© 2016 Lissette E. Manning

All Rights Reserved.


Sam’s body ached in places he never knew existed. He’d been walking for hours, though it felt like days. Sticking to the solitary interstate, he’d skulked around abandoned cars, while dodging the occasional Falgori. When the sun grew too much to bear, he’d hidden inside the vehicles, giving his body a chance to recuperate.

His stash of blood packets was tucked into the duffel bag he’d brought with him from the underground fallout shelter in Vegas. The briefcase containing the files and the flash hard drive he’d saved the computer’s files on was also stashed inside. He wanted to save everything he came upon about the plague in the hopes of trying to make sense of it.

Why had the virus mutated? he wondered. What had the CDC tried to gain with unleashing it on the masses? Had they known the outcome of what it would become?

Sam shook his head to clear it. Nothing made sense anymore. The world was headed into further ruin, and he’d inadvertently had a hand in it. Because of his momentary lapse in judgment, he was now alone, and Abby was a prisoner of the Falgori. How he’d lost his common sense in the blink of an eye was beyond him.

Making himself comfortable in the backseat of the minivan he was taking a slight respite in, Sam ripped into a package of blood as if he hadn’t eaten in days. His stomach growled, begging for more sustenance, but he refused to deplete what was left of his stash. He needed it to last until he was able to scrounge around for more.

Once done, he crumpled the empty packet into a ball and tossed it aside. It landed in the footwell, several inches from his right foot. He leaned back in the seat and curled an arm beneath his neck, staring at the car’s ceiling. The fabric was worn and fuzzed, as if its previous occupants had run their hands over it repeatedly.

Darkness settled in around him. His night vision kicked in, allowing him to remain cognizant of his surroundings. Though he’d locked himself inside the vehicle, he knew he couldn’t be too careful. The Falgori were still out there, eager for their pound of flesh.

Sam’s eyes soon closed of their own volition. Thoughts of Abby accompanied him as sleep began to claim him.




“About time you got here!”

Sam’s eyes snapped open. He bolted into a sitting position and gazed about. His brows furrowed. An thick inky blackness now surrounded him.

“What the—?”

“Don’t be afraid, Sam,” a voice said.

The frown on his face deepened. “Where am I?”

Abby materialized before him, a slight glow encompassing every inch of her body. She shrugged and waved a hand in the air in dismissal.

“Somewhere,” she said in a sing-song voice.

“That’s not funny, Abby.”

Her smile vanished. “I’m not Abby.”

The light pushed away the darkness, allowing him to see her clearly. The hairs on the back of Sam’s neck stood on end. He committed every inch of the girl’s face to memory.

She looked exactly like Abby. Long reddish-brown hair, shrewd blue eyes, high cheekbones, and the same cocky smirk. Yet the more he looked, the more he saw the subtle differences. Where Abby was soft and yielding, this girl had a hard and unforgiving exterior. Abby’s eyes were open and trusting. The girl’s were cold and cunning.

“Where am I?” he asked.

“I told you, somewhere.”

“Define somewhere.”

She shrugged and held her arms out in supplication. “That I cannot say.”

“But you do know?”


“Why do you speak in riddles?”

“Because I must.”

Sam’s mouth thinned to a tight line. “Who are you?”

The girl grinned, her eyes shining with delight. “Don’t you know?”

“If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking, would I?”

She twirled about in front of him. The knowing smile on her face broadened.

He watched her dance. A flicker of a memory rose to the surface. Though she was now older, there was no mistaking her familiarity. Melody Franklin was a sight to behold.

“Abby said you died!” he whispered.

Melody stopped dancing and turned to face him. “If only that were the case.”


“I need you, Sam.”

“For what?”

“Anything and nothing.”

“I don’t understand.”

Her piercing gaze bored into his. “Yes, you do, Sam.”

“No, I—”

Melody leaned toward him, her right arm outstretched. Her fingers passed through his fading body.

“You must go to the source, Sam. Do you hear me? The source!” she cried.

A bright light flickered in the distance. Sam’s eyes narrowed. The shape of a building materialized several feet away from him before the darkness descended upon him once more.