I grew up taking trips to the beach two or three times a year, and we went up to North Georgia to see the leaves a couple of times. I wanted to see Rome, always did, even as a kid. And I had gone to New York City twice. There was a bit of a wanderer in me and I always assumed that I would go to Mexico one day, and Canada, too. When the Stubs came it didn’t dent my dreams, at first, and I remember being at the beach one weekend with some friends and we sat on the sand and talked about what the Stubs meant and where they might have come from. Gas has spiked up a quarter a gallon but we got that when a hurricane hit anywhere within five hundred miles of the Gulf. I was just fifteen at that time, and there was no sign at all that the end was near, or even remotely close. We drove back and I remember listening to the radio and hearing about a Stub that killed a man in Boston, in broad daylight. He was the one hundredth victim in the United States, and that didn’t crack the top ten causes of death, not by a wide margin.
We took turns driving to school when gas hit three bucks a gallon. I hated the fact that I had worked my ass off all my life to be able to buy a truck and then gas went up on me as soon as I turned sixteen. But we could still get pot pretty cheap, and there was a sense of excitement that there was something going on that was dangerous and unknown. There was even talk about renaming our school team to the “Stubs” but teachers and parents thought it was in poor taste. We kept up with people on FB that did videos of attacks and there were a lot of fake ones out there, too. It was like watching the water rise in a boat and laughing as the rats jumped out into the ocean. The first wave of Stubs really didn’t make that big of a mark on humanity and it took a while to realize that shooting them was making things a lot worse.
The second wave hit about the time I graduated from High School. I was leaning towards joining the military after school because making a living in Brooks County had gotten hard. It wasn’t really hard or even to the point people were talking about the end, but the Stubs were here and the Crystal Cough came with them, and people were dying. It had taken this long to figure out we weren’t killing them when they disappeared and that news was the first piece of information that really jolted people. We weren’t killing them we were spreading them. That was a shock. The fact that we had spent four years making things worse hit everyone’s morale. It wasn’t funny at all anymore and it was like everyone woke up on the same day and started wondering what we were going to do.
News came out on the internet, and a lot of news came out on the internet that turned out to be totally weird stuff made up from nothing, that the Stubs had arrived from outer space, and that they were encased in shells that melted in the atmosphere. Four years ago we had gone through a small cloud of them, and when they hit Earth they started feeding. Well, there was some guy in Sweden who was saying there was a much larger cloud of them, and we were heading right for it, and if we didn’t find a way to knock them out of the way or destroy them we were going to be knee deep in these things in three months. The first true global effort to solve a problem went into high gear, and who knows, maybe they got enough of the incoming Stubs to save us, but we’ll never know. We stood in the middle of town with all the lights turned off and watched as thousands of streaks of light streamed towards Earth. We were screwed and everyone knew it.
They rained down from the sky for three days. They were barely visible in the daytime and at night it was hard to tell where they were going to land. But the sound they made was unmistakable and when one landed within a mile or so you could feel it. I remember counting them, two or three every hour, for three days. You are thinking right now that doesn’t sound that bad but they landed everywhere and we couldn’t kill them and they fed on us. They fed on everything they could put in their mouths; cows, horses, pigs, dogs, cats, and anything made of meat. They walked through fences like they weren’t there. They stopped heavy trucks when they got hit by them. They walked through fire and they would walk into a creek on one side and come out of the other.
A year after the Second Wave, there was no real contact from the outside world except from radio, and an occasional satellite transmission on the internet. It was the same everywhere. In big cities things were so bad that the Russians nuked some of their own towns to see if that would kill the Stubs, but even that made things worse, much worse, but almost everything that anyone did made things worse.
The second year was bad, but it wasn’t the end yet. We were still growing food, we still had a doctor, there was still some fuel, and there were still supplies coming in, about once a week or so, and the government was still telling everyone everything was going to get better. We were still seeing the air force out every once in a while, but it was getting dangerous to be out after dark. We heard from the radio there were riots and mobs out killing people and there were places that were on fire from looters.
The third year after the Second Wave we knew all we had was what we could see in front of us. My parents died early in the year, and the kids were killed a few months later. Kim was killed a month after that, and I really didn’t think any of us would be alive for much longer.
The fourth year came as we lived like rats, running hard from one place to another, everyone helping each other as they could, but we were running out of everything. In a town of five thousand people there was a good three hundred of us left. When some stranger named Bill Bergstrom called a meeting most people went simply because there wasn’t anything left to do. This is the story of what happened after that meeting, and what we did to try to save the human race from extinction.