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.


7. seven

The next more passes without event; a soldier shows us from our cramped, closet-like room to a crowded cafeteria where hundreds of soldiers mile around. We both eat our breakfast in silence, before returning to the bedroom. The soldiers haven't told us what we're allowed to do, so we chose to sit in the room. 

It's quite boring. 

Although there's two of us, there may as well just be me; we've barely spoken since arriving, and her dangerous eyes warn me against attempting to start conversation. 

After several hours of relative silence and absolute boredom, I decide that my lack of mental stimulation is more important that the possible risk of death that would come from trying to engage in conversation with Amber, so I attempt to talk to her. 

"So, uh..." My voice seems awfully loud for the small room, especially after so many hours without words. I clear my throat gently. "What was your hometown like?" 

She turns to me, propping her head up on her elbow. "Quebec?" 

I nod nervously. 

"I mean... It was mostly Services so it was always pretty dangerous for us," she explains, kind of missing the point. I'm tired of talking about the current world; I want to hear what it used to be like. 

"And the people?" 

She raises an eyebrow. "Well, I mean... obviously there weren't that many people. Everyone was always either scared, or making others scared." 

I chew on the inside of my cheek. "Which category did you fall into?" 

She laughs. "I mean... I guess I should say the scared people, since I was Army and everyone else was Service, but I did my best not to get scared. I always assumed that as long as my dad was there to protect me, I'd be okay." 

"Your mom?" 

"She ran off and joined the Services when Thomas and I were two," she says shortly. I decide not to say 'I'm sorry,' as it would likely upset her. I don't think she's looking for sympathy. 

"But, uh... The people were pretty cool, I guess. Everyone spoke French, which kind of led me to the hope that someday I'd make it over to France." 

I frown. "No accent?" I comment on her flawless English, and lack of a Canadian-French accent. 

"My parents were born in the States," she explains. "And since we were home a lot out of fear, Thomas and I just adopted my Dad's speech." 

"Do you speak French?" 

"Yeah, pretty well," she nods. Something in me finds that strangely intriguing, probably because most French-speaking people live in France nowadays. Most people that speak any language live in France... almost everyone lives in France. 

She sits up in bed and starts twiddling with her blonde hair, eventually braiding it. A few lone strands of hair fall loose, hanging in wisps around her sharp face. I run my hands through my own hair, sitting with my feet off the bed, planted firmly on the floor. The spider that was on the ceiling last night now crawls near my boot. Amber and I both watch as it crawls over my foot, and then back down onto the ground and under my bed. 

A knock on the door distracts us from the spider. It's Amber, this time, that answers it. 

A new soldier who looks very similar to Amber is there; a teenage girl, likely older than us, shorter than Amber, with blonde hair. Her eyes, however, are soft brown. 

"Hey, guys. I'm Julia. A group of a bunch of new recruits came in, so there's enough for Thompson to check y'all out." Her voice has a sweet, southern twang. Subtle, though. "I'll be back in ten minutes or so to guide you to the training room."

I smile gratefully at her, hoping Amber does the same. 

"Thank you," Amber says with a curt politeness, nodding before shutting the door. 

She turns back to me, making eye contact. "What if we get cut?" Her eyes flash; whether it's in fear, nerves, or anger, I couldn't say. 

I look at her dubiously. "You can't seriously think you'll get cut, dude." 

She frowns at me; I'm unsure if it's at the 'dude' or the statement itself. 

"We don't know how good these other kids are," she points out. 

I shrug, even though I'm beginning to feel nervous myself. "Well, if we get cut, you could just go back to the plant with your brother. That's what you were going to do anyways, right?" 

She nods. "Yeah, I guess. What would you do, if you didn't get in?" 

I shrug. "I mean... I guess I'd just have to find another base." 

I don't have a backup plan; not like she does. She looks at me with a curious glint in her eye; likely debating innerly whether or not to invite me back to the plant with her and Thomas, if I don't get in. I don't expect her to... I wasn't a part of their original plan. 

As she's looking at me, Julia knocks on the door again. Behind her are three other recruits. Together, wordlessly, we make our way down the labyrinth of halls to a large room; a room that must be a training facility of sorts. 

I glance at Amber; her eyes are wide. At first, I assumed she was nervous. As I looked closer, I realized the glint in her eyes was excitement.

"This is so cool," she mutters under her breath.

"What, the training facility?" I ask.

She nods. "I've never been able to use formal equipment before."

I can't help but grin at her excitement. Seeing Amber without her calm, collected posture? Pretty cool. A group of other teenagers, all between the ages of what must be twelve and somewhere around twenty one, sit on the ground on an exercise mat. Like school children. 

Amber and I walk over and sit on the floor near everyone else.

Some guy that we sat near leans over to Amber.

"What's a pretty little thing like you doing in a place like this?" He smirks, his eyes scanning her up and down. She turns to him with a glare.

Without saying a word, she punches him in the jaw.

"What the hell, bitch?" He yells, rubbing his mouth. Amber turns to me and rolls her eyes. I scoff.

He stands up and walks away, sitting down next to some other girl.

"Guys suck," she mutters to me.

Am I included in this generalization?

"What about me?" I ask, trying to pull off a cool smirk.

She looks at me and laughs. "I can deal with you."

I frown. "Thanks? I guess?"

She laughs. Her eyes crinkle up, and a dimple appears on her right cheek as she laughs. I decide, mentally, that she looks good when she laughs. 

"What kind of test do you think this is going to be?" I ask. 

She gives me a funny look. "You're a curious person, aren't you?"

"I like specifics."

She laughs again. "I like that." I feel my ears grow warm. "Probably some sort of fight."

I groan. "Yeah, 'cause the last time I fought went so well!"

"Oh, come on," she says. "I'm harder to beat than most." 

I glance around the room nervously; some of the other kids here look pretty huge. I have no doubt that Amber could handle most of the girls, and probably a good number of the guys. I, on the other hand, might have a challenge ahead of me. Several of the guys have got to be at least six feet tall, likely taller. And buff. 

Really looking forward to this. 

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