I was 6 when it started, the end of human society. It all came about when Howard James Taylor was elected president of the United States. He was a promising candidate but after he was elected he changed quicker than the seasons. He started insisting that Europe was a danger to the U.S and that anyone could be a secret spy for the other country. He claimed Europe was trying to steal their children for warriors in an upcoming battle. People believed every word and the same paranoia that spread during World War 2 began spreading again. Those who didn't believe it was more than likely arrested as spies and some given the death penalty. Psychologists were calling it a "mental epidemic" and to battle the large quantities of patients, mandatory shows giving therapy to those who watched in the hope of ridding them of their paranoia. Mass therapy for mass paranoia.
In Europe, a similar pattern followed but we were scared of Asia. Soon the whole globe was scared of each other. Americas psychotic president had doomed us before anyone realised what was happening. He wanted to hurt people in large quantities, how better to do that than become president of one of the largest countries of the globe and make people believe the war being rallied is justified. I am British and my father American. We moved to the U.S just before Howard was elected. I was put in grave danger as was my mother. We had to live in the storm cellar under our house after his election. I soon learned that the storm cellar wasn't an ordinary cellar.
My father was a general in the army, very high up in the chain of command and when plans of the war started to arise in his office, he started to obsessively gather supplies. Not canned food but sugar, compost, seeds, thousands of water bottles. He moved all our possessions into the cellar. As a 6-year-old, I thought it was nothing more than a special kind of camping trip. Until he was called away to the Pentagon, he told me to go to the cellar with mother and bolt the doors and not to open them for a while. If I had known then that that would be the last time I would see him, I would have memorised his face, just listen to him speak and the low chuckle he'd do when something amused him but I would've begged him to not go, to stay and hold me, to stay in the cellar. Not to leave me alone.
But I didn't know. My mother and I did as he asked and went to the cellar. The doors locked tightly behind us, thick doors with multiple locks that could only be opened from the inside or with the 9 keys my mother would wear on her belt. I don't remember her, I want to say that her laugh was beautiful, and her heart pure as gold but I only know what the photographs show me and they cannot show me what I lost. She would read me stories from the books father stole from the library and she'd use my favourite toys as the characters. That I do miss.
We were down there for a week before it happened. The bombs finally fell. Claiming anything they wanted and at the same time everything they didn't. 7 billion lives wiped out because of one growing fear, each other. 7 billion lives and I cared for 2. Annette and David Tampit, parents of Marcy Ann Marie Tampit. My father died just outside our front door, confirmed by his dog tags. He was moments from joining us and he missed being there with us. My mother wanted to call him, she if he was okay, she handed me the keys, told me to lock the door once she left. Only to let her back in when shouted my name. She never did saymy name again. She was killed with my father.
I waited exactly 9 days after the week long bombings before unlocking the door. There was nothing left of what I remembered, only a few buildings were left standing and the wreckage of my house framed my shelter. I wanted my mother, I wanted her to hold me and tell me I'd be okay. The keys stayed in my hands and I went looking and I was metres from my shelter before I found them. They looked like they were sleeping. I remember the blood, my father was almost unrecognisable and he lay holding her. The raw pain of that moment still haunts me. I lay between their bodies, sobbing. I planned on staying there until they woke. They never did.
My saviour came in the form of 40-year-olds Amber and Bellamy. Amber found me lying with them, her arms were warm. She cradled me in her arms, I cried more than I ever had. I wanted to stay with them, I didn't care whether they knew I was there, I just needed them. Amber took father's dog tags and their wedding rings placing them on the chain and placing it round neck and saying "It's okay, you're not alone. They cannot hold you or calm you but carry this and they'll forever be with you". I asked her to stay with me in my house. I lead her there and she happily stayed with me. She had a walkie talkie and every now and then a man would tell her about what he had seen and found. Amongst the rubble he found Susie. A tiny baby girl who only lived due her parents placing her in the upside down bathtub. Bellamy brought Susie back and we all moved into my father's shelter. As time passed we built up a house around the shelter. All valuables stayed in there and we slept in there too.
I have met others, some kind and helpful others dangerous and vile. In Europe they were attacked by Nuclear bombs, the radiation caused awful mutations that learned to swim or cross the oceans and soon they began arriving in the U.S. Bellamy spends hours a day gathering weapons, ammunition and other supplies. Amber, Susie and I spend our days gardening and harvesting the seeds father left and filters rainwater and streams. All the people that were here before, gone. America is basically empty and everyone's just trying to survive. 11 years have passed since then. I would love to say the situation that had happened in 2030 has resolved itself, but that would be a lie, and what I do remember about my mother, she said that lies are bad and to never tell them. People kill each other over the silliest things.
A small community arose around us after others with small children created homes around us to protect us as well as their own children, supplies are usually shared between each house. We all have different skills. Mr. Waterson is our local medical professional and he is training a handful of young ones to take his place once he departs.
I am 17 now, Susie is 12. The youngest member of our community is Robin, he is 3 years old. Not many babies are born here. Lack of relationships and medical care and people just don't want to bring a child into this mess. We rarely leave the community because of the mutates, many formed here as we later learned of the nuclear bomb dropped on the west coast. I have only seen one mutate. It was tall, it's skin looked like it was rotting away, it frantically ran at us, it found a way through our barriers. It looked scared and I think it only wanted help but the Scouts chased it away and once they are away from the community, the mutate is killed so it doesn't come back or lead others here.
The Scouts are our means of survival, they find things that we need like working car batteries and materials to mend important items. We have a selection period where we each have to pass a series of test to see if we can join the scouts. I am older enough to try and join the scouts, it's almost my birthright. I helped start the community which helped keep these people safe. Joining the scouts means I can go past the border, keep the community alive. I want to see the world whether it is ruined or not. My father always wanted to travel and he never had the chance, I will take mine. I have survived this far and I will survive longer if I know how to collect supplies for myself. I could even start my own family.
I place the books back on the shelves in our shelter room, thinking of a way to bring up my ambitions to join the Scouts.Bellamy is my father figure. He raised me and he is not going to give in to the idea easily. "Pap, would you like some more cucumber water?" I ask nicely, I look over my shoulder where Bellamy sits at our table re-reading Charles Dickens "A Tale Of Two Cities". "I'm okay for now, Marcy" He turns the page and silence fall over us again. I wonder if I could go check the garden for some more vegetables and sweeten him up. I stand awkwardly for a moment debating my next move. "If you have something to say, Marcy, please say it. You're going to strain your brain" I smile at Bellamy, take a deep breath.
"I'm going to join the Scouts!" I blurt at turning quickly to look at him. Bellamy places his book down gently then turns his head to look at me. "You are not ready to go out there yet!"
"Yes, I am! I trained every day for this!" I argue.
"That isn't enough, you need to train more. You cannot join! I forbid it!" I shake my head
"You forbid it? You started the scouts so we could do a part to keep js alive?! Let me do my part, let me try out! I have as much right as anyone!" I feel rage build inside my stomach as he sits looking at me, way too calm about the situation in front of him, just shaking his head. Every part of him wants to deny the fact that I am old enough to face the world outside. "Marcy, it isn't safe. I have seen what is out there and I do not want you out there where you can get hurt!"
"I survived 2 weeks alone as a 6-year-old. Why would I not be able to handle the world?! You taught me how to fight, you taught me almost everything I know!" I look at him hoping he'd stop arguing with me over this. I will try out whether he likes it or not. "Marcy, I think of you as my own and I care too much for your view of the world to change. You always find the beauty and I do not what that ruined!" I smile at him.
"Let me find the beauty out there. I want to see what my father couldn't, breath the air of a different place. Pap, I am 17, I can try out and I am going to. I don't want to be stuck here forever! I want to see the world" Amber smiles at us. She cherishes these moments, the dust from the air in the beginning days caused her to breathe wrong. Bit's of information remains about her condition but Amber seems to believe that she will be killed by this illness. "Bell, let her try. You started the scouts for a reason, her. Now let her be a scout for you" Amber moves gracefully across the room as she changes the bed sheets. Bellamy releases a sigh that he gives when he gives in. "Thank you, Pap!" I kiss his cheek, wrapping my arms gently around his neck.
"Just don't get yourself killed" He rubs my forearm, I hold him close.
"I'm going to go to the sign-up station" I smile feeling the grin on my face spread. I leave the bunker and walk across our street. Today will give my future another path.