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She shuddered as she stared down at the creature, unable to tell what it was. She blinked her eyes in disbelief as she looked around at her once calm home, now mangled and torn apart. She rubbed her groggy eyes softly and went over to a large cabinet, taking out an assualt rifle.

She continued to quickly gather things as she reached the front door. She sliped a tazer into the pocket of a black jacket, and put it on. Zipping the jacket and grabbing the rifle, she opened the door. She cocked the rifle and stood to the side of the doorway, peering at her surroundings. She gave one last look behind her, and saw the creature still on the floor. Slowly and carefully, she made her way to her jeep.

The soft breeze had grown into a colder, more bitter gust, tossing her hair around a bit as she pulled the driver's side door open. She quickly got into the jeep and slowly shut the door, locking it. Breathing a sigh of relief, she put the key in the ignition, and looked up.

The front door flew open violently, hanging on by one hinge.

"Damn it!", she yelled, startled.

The creature stood, slumped against the left side of the door frame. Blood dripping over its slanted muzzle and hitting the cement of the walkway. A strong wind came, swirling tattered and dead leaves around in the air. Hope put her foot on the gas and quickly turned the steering wheel, panting nervously. Quickly, she backed out of the driveway, kicking up dust and gravel. The creature flashed a fanged, frustrated grin, then lunged at the vehicle.

Bam! It landed on the roof of the jeep.

Hope's hands shook as she tried to steady the rifle, aiming straight up.

Riiiiip! Dark claws pierced the roof.

She lowered her head and pulled the trigger. "Raaiiiahhh!", the creature's body collapsed, one of its paw-like hands dangled outside the passenger's side window. She leaned forward and took a close look at the hand. Four fingers and a thumb. Could it be... The hand twitched. "Ahhh!", Hope jumped back and hit her head on the roof.

"Ugh.", she rubbed the back of her head. She started up the jeep again and went forward quickly, then in reverse, the creature's body rolled off and fell dead to the ground, blood gushed from its chest.

Even with the cool temperature, she was sweating and panting loudly. She drove down the driveway, tossing a package in the back seat, along with her jacket and empty pistol. Her eyes scanned the quiet country side looking for signs of life. As she passed by a field, she saw slaughtered livestock scattered over it, causing her jaw to drop slightly at the sight. She shivered as a chill ran up her spine and looked away. Still driving gradually faster, she noticed there were no cars on the road, she pressed her foot on the gas. She pulled open the glove box and took out her cell phone.

"Thomas.", she dialed the number and held the phone to her ear.

A loud tone sounded.

"We're sorry, the number you are trying to reach cannot be contacted right now. Please try again later."

A worried expression etched its way across her face. She pressed "zero" for the operater.

Ring... ring... ring...

She tightened her grip on the phone, "Answer!"

Ring... ring... ring...

The ringing stopped, Hope glared at the small screen of the phone, a message flashed: "No Signal".

"Damn!", she shut the phone and put it on the seat next to her. She drove closer and closer to the city, Rosen Clauden. The road was eerily empty, with only a few cars pulled over to the side, some with smashed in bumpers, broken windows, and doors ripped off. She looked through each windshield, searching for a friendly face to stare back at her, she found none. A chirpping sound rang. An automatic censor in the jeep picked up the city's "welcome" message.

"Now entering Rosen Clauden, the city of prosperity and evolution in medical science! Dr. Daniel Clauden, staff, and associates welcome you!", beamed a female computerized voice.

Hope smiled slightly, she knew once she made it to the city she'd find a safe haven and some answers. In the distance she saw tall buildings, making her smile more.

"Thank Go--", her voice trailed off and her smile faded.

Rosen Clauden was a disaster. Its once tall, proud towers and buildings, were either crumbled or highly damaged. All that was left was twisted metal reaching toward the cloudy sky. Tears began to well up in her eyes. For she began to feel fear sneaking up inside her. Her mouth dropped open as she slowed the jeep to a stop. Papers, bricks, cars, trucks, signs; everything, was all over the place. She shook her head slowly.

"No, no, no! This can't be happening!", she banged her hands on the steering wheel angrily. A coffee shop where she used to meet with friends was condemned. Her shock and sadness began to wash away, replaced by anger and a need for answers. She noticed small fires scattered in random places.

"Still burning?", she muttered and grabbed the rife and her jacket. Slowly, she crept out of the jeep, sliding her jacket on and cocking the rifle. Quietly, she eased the door closed, making as little noise as possible. Cautiously, she walked along the street, stepping over trash, debris, and twisted metal. A faint voice called out from somewhere near.

"Help...", sighed a deep, but weak man's voice.

Readying her finger on the trigger, "Who's there!", she cried out.




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