It was good to be home after a bad day. Ty entered the kitchen from the side door, but was surprised that there were no smells of dinner having been cooked. Disappointed, he went to the freezer and picked through the frozen fare. His mother kept buying this stuff in spite of a determination that they should eat better. He had picked up a few pounds, but remained well under his previous level of obesity. They had all been doing better, but Ty often thought how many deaths it took to get them motivated. So many people in town had died of poor health that government officials got involved to make certain there were no environmental hazards. All expired due to natural causes.
One burrito in the microwave, he thought, and the last of the orange juice. Stress was draining away as he drank. All it took was a handful of experienced people to die and work became a nightmare to deal with. Fortunately, the new people were picking up quickly, so it was just a waiting game until they were pulling their fair share. The microwave chimed that dinner was done, but Ty left it to cool a minute.
He walked into the living room to see if his parents had left a note. They probably made a trip over to the Sherman house and got caught up. Mrs. Sherman was not dealing with the loss of her husband well. Ty considered visiting her in the weeks since Mr. Sherman’s passing, but the old woman always creeped him out. He left the visiting to his parents. Besides, everyone was a bit unnerved by Mr. Sherman’s death. An aneurysm, it was reported, but the witnesses saw himcrashiong through backyards until he collapsed in the street. They said his lips were moving, but no sound emerged.
Ty shook his head to clear out the thoughts of a horror movie trope in real life, then left the living room. He walked to the microwave before stopping, suddenly aware. He remembered leaving the kitchen and returning, but realizing that he had no recollection of being in the living room. Removing the burrito from the oven, it was cold. Looking at the clock, the young man dropped the plate and burrito. An hour had passed since he arrived home. Bewildered, he looked around the room, a feeling of dread creeping through his body. The lights flickered off, returning after only a few seconds and before Ty had a chance to scream.
He was about to laugh at the fright that flooded through him, but then the note came into view. It wasn’t there before and there was only one word: Run. A sound from the living room behind him suddenly sent Ty smashing through the door. Shadows around his car were visible out the corner of his eye. Rational thought struck him, thinking about the ruined door, but the adrenaline was still pumping and the backyard disappeared under the rapid strides. He wasn’t a runner or particularly athletic, but Ty was strong. The fence barely slowed his progress and he accelerated through the Farmer’s yard.
Certain that sounds of pursuit were approaching, he continued to run, busting through fences that barely slowed his flight. A small voice reminded him that metal fencing was ahead. A fresh burst of fear induced adrenaline saw Ty sailing over the obstacle. The question of why he took flight kept nagging at his mind, but he ran on through lit backyards and others that were mostly dark. Then he saw them. His parents were ahead, between him and the last yard before reaching the street. As he neared, their hollow faces nodded approval, and, as he passed them, in unison they echoed the word that sent him hurtling through the night: “Run.”
When his feet hit the street, Ty turned sharply to the right, to reach Answell St., and on the path to the Sherman house. His chest ached and every muscle was screaming with pain. He did not get farther before seeing the fire engines, desperately fighting a blaze. It was the Sherman house. Still feeling pursuit, he turned another right onto Zangan Alley. He continued to run, attempting to distract his mind with the thought that The Doctor was running alongside. He continued to run until the neighborhood disappeared behind him, still running from invisible pursuers.