The sprightly steps continued unabated, as if running influenced by some higher power, while the eyes stared blankly at the empty road. The soft light of the full moon filtered through the thick foliage of the trees flanking the moonlit road.
The leaves fluttered carelessly every time the winds picked up speed, even as his unperturbed mind remained comfortably unaware of the things around him.
The ghost-like appearance of the clouds swimming around the sky, changing shapes with every passing second, failed to attract his attention, as he remained focused on walking as fast as possible.
The bright headlight of the vehicle approaching from the front unsettled him for a moment, but not for long as his unblinking eyes quickly shifted gaze to tilt slightly to the left and inside the woods.
‘What the hell is that,’ his mind screamed, even before he could completely turn his head to stare for a little more; what the mind captured in that split second, however, brought about a sudden hysteria and even though he was reluctant to go in, found his feet dragging himself inside the forest; the mind screaming helplessly to follow its commands.
‘I don’t want to go,’ he shouted, staring at his disobedient legs, who continued to force him inside as the mind watched miserably, unable to control what since birth, has been its cherished slave.
‘Leave me alone,’ he shouted, the shrieks turning louder every time, like the car which went past him, now drove in reverse to check on what’s happening; the mechanical sound of the engine hadn’t sounded as pleasant as it sounded today.
The car stopped for a while, and the driver looked outside, examining the reason for the sudden scream even as his body continued to run deeper inside, unaware of what was pulling him as if entranced by some spirit pushing him against the explicit instructions of his mind.
‘Hey, are you ok?,’
‘Need help,’ the driver shouted, hoping to gain his attention, but he now seemed to have reached a completely different world.
Quietness reigned supreme as the loud screaming came to a sudden halt.
The driver waited to hear, but with no response even after waiting for a few minutes, decided to move on and just as he did, the spellbound body, suddenly started to run towards him alighting from the dark woods, the mouth letting out the loudest of cry, enough to scare away the fiercest of wild beasts.
The entire forest suddenly burst out in blood-curdling fear as an enormous ball of fire rolled towards the driver; his scary eyes reflected the red flames, as the feet froze in terror.
‘Jesus, what the heck,’ he couldn’t even complete himself, as the large flames followed him.
They turned out to be the last words leaving his mouth as he now got engulfed in the gigantic ball of fire, which already subsumed the man, who till a while ago was racing inside the dark forest.
‘Where are we going,’ the driver asked, standing beside the man, he tried saving a while earlier?
‘To the city,’ the voice proclaimed; the ferocity of the tone could have scared even the bravest of souls as animals scampered while it continued its way towards the city.
‘We need to reclaim what’s ours; take back the control, we lost a million years ago,’ the scorching fire yelled, as it started floating on its way towards human habitation.
The city lazily coming back to life at 4 in the morning felt the sudden unexpected heat, as some of its citizens started to leave the bed in the wee hours of the morning.
‘What’s the matter,’ a man murmured, surprised with the sudden perspiration and searching for the spectacles on the bed table while staring at his wife, who was still asleep.
‘Did she switch on the heat,’ he wondered, suddenly realizing it was June and not January.
A loud voice suddenly forced him to run and see what’s happening outside as his wife, distracted by the abrupt rise in temperature and the commotion, found it difficult to sleep any longer.
‘We are under attack,’ the man screamed, standing in front of his large window, overlooking the streets as his wife dashed towards him.
‘The kids are in the camp,’ she mumbled and dashed towards the phone.
‘It’s dead, there’s no network,’ she shouted, only to hear loud clamouring followed by a thud, along with the crashing of the window glass.
The man suddenly disappeared as she watched helplessly, the wide eyes unable to even absorb what they just witnessed.
Freezing at the place, she found herself unable to move as the ball of fire now approached her.
‘Susie and Michael,’ her mind went into a tizzy as their faces danced inside her mind’s eyes.
‘I can’t let them be alone in this world,’ she murmured, as her still feet came to sudden life and she started to run.
With her mind in trance, she rushed towards the back door, smashing her head, but not even registering the pain.
With both her hands, she now pushed open the jammed exit, to make her way out of the deadly place.
The eyes now witnessed the mayhem, something she managed to get a glimpse of while inside her house as she ran towards the car.
The charred, burnt metal lay where it was parked the last night, as contemplated what to do next.
‘I have to be with them,’ she repeated in mind, like a mantra, hoping and praying for her kids to be safe and sound.
The camp was at least 10 miles away, but there wasn’t a way out; even the long-distance refused to deter as she continued running; the husband was gone and she couldn’t afford to lose whatever was left of her family now.
A sole human running towards the forest surprised some scared onlookers as they glanced with a befuddled look. Staring blankly at each other, they too followed, hoping she might know what they weren’t privy to.
The solitary run gradually turned into a crowd as she tirelessly continued, hoping to be with her children soon.
The burning city and the obdurate foul air, though still followed; a testament to the destruction the city had witnessed.
‘This too shall pass,’ she suddenly remembered the favourite quote her father used to say, as she stared at the long road ahead.
A hand suddenly tapped her shoulder the moment she tried running faster.
The tapping, however, continued, as if fiddling with her desperation while she tried evading the unwanted disturbance.
The eyes, unable to see what lay ahead, suddenly tripped on the stone and she fell.
‘Wake up,’ her eyes opened slowly as she stared at her husband.
The drenched shirt and the loud gasping turned even louder as she opened her eyes abruptly.
‘A nightmare,’ he asked, while offering a glass of water.
‘Thank god you are safe,’ she immediately hugged him as he broke into a nervous smile, unable to gather what was going through her mind.
‘Where are the kids,’ she asked, still trying to regain her normal breathing?
‘Sleeping,’ he replied as she let out a loud and a long sigh.
‘The deadly virus has engulfed the entire world and is a pandemic now,’ the newsreader announced, while beaming pictures of people dying; the dead bodies lay stuffed inside the mortuaries and, scattered around the roads. ‘What’s happening in this world,’ she wondered, pinching herself to find out if she was still dreaming or is finally awake.