The twin that was not dead sat on the steps outside the house.
He was leaning back, one elbow propped up behind him, one leg stretched out in
The blood was
There was a
gun at his side, but it was empty now. He’d used up all the bullets. It had
been the first time he’d fired a gun and the first round had nearly knocked him
off his feet. Lucky the wall had been at his back. His shoulder was bruised
where he’d slammed backwards into it.
Or maybe it
was from when they’d slammed his head into drywall. Something still seemed
shiny behind his eyes from that, anyway.
coming. The sky was still raining ash, as it had been for days, as it had when
they’d come for his father. It hadn’t been his fault, the ash, but it was easy
to blame the man that had hurt them before. There was no one to blame for what
had happened after.
He’d been a
poor man in life, but they had been poorer. And that had been a personal offense.
So when the world ended, they’d come.
blinked. His eyelids were heavy.
always said he had the better eyes. Hers were green-grey like a storm and in the light, they looked like tiny moons. His were smoke, a
grey that nearly buried the burning red behind.
It was the
only color they didn’t share.
Her blood had
been darker than he’d thought blood should be. It had soaked into his clothes
in a nasty way, spreading tiny webbed fingers through the strands. The same
tentacles had laced her face and the crooks of her elbows later, when her lips
turned the grey of her eyes.
the ones who’d killed his father, they died differently.
That may have
been because he’d bashed their heads in with the firebox from the office
shot them. The tall one four times; the short one two.
It would’ve been more, but he’d run out of bullets.
He still had
the gun though. It was sturdy under his fingers. Not slick like his sister.
Not weak like
He pulled it
up into his lap. The twin that was not dead could hear them coming. Finally. They’d waited four days.
So had he. He’d waited for help, at
first. He’d waited for protection. Then just for other people.   Life.
But they never
came. They just gathered. They just waited.
And now they
whispered. The sound was like chimes.
He tipped his
head back. The ashes that landed on his cheeks and eyelashes tickled. It tasted
like a salt stick. He and his sister had spent summers daring each other to eat
them. She would always squirm after, giggling, and he’d give her a sugar cube
to chase it.
needed the chaser.
started to itch. He had to put the gun down to scratch it. The blood came off
in chunks, like it did when he picked at a scab. It was almost brown colored
ached. There were bruises on his wrists and forearms, claw marks on his chin
and neck. The short one had still been alive when he’d crawled over him with
the heavy, square firebox.
Even with all
his weight behind it, he’d had to smash the box a couple times before the short
one had died.
His sister had
always made fun of him, for being the same size as her.
supposed to be big,” she’d said.
All the big
boys were dead now.
leaned back and opened his mouth. His tongue tingled. It was almost like snow,
the ash in the sky, except that it didn’t melt. He swallowed.
first the man that used to work Tuesdays at the supermarket and then his wife’s
friend, whose name the twin couldn’t remember. There were others too. He didn’t
fidgeted on the steps. He was suddenly anxious. The people wouldn’t stay still
in his vision. His teeth itched. He ground them. It drowned out of the chime of
They came at
As the sun
spilled over the roof across the street and pooled at his feet, the twin stood.
man raised his rifle and fired.
dead twin opened her eyes.
A.C. Billedeaux lives in the heart of the Midwest, born and bred in small town America. Still—whether it's the Apocalypse, the fantastical, or the horribly true—she has always been fascinated by the darker things in life.