26 Sep Xenia
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Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”-Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the state of Illinois, there is a small village called Xenia. The U.S. Census Bureau states that there are 407 people living within the town limits as of 1999. On April 26th,I was driving up from Texas to Toronto, Canada to visit some relatives and celebrate my birthday. My fuel gauge read “E” as it did all too often it seemed. I was somewhere in Southern Illinois, lost due to my inability to read maps while driving. A storm, fast approaching, only worsened my already sour mood. “God DAMNIT”, I screamed, as I pulled into the old timey gas station. There was noone inside the store, or in sight.
I drove slowly into town; the rain had begun to fall. I pulled over and walked up to a house, remarking to myself why anyone would need such a nice Mustang GT in such a hick town. I knocked loudly, expecting a swift answer, only to receive utter silence. The only sound I could hear was the rain hitting the ground harder and harder. Frustrated, I tried the next house, and then the next. Nothing. I checked my watch. 4:23. “Where the hell could these people be?”, I asked myself.
After checking several more houses, I got back in my car and tried to start the engine. It barely sputtered to life. The rain had transformed into pelting sleet, so outside was no longer an option. I drove to the local church, my last resort. “Woodland Baptist Church”, it read. Taking a deep breath and bracing myself for the sleet and religious piousness. I dashed across the walkway to the door and opened it.
I opened the door. Noone there. I swore a foul oath, then walked to the front of the choir stands, my steps making hollow echoing sounds beneath me. There was a cellar. I pushed aside the curtains behind the podium and located the latch that opened the cellar door. To my extreme displeasure, I could not open it. As if swearing at it would make it open, I let fly the most horrendous insults I could think of. After my swearing session, I tried calling Triple A, but my phone got 0 bars. As you can imagine, my rage was palpable. I decided to force open the cellar door to release some of my built up frustration. As the latch broke off, an insidious stench permeated the air. I gagged and pinched my nose. Once my eyes stopped watering, I opened them.
I gagged a second time, bile rising in the back of my throat. Emaciated corpses littered the basement. Hundreds upon hundreds of men, women, and even children, just lay there, ribs prominent, eyes wide. I sprinted out of the church and through the hailstorm, into my car. I might’ve cried for an hour, or a day. Time had lost meaning.When I regained control over my senses,I found myself stumbling along the road in broad daylight. A sign up ahead said Salem- 5 miles. As the police would later tell me, I had walked nearly 50 miles in a state of catatonia. I couldn’t remember anything at first, until I was approached by a policeman.
“Happy Easter, son.” A burly policeman stood next to me. “What?”, I replied stupidly. “I said Happy Easter.” I couldn’t think of anything nice to say, so I stayed my tongue. He seemed determined to have a conversation though. “You heard about them Y2K schizoids freakin’ out over the end of the world?”, he chuckled at me. “Yeap, its all over the news, how people holed up in their community centers to wait out the end.” I gaped in disbelief.
Credit To: Steven P.