Greetings! This is the next installment in my Thursday night horror series. I present to you The Swarm and the Flyer, my first attempt ever at writing in the post-apocalyptic horror genre.
My hope is threefold: (1) to get in contact with more aspiring horror writers, (2) hear your ideas as to how I can improve my story’s suspense, and (3) get feedback on pacing and overall character development. If you have a moment to spare, I’d be indebted to you for your time and interest. Let’s dive in 🙂
After losing his father, Rayland Mark Calderón must try to escape the Swarm, a flock of cloud-like creatures that have wiped out much of the human race with their deadly sonic wave attacks. Separated from the rest of his family, Rayland avers to journey 176 miles across Texas to find them. The only problem is, Rayland is outrunning the Swarm alongside Josiah Knect, his last living teammate and an acro yogi who can’t return Rayland’s romantic feelings, even if Rayland can help Josiah reunite with his deeply religious family.
We catch our break when the storm clears up a quarter to 6:00. That leaves us less than an hour until sunset, when the Swarm are most likely to come out and hunt.
The semi should be two streets south of us, on the opposite end of our circular neighborhood. I ran by the parked truck more than a dozen times whenever I went on short runs while I was still living in the Tri House. The ‘B & O Trucking’ decal on the side still sticks out in my mind. On my last run around the cul-de-sac, I had looked over my shoulder at the 18-wheeler cab that was parked on Fox Hollow Road. Through the windshield, I could see the black microphone cable hanging down from what I’d assumed was one of those trucker CB radios.
“The truck was always parked out front,” I tell Josiah as we stand on opposite ends of the kitchen island. I study the rows of portable radios and earmuffs before us. “None of these are strong enough to get signals outside of this neighborhood, but if we can get to a CB radio, we might be able to get ahold of other people.”
“Got it. Should we uninstall it?” Josiah’s question takes me off guard, and I think about the practicality of lugging around a CB radio with us on our trip to Argyle.
“We can try,” I reply, fiddling with one of the radios. “I mean, we have the tools…”
Josiah nods before he reaches up and twists his curly hair into a bun, which he holds in place with his last hair tie. “I’ll help you, then. Who knows, maybe we’ll find someone who knows how to reinstall it. Could come in handy when we start looking for other survivors out there on the road.”
“Yeah…maybe.” I crack my neck and watch the sun disappear over the red fence in the backyard. “At the very least, let’s try and use the radio when we get there.” That’s if the truck’s still there.
“And if the truck’s battery is still good,” Josiah adds, his words the final nail in the coffin that’s about to bury my last shred of hope for our mission. I let my silence speak for me as Thunder comes up to us and looks at us with his sad eyes.
“We’ll have to take Thunder,” Josiah says, and we share a knowing but strained glance. I want to feel happy that Josiah can read my thoughts so easily, but all I notice are the pins and needles jabbing at my chest. Adam is gone, walked out of my life, and the guy standing in front of me now is stirring up all that was honest and hopeful about my last relationship.
I clear my throat and look down at our dog. “Agreed. He can be our eyes and ears.” Then I grip one of the radios. “We’ll take six each. And our revolver. Just in case we run into anyone or anything else dangerous.”
A shadow of pain and fear crosses Josiah’s eyes at the mention of the gun. He looks down at his slightly calloused hands before clearing his throat. Instead of speaking to his anxiety, I raise my chin and bite my thumb. Ready or not, we have to be prepared to shoot someone. It’s a thought that I’ve mulled dozens of times.
I remind Josiah of the cracks in the road and the sharp turns, especially on the downslope where Timberidge meets Fox Hollow Road in a rounded corner with a nasty blind spot. Outside, the last traces of sunlight are wiped away as 5:55 melts into 6:00. Dusk is slowly getting eaten away by the cancer of nightfall. I give a mental middle finger to mother nature for the rain before Josiah and I move to collect our gear.
Once we’re in the garage, Josiah double checks our helmets to make sure they’re still in good condition. While he’s doing that, I open the left hand drawer of the workbench and pull out the revolver, which glints like it was just freshly polished. Josiah’s eyes fall on the gun, and his chest puffs out faster than a swallow’s.
“To wound, not to kill, hopefully.” Josiah slips his helmet on and clips the fasteners together. His eyes round out in a plea for mercy. “Right?”
I don’t let my even look falter or harden. Not this time. “Right.”
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