The answer was bad

“Carine? Carine!”

Carine opened her eyes again. The tree was gone. So was the dress she had been wearing. At some point she had transferred herself into her fuzzy sleepwear with the blue little whales on them. Something she had never grown out of. She remembered how her father had sighed trying to help her find something similar for an adult body as she had worn as a little girl.

There was her father’s face, right in front of her. Even if she couldn’t see anything other than the greying mustache she would know.

Carine sat up. “Dad?”

“Carine, thank God!” He, a man who didn’t often do so, engulfed her in a hug. She would have felt more awkward about it if she could have gotten past what she felt like just happened. It was a dream, right? “You are all right! When did you get home! I’d tried to call you and…”

She looked down at her hands. There were flecks of blood on them. Now that she thought about it, she could see the tips of her brunette hair, braided in front of her shoulders, with blood hardening the tips of them. Oh, it had happened. It had happened. And she had only cleaned up enough to get into her pajamas.

“What happened?” she asked her father.

She didn’t like hearing the answer.

As the world falls apart

There came the day when the vicious beasts no longer had names that anyone knew. At least, not anyone nearby. Without a name, without anyone who knew anything about them, these monsters became much more difficult to kill when they got in the way.

“If we come across another slaughtered town…”

Toiréasa didn’t have to finish her sentence, Saoirse knew how it would end. It felt like they had been away from home for so long, tracking down the origins of these changes, this destruction. This swampland used to be a grassy field, according to the maps, according to the last people they had talked to. Some still believed it was grass. The change hadn’t happened slowly.

“-did you see that?”

Saoirse first looked at Toiréasa before following her line of sight. First it looked like a body. Then it tried to move.

Someone was, despite all odds, alive.