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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12. twelve

I didn't expect to feel her absence. When I stood on the side of the road and begged for water, I never meant to become so attached that I would miss her presence in a room full of others. 

But damn it, the room feels so empty without her. 

Okay, yeah, yeah, she'll only be gone for the rest of today, but I'm still allowed to be worried. 

She is my best friend, after all. 

Okay, fine. I have to admit it, at least to myself. I have feelings for Amber Jeffries. Without her to talk to during the day, I went to the gym to train on my own. May as well make the best use of my time, right? 

I hate running, but I forced myself to run a few miles on the treadmill before finding a punching bag to beat up. 

By the end of my workout, when I only had ten minutes to shower and change before lunch, my knuckles, elbows, and knees were bruised and bloody. I was also, literally, dripping with sweat. 

I couldn't distract myself from Amber's absence. I miss her snarky comments, the fire in her eyes, I miss being punched whenever I say something wrong. Okay, maybe I don't miss being punched. But that's not my point. 

My point is, I've gotten way to attached to this girl. 

I've also realized another thing; since Amber and I haven't spent the time to get to know anyone else in the group, I'm kind of a loner while she's gone. Sure, everyone knows her as the best soldier in our group, and I'm guessing that a lot of the other kids respect her, but nobody besides me is friends with her. And, since I'm friends with her, nobody besides her is friends with me. 

Seems like I've dug myself into a hole. Crap. 

After lunch, our entire group was called into the security room. Dean Marshall, apparently, has a camera strapped to his helmet, so we can see what's going on. While the image is rather blurry, and you can't really see what's going on, we still have a general idea. And we can hear what they're saying through the walkie-talkies. 

Right now, they seem to be forming a wide perimeter around the Service camp. They'll probably close in when they attack. 

Wait, there's only six soldiers on the mission. 

Guess they're not forming a perimeter. 

"Have your vest on?" We hear Marshall say. 

"Yeah," a familiar voice responds. I smile. 

"Gun locked and loaded?" 

"Yep." 

"You know what to do?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"All right, then. Everybody, let's go!" 

By the looks of the camera, it wasn't a very large camp. A few tents. Maybe five, at the most. Anyways, the soldiers obliterated it. A bunch of Service soldiers scattered out of the tents, and were immediately shot down by our guys. 

The soldiers wait for five minutes, before Marshall signals them to move in and make sure everyone's dead. 

They creep in, guns raised. I can hear the soldiers' rattled breath coming in through the radios. 

I hear a gunshot, a yell, and a thud. Immediately after the first gunshot, more gunshots are heard. 

"Jeffries!" Marshall yells. 

My heart stops. I watch with wide eyes, as Marshall runs to her side. Several others in the room turn to me, but I keep my eyes glued to the static-y screen. Through his helmet camera, I can see her lying on the ground. 

"I'm fine, I'm fine," she mutters. I sigh in relief. "I was wearing the vest," she says. 

It takes her a while to convince Marshall she's okay, but when he finally believes her, he gives the order to move out. 

The soldier who's running the intercoms turns to us. 

"Well, kids, that's why you always wear a vest," he says. A few kids in the group let out a nervous laugh. I check the clock on the wall. It's six. 

"Dinner time," someone mumbles. The soldier shoos us out of here, and we head towards the cafeteria. 

~~~

I lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling. By now, everyone else is asleep. You can't blame them. It's two in the morning. But I lie awake anyways, listening to the soft snores and even breathing. 

I hear the door open, and I jerk my head up. In the doorframe is a silhouette of a tall girl, moonlight reflecting off her blonde hair. She shuts the door behind her, and I hear her footsteps pad across the room. 

"Amber?" I whisper. The footsteps stop. I hear her backpack thump to the ground next to her bed, before she crosses the room again. She sits on the side of my bed. 

"Hey, Jay," she whispers. 

"How was the mission?" I ask excitedly. 

I can't see her grin, but I can imagine it. "It was so cool," she says. 

"Looked scary," I say. 

"Huh?" 

"We watched you guys on the monitors," I explain. 

"Oh," she says. "That's not creepy." 

I scoff. 

"So?" I ask. "Tell me more. Was it scary?" 

She chuckles. "I'll tell you more tomorrow. I have to shower, and I'm dead on my feet right now." 

I laugh. "Good night." 

"Night, Jay." I feel her weight leave the mattress, hear her footsteps enter the bathroom. I hear the soft sound of the shower running. Ten minutes later, I hear her enter the room again. 

I hear the shuffling of sheets as she crawls into bed. Knowing that she's back, and that she's safe, I finally allow myself to fall asleep. 

When we wake up in the morning, many people seem surprised to see Amber. Several people crowd around, asking for stories, while others (more specifically, those who had been jealous of her being chosen) stay on the other side of the room, glaring at her. 

She clearly didn't like the attention. With flushed cheeks and angry eyes, she tried to brush away any compliments. 

"It was barely even a mission," she says. "It's not like it was dangerous or anything." 

That would only lead to the others insisting how brave she was. I could tell she was trying her hardest not to punch any of them. 

She catches my eye from across the room. I've been sitting on my bed, simply watching the commotion. 

Help me! She mouths. 

I laugh and shake my head. You're on your own for this one! 

She glares at me. 

Yep, that's Amber. 

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