A knock on my bedroom door pulled me abruptly from my dreamless sleep. I groaned and buried myself deeper into the covers, not ready in the slightest to get up. My head was already pounding, and my nose was getting exponentially more stuffed as seconds passed.
“Give me five more minutes,” I grumbled, pulling the blanket up over me when I heard another knock. I was only ever woken up when my alarm failed to go off, and I was going to be late for school, but there was absolutely no way I was well enough to go anywhere.
“Charlie? It’s nearly eight. You should come get something to eat before we leave.”
The young male voice startled me. I’d been expecting my mom, or even Abigail. But as my mind cleared, the memory of their absence washed back over me.
“Charlie?” Max repeated, knocking again a little harder.
“Yeah, I’ll be down in a few. I’m not decent.”
I could almost feel the surge of heat from Max’s blush, which made me snicker into my pillow. What a polite guy, to be embarrassed by nearly every little thing.
“O-Okay. I heated up the leftovers from last night, so…” He hesitated. The sound of his anxious shuffling right outside the door was almost too funny. “Okay, I’ll be downstairs,” Max finally announced. As he walked away, I flipped onto my back and stared up at the blank ceiling.
It was a day’s drive to the cabin, last I remembered. Hopefully the internet was up, or we’d be royally screwed without GPS. Three years ago was the last time we’d all been at the cabin. It was before the fighting, the cheating, the drama.
You sound like you’re monologuing, Charlie. What sappy, teenage romance novel is this?
“One with zombies,” I answered myself cynically. Seemed a bit tropey, but that appeared to be the world I was living in now.
With a big sigh, I dragged my body up and out of bed. My appetite had yet to return, but I felt less feverish. Chugging cold medicine before going to sleep truly worked wonders.
After stretching, I met up with Max in the kitchen. I was a bit surprised to see him freshly showered, his hair still slightly damp. He even had on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt that looked unfamiliar.
Max pointed at a paper plate of soggy tater tots, smiling sheepishly when I snorted at their sad appearance. “They look horrible, I know. Don’t taste much better, either. Also I hope you don’t mind, but I used your shower. I had some emergency clothes in my car to change into.”
I decided to forego eating for a little while, especially after seeing the breakfast option. “Mi casa es su casa,” I squeaked out before sneezing. When my eyes regained the ability to open, I caught Max trying to silence a snicker. “What are you laughing at?”
“You just have...kitten sneezes.”
“Ouch, my fragile masculinity,” I replied playfully, going over to check on my phone. “I think I’d rather have a kitten sneeze than sound like a trumpet, or something. So thank you kindly.”
Max laughed--I think a little relieved that I wasn’t offended--and went to work finishing off our ‘breakfast’ since it was clear I wasn’t going to partake. As he did that, I opened up my phone and saw a short text from my mom.
Just got to the cabin. We’re all safe. Be careful, Charlie. Please keep me updated.
“Did you get a response?” Max asked from behind me. I shot a grin over my shoulder and nodded.
“Yup, they’re at the cabin. We should get there by nightfall if we leave now.”
He gave me a thumb’s up and threw away the now-empty plate. “Sounds like a plan. I’ll pack up anything we can use from here, you should go grab some extra clothes.”
I was already bounding up the stairs, calling back to him not to forget Lady Liberty.
I took the fastest shower of my life and scrambled back to my room to pack up; I brought along some of my larger pieces of clothing for Max to wear. After snagging my phone and its charger, I hauled a duffel bag full of clothes out to the garage where Max was waiting.
“You have directions on how to get there?” He asked me once we’d shoved the duffel into the back and hopped into the car. Lady Liberty sat solemnly on the dashboard, watching over us while I plugged our destination into my phone and watched it load.
“The GPS is still working, but I’ll write the directions down in case it stops.” Max dug through his center console and handed me a pen and small notepad, which I began scribbling directions onto as I read them from my phone.
“Oh, here!” I remembered, pulling a garage door opener from my pocket. “That was in the junk drawer. It should still have a battery in it.”
He took a deep breath and clicked it. A second later, a rumbling began as the garage door slowly peeled away. Max started the car, preparing to drive, but we were met with a wall of white.
I stared at the nearly three feet of snow in shock. Some of it spilled into the garage, but it didn’t even begin to compare to the thick blanket of white that covered the entire street. If plow trucks were still running, our trip would maybe be delayed a day or so. But as far as I knew, normalcy had crumbled.
And there was absolutely no way we’d be able to leave anytime soon.