What was that putrid smell? Did someone leave leftover food somewhere and didn't toss it?
As Tess opened her eyes, she felt the red and black camouflaged comforter on her body. She stared at the beige ceiling, and squinted against the brightness.
What time was it? Mid-day?
As she lay still, she noticed how quiet it was.
Did Mom and Dad go to work?
Her nose felt like it had been frozen by an ice cube. She strained her ears for the sound of the furnace.
Oh yeah. The power's out.
Tess sat up. Her snarl-entangled brown hair spread over her shoulders.
Mom and Dad couldn't have gone to work.
She planted her bare feet on the cold hardwood floor, and the room spun. She clamped her hands on the sides of her head to stop everything from swirling all around her. "M-Mom?" Her voice came out in a croak. "Dad?"
She slowly stood up, and waited. After several moments, the spinning stopped.
Tess shuffled to the doorway, and out into the carpeted hallway. She peered down to the room at the end.
Her parents' room.
And walked towards it. The door was partially ajar. The rancid stench worsened the closer she moved to their bedroom.
At the entry way, she hesitated. The sickening feeling swept over her. Did she really want to look? Tess pushed at the door and it swung open easily.
She sucked in a deep, shaky breath before letting out a whimper.
Two figures lay in a heap on the large bed. On her back, Mom looked like she was sleeping peacefully -- if it wasn't for a ghastly hole in the middle of her forehead. Her white pillow now soaked in dried crimson blood. Dad, facedown, sprawled across her midriff. His golden brown hair, matted with blood, only partially covered a gaping hole in the back of his head.
Maggots wriggled out of their opened wounds.
She spun around and dashed out in to the hallway where she dropped to her knees, and vomited.
Dead. Her parents were dead.
Bile covered her lips as she fought to catch her breath. Her lungs heaved in and out. Tears streamed down her face as her body wracked with sobs.
Minutes passed before she grew still. Slowly, she straightened up onto her knees while using her forearms to wipe at her face. Her blue eyes scanned the walls, filled with family pictures. They quickly drifted down and lingered on an envelope on top of the hallway's corner table.
Her legs shook as she stood, and reached for the envelope. Her hands wavered for a moment before they pulled out a short letter. It was in Mom's handwriting.
Your daddy and I have taken sick with whatever is plaguing those around us. Please, please do NOT come near or touch us. Stay in the house until this passes, or the rescuers come for you.
We love you so much!
She crumpled the letter in her hands and brought it close to her nose, and sniffed. It held the scent of her mom's lilac perfume. Tess glanced to the oval window to her right. The view that spread below was of a small mountain village. Their house sat on a corner street with shops and diners situated around her. Her parents owned and operated a gift shop next door that carried all sorts of arts, crafts and photography from local artists. The streets were normally busy with cars and people. Now, it was completely barren of life. Just dirt and muddy snow.
With a heavy sigh, Tess reached out and closed her parents' door.