WARNING This novel contains extremely graphic war violence and some language - the author advises parental discretion for anyone 14 years old or younger.
Note to readers: Though this story gives political opinions on real-life countries, agencies, and organizations, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author or DoomRPG. This story is fiction laid atop the real world, its events, and things altered or biased in order to fit the story.
Sean Drummer sat at an old, sturdy-looking, wooden desk behind the scenes at his grocery mart, Savings. The room he was in looked like the inside of a modern peasant house - the walls a sick yellow color, rotted slightly at the corners and edges, with small cobwebs stuck on the ceiling & crevices. There was a single light-bulb above the desk which glowed just brightly enough for Sean to make out the figures on the papers he was looking over. The office chair he sat in was old, squeaky, and bumped more than rolled across the warped floor boards. The room itself smelled something like coffee mixed with stacks of old paper - as those were the most common (and lovingly fragrant) objects to be found there.
Sean himself was in a much better condition than the room though - sporting a nice collared shirt, tie, and a spotless pair of slacks. He had brown hair which was receiving all the heat and glare of the meager bulb above, and a rough face which was etched in shadow, along with his dull, gray/hazel eyes. Though in his late twenties, he looked about 10 years older, due to the stress of running a failing business and sitting in this accursed room, which was the worst place in his entire grocery mart. But he always put the business first as far as finances - and when it wasn't the business he was looking after, it was his employees who he knew required more wages just to live. Everyone needed money these days... but only because they needed to live - nothing more. As far as he was concerned, sitting in a dank little closet for hours on end was still far better than the thought that he was allowing someone or their children to starve. He was a good Samaritan of sorts. But he was running short on things to give - and that's saying something for a guy who owns a grocery store.
Times had really started to get tough after the Middle East's oil supplies were practically obliterated in 2035. Small but devastating warheads - no one knew who had launched them for quite some time, nor did they yet - landed spot on almost every major refinery in the Muslim-dominated territories, accounting for nearly 40% of the world's oil supply and millions of lives, gone in the blink of an eye. Naturally, tempers soared to high hell and blind violence broke out all over the continent. The earth itself erupted in panic and distress at the event. Oil prices sky-rocketed. Iran was quick to blame Israel as responsible, or at least included in the act. The fact that Israel had recently started to embrace other energy sources did not help the matter either. Iranian armies flew towards Jerusalem to finish their centuries-old conflict once and for all, but the U.N. was too busy apparently trying to solve the who-done-it, and as long as no more warheads were going off they were mostly willing to look away - Israel wasn't much of a prospect to them. Of course doing nothing wouldn't help their image, so they looked busy by sending in some troops to make Iran think twice about continuing, and peacemakers to try to calm things down. The U.S., despite bad politicians, sent a large Special Forces team to aid the Israelites too. Miraculously, things settled down on that front to at least a temporary but hatefully smoldering ceasefire.
Violence abroad was still out of control though, due to high gas and oil prices. Riots were going on worldwide and economies where reeling from the effects of the oil drop. America, once the world's leading power, now lay smothered in its own debt and wallowing in moral and civil depravity. Luckily, Sean's community hadn't really been effected by the latter two, being a small rural place in Michigan where the folks were generally nice and charitable like himself. Everyone still suffered from the economic effects, but close community spirit kept everyone from becoming cannibals like those in the cities. It was still a miserable lifestyle, but it worked.
It was while Sean was at his desk looking over statistics when something odd caught his attention. Normally he would hear his employees talking outside at the registers or once in awhile hear the footsteps of a customer, but everything had been completely silent for the last 30 minutes. Only now it had struck him. They were probably feeling just as melancholy as he, so he couldn't blame anyone for being quiet. The silence nonetheless bothered him though, and he left his work on the table, under a waxy yellow tinge from the light. Opening the door, (its grey paint was partially peeled off) he was puzzled to see the registers void of their keepers. Odd... He walked over to the aisles, which were somewhat dingy but clean, slowly passing each one to see if any customers were present. No one was in the store. The restroom in the back he also checked, but no one was there either. He stood with his back to the restroom door, looking perplexedly about the shop, from its dimly-glossed, white tile floors, (at least they were somewhat white) to the white paneled ceiling, (those were actually white, but they had a bit of dust on them) to the stale-looking registers. They probably just went out for a breath of air.
Or maybe they all shriveled up and turned to dust in this hole, Sean thought humorously to himself. Once all the economic crap was over he was going to make this place shine like a Christmas tree. He went over to where his pathetic little television was silently playing the news towards the registers. It was the one thing he would not give up to his starving wallet. The news was on as usual. He grabbed the remote and turned the volume up so he could hear. There was some story related to the conflict going on in the Middle East, followed by some commentaries on Russia, which was apparently not doing so bad in the rough economy. Everyone in the U.S. seemed to share the belief that Russia was behind it - Russia was always responsible for half of the world's evil output, it was just a given. And China too, but they didn't appear as indifferent as Russia at the moment.
Flick... The TV went out, and all his politically-centered thoughts with it. The lights in the aisles were still working though. He pressed the power button several times, to no avail. There were a range of emotions that passed through Sean's head within the second afterwards, but the prominent one was "Blast it, there's $90 down the tube." He dropped the remote near one of the registers and trudged outside. The air was nice and cool on his tired body. But it didn't relieve him much now, as there was no Jacob or Lisa out taking a break. A knot was now starting to form in his stomach, though he suppressed it.
It came back again though. He couldn't help it - something wasn't right. You've probably experienced the same kind of sixth sense before. For some reason you just know something's wrong, that everything isn't ok, and you have no clue why. This is exactly how he felt, and for a moment he hesitated before calling out their names. He did so several times. The shop was located on the corner of a three-pronged gravel road nearly a quarter of a mile away from the nearest house. The ground was somewhat hilly, grassy, and humid. About 20 yards behind the shop itself there was a low but steep hill that blocked all but the tops of the trees on the semi-distant horizon. To the front of the shop everything was clear farmland for about 200 yards and then solid forest. He made sure to give a good look at all of it, but he dared not venture all the way to the back, nor past the road. After about a minute there was still no response, so he went back inside, quickly gathered all of his papers, came out, and jumped into his Toyota Hilux, which was parked right next to the vehicles of his two absent employees. The truck lurched backwards violently out of the parking space near the shop side, then sped off down the road towards his house, where his wife would probably be taking care of their son of 4 years.