To Survive

Honestly, I hate the title of this short story but I can’t find another one so…that’s the title for now. My professor told me he thought my backtrack for the story dragged a bit and that it picks up when I start explaining the characters. I love the back story but I don’t want it to hinder what the story is really about so if you agree with him please let me know. As always, thanks for reading.

To Survive

 

            It is empty here, emptier than you’d expect. But who would think to pillage a school at a time like this? You two discussed this time and time again, back when it was mostly a joke and you prayed it would never come to pass.

            Turns out all your silly planning saved your lives.

                                                ~          ~          ~          ~          ~

            Most people gathered at places of worship first. So many thought that God would protect them. But churches, mosques, synagogues, they all went quickly. One infected in a place where everyone was too holy to put a bullet in its head was all it took.

            You’d been happy, for once in your life that you’d never really believed in anything. Nothing but him. He would never let you down, he couldn’t. He loved you too much.

            While everyone else started to turn their backs on love you two clung to it. It made you stronger. You had someone who would’ve put a bullet in your head if you’d become infected and someone who you didn’t fear would turn on you when things changed again. That was the best thing you could have in this world. There was no one else to trust.

            After the government squashed the apocalypse you had planned for, with surprising proficiency, there was confusion. Extremists and anarchists took the opportunity to spread doubt and anti-government propaganda. They questioned the government’s swiftness with the ‘cure’, which was just an airborne toxin which targeted the reanimated cells of the undead and essentially unanimated them again.

            The propaganda played on the emotions of a country, in which everyone had lost someone, asking why the government had not giving them the chance to protect themselves and their loved ones if they knew the risk was an incredibly real possibility? That’s when the government lost control of its people.

             Leaving the country wasn’t an option, with other places still battling the plague and airports completely ransacked. So the two of you just never stopped moving.

            You had plenty of guns and ammo between his job, his family’s collection, and other places he knew to go. You had become good with a bow back when you just wanted to learn to be able to say you knew how. It had been the year of the archers.

            Jake was an eagle scout, so he knew how to camp, and a few things about dry food and good berries. You had learned to fish from your father when you were younger and could still make do with a good rod and some patience. He wasn’t the best cook but you could make something out of anything. You couldn’t light a fire with dry wood and a lighter, but he could manage with two rocks if need be. He had been your balance even before the world went to hell.

                                                ~          ~          ~          ~          ~

            “Sophie, these vending machines haven’t been touched.” You look over at him, your eyes covering the area carefully before they rest on the hazel that are his.

            “Alright great, let’s grab everything we can and get out of here.” You walk to him, studying every window and open door. It’s too quiet here. You can hear the wind whispering, it is alive. Jake finishes prying open the food machine, choosing not to break the glass because it’s quieter.

            You grab one of the bags you brought and begin filling it as Jake starts prying the coke machine. Every bug that twitches on a leaf is on your radar.

            There is a reason people don’t flock to school buildings, aside from the fact that traditional education has nothing on the ability to aim these days. Schools, especially colleges, have too many rooms and alcoves for you to ever be certain you are alone. Though a few places have managed to become small communities. Filled mostly with families who can’t keep traveling, they are well protected and fairly stable, as stable as anything can be. They at least provide children with a constant.

            You finish packing your bag as Jake gets the coke machine open. You toss him the other sack, close up yours and switch it with the bow on your back. You dock an arrow from the quiver at your hip and search. Covering all the sides he can’t see.

            For five minutes he fills his bag as you wait. Both of you watch carefully. You know he is deceptively distracted, he sees everything you don’t. There is nothing to see however, and he empties the machine and swings the bag over his shoulder.

            His arm muscles bulge under his t-shirt and you smile a little. He always wanted to become more muscular, this new world gave him that. Though you’re sure he’d give it up to go back. Still, knowing he has the muscles he always wanted makes you happy.

            The two of you travel silently toward the pickup you found a few months ago. The parking lot is still empty. You check the bed of the truck and the back seat, then hop hastily into the front seat. Jake situates himself in the driver’s seat.

            “Get us out of here. This place feels wrong.” You shiver, glancing over the desolate buildings.

            “One day we won’t be doing this anymore.” He says that probably once a day. “Sophie?”

            “I know Jake. We’ll get a house.”

            “I owe you a puppy.”

            “You do. It has to be a husky.”

            “I know. I’ll have to find you a ring.”

            “Is that your way of asking me to marry you?”

            “What if it is?”

            “Ask me again when this is all over. Then I’ll know you really mean it.”

            “I will.”

 

More to come later. Happy Memorial Day everyone. Hope you enjoy your weekends.

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