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Issue 7 - RegardsEdit
Julius checked the gas; the needle was on the halfway between Full and Empty.
He turned right from the stop-light, which appeared to be turned off.
In the next turn, he saw a few parked cars, and empty streets as usual. No signs of life on the small apartment buildings on his sides. No walkers to worry about as of yet.
It's been a year since he visited his parents. Mostly, it was because he wanted to plunge into his college life more, living alone, without guidance. Good times, he thought.
"I thought there'd be more people running around," Alice says, as she was observing the surroundings through her window.
It's been the same story like in his uncle's neighborhood; the streets were mostly silent, probably because the walkers were clustered in a hidden block. He started to appreciate the silence of the streets more, as he expected it to be busier when he least expected it.
"Looking quiet so far," Julius says, in reply to Alice. He was driving at twenty-five miles per hour, mostly to be careful, and partially to feel normal.
The gray skies were starting to clear, making way for the sunlight and blue skies. It created a calm image in the surroundings, even though the signs of abandonment presented itself in the forms of abandoned cars, and unattended splatters of blood.
Julius makes a right turn to the next road, after passing all of the apartments. The big shade of leaves shadow their car for a bit, as they pass by a more empty street with talls trees in its side.
After passing by the trees, there were a set of streets to the right, while a whole field sat on the left-hand side of Julius. He drove, passing a few of the streets.
The streets were surprisingly cleaner this time. There were no garbage flying around, and there were also lesser cars parked. There were, however, a few walkers wandering in some of the blocks, but they were too far to be concerned about.
Still, Julius had a feeling that this trip had to be quick.
After passing by one more street, he finally turns right to one named "Parker."
The street he used to live in for multiple years looked the same. Everything, the way he remembered it, was left untouched. Save for a few missing cars, it was as if the street was untouched.
"This looks too good to be true," he says, slowing down his speed to observe the surroundings. He looked at every house on his left and right side.
Nothing. No signs of blood, no flying paper and plastic. No walkers roaming around, and no people either.
His hopes shot up, as he arrived at his parents' house, which was to his right side. They lived near the middle of the block. He turned the car right, and parked into the slanted incline that led to the closed garage of the house.
His parking wasn't perfect; the car was slightly overturned to the right. Something tells him that it's fine to park like this in the coming days.
He looks to Alice, who was as prepared for him to leave. He unfastens his seat-belt, then quickly opens the car door. He opens up the back door to grab his backpack and baseball bat. Alice also does the same, grabbing the duffel bag.
They look around their surroundings for a bit, mostly just to feel the fresh air. There were still more clouds than blue skies, but most of it were starting to part. The weather had a nice balance of cold and warmth, as the sun was starting to come into view.
Julius turns to the front door of his house. He leaps over the semi-tall platform in which his front door stood, not bothering to use the stairs that led to it. Alice took the stairs, though, arriving at the front door the same time as Julius.
He was eager to see his parents, though he had an uncertain feeling about his eagerness. While he worried that something did happen to them, he didn't believe it to be too serious.
He braced himself, as he grasped the knob of the front door. He turned it, and gave the door a push. The door didn't budge.
He pushed again, and again. He was starting to create some progress, as the door started to move forward more and more by each push. After the fourth, he finally forced it open.
He was blinded by the view of his living room, at first. He wanted to check the door, to see if he damaged it. Instead, small, makeshift wooden planks were stuck to it. He could see another plank resting in between the carpet and the hard floor surface of the entrance.
"It was sealed," he tells Alice, who was as interested in the door as he is. He bends down a bit to examine the planks.
His father was a better carpenter than this. If it was he who reinforced it, they wouldn't be able to open the door at all.
"Can't be the work of my dad," he follows. Alice walks further into the living room, as if she wanted to inspect it further.
"Julius," she says, as Julius was too pre-occupied with the door. "There's blood on the carpet."
He turns to her. She was looking down, on the pale white fabric, looking at the small trail of blood that led to the inner part of the house. This led him to look at the display table, standing in front of Alice.
It was the display table that his mother bought. They used the table mostly for other business, such as doing taxes, or looking over mail. It was never meant to be a dining table.
He notices the trash scattered on top of it; some of it has dropped on the floor just below it. He walks over the small blood trail, to examine the pile more closely.
There were empty cans, plastic bags, and bottles. Some of them looked like they belonged to the house, while the others looks like it belonged in the refrigerator in his apartment. "Dad never did believe in vitamin water," he told himself, looking over the unfamiliar pieces of trash.
Alice came to examine with him, as she was standing next to him, unable to see the trash like he did. "My parents wouldn't be this messy even in times like this," he tells her. Still, something told him that they just ate in a hurry.
They stop examining the table, and moved on to the inner part of the house. They found themselves in the second living room, where the television set stood. It was left open, with the word "Mute" left on display. It was showing the news broadcast, with the anchor talking in silence.
The cupboards in the kitchen, which was right next to the TV area, were left opened, as if they were raided.
Julius, just to calm himself down, hoped that it were just some looters looking for food, and nothing else. He looks to further examine them.
Most of the items were left there, messily displaced from where they stood. Some of the items have spilled over to the floor below it. He noticed the cans and bags from earlier, missing in the cupboards. Clearly, the looters were picky about what they ate.
"Julius," Alice silently calls to him. He turns to her.
She was peeking through the clear glass of the yard door. She motions for him to come closer.
"Someone's standing there. He has no idea we're here."
Judging from how lifeless it stood, the person was a walker. His back was turned on them, looking at left upper-most corner of the garden. Judging from the hairstyle, pants, shoes, and neon vest, the man was a community worker.
"Best not to alert him... he might have companions," Julius warns. They quietly step back from the yard door.
"So... what now?" Alice asks. Julius takes a moment to come up with an answer.
"I... I don't know. Something definitely happened to my parents. They're either hiding up there, or... they left."
Julius looks up to the second floor. He recalls the trail of blood, hoping for it to not continue upstairs.
He dared not say, or even think about, them dying. All he wanted was for them to be quietly hiding. He'd be more relieved if his parents accidentally hurt him, rather than not find them at all.
Julius looks at Alice, then to the staircase. They quickly climb up.
The small track of blood stops almost halfway toward the floor. The blood somehow transfer from the ground, to the wall. There was also blood on the staircase handles.
This made Julius even more anxious. He speeds up his pace, stopping once he reached the end of the stairs. The door to his parents' room is the first thing he sees, as it was practically to the left-hand side of the staircase.
He looks at the door for a second. There was no blood on it, at least.
He wanders further, passing by his sister's old room, then his room. There were a few drops of blood on the carpet in front of it.
He just couldn't stop to reminisce. The atmosphere changed too much for him to be calm.
Alice clearly sensed his attitude, maintaining a concerned look about him.
He just couldn't dare to open any doors. They could be hiding anywhere. The truth could freeze him up if he opens one of them.
He hurriedly walks back to the door of his parents' room, standing in front of it. He grasps the knob, its metal feeling colder than normal. He opens it, slowly.
The distinct smell of his parents' room quickly made him feel comfortable. But it was soon short-lived.
The bed had a white sheet over it, with a spot of pale blood in the middle. He rushes over to the side, to reveal what was under it. He grasps the top of the cloth, hesitant at first. But soon after, he tugs it away.
There they were. His father, and mother, laying down. Their eyes were closed, as if they were sleeping.
Julius felt his lungs tighten. The air through his nose started to warm up. Tears started to drop from his eyes, uncontrollably.
They were clutching rosary beads, and a photo album that looked familiar to him. His father held his mother tightly, as they rested together.
The clot of blood from the sheets came from his mother's stomach. The blood spilled on his father's sweater.
A small piece of folded paper, with stains of blood, rested on top of the photo album. Julius grabs it.
"We love you, Julius. We don't want to wait any longer. Please, come join us.
Our regards go out to your sister."
He folds the piece of paper back, and pockets it. He then grabs the clear white sheets, spreading it over the bed.
He turns around, and passes Alice, who was standing near the door, unable to control her tears.
Everything around him blurred. He found it hard to stop the tears streaming down from his eyes.