Chapter 4: Strange People
I awake to a grubby man pulling at the thin fabric of my pant leg, trying to take it. Instantly, both of my legs retract to press against my chest. His milky blue eyes raise to make contact with mine and an expression of fear spreads across his face.
"You! You did that!" He screams in an accusing, unstable voice, pointing at the small portion of the wasteland that was visible from the alley.
"What? No I didn't!" I furrow my eyebrows in confusion as he backs away, shaking. The homeless man turns and bolts away from me just as Chris opens his eyes.
"What's going on?" He questions, sitting straight up on the dirty ground.
"Oh..uh...nothing," I breathe, closing my eyes for a second, "let's go explore." I stand, brushing the dirt off of my loose and destroyed clothing. Chris eyes me suspiciously, then nods and joins me on his feet. We walk to the street and where it used to be lifeless, it is now bustling with people. Except, these people are different. Their eyes are glued to the devices they hold in their hands, and besides those who talk on their phones, the civilians are silent. The occasional car honks or dodges a person who strays onto the road, but other than that, the city seems to be overtaken by silence. And it bothers me. But what bothers me more is when Chris and I step out of the alley.
As soon as my face is out of the shadows, a symphony of gasps greet me. The crowd moves like a school of fish to create a massive circle around me and Chris, as though they don't even want to be within a ten foot radius of us. Whispers hidden in the mass of people are what I guess is the first time the people have talked face to face in ages. Almost all of their phones are up, recording the two mysterious visitors. Suddenly, a person at the front of the crowd snaps out of the shock.
"She's part of the Insanity!" He screams, eyes wild. I back up, terrified, as the people's voices unite to create one, loud, blood-curdling scream. Whatever the 'Insanity' is, I'm not sure I want to be a part of it.
Chris and I start running towards the center of the city, the throng of people parting to make way for us.
"Why do they suspect me and not you?" I hiss at Chris as we round a corner.
"I don't know. Did you notice that all of them had natural colored hair and no piercings or tattoos. Maybe it was your hair." He offered when we made it into another alley sandwiched between two clothing stores. I frown. That might very well be the reason, but I hope it isn't. I had spent $50 on dying my hair and I don't plan on dying it again.
"If that's the case, I should wear a hood." I decide and scan the street. My stare fixes on a small orange clothing store directly across from our alley way. I grab Chris' hand and bolt across the street, despite the civilians who stare. As soon as I push open the glass doors, I begin searching.
A frightened employee jumps out of the way, a terrified look in his eyes. I ignore him and begin to take hoodies off of a rack. After several seconds I find a suitable one. Chris pulls a pair of sweat pants and a jacket off of a counter, and I grab a pair of tight spandex pants. We dash out of the building with our contraband, leaving behind the confused and mortified employees. Eventually we can't hear them spluttering in a language I don't understand.
But we only stop when we can no longer run. Which also is when we encounter yet another alley. What's up with these alleys? Except, this unroofed brick hallway smells of the bitter, salty scent of blood, and the disgusting smell of strong alcohol. I swallow, and look at Chris. By the look on his face, He is about as ready for this as I am. We are about to investigate, but decide it is better to wear our stolen clothes, in case someone tries to swipe them. After all, two wrongs don't make a right. Who am I to be joking? This is definitely not the time for Laughing and happiness.
By chance, the pants I chose fit nicely, with no extra fabric to get in the way. The hoodie hangs off of my shoulders, helping to make my bony frame seem bigger. Chris looks extra shady, and I look him up and down. He looks like he belongs in an alley like this. Then, I realize something that makes me grimace. We forgot shoes.
Despite that setback, I step onto the gravel in between buildings. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but certainly not what I see.