After an hour of walking, the block ended and to the left was the shopping mall. The entire parking lot was full of empty cars. I guess everyone in the city headed here when the Outbreak happened, hoping to find something to keep them alive. Kyle and I walked through the parking lot. Heavy silence hung in the air as the two of us walked. Here and there, we would see a corpse of a body lying on the ground. Then there would be a couple more bodies, then more and more. By the time Kyle and I got to the front of the department store, there were over fifty corpses lying in front of the door. The pavement in front of the door was stained red with the blood of the bodies. There were no bite marks on the bodies, but there were loads of bullet holes.

“A group with guns came this way.” Kyle said.

“It’s a little obvious.” I said.

“Yeah. Let’s get in and out before we cause much trouble. I already don’t like it here.” Kyle said.

I followed him into the department store. The air was thick and it took me awhile to get a breath in my lungs. Kyle felt the same way too and the both of us gagged a little bit. The trail of bodies did not stop at the front of the department store, rather it continued through the department store all the way towards the back of it. 

“People came here for supplies. I guess it didn’t end well.” Kyle said.

“Let’s hope we don’t end up like them.” I said. 

Kyle just nodded and led me through the department store. The store itself was dark and the only light that was coming through was from both of the front doors being wide open. Kyle propped up a couple of dead bodies near the doors to keep them open and let light in. The light helped and we both saw signs for the tool department, off towards the back left of the store. It was good to know and we both headed over to the tools. The tool department was bare or at least I thought it was. Kyle went into it first, scoping out the area. There were no vending machines around at all, which diminished hope for finding food. Kyle went further down in a darker part of the tool section and pulled out a sledgehammer. It wasn’t the best weapon in the world but, it was at least something to have. Kyle gave me the sledgehamemr. I stumbled a little bit as I caught it. It was heavy and I struggled to hold it with two hands. Kyle took it and gave me the crowbar, which was a lot lighter. As Kyle and I headed out of the department store, a crash sounded in the back of the store. The both of us froze in horror. Sweat was pouring down my face and I struggled to breath a little bit. Kyle and I made it to the front of the store and stopped. There in the darkness, rising above the bodies, was a Vampire. It looked at us and hissed at the light. Kyle got in front of me.

“Stay close to me and back away slowly.” Kyle said.

I did just that as I struggled to breath. My heart was in my throat. I was so scared and I just looked at the Vampire. It rose up higher and stood at least 6 feet tall. That was taller than the both of us. Another sound came and a second Vampire appeared, followed by two more. Four Vampires against two, one with a weapon and the other with one that can’t fight. The both of us, shocked in fear, ran out of the department store. That was a mistake as the Vampires flew right at us. Kyle and I got out and both landed hard on the ground. Kyle slammed a Vampire with the sledgehammer. I swung with the crowbar and whacked another one. More Vampires began to appear out in the light. They weren’t dying at all. Kyle swung the sledgehammer again and sent another Vampire squealing away. I knocked another down as a few more Vampires came. The both of us were back to back, with no way out. Kyle lifted me onto an abandoned car. The both of us stood at the top while the Vampires came closer. Then as if my prayers were answered, an army jeep came roaring in. The guys in the jeep, guns in hand, sprayed the Vampires with bullets. The Vampires well down dead, bullet holes in their bodies. Kyle and I were relieved. For the first time I knew that Kyle was always right. It was always darkest before the dawn. 

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