Fallacy – Book 1 Fallacy Trilogy
Somehow Jenny never thought Armageddon would be like this. She grew up with the idea that it was something to be anticipated. All of the teasing and mean-spirited laughter would stop once Armageddon started.
Then she could smugly look at her tormentors and say, “Now who’s laughing?” as they burned or sank into the ground or something. She wasn’t quite clear on how God would smite them, but she knew He would. Then she would be vindicated.
Now no one knew what to think. Even religious leaders who had been preaching doom and gloom for generations had no idea what was happening. They no doubt had expected to be raptured by now, but there were no mysterious disappearances to date, only fire, sickness, and death. Murder and looting were also on the rise. It was worse in urban areas, but the suburbs were by no means immune.
People were scared and many had lost their faith. Even those who didn’t believe in anything were struggling to make sense of everything that had happened in the past few months. This made everyone dangerous. Even if someone didn’t want to believe in life after death when that concept or hope was taken away permanently there really was no reason to be civilized.
Everyone really started to live in the moment and consequences were a thing of the past. Maslow’s pyramid lost all but the bottom layer. It was anyone’s guess if civilization would ever reassert itself.
Jenny sighed and leaned her head against the privacy fence. She had been on the run for almost three weeks and needed to find a place to regroup soon. She missed her modest home, but most of all she missed Ricky. He was the best dog she ever had, and she could only hope that Isabelle was able to keep him safe. She hadn’t seen either one of them since before she travelled with Frank to his world and now that the end was truly here she had no way to contact Isabelle. She had just enough faith left to send a little prayer up to keep both of them safe.
Jenny heard a furtive rustling from the bushes about ten feet to her left. She kept still waiting to hear the sound again. This time it was five feet from her and moving fast. She pushed herself off the fence and swiveled on the balls of her feet unsheathing her machete.
The noise had been low to the ground but that didn’t mean that the creature couldn’t jump. Sure enough a wiggling ball of fur that was all tongue and tail flung itself at her and caused her to sit down hard on the neglected lawn. She was one stroke away from cutting it in half before she stopped herself and put the machete down next to her.
The puppy sniffed at the machete, growling low in the back of its throat. Then it seemed to remember Jenny was there and wiggled its way back into her lap. Jenny laughed softly allowing the tiny puppy lick her hands and then her face.
Was this little puppy a sign? Was she an answer to her prayer? Jenny had no way of knowing for sure, but the still, small voice that had been with her since her childhood said yes, and that was good enough for her. Until she knew for sure otherwise, she would believe that both Isabelle and Ricky were still kicking.
The puppy had wandered off Jenny’s lap and was sniffing the machete again, not as agitated as she was at first, but definitely not happy. Jenny reached over for the dog’s collar to see if there was any form of identification. She found the name tag and read aloud, “Bunny”.
“You don’t look like a Bunny, girl,” Jenny said to the small, black dog. She looked like an Affenpinscher, a small terrier-like breed with wiry hair. This one looked to be between six months to a year old and only weighed about five pounds.
Jenny picked her up and looked into her eyes and said, “How about Monkey? No, I need a tough name for you. How about I call you Sheena?” The dog chuffed, much like Ricky, and Jenny laughed, “Sheena it is.” The two sat in the dying grass playing and cuddling for a few minutes. Jenny was able to forget, at least momentarily, that she had survived the end of the world.
Jenny still needed to find a safe place to rest and now had to find enough food for the both of them. She didn’t really want to carry around a big bag of dog food or toys, but Sheena was still in the chew phase and had already torn a hole in one of her pant legs, so she would at least need a chew toy or bone. First things first, she needed to find shelter before the heat of the day drained what little energy she had left.
She had hoped that this house would work, but when she climbed the fence and looked at the back she knew it wouldn’t. There had been a fire. The damage had been localized to the back half of the house so she didn’t see it until after she climbed the fence. More energy wasted that she couldn’t afford.
Jenny picked Sheena up and tucked her under her left arm. After only a moment of fidgeting, the little dog settled and was content to be carried. Jenny thought the house to the right would service them well. It looked to be whole, with no windows broken. Also, it hadn’t been tagged so it probably hadn’t been looted either.
She wouldn’t know if it was haunted until she went inside. Hopefully the owners had just left and hadn’t died. Aside from reducing the stench, it made the likelihood of the house being haunted pretty low. She didn’t want to think about the other creatures that could be lurking.
As an added bonus there was a gate in the privacy fence between the two properties, which meant that the two families were either really good friends or related somehow. It also meant that Jenny didn’t have to figure out a way to climb the fence with Sheena or risk being seen by going out and around to the front of the house. Maybe her prayer worked better than she thought.
Jenny went over to the gate and stood on her toes to see over it. The yard looked like a tranquil oasis welcoming her for some much need rest. Sheena gave a small whine and yelp and Jenny realized that she had almost dropped her because she had dozed off.
“Thank you, Sheena. I guess I better get us into that house as soon as possible.”
The gate opened quickly and quietly on well-oiled hinges. Jenny slipped through and shut the gate behind her. If Armageddon taught her anything it was to leave as many barriers behind her as possible, and then never go back the way she came. She paused for a moment in this new space trying to sense any wrongness.
It seemed clear so she walked over to the stairs leading to back door of the house. It was a standard colonial with a back deck and above ground pool. All of the doors and windows were shut and intact, Jenny only hoped that one of them were unlocked. She didn’t want to risk the noise that breaking a window would make. She also didn’t want to put Sheena down at this crucial juncture.
Jenny swayed as she started up the stairs of the deck, and sent up another quick prayer for strength to get in the house. The absurdity struck her again. She had no idea to whom she was praying, but it was comforting and if she needed proof that it worked all she had to do was look at her new dog.
For now it was onward and upward and fingers crossed that either the door or a window was unlocked. She looked into the window on the left and saw a comfortable looking family room with a fire place and overstuffed couch. There were a few magazines scattered on the coffee table but otherwise it was neat and clean and, most importantly, empty.
The window to the right was too far away for her to check and still have enough energy to clear the house once she was inside. So she finally made it to the door, reached for the knob, and turned it. “Thank God,” Jenny mumbled as the knob turned easily in her hand. This door was maintained just as well as the gate and opened easily and quietly.
Jenny slipped through and paused again with her back to the door. All of her senses were on high alert despite her fatigue. The house smelled stale with a hint of rotten food, but not the sickly, sweet smell of human decay. The silence was complete and told her that there were no four-legged creatures roaming around either.
Sheena began to squirm and yip and slipped right out of Jenny’s arms. She immediately ran from the kitchen through the hallway directly in front of them to the double front door. She sniffed frantically and then let out a series of high-pitched barks.
“Sheena get back here,” Jenny whispered forcefully.
Sheena, of course, ignored her completely. She did stop barking, for which Jenny was extremely grateful. She had no idea what was on the other side of the door, but knew they couldn’t stay if they drew attention to the fact they were inside. She patted her leg and snapped her fingers to get the little dog’s attention. It took a few minutes, but when Sheena became aware that her new master wanted her, she took off back toward the kitchen and Jenny.
Jenny scooped Sheena up and allowed her to give her tons of doggie kisses before continuing on through the house. Her first priority was to figure out what was on the other side of the front door. She walked slowly out of the kitchen and down the hall to the front door.
She couldn’t hear any movement, furtive or otherwise, and Sheena was completely relaxed, so maybe whatever it was got scared and left. She rolled her eyes at herself. If she kept up with this type of thinking Sheena would need a new owner again very soon.
Jenny put her eye to the peephole of the right hand door, first looking right and then left at the street. She didn’t really expect to see much, this was a very quiet neighborhood even before the end of the world started. She did see a small SUV that looked promising across the street and a few houses down.
All of the windows and doors were closed and intact. Most importantly it looked like it was empty. That was for later, though. Now she looked down and noticed a pair of desiccated legs to the left on the porch. Like the person had sat down to rest before getting out of town. The important part was the legs weren’t moving.
After a few more moments, Jenny decided that she could leave the body for later. Clearing the rest of the house was a higher priority. Sheena was still calm, panting lightly, and looking around placidly so Jenny thought they were still in pretty good shape. After making sure the front door was locked, both handle and dead bolt, she turned around to see where she should go next.
The house was still in the late morning heat. There weren’t even any of the settling noises. The day was bright outside, but all of the curtains had been drawn in the house so there was a deep gloom throughout. Jenny’s eyes had adjusted enough to be able to see the furniture in the living room to her left as she faced the kitchen and through to the dining room.
On the right was a short hallway that led to a laundry room and then on to the garage. There was a closet on the left and a small half-bathroom on the right. The doors to both were open and the interiors dark. The door to the laundry room was also open and from what she saw empty. She would need to clear each area but wanted to make sure the back of the house was secure first.
Jenny turned back and headed for the kitchen. It was the brightest room because the window in the back door was only covered by thin, white curtains with tiny yellow flowers embroidered along the edge. Even if they had been pulled like the rest of the curtains it still wouldn’t have blocked the light as thoroughly in the rest of the house.
“Mom had curtains like that,” Jenny thought, and then mentally clamped down on the thought and threw it away.
Thoughts like that would get her killed, one way or another. She took a deep breath, the in through the nose out through the mouth kind, and then went back to the kitchen to make sure it was secure. She was 95% sure that the house was empty but wanted to make sure no one could get in and sneak up on her. She was also hoping for a vehicle in the garage. She had a long way to go and didn’t want to risk checking every car and truck she came across that was exposed.
Jenny put Sheena down and the little dog stayed by her side this time as she walked back down the hallway to the kitchen. She only gave the open staircase and landing a cursory glance as she passed by them, confident in her belief that she was alone in the house. Once again in the kitchen, she did a 360 degree turn taking in everything she missed when she first entered.
Everything was in its place, with only a thin layer of dust coating the countertops and small appliances. The garbage can was also empty. There wasn’t any produce in the basket on the counter, which was great because it would definitely be rotten and smelly by now. The refrigerator was silent so Jenny would only open it as a last resort. After three weeks of no power, the contents would most likely be toxic even if she only smelled them.
Then she noticed the pantry. There weren’t any sounds or smells coming out of it so she opened the doors to see if there were any supplies she could use. A cursory glance told her there were quite a few well-preserved supplies that she could eat. She thought she saw a bag of potatoes too. She made a point to come back for a closer look as soon as she made sure the house was clear and secure.
Jenny turned to go back to the garage, passing the kitchen table. The note on the table didn’t register until she was halfway down the hallway. Exhaustion had dulled her survival skills and would most likely kill her if she didn’t rest soon. She was relying heavily on Sheena’s instincts right now and only hoped it would be good enough.
Jenny decided the note could wait until she cleared the garage and secured the perimeter. The interior door to the garage was unlocked, but that wasn’t too big of a concern since the garage door was down. There was one window on the far side of the room that let in a decent amount of light, but Jenny turned on her flashlight she kept clipped to her belt to be on the safe side. She knew there were two cars, but received a nasty shock when she lifted her flashlight to look into the closest car. She almost crushed Sheena when she tripped on her and fell hard to her knees.
She took another deep breath, in through the nose out through the mouth.
While Jenny was kneeling on the ground she decided to have a look under the car. Thankfully, there wasn’t even an oil spot under there. She didn’t think she could take another surprise at the moment. From what she could tell, it was clear under the second car as well.
“The note,” Jenny said with a shaky laugh, “should have read the damn note.”
Sheena whined uneasily after she sniffed at the bottom of the driver’s side door.
“I know girl,” Jenny responded, stroking the little dog’s wiry fur. “I don’t want to look, but I have to be sure. God, please help me here.”
Jenny stood, pausing to gather her courage, and shone her flashlight in the driver’s side window again. The desiccated corpse smiled back at her with a lipless mouth. From the length of the hair, jewelry, and clothes she gathered this was the woman of the house. The woman’s skin was a dark gray with a thin coating of powder.
The corpse on the front porch had a reddish hue, but that could have been because he was exposed to the elements. There was no visible wound on the woman and nothing to indicate that the car had been running, so Jenny knew the only way to learn what had happened would be to touch the car.
Jenny wondered aloud, “Why did you have to take the kids too?”
She bowed her head, fighting tears, and gulping down a sob. She had to bear witness. It was the end of the world and she had a responsibility to bear witness to the deaths of those not strong enough to keep fighting. It was especially important to do so for those who depended on others for their own survival.
Her heart broke every time she found children. Strong people tended to be the most selfish, assuming that if they could take care of themselves then everyone else could as well. Being one herself, she fought this tendency every day. Now when she wanted to run more than anything else, she would bear witness instead.
Jenny raised her head.
There were four children in the car, an anonymous four-door American-made sedan in a non-descript shade of silver. Based on their sizes and the fact that the youngest was in a car seat, their ages probably ranged from twelve to about a year.
The two in the back could have been twins they were that similar in size, but were a boy and girl if Jenny could tell anything from their clothing. The baby was a girl too. Her pink headband had fallen down in front of her eyes once her flesh had shrunk, hanging limply across the front her face after having gotten caught on her tiny, once-perfect ears.
Jenny put a hand to her mouth, stifling another sob. She always bore witness as silently as possible. She wasn’t sure why it had to be done this way, but she never (well hardly ever) argued with her still, small voice. Later she could cry. Later she could release the pain she always felt.
She had lost count how many times she had to do this within the past few weeks. It didn’t matter how they died or how much was left of them, she always felt their pain and confusion. She felt other things too, but couldn’t dwell on those things. She had a job to do and couldn’t do it if doubt, anger, and fear overwhelmed her.
The last child was the oldest and was sitting in the passenger seat next to his mom. He was dressed like an average boy on the verge of becoming a teenager going on a summer road trip, in a plain striped t-shirt, khaki shorts, and tennis shoes. It was the large butcher’s knife in his left hand that looked out of place.
Jenny could have been projecting the look of fear on this poor child’s face, but didn’t think so. He took the most convincing to get in the car. Had his mother had to lie to him to get him there? Did she regret her decision once the end came?
The questions always came and Jenny never wanted the answers. She hoped the note would shed some light on this family’s decision to end it all to make what she saw in her vision easier to bear. There was no doubt that this was suicide, but perhaps they were forced into it. Perhaps they were only looking for the least painful way for their children to die.
Jenny certainly hoped she was right. She swayed on her feet again and had to reach out for the car to keep from falling over. The instant contact was made, Jenny’s hand became glued to the car and she received everything that happened to this family. It was only a matter of seconds, but the last three months of the Hansen family’s lives were now in Jenny’s head.
Jenny collapsed when the force released her from the car. She lay there dazed, looking up at the ceiling of the garage, wondering if her head was going to explode. It didn’t hurt exactly. It felt extremely full. It was like there wasn’t enough room in her mind for her life’s experiences and the Hansen’s. Sheena was whining again, but for the moment Jenny couldn’t do anything about it.
Jenny concentrated on breathing. When that became an involuntary action again, she tried swallowing a few times. After that she felt blinking again would be good, followed by making sure her limbs would still work properly. Once all of that was established she felt more comfortable with the feeling of fullness in her brain and thought she could stand again. She was very careful not to touch the car again in case there were any residual effects left.
Once standing, Jenny shined her flashlight at the other car to establish there weren’t any passengers, dead or otherwise. She hoped she could find a spare set of keys, or that Mrs. Hansen had left her set in the house. The thought of touching the sedan again made her knees weak. Either way she would need keys if she wanted to use the second car, but she would worry about that later. Now she needed to lie down.
Jenny let Sheena follow her back into the house. Bending over to pick up her new little friend seemed to be more than she could do without passing out. She shut the door to the garage and left it unlocked. With her sole purpose being to find a place to rest the note had slipped her mind again.
When she entered the kitchen and saw it again she stopped dead in her tracks. Now that she had the Hansen’s activities swimming around in her head she didn’t think she needed the note. On the other hand it may give her more insight so she made a mental note to grab it after she checked the house again.
Jenny walked quickly through the rest of the first floor, checking all of the doors and windows to make sure they were closed and locked. She did another quick inventory of the pantry in the kitchen, relieved to find it still relatively well-stocked. Part of her thought she had dreamt it all.
As she started to climb the stairs, Sheena ran ahead of her excited to be on a new adventure. Sheena paused on the top landing for only a moment, shook her head as if clearing it, and sneezed before trotting the rest of the way down the open hallway. Jenny was looking up at her and smiled, glad to have the puppy for company.
She was still smiling when she saw Sheena pass through what she could only describe as a shimmering cloud. It didn’t seem to bother her, but for a moment Jenny thought there was someone else there. It wasn’t big and she couldn’t be sure it was even there, but she didn’t feel quite as alone as before.
By the time Jenny reached the upstairs hallway, Sheena had checked out every room with an open door. Jenny felt confident that she could inspect these rooms later and headed straight for what she presumed was the master bedroom. Now that rest was so close she didn’t give the shimmering cloud or the fact that she might be sharing the house with something else a second thought.
The master bedroom was what Jenny had expected; clean lines, modern colors, soothing in a cold way. It was minimalistic and did not feature any family photos. She wondered if that and their ability to allow their children to die were somehow connected. The thought sent shivers down her spine.
Jenny took a quick look in the attached bathroom and walk-in closet and then stood in the middle of the bedroom letting the exhaustion finally take her. She was beginning to understand she had been drawn to this house for a purpose. Finding dead families was happening more and more often, so it was becoming impossible to dismiss it as coincidence. It wasn’t the risk of vulnerability that made her hesitate to fall into the bed, though. It was the pain.
All of these visions were extremely emotionally painful. They took her through a very scary, stressful time in strangers’ lives all the way through to their end. She saw, heard, felt everything, but she needed to sleep.
Jenny went to the right side of the bed trailing her hand on the nightstand, which held a lamp that wouldn’t shine anymore and alarm clock that would never wake anyone again. Both of them were conveniences people took for granted. Jenny sighed, turned down the covers, and got into the first bed in which she’d slept in three weeks.
She had to help Sheena up on the bed. Once her head was on the pillow, though, there were no other coherent thoughts. The last thing she saw before she went completely under was a shimmer in front of the mirror above the dresser in front of the bed.
Consequence – Book 2 Fallacy Trilogy
All of our actions have consequences whether we know it or not.
Jenny had to learn this the hard way.
Join Jenny as she struggles with who she is and what she is destined to become.
Meet the people who shaped her and helped guide her to Hell and back. People she had to learn to trust even while they manipulated and lied to her.
Find out how Jenny became the fierce defender of humanity in this prequel to Fallacy.