I shall Grow

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future"


1. Chapter One



I was just a kid when it happened, 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. America's 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.

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. 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. 

I live with just my mother now, my father and Twin sister, Chrissy went missing after the bombs drop. Or more I did. Mum tells me the story of how we became two families instead of one a lot. See, Chrissy and I shared a room but that night I was thirsty, like every 6-year-old, I went down to the kitchen when the loud plane engines filled the air causing me to pause. Then the bombs followed, I remember hiding under the sink, it seemed safe.  

Dad saved Chrissy and mum. I was left there.

When I emerged from my hiding place, fear was the only emotion I had. I had cuts and bruises from where the wood had broken and blown inwards on impact. My house was in pieces and the stairs were no longer standing. I walked about the ground floor looking for comfort, I found Chrissy's doll. It had always been on of the ugliest doll but she loved it greatly it. 

Carrying the doll with me, I walked out the house. I remember finding a small dog house that was still standing and I climbed inside and sobbed.

Mums' voice saved me from becoming nothing but a memory. 

Mia Ann Touch, the game who is missing her other half.

After I was found, dad and Chrissy had moved on from where mum had left them. We found aa old radio shop that was safe to live in. It consists of the main shop floor which is a small size, we use it as our living room and kitchen and the storage room which we use as our bedroom. Finding supplies is hard due to lack of production and people.

 Most things were destroyed in the bombing and the things that weren't aren't always useful. I scavenge what I can find in the ruins, I took over from mum after she was attacked by a mutate. She damaged her leg so badly that we had to remove it. Her replacement leg is made of old bits of metal we found in the shop. 

"Mia, can you run to town and see if they have any food?" My drags herself into the room from the storage room. I smile and pull out a chair for her to sit on. "I can look but I doubt I'll find anything. I'll have to travel further soon". I know what will happen when we are out of food. Mum will insist on moving to another area. It'd be easier for me to walk further past the town. 

"I can head out now, we still have a couple hours of daylight left" I smile at the woman sat in front of me, her fingers twisting her wedding ring around her ring finger."Whatcha' thinking?"

"We aren't gonna be safe much longer, are we?"

"I think we'll be fine Ma', we are strong" Her face softens and her worries seeming removed. She smiles softly, "Holster's under the counter next to the guns" I make my way over to the counter, which we assumed once was the register counter. I grab the gun holster and tighten it around my thigh, finding the 9mm pistol to sit in it. The place the shotgun on a strap and throw it over my shoulder so it sits comfortably on my back.

"I'll see you later, Ma'" I open the door and head out to town. 20 minutes to the east and I should be there. Usually, the town is crawling with Mutates. They won't bother you unless the think you have something, which is usually all the time. Except Francis. He is a mutate but he still has his own mind. He isn't feral like the others, he helps me look in areas to radiated for me to go in. 

The weather is warm, a gentle breeze paired with it and it's the perfect weather for the apocalypse if you can have perfect in this world. 

As I approach the town I can hear the usual noises. Other living people, mutates and the occasional gunshot. People rarely come near if they know what's here but sometimes new people to the area make the mistake of coming without a weapon in hand or even in reach. Which is stupid as nowhere is safe. You always need a weapon.

The town once was a settlement but the people all move once the mutants started finding a way through the barriers. The people couldn't fight them off, so many people died so they left.  A little further east is another town. Its origin has something to do with a single child living out of the entire townspeople. I want to travel over there one day. When I travel further, it'll be my first stop. 

I approach the first building to my left, the shutters pulled across like a cage and no lights inside. To anyone else, it's empty, to me it has curtains and large posters on the window. Francis is always the best at hiding his home. If breathers found him, they would beat the shit out of him and take all his stuff.

I press the button on the intercom outside, it barely works but enough for Francis to let me in. "Hurry up meat bag!" 

"Hello to you too!" The shutter rattled, the lock released and I quietly move it to the side, creating a big enough gap to squeeze through before closing it and making my way to the door. "Hurry" Francis sounds like he'd been smoking for 30 years. His voice had always rough and sounded as if it caused pain. "Mia, this is the second time this week. The town is empty and a death wish to go into! Go home!" 

"Francis, we need the food. Unlike you, our stomachs require filling."

"My only suggestion is asking at the other town. It'll take a long walk, but they'll have some. They grow it themselves, I have seen it." 

Francis didn't start this way, the man losing his skin, hair and any normal human function. He was in one of the states that got nuked. He was sick but didn't think anything of it, he had moved into the town before he realised. They have like a lord protector or something who started up a group called the "Scouts". The protect the town and keep it stocked. He left before they could discover what he was becoming.

"If I am not back by the first chime of the clock, can you tell mum where I went?" The town clock chimes once a day, usually around 7ish. Francis can see the path from the shop roof, he lives in the old bus office. It's where all the paperwork for the bus' came through.

"If anyone discovers me, you better avenge my ass!" I smile. Even though he can get hurt, he looks out for us. Mum loves him, he is so sweet towards her and he even helped build her leg. 

I hug my rotting friend, go through the process of opening up the door and shutters and let myself out. "Ready your gun, Mia. And please, come back alive". I remove my shotgun off my back find my bearings. 

I always wanted to move to this town when I was younger, other children around sounded like fun but mum was worried about if dad would come back and she'd miss him. Home is a fair way from the town, she didn't want to admit that she wouldn't see him even if he had returned.

A long walk shouldn't take too long. I walk really fast due to the paranoia of Looters and Contractors. Neither sound scary but Looters stalk you, see if have what they want then they attack in large groups. After the attack, they loot the dead body for everything on it. They have even been known to mutilate bodies to scare off others from certain areas. 

Contractors are worst. They are a large gang, members come from all over the waste of the worlds. If someone wrongs a single member, it becomes a game, that someone becomes the game piece and whoever can catch them first wins and decides their fate. Once someone is caught they are kept. Some are tortured for entertainment, women are kept for sexual reasons as are some men. If they really don't like you, you are forced to fight others to the death. The winner is meant to get freedom but they drug them and force them to fight again.

I once met a former member of the Contractors. You can never really leave but you don't have to live with the gang, you can live anywhere. She had left because they don't care about women, they killed her sister because she was old enough for the man that like her. She had shamed him, so she was beheaded. Xanthe was her name. She once tried to live in an old post office in my old town but she couldn't be alone. She left one night, I never saw her again.

"Miss?" I swing round ready to hurt whoever is near me, and I see her. A tiny little girl. Her face covered in dried blood and cuts. I move the shotgun back onto my back. "Are you okay?" 

"I wondered out of town, I fell. I want to go home!" Her face crumples together as she begins to sobs. "Which town?" She raises her hand and points to the town in the distances, "That one, are you sure?" 

"Marcey said if you lose home, find the flag." Her hand waves above head as she imitates a flag. "She, it's yellow and blue" I offer her my hand which she takes, together we walk towards the town. 

"You look like someone I know"

"And who's that?"

"Chrissy!" I feel my whole body freeze. I waited 11 years to hear someone say that name. "Chrissy?" She nods, her face confused as to why I stopped. "Want to run?" Her face grew a huge smile, consuming her cheeks.

I start to run making sure I can still see the young girl. She is so slow, I bend down and throw her onto my back, moving my shotgun as far out of her way as I can. 

I begin to run, then sprint. She is there! She is in that town, my biggest dream, and she is there. As I walk through the barrier I stop. The town is empty, not a person to see. "Why did you leave the town?" I ask the girl.

"Men came, they looked funny. The sounded old and smelt bad too. They took people with them when they left. I ran away from them"  In my heart, I knew hoping that I could just walk in and find her was a delusion. Placing the girl down, she ran over the flag pole, next to it was a wooden box holding a bell. She rang it. I have never heard such a noise, such a beautiful sound. 

People started coming out and they lite up when they saw me. "Chrissy!" A woman shouted, running and hugging me. "You're okay!" She squeezes so tight. I want to hug her back, but I couldn't give her that hope. She pulls away, searching my face for a problem. "Whats wrong?"

"She isn't Chrissy" A husky old voiced filled the air. It made people move away from me as if I had done something wrong. "She's Mia!" My eyes rest on the old gentlemen. Just as tall as I remember, the wrinkles around his eyes deeper than when I was a child. My body goes slack, my breathing quickens, I can not pretend anymore. 

"DADDY!" I run, my legs going as fast as I can and not stopping until I feel him against me. I shock myself by crying. Not quietly either. "You're alive!" I look at his face again, he is every I remember him as. "What on earth happened to you?" I smile, I was thirsty, I hid under the sink and then I went to find you. 11 years later" 

"Where's your mum?" He braces himself. I recognise the look. His eye wide in hope but his body has already given up. "He's alive. We live next to the town west from here. We have been so close all this time!" He chuckles.

"Where is Chrissy?"

"The town was attacked while most the Scouts were out. More mutants than I have ever seen. They took anyone they could. Chrissy was one of the people along with small children. We have people looking for them but we don't know why this happened. They spoke, their leader Benji or something commanding them, something about finding Francis. He hasn't lived here in years!"

"I need to go! Francis is a mutant too, he left when he realised what was happening but he didn't go feral! He's with mum!" Dad's face drops. 

We don't get it easy in this family.

"Andrea! Go with her, save my wife!" Out of nowhere, a tall lady walks out the crowd. Equipped with so many weapons, her brown hair tied behind her head. "We better hurry, the town is defenseless without me!" 

"How do you feel about running?" 

"Just try to keep up" She smirks and then she is off. I chase after.

My morning started as a search for food. Now I am saving my mum from my best friend and I lost my sister again.



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