Exactly one year ago, our lives were filled with carefree afternoons of pointlessly violent video games.
We were seated on the couch side-by-side, in our pajamas. My parents were still fast asleep so we tried to keep our voices down as best we could while raging against a horde of zombies approaching our on-screen hideout.
My palms were beginning to sweat beneath the heat of the old controller. I could feel my thumbs growing numb as I repeated mashed the X and O buttons and jerked the left joystick every possible direction while trying to evade their insatiable jaws.
“I think we’re gonna have to blow this joint.” I said to her, kicking a particularly obnoxious zombie in the gut. It doubled over and I quickly used my machete to chop off its head. The decapitated torso crumpled to the ground at my character’s feet.
“Right behind you.” she’d said.
“Yeah, I am.”
Both of us nearly jumped out of our seats at the sudden arrival of the new voice. We turned around and came face to face with my older brother Steven. He yawned and walked off without another word, satisfied at having killed our characters.
I glared at the back of his messy head and opened my mouth to say something but Sophie’s high-pitched laughter cut me off. She had dropped the controller on her lap and was holding her stomach, doubling over with tears in the corners of her eyes.
The infection spread to me and I began laughing uncontrollably too. I dropped the controller and it clattered to the ground next to my feet, sitting at the edge of the Oriental rug my mother had always loved.
A few times I opened one eye and looked at her, taking in the beauty of Sophie’s smiling face.
The laughter was soon cut short by Steven saying “Shhh! Shhhhhh!” directly behind us. I turned to see him holding the small, battery-operated radio that usually rested on the kitchen counter next to the coffee machine.
The newscaster’s voice cut through our loud pants.
“This just in–” he said. His voice was loud and fast. The ends of his words blended together. “Reports of a bomb dropped on Manhattan. Sources say it took out the entire island. Millions dead, no known survivors. Shockwaves still hitting Queens.” I was already growing numb by the time he concluded: “This looks like a terrorist attack folks.”