Alone Amongst the Ruins, Part Three

Part Two

You can purchase and download Alone Amongst the Ruins here. The developers, Azukail Games, has a website that can be found here.

The dawn was gray and cold. Having tucked myself into a corner of the townhouse, I listened to every bone in my body crack in protest as I rose from the hardwood floor. I pulled a few pieces of jerky from a small backpack I had collected to hold my dwindling supplies. I washed the salty breakfast down with a bottle of water and thought about how I should proceed. The phones did eventually stop ringing, but not right away. It took hours before the last one faded off, or I eventually just passed out from exhaustion. Throughout the night, a solitary ringing would wake me, but it usually stopped as quickly as it started and I dozed back off to sleep. As I headed to the front door, the phone I had pulled from the wall that should have been dead began to ring. I stared at it for some time and decided I wasn’t going to answer any more phones. I took a deep breath, and headed back out onto the street.

D6 = 1, so 1 card pulled

D6 = 2, drew 9 of Spades

Right down the street there was a coffee shop. The windows were smashed and the logo, though recognizable by anyone in the country who enjoys their variety of caffeinated drinks, was partially torn and flapped in the small morning breeze. Thinking I could maybe salvage something from inside, I tried the front door. It was jammed. I went around to one of the larger openings and was going to climb through when I spotted two small brown bear cubs huddled in the back. One looked directly at me and the other was snoring softly. I didn’t see the mom, but she couldn’t be too far. I didn’t even know if there was one. I backed away slowly and took a look around the deserted street before continuing on.

D6 = 6, so 6 cards pulled

D6 = 1, drew 4 of Diamonds

A mile from the townhouse I came across a traffic jam. Cars, vans, and delivery trucks were lined up bumper to bumper for nearly two full blocks in all directions. All the vehicles, most rusted out with the interiors torn up with what looked like scratches, were empty. There was a lot of blood, faded and chipping from the exposure to the sun, and I could not even imagine what had happened. At the epicenter of all this was a station wagon and an SUV that had collided. They too were empty and seemed to be one of the only vehicles spared of messy interiors. On a nearby building a large banner with cautionary symbols repeated what the signs earlier at the driving range had warned. Everyone should completely avoid eye contact and only to speak in whispered tones. There was also a line about wearing a mask and it’s help, but it was struck out with black spray paint. Below the sign, written by what I assume was the same person who crossed off that warning as the last letter drifted almost unbroken downwards, MASKS NOT SAVE YOU! THEY GET IN WITH MASKS TOO! DON’T TALK! DON’T LOOK!

D6 = 2, drew 8 of Hearts

As I continued towards what I hoped was water, more signs of violence could be seen. Just outside a laundromat and a diner, heaps of clothes and broken glassware and china littered the street. The plates were mostly broken with a rare few lying whole to the side of the road. There was massive amounts of blood here as well. On the ground, the walls, the sharp broken edges of plates, and soaked in the mounds of clothing. More signs littered the walls and inside the nearby shops. All warning of an unknowable threat with some having sections blacked out and others marked up with sharpies correcting the apparently incorrect information.

D6 = 2, drew 3 of Clubs

With the skyscrapers behind me and even some of the larger apartments, stores, and restaurants becoming less frequent, I came across a street lined with shotgun houses. The long rectangular dwellings seemed just as abandoned as the rest of the city, but these even more so. If I had to guess, this neighborhood was already seeing troubled times even before the incident which caused most of the population to vanish. Having finished off the food I had on me, I did scavenge a few granola bars and more bottled water from a couple houses that seemed to have been nearly blown apart from the inside. Nothing still made sense, but I was glad to find something to eat for later.

D6 = 1, drew 9 of Diamonds

I stumbled across another diner, but this one wasn’t as dilapidated as the others. There were a few broken windows, but the place was mostly intact. I pushed through the front door and headed back to the walk-in cooler in search of food. The smell of rotting meat overwhelmed my senses and I immediately realized it wasn’t spoiled beef but decomposing human flesh. I backed away from the death stuffed neatly into the cold space and sprinted to the bathroom. I never made it to a toilet and was washing the sink out when the door opened behind me and I saw a man step through. Disheveled, filthy, and covered in what I could only hope was dried maroon paint, he smiled. There was a familiarity about him and it sent shivers up my body. He frowned and then looked again into my eyes. “Look at me!” he screamed, and I did. This only infuriated him. “Turn around! Look at me!” Something clicked from the signs I had been reading and I remained frozen. The warnings had said not to make eye contact and this mirror was somehow not creating the connection this man was looking for. My hand was clenching the gun I had pulled from the crushed police officer in anticipation. The man’s face twisted in fury and he charged me. I spun, closing my eyes and fired the gun in three quick successions. I heard a grunt and sprinted out the door, opening my eyes so I would not crash into a wall. I ran as fast as I could away from that place with nobody seemingly following me.

D6 = 3, drew Jack of Clubs

The sound of seagulls filled me with renewed hope. I could hear waves cresting against the shoreline and I could smell the briny scent of the water in the air. As I approached the coast, I spotted a parking garage adjacent to a ferry terminal. Wanting to find out why I was being called to this place was still driving me, but it had been some time since I drank any water and I desperately needed something if I was going to keep going. I found a small office that a security guard would have used in between patrolling the parked cars. Inside was a small refrigerator with two bottles of sparkling water. I drank half of one and shoved them both into my backpack. I took a moment to sit on a worn office chair that had, despite breaking all laws of physics, been squeezed into the small space.

D6 = 5, drew Jack of Diamonds

I didn’t know there was a copy machine in the room, but it chirped to life and began attempting to print something. It beeped, clicked, whirred, beeped, and tried all over again. The beep was familiar. I heard it before. Just then the seagulls became boisterous and began screeching and squawking. The phone, an old black and bulky thing hung crookedly on the wall began to ring. I wanted to vomit. I felt bile and spit fill my mouth and my hand shakingly reached for the receiver. I didn’t want it to but I could not stop it. There was silence on the other end. I knew there would be. “The truth will set you free,” I said unable to suppress the chuckle that escaped my lips. The line went dead, as I knew it would. It then began to ring again and it seemed to somehow ring as if it was calling a hundred different phones at once. I placed it gently back on the receiver and, after replacing one of the sparkling water bottles back into the fridge, I left. I headed back towards the diner. I went slow so as not to be seen and waited in a burnt out car where I could see the building. It didn’t take long before I saw a figure enter the front so I headed over. I left the backpack behind and made it inside just as I heard the retching in the sink. I stopped at the door, waiting to hear for the water and closed my eyes. I didn’t understand the purpose of what was happening and it didn’t nag at me even so close to the end. Knowing it was almost over was almost a whole other level of peace. I heard the sink faucet turn off and walked in.

THE END

Alone Amongst the Ruins, Part Two

Part One

You can purchase and download Alone Amongst the Ruins here. The developers, Azukail Games, has a website that can be found here.

I answer the phone immediately. There is a noise on the other line. A low beeping that held a steady pattern. I began shouting. I asked if anyone could hear me. I pleaded for answers. I weeped for a voice that did not answer. In the background, in between the beeps, I caught a sound. It was faint, but I could hear it. Seagulls…it sounded like hundreds. Just then the phone went dead. I looked at it forlornly and slid the powerless device into my pocket. Just as the pain of defeat began to gnaw at my stomach, I caught something from my vantage point. It was a glimmer of light. Sparkling in the distance, I could make out water. A vast body of water just out of sight, but reflecting the sun off its surface like a beacon of hope. I carefully climbed down the tower and headed towards the hulking shells of skyscrapers.

D6 = 5, so 5 cards pulled

D6 = 1, Drew 8 of Spades

The outskirts of the city were easily traversable. The roads were open with little debris clogging the streets. A few abandoned cars here and there, but nothing I couldn’t walk around and avoid coming in contact with in case something or someone lurked inside waiting to attack a passing victim. An hour into my journey, I turned down one of the main roads and was stopped in my tracks. Before me, completely engulfing the two-lane streets, were thick jungle vines. They seemed to be coming from every direction. Turning back and finding another route would cause me to lose time, and I did not want to be out wandering this strange city at night in the dark. With a heavy sigh, I began working my way through this natural obstacle course.

D6 = 6, Drew 5 of Hearts

After some time, and considerable effort, I saw dim light through the choking vines. It became brighter and brighter before I pushed through and almost collapsed to the ground as the last of the heavy foliage snapped away. Finding a curb to sit down on, I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths. When I opened them, a white banner caught my eye. It was high up dangling from the side of a skyscraper. The wind buffeted it around and every once in a while I caught letters. Finally, a strong gust billowed it out and it unfurled with the word HELP written in a large black font. The building it was attached to was mostly decimated by something. Huge gashes across its surface with thousands of broken windows and twisted metal beams. There was surely nobody in there left to help.

D6 = 3, Drew 10 of Hearts

I continued to walk, free from the unrelenting vines now behind me. As I continued down what I assume was one of the main roads, I heard a phone ringing. I immediately froze, unsure of where it was coming from. I haphazardly guessed it was forward and began to run. I was glad to hear it get louder as I ran in the chosen direction. An indoor badminton facility seemed to be the only logical place, as it was the only recognizable structure that wasn’t burnt out or destroyed. The phone at the receptionist desk was loudly screaming to be answered and I picked it up yelling in return. Nobody answered my calls and instead I was met with the same beeping I heard earlier. The seagulls were much more prominent and unmistakable. But, what did these calls mean?

D6 = 6, Drew 5 of Spades

When I returned to the street, I continued in the direction I had been heading before this recent distraction. I took a moment and sat down on a bench a block away. Just long enough to rest a few minutes. I didn’t want to slow down, but I couldn’t keep going at this pace forever. There was a low creaking and groaning noise above me and I looked up to see the HELP sign flutter away in the wind. What was once a broken and ruined building just moments before was now choked and entwined with massive vines. As I watched, long green stalks broke through sheer metal and twisted up and around the broken building. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.

D6 = 3, Drew 3 of Hearts

I was not conceivably any closer to my destination and it was approaching nightfall when I decided it best to find shelter for the night. The mighty skyscrapers were behind me now and I stumbled across a street of townhouses. They were all identical in their layout and design which told me this must have been a recent addition. After some searching, I found one that was in relatively good condition and got inside without any trouble. I locked all the doors and slid the heaviest furniture I could drag to brace the entrance and exit. As I found a quiet corner, the phone in the kitchen began to ring. I jumped to my feet, heart racing, and answered it. I didn’t speak this time. I just listened. The beeping was there. Seagulls calling in the distance, but something new. Someone was breathing. It was raspy and wet. I was paralyzed with fear. “I’m waiting for you,” a deep male voice said with a chuckle. I slammed the phone down, tearing it from the wall and throwing it across the room. I then heard the phone in the adjacent unit ring, followed by the one in the opposite end. With the silence of the dead city, and hundreds of broken windows, I heard every phone in every townhouse ringing. I huddled on the ground, my hands clamped over my ears, trying to block out the sound.

Part Three

Alone Amongst the Ruins, Part One

You can purchase and download Alone Amongst the Ruins here. The developers, Azukail Games, has a website that can be found here.

The hospital seemed long abandoned. The halls were empty of living souls and littered with debris. After waking in a bed in a too revealing medical gown, I searched for anyone who could tell me what had happened. I managed to find clothes that fit a little tight in a locker with shoes that uncomfortably squeezed my feet. I see the broken fragments of a cityscape through dirty windows but no defining features that tell me where I am. My only choice, it seems, is to leave this place and search out the answers elsewhere.

D6 = 5, so 5 cards pulled

D6 = 3, Drew 6 of Clubs

As I headed towards the hospital lobby, I found a small gift shop in the main entrance that still held some vital supplies. The porcelain figurines had been smashed, congratulatory balloons barely floating off the ground, and stuffed animals ripped and tossed about. I managed to find an unopened box full of trail mix packages that never got stocked on the shelves and a working flashlight in a back office.

D6 = 3, Drew Ace of Clubs

Just outside the hospital there was a small outdoor mall. I crossed the street, old habits causing me to look both ways, and began walking the once-decorative-now-weeded path winding before shops and cafes. After some searching, I was able to procure some beef jerky, dried fruit, and a few bottles of water somehow untouched by the looted store.

D6 = 1, Drew 10 of Diamonds

The mall ended abruptly and I found myself in a parking lot for a driving range. I made my way to the shop in search of anyone who could tell me what was happening. Just like all my previous excursions, I was alone. I spotted a few signs posted on the door reminding customers one of no direct eye contact and to speak in hushed tones.

D6 = 3, Queen of Hearts

I left and continued on in search of answers. I eventually found myself approaching a post office. A mail truck was tipped over, a breeze catching the occasional envelope and sending it spinning into the air and away from the crash. Several torn and discarded packages lay strewn about the entrance and just inside the vestibule. I tried the front doors but they were locked tight.

D6 = 4, 8 of Clubs

As I walked around the building, I turned down a side street littered with dozens of white, gray, and yellowing envelopes. I tried to see addresses, but water and mud had infiltrated the creases and everything was too damaged to read. Only one box remained untouched by the elements and within it, packed in those white styrofoam peanuts, was a first-aid kit.

D6 = 4, so 4 cards pulled

D6 = 6, 2 of Clubs

I had wandered further and found a park bench covered in wet leaves and mud. I cleaned a small spot and rested. As I scanned the area, a gleam caught my eye from a nearby park. I wandered over, observing a large tree that had fallen across the brightly colored children’s equipment. The source of the flash was the badge of a police officer that had been crushed under the fallen tree. After mustering up the courage, and choking back the small amount of food I had scavenged, I secured the gun from his holster. I silently prayed I wouldn’t need it.

D6 = 6, 4 of Hearts

Having sat down after removing the firearm from the fallen cop, I noticed the parked squad car amongst other vehicles in the parking lot. Some looked in worse shape than others. Rust had creeped up from the dings and dents across the frames. The cruiser, one single blue light spinning endlessly with the red one in silent vigil, seemed untouched by the elements. All of the tires, at least from where he sat, were flat.

D6 = 2, 10 of Clubs

I decided to circle back to the driving range to get another look through the offices, having only done a preliminary search of the shop. I looked through each drawer, closet, and filing cabinet. I was about to give up when I found a smartphone. The battery life was only 4%, but I thanked whoever was listening above that the previous owner did not lock it behind a password. Racing outside I tried to find a signal to call someone…anyone.

D6 = 5, King of Spades

After walking around with the phone raised in the air, watching the percentage drop to three, and no bars popping up, I raced towards an abandoned church I had seen by the playground. I smiled as the vine-covered steeple rose from the horizon. The front doors opened after a few shoulder slams which jarred me slightly. I carefully trekked up the rickety stairs, watching for rotten floorboards as I wound up the tower. Once I made it to the top the phone picked up a single bar. Before I could dial a number, it vibrated weakly and began to ring.

Part Two