Drops in the Sky

One foot in front of the other. That's all I knew. Just keep walking. Get water when you can. Get food when you can. Just keep walking. For 92 days, that's all I knew. And then, I met Amber Jeffries. And, by God, that girl became all I knew. All I wanted to know. But the War was all that mattered. Fighting is all that matters.

In World War Four, 10 billion people were killed. I'm one of the lucky two billion that survived. So was Amber Jeffries. Unfortunately, 1.9 billion people live in Europe. Mostly France, and a couple areas just outside of it. I'm in the hundred million left in what used to be the United States, which is currently in the midst of a Civil War. And I'm right in the middle of it.

We're kind of a mess. My life's messy. But Amber... She keeps everything together.

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3. three

It's surprising how fast 500 miles can go by when you're sitting in the back of a car, rather than walking. It would've taken me a month to walk that distance. 

We weren't driving very fast; usually around thirty, but it still didn't take us long to reach California. Over the couple days we were in the truck, Thomas and I became fast friends. It doesn't take much to become friends when you're two of the few teenage boys within a hundred mile radius of each other. It's not like we have the option to be picky. 

Amber... Well, she's still Amber. Cold and spitfire... dangerous. Super badass. Could definitely kick my ass if she wanted to. Well... did kick my ass. 

Thomas claims that she's "better once you get to know her..." I don't know how true that could be. How can you get to know her if she wants nothing to do with you? Who knows, maybe eventually we'll be besties. 

But as of now, it's a pain in the ass. Mostly because she's so intriguing that I can't help but stare and watch. Well, the staring and watching isn't the problem. It's the turning-red-once-caught part that's an issue. 

I'm not a very good teenager, I don't think. 

I glanced up from my boots to see Amber rummaging through one of the many boxes in the pickup truck. 

"Whatcha looking for?" 

She glares at me, then goes back to looking without an answer. She pulls three blood bags out of it. 

"What the hell?" 

"It's fake, idiot," she says. 

I frown. "Like the stuff they use in theater?" She nods. 

"What the hell do we need this for?" 

She smirks. "You'll see. We're getting closer to Service territory," she says vaguely. 

"Still don't get what it's for..." I mutter. I'm not exactly used to getting answers out of Amber. She's a strange one. 

"Yo, Tommy!" She calls to the front. He slides open the door. 

"Yeah, sis?" 

"Blood bag," she says. He takes it. 

"Thanks!" 

"No prob. Be on lookout."

"Lookout for what?" I ask. 

"What do you think? Soldiers of the service." 

"And what are the blood bags for?" 

"Playing dead." 

"Huh?" 

"So they won't kill us." 

Oh. Happy thoughts. 

"Oh. Okay..." I mutter. We live in a weird world. 

"Amber, we're getting pretty close to Service Territory. Twenty miles, give or take a few," Thomas calls from the front. "'Bout an hour's drive." 

"Shit," she mutters. "Thanks!" 

She then proceeds to take off her shirt. My eyes widen before I quickly turn the other direction. 

"Jesus, Amber, what the hell are you doing?" I practically yell. 

"Chill, Dustin. I'm wearing a tank top under." 

"Justin," I mutter. I turn around, and she is, indeed, wearing a white skin-tight tank top. Can't say I'm not a teensy-bit disappointed. She slams the blood bag into her chest, allowing it to explode and drip all over her shirt. 

"Um..." 

"If service people come, just break your blood bag and pretend to be dead. It'll look like you got shot. Put your hand over it, though, otherwise they'll be able to see that it's not a bullet wound." 

"Okay," I say, still slightly confused. She turns her back to me and rummages through a different box. 

"Whatcha looking for this time?" 

"Gun," she says simply. 

"Um... what?" 

"Gun? You know, those metal things that shoot bullets at people? Real bullets, not theater blood bag bullets. Ever heard of one?" She deadpans. 

"Hilarious," I say. She turns back and smirks at me, her golden eyes twinkling. 

"Hey, Amber? I see some smoke up ahead," Thomas calls from the front. 

"Shit," she mumbles. She glances at the setting sun. It'll be dark in less than a half hour. "Turn the headlights on, keep the engine on, and stop the car. Get some blood on," she instructs. He does as he's told. He's like a dog to her... follows her every order. 

She stares at me. I glance down at the blood bag in my hand, unsure of what to do with it. She sighs and takes it from me, slamming it into my chest. The red blood (or should I say, dyed corn syrup? I believe that's what the theater kids use... Not like we still have theater or anything) stains my light grey shirt. Not gonna lie... I enjoyed the feeling of her hand on my chest. She squeezes the rest of the bag out onto my hand. 

"When I say, just lie down like you were shot and put your hand on the blood mark." 

I nod. We sit silently in the car for twenty minutes, waiting until we hear footsteps jogging towards us. Even though the smoke was from far away, the ground is relatively flat and the headlights are bright in the dusky light. 

She catches my eye, and nods towards the ground. She lies down on her back, her legs strewn around, one hand on her stomach covering the blood stain, the other with her finger wrapped around the trigger of her gun, which is hidden under a tarp. I mimic her movements, minus the gun. I can see Thomas's silhouette, hunched over the steering wheel. I glance to Amber again. It looks so... real. 

The footsteps grow closer. 

"Check it out!" A gruff voice calls. "They're all dead!" 

"You sure, soldier?" An even gruffer voice calls out in response. 

"I'm sure, boss. Looks like they were all shot!" 

"All right, kid. Grab some supplies. We better get out of here fast, in case the person who killed them is still around. This blood is fresh. And it's just us two." 

As soon as the 'boss' implies that it's only the two of them, Amber shoots up from her position and shoots two bullets; I hear two bodies thump to the ground. The two gunshots ring through the open field... The people at the fire, if anyone, would have been able to hear it. 

One, solid movement, from her strewn about position on the ground to her standing above me, both hands wrapped around the pistol. A split second of silent death. I hear her jump down from the back of the truck, and hear her feet shuffling around on the ground around us. 

"All clear," she calls. I sit up and open my eyes. There were two people who came our way; each one now has a bullet in his head. One on his forehead, the other right above his left ear. Amber crouches over the bodies, stripping them of all supplies. She steals two guns, some ammunition, a new knife, a pocket knife, and a lighter. 

She shows her hoard to Thomas. "Nice haul, sis!" She laughs. "Thanks!" 

I stare at her, my gaze switching from the twinkle in her eyes to the smile on her lips to the gun in her hand to the bodies on the ground. 

The bodies on the ground. One was an older man, possibly in his fifties. The other was someone not much older than us... twenties, perhaps. Early twenties. The younger one still had his eyes open, staring out at the horizon. The light of the setting sun glints in his lifeless brown eyes. 

Amber notices my stare. A glint of sadness flashes through her eyes, but only momentarily. 

"Get used to it, kiddo. If you're going to be joining the army, you'll be seeing a lot of this pretty soon." 

I sigh, mostly because I know she's right. I adjust myself so I'm facing her, and the two bodies are no longer visible in my peripheral vision. 

"Alright, we'd better get moving," Thomas suggests. I nod, gulp, and hop back into the truck. Amber sits across from me after shoving her new items into a bag. Thomas puts his foot on the gas, and we ease forward into the desert. 

"I've thought about it, by the way" she says. I frown. 

"Thought about what?" 

"Joining the army," she says. I raise an eyebrow. "I guess I don't have much to lose." 

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