We follow the wall into the darkness, being careful to stay close to it as the jeering and cheering of the men above us slowly fade away. I can still hear the occasional fire of a gun, but it’s not like earlier.
All those people in the centre will be dead by now. They’re probably searching the buildings for survivors and killing them there.
I wonder if that’s what happened to my parents, only they weren’t hiding from anything. My mum was at the table, sitting like she normally does. I wonder if she knew death was coming for her, standing right outside the house.
What about my dad? Did he not run to mums aid when the shot was fired?
Did he even know she was killed?
Then there’s Toby. I’m pretty sure he knew he was going to die since he pulled out all stops to tell me to tell Alice he loved her.
I hope he understood when I told him we both loved him, me as a friend and Alice as a lover. I can’t be sure. By that stage, his eyes were rolling into the back of his head.
The thoughts are starting to upset me so I push them from my mind and as a distraction, whisper into the darkness.
“Alice, Toby told me to tell you he loves you.”
Her grip falters a little, but than regains strength and she gives my hand a tight squeeze.
“Did he say anything else before he…?”
“Guys,” Amelia hisses in the front of our line. “Keep it down please. I’m not sure what the hell we’re going to do. I think our whole city was just murdered, even the Society.”
I clamp my teeth together, knowing that she’s right. We probably are the final four alive and somehow, we have to stay that way.
We eventually hit a dead end after passing a grate; rocks piled high to the top of the tunnel.
“Bombs?” I ask quietly and I see Amelia nod in the darkness. The grate’s throwing off enough light for us to squint at each other.
Obviously, Amelia’s probably the strongest out of all of us when it comes to Toby’s gruesome attack, but I’m surprised to see Liliana’s pulled herself together, only letting out the occasional sniff and quiver as she aggressively prods a rock blocking our way and sends one flying.
That means Alice, who’s face is still being washed in tears, is the weakest.
I can’t particularly blame her. I was right against the ladder and I swear I got splattered with blood at one stage or another. I also made the mistake of looking in time to see a chunk of flesh go flying.
The thought only makes me want to puke so I set to work, climbing the ladder.
I lift it carefully and soundlessly, readying myself to be shot just like Toby was as I check to see if the place is clear.
Like all entrances, this one’s in an alley too, but it seems darker than the rest, damper too. I pull myself up and out of the grate, hushing the others and promising a quick return.
There’s no one in the immediate area, but what good would it do us to climb out of the tunnel and ultimately end up stuck here like sitting ducks?
I press tight against a wall and begin to shimmer down the tunnel to see the damage and to see what sort of escape we can pull.
The street where I fall onto is barren and quiet as paper drifts backwards and forwards in the breeze. The tables in a café have been flipped over and it’s at that point when I recognize the street, the one that’s put me in the rebel camp in the first place.
I take a cautious step forward and ultimately trip, catching myself just in time not to sprawl onto my face. When I turn to inspect the object responsible, I heave and quickly look away, dragging myself to my feet and stumbling onto the street.
She looks extremely like Alice, cropped light hair and white skin. Her green eyes are blank, staring at something in the distance. I can’t see the cause of her death, but going off of the bits or bone and pool of blood around her head, I’m guessing a bullet wound.
I step back over her and practically sprint back down the alley, trying to be careful as I do since getting ourselves caught will do nothing to protect anyone.
They’re all waiting for me, standing around the grate as they hug themselves from the cool breeze that’s picked up.
“All clear?” Amelia asks, looking at me warily.
“All clear. The street’s trashed, but I couldn’t see anybody. Alive anyway.”
Liliana glances up sharply at my words before taking a deep breath and pulling a gun from the waistband of her jeans.
“I think it’s safe to say that the odds of us living are pretty low, correct?” she asks as she clicks the safety off. “Well, are we going to do something with our last moments? Like, I don’t know… Assassinate the bitch who killed my family, friends and a whole freaking country?”
I know it’s inappropriate, but I can’t help but smile slightly. When she sees it, she smiles, too.
“You should do it,” she holds the gun towards me. “You have more reason than I do.”
“Amelia does,” I shake my head.
“Ha. Whatever,” Amelia rolls her eyes as she heads down the tunnel quietly. “We’ll flip for it later, shall we? Now shut up before we get caught and assassinate no one but ourselves.”
Liliana follows Amelia down the ally, but I stop Alice before she can go any further.
“Ally, this is his street. The one you stalked him on.”
She meets my eyes with a tired smile.
“I know. I looked at the landmarks.”
I raise my eyebrows and she points at something above my head.
I turn to see an old sigh that’s stamped into the brick of the wall. It’s barely readable now, but I can make out the words, “chicken” and “run.”
I giggle without meaning to, but she doesn’t seem to mind.
“Let’s go,” she nods and grabs my hand.
After getting onto the street, we still stick close to the walls in case any soldiers show up. There’s still the occasional gunshot off in the distance and we jump at every sound that’s made by something that isn’t us, but we make slow progress, heading out and away from the main part of the city.
“Any plans on where we could hide?” I ask gently as we pick ourselves around a trashcan.
“Since they’re searching places, no. Not really anyway,” Amelia frowns. “It’s not the smartest idea to stay in town.”
“Where do we go?” Liliana questions and I grab her elbow to stop her running into a post. We’re doing awfully well without a light.
“We could leave the city?” Alice offers. “There has to be something over the highway. Maybe help, too.”
“I doubt it, love. We’re probably one of the first cities that have overthrown, or tried to, the government.”
“You don’t know that for sure.”
Even I doubt the odds of finding a city that isn’t government controlled is so I stay quiet. Let Alice hold to a hope, even if it’s futile.
We’re about four blocks away from the tunnel entrance we came out of when we hit our first crew of soldiers, about twenty or so.
Amelia’s just round the corner when she suddenly slams backwards, sending Liliana reeling into Alice and Alice into me.
We hold our breaths, pressing our bodies as hard as possible into the walls as the come around the side, cheering and shoving each other.
They have flashlights, but they don’t scan the wall. Still, we do our utter best not to even breath until they’ve disappeared. Heaving and gasping for breath, we look back around to see if anyone’s there.
It’s now clear.
It becomes apparent another three blocks later that we can’t go on without a light since there’s now an obstacle no matter what we look. At one stage I smack my knee hard against a fallen pole and Alice walks right into a stretch of barbed wire, meaning we spend a good few minutes yanking it out her foot as she sobs into my hand.
If this is what the soldier life is like, I want no part in it. It’s cruel, it’s gruelling. I almost wish we hadn’t revolted like we did so we’re all still be in peace.
Than again, that wasn’t going to happen since they discovered our location. A hoard of happy people going against their wishes? It was to much to ask the Government of. I can imagine them like little children, squabbling because someone else got the better Barbie. This is followed by an image of two toddlers going at it until the start squealing.
All this over a doll. Doll equals rebels. I wonder if we can do something to make them squeal.
I want to be the one inflicting the pain.
“Right,” Amelia draws to stop, little planting her feet into the ground so we crash into her back. “We can’t move on any further.”
“Agreed,” I hear Alice whisper. “I can’t see anything at all.”
“Nor can I,” I admit.
“Well I’m usually good at seeing in the dark,” Amelia huffs, “but not for long now. We need to find somewhere to stay the night.”
“How bout a building roof?” Liliana asks and I can hear the fatigue in her voice. Reaching out blindly, I pat her shoulder as a means of reassurance.
Her hand reaches up to pat mine and I can almost see her smiling.
“That’s actually not a half bad idea,” Amelia sounds impressed. “Way to go Liliana. I never knew you were that smart.”
“Shut up,” there’s a sharp crack and I giggle.
“You hit my arm!” Amelia protests loudly and we quickly shush each other.
I think we’re getting sleep deprived.
Not entirely sure how, eventually we locate an old brick building, one that resembles the school but isn’t. Somehow we locate a ladder that’s hooked to it, allowing us to climb up easily.
I’m the first to the top so I help the others as they come- Liliana, Alice and Amelia. Than I back away carefully from the edge, minding my balance, as I squint around.
There’s one light, but it’s pretty big. I calculate it to be in the centre of the city which isn’t nearly surprising. It’s a fire, probably a bonfire.
I wonder if they’re burning the bodies of our dead.
“Do you know where we are?” Liliana questions quietly, teeth chattering as the wind spikes up and whips my hair around my face.
“I have a theory,” Amelia responds quietly. “I won’t no until morning.”
“God, help us,” Alice sighs, practically giving off a dry sob. “What on earth are we going to do?”
“No point worrying about tomorrow now,” Amelia sighs too as she seems to move away. Grabbing Alice’s hand, I pull her along as we follow her. “Let’s focus on the now, shall we?”
We set up our little sleeping corners at the edge of the roof. There’s a sort of rising, so we don’t have to worry about rolling off, that protects us more from the wind. We don’t have any blankets, so we snuggle into each other. Alice against the wall, me behind her, Liliana behind me and than Amelia at the end. I lie there for a moment, looking up at the stars as I cuddle into Alice’s warmth. Somehow, she’s already asleep. I’d forgotten she fought a war toad. That and the fact she saw her boyfriend mutilated, watched others die and just made her way through an obstacle course reminds me just how strong she is.
I’m proud of her.
Amelia starts to whisper quietly and I strain my ears to hear, quietening my breath.
“Please protect us. I’m not sure why you’ve allowed this to happen to my family and my friends, but there must be a reason. Please show me what you want me to do and give me the strength to do it. Help me win this, if that’s Your plan for my life.”
I’m wondering who the hell she’s talking to when she finally comes to an end.
“Please restore strength to the others to, God. I love You. Amen.”
And suddenly, knowing she’s asked for God’s help and maybe He just might give it, I feel a lot better. Not long later, I’m able to drift to sleep after offering up my own little prayer.
If the four of us survive this, I’m going to open up a Church and throw a party. If we survive, I’m going to thank this God until the last breath leaves my body.
“No freaking way!”
My eyes snap open and I sit up suddenly, colliding heads with a just woken up Alice as I do. We scowl at each other as we rub our heads before turning our focus to a swearing Liliana and pale Amelia.
“I swear I didn’t intend for this to happen,” Amelia says pleadingly.
“I’m not blaming you,” Liliana crawls away angrily. Since it’s daylight now, it wouldn’t be smart walking around. It’d be like waving a red flag at an angry bull. “Just fate.”
“We must be here for a reason,” Amelia shrugs.
“Let’s find out now so we can get out of here.”
“Where are we?” I ask Amelia as yawning; I crawl after Liliana for the opening in the room.
“It’s the hospital, also known as the abortion clinic.”
“Ouch,” I wince; taking in Liliana’s screwed up red face. “What are we doing now?”
“We’re going to go in and see what we find.”
“Wait,” Alice calls out to Liliana, biting her lip. “The top floor. That’s where they do the-“
“I know,” she interrupts with a shake of her head. “I saw it a few times.”
She disappears down the hole and Alice and I exchange worried looks.
I haven’t seen what they do in the clinic nor have I heard about anything except that it’s horrific. I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle it.
Are people even in there?
I guess I’m about to find out since it’s now my turn to swing my legs over the side and drop to the floor.