I have not been on here for a while and I see that some others have joined. Yay! Ok, so the story I had posted before, I have revised and have a completely new first chapter so I am posting that. For those of you who don't know, I like critics so please leave one. And those who read my first first chapter, please tell me whether you like this one better or not.
Nineteen years ago
The sun had just began to rise, it’s rays warming Katie. Grass tickled her feet as she knelt in her red, poka-dot dress to pluck a stem. The small green leaf fluttered in her fingers, the perfect weapon to use against her brother, Nathan. He sat next to her, pushing his toy cars around his feet while making engine noises. His little lips produced spit bubbles that every once in awhile burst and splattered all over his chubby face.
Katie studied Nathan’s eyes to see if he saw what she was doing. Quickly, she stuck the grass in his ear and then yanked it back. Barely noticing, he swatted at his head and then returned to his cars. He drove one through a pile of sticks that earlier he had been completely fascinated with turning into a house. Or what he thought looked like a house. Katie sighed. Three year olds were no fun.
Now what to do? Katie sat down with crossed legs, sure to keep her skirt from choking her. Resting back on her hands, she watched Nathan throw a green truck in anger. She was not going to go get it for him.
Having yanked a handful of grass from the ground, Katie let the pieces flitter from her fingers. A clover stuck to her hand and she pried it off. It’s three leaves fluttered between her fingers. As she studied it, she noticed the neighbor run into his house. She frowned.
The front door of her house slammed and Katie dropped the clover, forgetting all about it. She turned, flipping her braid, to see who had made the noise. Mom ran out of the house, Dad close behind, both breaking their rule about banging the screen.
Mom’s face was red like she was crying and Dad looked like he was about to. Why were they crying? Was it because she had messed with Nathan? He hadn’t even looked at her when she stuck the leaf in his ear. She jumped to her feet. “Mommy?”
Mom hurried down the porch steps and picked Katie up, pulling her close. Katie wrapped her arms around Mom’s neck and patted her on the back. Why was Mom wearing pants and tennis shoes? It was summer.
Dad came up behind Mom, bending until he could look Katie in the eye. “Sweetie, you’re going to need to take care of your brother for a while.” He reached out and took one of her small hands in his.
“Why?” Katie turned her head so that she could see Nathan by Mom’s feet. He had his finger in his nose. She scrunching up her face. “I don’t like watching him.”
“That’s enough, Katie. I told you too so you’re going to do it.” He took Katie from her mom, for once not lecturing her any more than that. “I love you, you know,” he said, whispering into her hair. Tears fell on her forehead as he tightened his grip.
“I love you too, Daddy,” Katie said, snuggling close. She didn’t know what else to do, Dad never cried.
Dad didn’t let go so Katie didn’t move. Soon, Mom had her arms around them all, having added Nathan to the hug.
“Katie,” Mom said. “Your dad and I are leaving for awhile.” She leaned back and brushed her hand over the top of Katie’s head. “While we’re gone, we need you to hide with your brother down in the cellar.” Her voice turned commanding, like when Katie wouldn’t go to bed. She pointed a finger in Katie’s face. “Do not leave. When you are able to come out, either your father and I or one of the neighbors will come and get you.”
“But, Mommy, the cellar is wet.”
“No buts,” Dad said, setting Katie back on the ground while continuing to hold Nathan. “You will do as you are told.”
“Yes, Daddy.” Katie started to cry. Why was Dad talking to her like this?
“Come on,” Mom said, taking Nathan from Dad. She walked towards the house where the cellar was. Dad took Katie hand to make sure she followed.
The cellar was a large, double door leading to under the house. Katie had never been in there before. She moved closer to her dad. What if there were spiders?
Mom stopped next to the doors and waited. Dad dropped Katie’s hand to grasp the handles and lift them against the house. They made a thud. Dad knelt at the opening and turned, feeling for something with his foot. Then he stepped down in.
Katie leaded closer and watched until he stood at the bottom. He stretched out his arms to Katie.
She hesitated and looked at her mom. Mom nodded, so Katie put her foot on the ladder’s top rung and reached for Dad. He gripped her by the waist and then slowly lowered her to the ground. Next, he lifted his arms for her brother.
Nathan had begun to cry by this time and he clung to Dad, shaking his head when Dad tried to let him down. “Nathan, let go,” Dad said. Nathan didn’t listen and so Katie grabbed his fingers and pulled them away from Dad’s shirt.
Now on the ground, Nathan stomped his feet and shouted in protest. He didn’t stopped until Dad began to climb back up the ladder and he realized that Dad wasn’t going to comeback for him no matter how loud he screamed.
Above ground once more, Dad waved goodbye while Mom pressed her hand to her lips and then blew on the palm. They closed the door and then there was a jingle with a thump and a click.
Everything was black for a split second and then a light turned on. One bulb swung from the ceiling, its light spreading to a dirt packed floor and shelves. Dust floated around.
Katie sank to the floor and pressed her back against the closest shelf, drawing her knees to her chest. Shadows filled the other shelves, hiding the movements of mice and spiders and other things with claws just sitting, waiting to get her. She shivered.
Nathan whimpered. He crawled to Katie’s side and buried his face in her arm, his snotty nose leaving sticky blobs. Instead of pushing him away, Katie pulled him onto her lap.
For awhile they stayed there with nothing happening, just the dust floating lazily. Then, the ground began to shake and dirt fell from the ceiling in great showers. They screamed. Katie leaned over Nathan and lifted her arms to cover both their heads. When the shaking stopped, Nathan was still screaming. “Mama.” He hiccupped. “Mama.” Katie was too busy staring at the door to comfort him.
Shouts, gunshots, and then screams echoed around them. Seeping in through the cracks of the door, the sounds were muffled but no less frightening. They lasted for what seemed forever. Soon the sound of creaking metal joined in.
Dirt began to fall from the ceiling again. Katie covered her ears while Nathan continued to scream. The noises only lasted for a couple of hours, sometimes stopping and then starting again, but by then the strange laughter and shouts of terror had driven the children to great bouts of tears.
They stayed where they were until late in the afternoon. By this time, all noises from above had ceased and Nathan had fallen asleep. Dirt crunched over head and Katie jumped to her feet. A hiccupped sob escaped her before something rattled and the door opened.
Katie stared at the tear stained face of Mason, the neighbor boy. He looked down at Nathan’s exhausted form and shuttered, whipping at the tears. He turned his attention to Katie. “Can you lift him up to me?”
Katie sniffled and nodded. He wasn’t who she had hoped would come for them but at the moment she wasn’t going to complain. She wrapped her arms around Nathan and stood. He sagged in her grip and she grunted. Squeezing her eyes tight, she shifted her grasp to keep from dropping him. Mom and Dad told her to take care of him and she would. Slowly she made it over to the ladder and heaved Nathan up. His head barely cleared her shoulders and he shifted with a snort.
Leaning through the opening as far as he could, Mason clasped Nathan under his arms and lifted him the rest of the way out of the cellar. They both disappeared from Katie’s view as he set Nathan on the ground. Returning to sight, he reached down to help Katie up the ladder. Once above ground, Katie dove into the boy’s arms and wept into his neck. Gasping, he pulled her closer and let his own silent tears fall into her hair.
They remained like this for sometime, moonlight illuminating their crouched forms. When Katie finally felt better, she blinked. Lifting her head, she looked over Mason’s shoulder. Black forms lay everywhere. What happened? She tried to shove from his arms. “Mom?”
Mason didn’t let her go. “She’s gone, they’re all gone. They killed them.”
Dead. Who was dead? Mom couldn’t be dead. Katie shook her head.
Nathan snorted again, rolling on his side and curling up into a ball. Hearing him, Mason released Katie and stood. “Come on, we should go inside.” He picked up Nathan, who was now sucking his thumb, and grabbed Katie’s hand to keep her from running away.
Mason made his way through the yard, walking in a weaving path. Katie stumbled behind him, whipping away her tears. Other than the sleeping sounds Nathan made and the crickets chirping, there were now no other sounds. Where was everyone? People still were usually out at this time.
On the porch, Mason let go of Katie’s hand to turn the knob. Once inside the house, he laid Nathan on the couch. He did not turn on the lights. Then he dropped down into the recliner. It was Daddy’s chair.
Katie stood in the middle of the room, not knowing what to do. Finally, she let out a sob and crawled into Mason’s lap. There, they cried themselves to sleep.