Searching for Home, Chapter 1

Isabela Venegas-Ramirez
Searching for Home, Chapter 1 Isabela Venegas-Ramirez lives in Teaneck, New Jersey. She goes to United Nations International School. She loves animals and has three dogs. She likes spending time with her sister. Her favorite author is JK Rowling. One of her favorite books is The Hunger Games.

“Why was the dog here in the middle of a Trader Joe’s? I touched the dog gingerly. I loved dogs but, hey, you never know. The dog winced in pain. I realized it was covered in blood, but it wasn’t the dog’s blood. Next to the dog was a man, under the sink.”

“Stop, wait!” I screamed. The spaceship door was closing, and I could see the pilot getting ready for takeoff. I saw my mother’s panicked look when she noticed I hadn’t boarded the ship with her. But before she could do anything about it, the spaceship was already hurling through space.

***

I opened my eyes. My shirt was drenched with sweat. I pushed my long brown matted hair out of my eyes.  I always dreaded going to sleep because I’d get dreams, bad dreams. I’d dream of ghosts or vampires, but now I dream of reality, which is much more horrifying than any monster.

I climbed out of my tattered tent to watch the sunrise. As many times as I watched it, it was always breathtaking. The beautiful burst of color in contrast to the dark sky made the forest glow. It was magical. This wasn’t actually a forest; it used to be Central Park.

I stayed away from the city because the White Masks targeted New York City. So I stayed in the woods. The White Masks came out of nowhere. First, they bombed major places all over the world: The Eiffel Tower, The Statue of Liberty, the Great Sphinx, the Big Ben, the Great wall of China, and even Disney World. Then, they, promising safety, rounded up civilians, but those who believed the White Masks were never seen again. I shuddered, thinking about what they had done to those poor people. I didn’t know who these White Masks were, all I knew was that they wore white masks that only revealed their eyes. They wore suits and were tall and skinny.  I didn’t even know if they were human, but they must’ve had a lot of power to bomb and corrupt our world.

I rummaged through my backpack. I realized I only had a small amount of food left. So I decided to go back to the city to get food.

***

I walked to the nearest grocery store: Trader Joe’s. I climbed under a fallen tree and past the burnt playground, always keeping a low profile, even though I was probably the only human left or even living thing left on this planet. The thought of that made me shiver. I, a 13 year-old girl was all alone on a great big planet.

***

It was 2 days before I turned 13. My sister, Octavia, ran ahead of me into the Trader Joe’s. “Kristina, come on! You are so slow!” Octavia teased me.

“Oh, really?” I said, and I started to run but my sister had long legs and she always beat me when we raced. My sister distracted me, making up games and taking me to the sample station, so I wouldn’t realize my dad was buying me a cake. I acted as if I didn’t know but I knew exactly what cake they were getting me. Buttermilk cake with chocolate frosting.

***

I sighed. I didn’t cry anymore. The first month I cried until there were no more tears left. I loved my sister so much, but I couldn’t save her. I shook my head and remembered what I came for. “Water, food. Water, food, water, food, water, food,” I repeated to myself. Sometimes I wondered what kept me from going crazy. Some nights, I’d stay awake until morning, repeating to myself that somebody would come for me.

***

I walked into the Trader Joe’s. It was nearly empty. I grabbed the last protein bar, beans, rice, and Poland Spring water bottles. I started walking out the door when, suddenly, there was a soft thumping. It was faint, but I could hear it. I walked closer. At the back of my head, something was telling me to run for my life. But, curiosity got the best of me. As I followed the sound, I realized it was coming from the men’s bathroom. I wiped my sweaty hands on my brown shorts that used to be pants but that I cut because it was way too hot. I opened the door, ready to fight, but there was nobody there. Instead, in the corner, there was a box. And this box was moving.

I lifted the cardboard box’s lid, my heart thumping, and inside was a brown shepherd puppy almost as big as the box. I was so relieved it wasn’t somebody trying to kill me. But then I put my attention back to the dog. Why was the dog here in the middle of a Trader Joe’s? I touched the dog gingerly. I loved dogs but, hey, you never know. The dog winced in pain. I realized it was covered in blood, but it wasn’t the dog’s blood. Next to the dog was a man, under the sink. I panicked and backed away, but the man didn’t move. I moved closer and realized he was dead; there was a bullet embedded in his chest. I felt nauseous, and, suddenly, I fell to my knees. I mean, sure, I’d seen deaths before, but this was sickening. I grabbed the box with the dog in it and ran. I didn’t know where I was running to, but I kept on running, past a parking lot, and into Central Park. I kept on running until I was as far away as I could be from the dead man. I thought I was the only person left on the planet. Who was that man? Who killed him? And where is this dog from?

I sat down on a rock and looked at the dog. I almost felt like smiling when I looked at him. “Don’t worry; other humans will come and get us like they took my mom and dad. They’ll take us far from here. To another planet where we can start a new life. Where we can live life easily without worrying about surviving.” I lied to the dog, because there was a .0001% chance of that happening.

Now I’d really done it. Now, I was talking to a dog. However, I guessed I’d have to name him. “I’ll name you Argos.” I said.

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