“And on the first page of our story, our future seemed so bright, but people are capable of such evil, even our politicians have their wicked schemes and the devil takes that to new extremes and I don’t know why I’m still alive, through all these battles and all the times I’ve lost my way, I’ve always found you there, in the grey, saving more than my life, rescuing me from so much pain and strife, even though you already died for me and set me free from the pain in my past, but you’ll always be my hero, even though sometimes it feels like I’ve lost my mind.”

I stayed up late the day before the world ended and the fear within me just would not abate, for the longer I dreamed the more deeply rooted I became, until it all felt so vividly real, I couldn’t help but believe it to be true, I was self-aware, I could think clearly and make my own choices. I wasn’t a slave to my dream, I was really me and I was leading a convoy through the desolate highways and bi-ways, leading with what I can only assume was by instinct, or maybe something more. Because I knew exactly where to go, I can’t explain how, or why, I just knew, without ever really knowing what we’d fine, but I knew we were heading in the right direction. But I was new to this whole leadership role I found myself in and I had doubts like anyone would, wondering if I was leading my friends and these people to their own deaths or not. I kept going everything that could go wrong, knowing it’ll all be on me and my head. If I got any of these people hurt or worse it would be my fault.

I was beginning to question the driving force that told me which direction to go and it was then one particular member of my group, who had always been a long time and very trusted friend found me after we had stopped to rest and push a few cars to the side of the road, with several others searching the various abandoned vehicles for supplies and whatever clues they could find to explain what was happening and why. So I was surprised when Becka found me amidst the hustle & bustle of our group moving about. She knew something was troubling me without me having to say a word and I’m usually so good at hiding my emotions, well except from maybe her.

“Everything alright” she asks and I pause in the middle of pushing a car off to the shoulder.

“No,” I confess, I could never lie to her and the truth would always come rushing out of my mouth before I even realized I was speaking. Seeing me this way and with my back to her, she rest a comforting hand on my shoulder.

“It’s okay,” she tells me, “We trust you.”

I laugh, shaking my head, telling her I don’t really even trust myself and she responds by pushing her way in front of me and forcing me look her in the eye, as she says,

“You should believe in yourself and trust yourself in this, you need to accept the role that God entrusted you with, no matter how scary or hard it gets otherwise everything will just fall apart and you may as well walk back the way we came.”

Her words hit me in such a way I’m rendered speechless and before I can respond, she turns and marches back to her vehicle leaving me shivering there in the cold. Sighing and considering her words I find she’s right and redouble my efforts to help move cars off the road. I never been much of a leader and less of inclined take compliments. It was my older brother who always told me that I was too modest for my own good and now memories of him and my family had filled my thoughts, even the ones I haven’t spoken to in years and I couldn’t help but wonder how they were handling all this, or if they even made it all.

After what felt like an hour, we managed to get back under way, and twenty or thirty minutes later I ended up I ended pulling into a very long driveway of a large mansion, recently abandoned by the previous owners. We didn’t know if it had been by choice or not, for upon our arrival we discovered that the previous occupants seemed to have simply up and vanished. Their home was left open for us to claim as our own, as they had left all of their belongings behind. Their loss proved to be our gain as we searched the mansion, finding some food, several clothes and to our surprise weapons. Our only clue to the identities of the previous occupants were that they had obviously been gun nuts, or doomsday preparers for all the good it had done them, for they were now nowhere in sight.

Taking a shotgun from the gun rack I found that I immediately knew everything about it, it was a Benelli M4 Super 90 shotgun, with a collapsible stock and a fourteen inch barrel.  Which I handed off to Becka and proceeded to give her an impromptu lesson in handling the shotgun and as I started to give her a brief lesson, one of the members of my church offers to take some people out and scout around the area. I agree and turn my attention back to Becka, teaching her how to hold it and warning her about the kick, explaining that she’d have to lean into it when she fires and because of the spread she’ll want to aim at the chest, because it’ll be her best target. She smiles at my instructions, looking up at me as if I was being paranoid and over protective.

“Do you really think all this is necessary?” She asks. I want to reassure her, tell her no and this was all just a precaution, but I don’t. Instead the truth begins flowing out of my mouth before I can even think of a suitable lie. I tell her that people are scared, afraid and that many will find themselves doing things they wouldn’t do otherwise. I tell her we’ll rescue those we can and protect ourselves against those we can not, then I steer the conversation back to her gun, explaining that this model holds five shots plus the one in the chamber, so she’ll have to be conservative with her shots and to remember to reload. She smiles and shakes her head at my instructions, but she humors me anyway.

I then take some time to teach her and a few others a few self-defense moves, just in case things get bad and I discover I rather enjoy teaching and conversing with my would be students. An hour or maybe more passes, when David returns with his group and I can tell by the look of him he has bad news. He tells us things are getting bad all over and that the temperature is dropping and with it the good will of those who had remained outside. Rioting had broken out and homes were being ransacked, families murdered or worse. Yet for some reason everyone seemed to skip what was to be our new home.“But we still need supplies if we’re to make it through the winter,” I tell him and he shakes his head sorrowfully and tells me it’s too dangerous for another group to go out so soon. Typically, I would agree and would stand down. I never really liked confrontations anyway, but I couldn’t let it go, I knew a group the size of ours wouldn’t last long off what little food we could salvage in the mansion and with no power, most of the food would spoil before long. David disagrees insisting I wait, but I know waiting is not an option, I know my house is stocked with canned foods, plant seeds and survival gear I had been obsessively collecting for the past several months, and it was as if I somehow knew this would happen without really knowing that the how, why or even the when. It was only a matter of time before someone; anyone would break into and raid my home.

I open my mouth to volunteer to go out alone, but it’s my Cousin Nick’s voice that cuts in.

“David, he’s right if we don’t do something now while we still can everything we’ve done would have been for nothing and if we don’t freeze to death, we will die of hunger.”

I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to be in my corner, because Nick is a talker, gifted with a silver tongue and the gift of gab. There’s a reason he works in sales and I’ve always believed he could sell ice to an Eskimo. It’s just who he is, he’s a talker and when he talks generally people listen. It takes Nick all of two minutes to convince David we should go out and I’m caught off guard to hear Nick actually volunteering to come with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cousin like a brother, however he has a habit of being both lazy and selfish and it’s then that David decides to let him and me to go, but we’re to do so alone. But I feel like bringing Nick with me is a mistake, but I bite my tongue and keep my mouth shut, since he stepped up for me, I couldn’t bring myself to offend him, nor did I want to waste more time by arguing with him. I just pray I’m being overly cautious and I wouldn’t come to regret my decision of letting him accompanying me.

It doesn’t take us long to gather enough supplies for the road and I go to say Goodbye to David and wish him luck, when he hugs me and tells me to be careful. Then I hear I step to the door when Becka touches my shoulder and I turn to her and she looks so very, very sad.

“You okay?” I ask,

“Yes,” She answers forcing a small smile, “Ever since all this started, you’ve changed…it’s been good to see you like this and how much you’ve been stepping up.”

“Thanks,” I say awkwardly, I never been good at accepting complements.

She turns and glances towards the door and I half expect she wants to ask me to stay, instead she says,

“It’s really bad there isn’t it?”

“Yeah…but it’s going to be okay, we’re going to be okay” I tell her, “People are just scared is all and soon they’ll either wake up or decide to come to together as a community and for the good of all of us, or…they won’t…”

Becka smiles thinly, throwing her arms around me and I tense from the unexpected hug, reluctantly hugging her back, we had been friends for a very long time and sometimes I think she’s the only one who knows me better anyone else.

“No matter what happens out there,” She whispers in my ear, never lose faith and promise me, promise me, you’ll return safe and sound, I can’t lose any more friends.”

“I promise,” I whisper back, feeling like I was making a promise I couldn’t keep.

End of part 2.

Next: the Conclusion, what do you do, when you come face to face with evil?