The Red: A Short Story


The silver moons’ light crept through the slowly rising red mists over the creek’s still water. The mist surrounded the lifeless body of an old man lying face up, the color fading from his wide open crystal blue eyes. His long, white hair lay almost neatly on the moist, black earth beneath his head.

A young man slowly walked toward the body. His polyethylene terephthalate boots left no footprints. He extended his gloved hand to the old man’s face as he knelt down. Another man soon followed, holding the hand of a little girl.

“Stay there,” the man said to the others as he examined the body.” “Papa, is it him? Is it Grandpa Joe,” the little girl asked, squeezing her companion’s hand in fear.

“Yeah. It’s Grandpa Joe,” the man said through his mask. His voice was solemn and carried loudly.

“How did he get here with no gear? Is he one of them,” the girl asked impatiently. “Is he one of them?”

“I don’t know, baby. I don’t know. Micah, take her back to the hutch, please,” he said to the man holding his daughter’s hand.

“Come on, honey,” Micah said to the little girl. “John,” he called back. “How long till we know,” he asked.

“I dunno. I don’t want to find out. Take her back. I don’t want Maisie to see.”

“John, no! You’re not seriously going to…You can’t! He’s your father, John,” Micah said excitedly.

“Micah just—please just take Maisie. I’ll be right behind you.”

Micah picked up the girl and she wrapped her arms around his neck, holding on tightly. John watched them disappear into the dark, red mist. He turned his attention back to his dead father. His eyes were no longer blue. His irises had begun to turn a shade of red. John knew. And his heart sank as he became nauseated. His father was no more. Not even dead-no longer human. John stood upright and inhaled deeply through his filtered mask, then exhaled, pacing back and forth. After a short moment, John knelt next to the body again, placing one hand on his father’s head, the other on his father’s heart. His eyes were now completely red and they began to move from one corner to the other, slowly, as if trying to discern its whereabouts. His chest began to rise and fall, trying to breathe but struggling in the atmosphere. He hissed and grunted then lay still once more.

“I’m so sorry that I didn’t find you sooner, Joe. I’m so sorry,” John said. “We looked. We searched for weeks. But we will find mom. I promise. I love you, dad. I’m so sorry. So sorry,” John said looking into the red eyes of what used to be his father’s blue eyes. He lifted his hand from his father’s heart to reveal a bloodied, chromium crystal dagger.

John walked in the direction of Micah and Maisie. When he finally reached their hutch, he walked inside to find them both sitting at the table. He removed his mask to reveal his dark brown hair, crystal blue eyes, like his fathers, and golden brown cheeks, wet with tears. The little girl ran to him and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing him tightly.

“Did you kill Grandpa Joe,” she asked, her head still buried in John’s stomach. John caught Micah’s eyes as he removed his gloves so that he could touch Maisie’s curly, brown hair. “I—I watched him turn, baby.” John fell to his knees. Micah ran over to John and Maisie, embracing them both. He wrapped one arm around Maisie and the other John’s neck, kissing him on the cheek repeatedly.

“I’m so sorry, John. I’m so sorry.” John stood and walked over to a container. He opened the container to reveal chromium crystal arrows, weapons and chromium crystal bullets.

“We leave tomorrow. We’re going to find them and we’re going to kill them all.”