From the author: A young boy survives a world-ending apocalypse and must make a terrible decision.
Daddy always says to put things where they belong. Toys have to go back in the chest. Milk has to go back in the fridge. Dead people have to go in the ground.
The gun is heavy, and I have to carry it with both hands. I had to figure out how to work it, how to make the round part pop out so I could put in the bullets. Before all the bad things happened, Daddy said I was too little to shoot. He said it would knock me down. I hope I am big enough now.
I carry the gun into the family room where Mommy is lying in front of the TV. I don’t want to look at her again because I might cry. I can’t cry. I need to be a big boy so I can help Daddy. I already saw the blood all over the carpet and the pieces of Mommy that are missing, the pieces Daddy ate. I walk past her without looking.
Anna is on the floor in the kitchen. She was so little she couldn’t even run when Daddy grabbed her. It doesn’t bother me to look at her, though. I’m sad, but I didn’t love Anna the same way I loved Mommy.
The basement door is next to the fridge, and it is open a little. I hear Daddy in the basement. It sounds like he is moving things, heavy things, throwing them. I push open the door and look down the stairs. I don’t like the dark, and I switch on the light. I have to stand on my tippy toes to do it. I’m scared Daddy might come up the stairs when the light goes on, but he doesn’t. He is still moving around down there, making loud noises. It sounds like he is crying or breathing hard.
I walk down the stairs. I try to be very quiet because I don’t want Daddy to hear me yet. At the bottom, Daddy is trying to grab Sylvester, our cat, but he is way back under the water heater and Daddy can’t reach him.
“Daddy,” I say.
Daddy turns around. He looks sick. His skin is gray, and his eyes are yellow. There is blood on his face and on his shirt. I know that blood is not his, and it makes my stomach hurt. He opens his mouth and yells or growls, like a monster. He doesn’t say any words. I don’t think he can say words anymore. I move backward up the stairs.
“Come on, Daddy. Come out of the basement. Come be with Mommy.”
Daddy follows me up and into the kitchen. I put my back against the counter and hold out the gun with both hands. I aim it at Daddy. He walks toward me. His mouth is open and black stuff runs out. He reaches for me.
I pull the trigger. The gun jumps in my hand and makes the loudest noise I have ever heard. The bullet hits Daddy in the head and makes a big hole. Blood and yellow stuff, like oatmeal, splashes the wall behind him, and he stops. He stands there looking at me, but I don’t think he sees me anymore. Then he falls down and stops moving.
I think it’s okay to cry now.
It was easy to pick up Anna, but Mommy and Daddy were too heavy. I tried, but I couldn’t get them outside. I got blood on my new shirt. It was one of my shirts for second grade. Mommy would be so mad if she knew, even though there’s probably no school anymore.
I found the shovel in the garage. Digging was hard, and it took me a long time to make a hole in the backyard because I had to dig through the grass. I put Anna in the hole, and then I felt bad she had to be in there by herself. I got Mommy’s purse and Daddy’s watch and the picture we took at Disneyland with all of us in it. I put them in the hole with Anna. Then I put the dirt in. I tried not to put it on Anna’s face at first, but I had to, and it made me feel a little better when I couldn’t see her anymore.
When I finished, I went into the front yard. I can see the city, and there is a lot of smoke. Yesterday, or maybe it was the day before, I heard sirens, but now I don’t hear anything but the wind. I wonder if other people will come to get me. I wonder if there are any other people.
I go back into the backyard and lie down on top of the dirt where the hole was. I whisper, “Goodbye, Mommy. Goodbye, Daddy. Goodbye, Anna.”
Daddy, Mommy, and Anna are where they belong. I hope they go to heaven. I hope I go there too. I hope it is soon.
This story originally appeared in DarkFuse.