Where the Stars Fell

“Where the Stars Fell” – by Bambie Childs

“Look at the stars, Amaya. The Milky Way is so bright tonight.” My sister lowered her feverish gaze from the sky to mine. Moonlight reflected off the sheen of sweat on her face.

“Hush.” I scanned the dark forest around us. “Conserve your strength. We’re almost to the overlook, and Auburn’s only a few miles from there.” Maybe in the city we’ll find antibiotics for her.

“Do you think they’ll be there?”

“Nobody’s left, Kylie. Everyone’s dead.” I couldn’t keep the irritation from my voice as I adjusted my hiking backpack over my shoulder and continued walking down the middle of the road. I sidestepped the shredded remnants of a sleeping bag and a mangled hand. A spike of fear pricked my heart, and I scoured the tall, dense pines flanking the road for movement.

“Are you sure about this? We had a safe place in Sac.”

“It wouldn’t be safe for much longer—those things were within blocks last night. We have no options left. Uncle Pete knew about this stuff—he researched it for years. Maybe there’ll be something in his notes that can help us. Maybe we can get rid of them.”

Kylie rolled her shoulders, adjusting the weight of her pack and pulled ahead as we crested the steep slope.

My thighs burned with exertion and the bag pulled on my shoulders. I glanced to the yellow line in front of me, my ears straining to hear anything beyond the usual crickets and hum of the forest. I nearly plowed into Kylie when she stopped at the top of the overlook.

“Lights,” she whispered reverently.

“What?” As I gaped at the city lights twinkling like the stars above, something bloomed in my chest that hadn’t been there for months.

Hope.