I stumbled down the sidewalks crumbled remains, watching the grey and white clouds swirl a daring dance around each other; waiting for rain to descend from their bellies. I couldn’t remember when the last time was that a drop of water touched these lips. Most of the rivers and streams have either dried up, been poisoned, or are guarded by renegade survivors―People you would be smart to stay clear of.
I scanned my surroundings, surveying the dilapidated, deserted city. The same broken cars, buildings, and roads that were once normal pieces of society flooded my vision. Roads and buildings overgrown by trees, weeds, and any other vegetation that wanted to reclaim their land. I always thought it would take longer than a year to erase anything and everything the human race was once proud of. Buildings had been brought down by the rough year after the Flash, some still stitched together by steel beams, missing their skin. Others still stood, dressing up in vegetation. Either way, they all appeared as if they belonged in a graveyard, left abandoned by all the people who used to go about their daily lives in them.
The worst parts were the bones and tattered clothing left behind by those who perished, laying bleached in the sun. Some of them still held remnants of hair and skin.
I paused to gaze at myself in a broken window. How long had it been since I’d last seen my reflection? I pulled the hood off my head and studied my features. My hair was brushing past my shoulder blades now. The last time I’d attempted to cut it, I’d used a piece of broken glass from a window. I almost severed one of my fingers in the process, so I decided to let it grow out.
My long, blonde hair reflected off the few streams of sun radiating through the clouds, the color resembling shimmering wheat fields. Standing at about five foot two, I was a slight thing–not too short–yet not tall by anyone’s standards. I was always slender, but since the food was scarce, my clothes hang off me like rags. My green eyes sparkled back at me like emeralds, the one and only thing I loved about my appearance, and the one thing that could never be robbed from me in these rough months.
Seemingly, out of nowhere, my eyes locked onto seven men and two women who were standing behind me, smiling vindictively in the reflection on the glass. It was like they appeared out of thin air. I turned to run, but they were already surrounding me in a semi-circle. My breathing slammed in and out of my lungs as I began panting, as if I’d just ran a marathon. My vision was beginning to narrow and I knew that I needed to control myself.
“Go on, Ryan, you know what your choices are. Are you going to save her?” The man that spoke tilted his head back and laughed as if he’d said the funniest thing in the world. Ryan, the man he spoke to, wasn’t much older than me–maybe nineteen to my sixteen–and possibly one of the best-looking guys I had ever seen. His brown hair flopped into his bright blue eyes, his skin tanned and toned.
The man’s words began to register and I knew that I had to get away, but before I could move, I watched as Ryan’s face changed from concerned, scared, and pitiful, to fierce and determined. He began his advance and I watched in horror as his eyes devoured me where I stood…
I bolted upright, my breath sawing in and out of my lungs at a burning rate. I glanced over to check the tiny sleeping bundle next to me. I waited for her blankets to move up and down, making sure she was still breathing before I wiped the cold sweat off my forehead. The dream always had a way of igniting my adrenalin, even after years of repetition. Taking a shaky breath in, I settled my nerves and placed a hand on my little angel, reassuring myself again. Life is completely fucked up. Not only did life as we know it end, but some of the worst events in people’s lives can bring about the best.