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.


27. twenty seven

How long's it been since the world fell to shit? 

How long's it been since everything that used to matter to me stopped mattering at all? 

How long's it been since my focus zeroed in on one thing and one thing only?

How long's it been since I've had a friend? 

A pretty long fucking time. How is it that over the course of just a few months, a single person has become my entire world? 

How is that this one person has become an ocean around me; all I can see, all that matters? She is an entire ocean to me; everywhere, all the time. I am, to her, but a single drop of water in the desert. Someone that makes a difference, but not enough of a difference. 

I didn't make enough of a difference. 

I am but a single whisper in a forest of screams, I am a speck of light in an entire universe of stars. I am a drop of water in the desert. She's a sonic boom. She's the sun. She's an ocean. 

To her, I wasn't enough. I didn't do enough. I couldn't make a difference to her. I moved her with the force of just a single raindrop; barely enough to make her skin twitch. 

When I saw her crash to her knees, an entire ocean enveloped me into its salty, bitter arms. It was the full force of a cruel storm that knocked me off my feet, taking me far away to somewhere much, much worse than here. 


Ever since the beginning of yesterday, the camp has been buzzing with a restless half silence. You know, the type of nervous energy that fills the air before or after something major shifts? That type of noise that all fades to the background; not entirely silent, but it still feels all too quiet? Today, that background noise came suddenly to the front of my attention when I heard a series of loud explosions outside of camp. I immediately snap my head up from the dandelion next to my boot I've been examining just in time to see a cloud of smoke taint the sky from some location not too far away. 

"The hell was that?" I muttered to Curtis. He squints at the black, billowing cloud of smoke. 

"No clue," he replies, his voice laced with concern. He pulls his radio from his belt and listens in. All that can be heard is a lot of static. 

I look around, whipping my head from sight to sight as people start sprinting around the camp, yelling at the top of their lungs. I finally catch someone who seems to know what's happening by the arm. 

"What the hell's going on?" I demand. The soldier I pulled aside is an early-thirties looking guy with wild hair and a terrified look in his eye. 

"One of the troops that went to Oregon was coming back," he pants. "They brought a shit ton of Service soldiers back with them." 

I bite, hard, on the inside of my cheek. "Any idea what troop it was?" 

"One twenty nine." 

Amber's troop. 

"And that smoke?" I ask, nodding towards the black plume of smoke billowing out over the dead forest. 

"That would be them," he says. "I gotta go, dude." He takes off, running towards the smoke. 

I stand for a minute, the world spinning around me as I remain stunned. 

"Sky!" Curtis grabs my arm, forced to yell due to the noise of all the commotion. "Come on, we're moving out!" 

I don't question him, I just follow. 

He leads me towards the plume of black smoke; normally I wouldn't want to go towards the obvious danger, but Amber's there. Amber's there. Amber's there. 

We sprint, my gun slung over my shoulder and Curtis's over his; some soldiers sprint with us, others sprint the opposite direction. Everyone's sprinting. Everything's moving at light speed. 

As we start nearing the site where the bomb went off, I start whipping my head around in every direction, trying to find a fiery eyed girl. She's nowhere to be seen. Curtis tells me to shoot and I shoot, but my mind's not on the task. God, oh God, where the hell is she?

I shoot occasionally as we run; we keep running until we find the busted remains of what used to be a transport truck. More specifically, one of our transports trucks. Very likely the truck Amber was in. 

"Amber!" I scream at the top of my lungs. I don't care what my voice sounds like; I don't care that Curtis is there and that there are people everywhere. The desperation is obvious in my voice and I couldn't care less. "Jeffries!" 

Gunfire is sounding everywhere. People are yelling. Another explosion goes off somewhere; I feel debris being thrown at the left side of my body but I do nothing to shield myself from it. A splintered shard of what probably used to be tree bark pierces my shoulder. I barely feel it. I kneel beside Curtis, behind a tree, and start shooting. I shoot at everyone in the signature Service uniform; I don't know who any of them are, but one of them could've hurt Amber. One of them could've killed Amber. I shoot until there are no bullets left, and I don't even realize that nothing's firing until Curtis shoves a box of ammunition at me and continues shooting, himself. 

Everything is chaos. 

Another explosion goes off somewhere. I feel more rubble sting my face, burn my eyes. 

"Justin!" I hear someone yell. I leap to my feet and turn quickly towards the source. I'm momentarily disappointed when I see it isn't Amber; my brain never registered that it was a male voice that called out to me. Jack limps towards me, blood flowing freely from a wound on his left hip. 

I clap him on the shoulder and keep shooting. He kneels next to me, shooting, too. Bullet are flying everywhere, from both sides. The trees around me start to explode as the Service soldiers advance. 

"We've gotta move," Jack says. I look around, and notice Curtis is nowhere to be seen. We move, as quickly as we're able despite our injuries, further back before turning and continuing our attack. 

Bullets are still being shot from our side; there are Service soldiers going down, still-- but less and less. They're picking us off, one by one. 

We keep retreating. One time, as we were sprinting back, closer to camp, a bullet lightly grazed the top of my left shoulder. It was the same, already-injured shoulder that took the debris from the tree, so the new injury didn't bother me as much as it would've normally. I keep shooting. 

The remnants of the old truck are barely in sight now; we started out a few yards from it, but we've had to retreat so many times it's now in the distance. I can hear the commotion of camp getting nearer and nearer as we're forced to move, but we keep fighting still. 

It's just Jack and I, at least where we are. There seems to be a group of soldiers far to our left, and a smaller group far to our right, but the bullets firing from those areas seem to be diminishing rapidly. The Service soldiers are likely firing at the large groups of people, hoping they'll get lucky even with a bad shot. 

"Split up," I yell to Jack as we sprint a few yards further, being pushed back by the onset of soldiers. He nods and moves diagonally to our left, and I move to our right. Now I'm the only target in my area. 

As we move closer and closer to camp, the number of guns I can hear going off behind me increases; finally, the soldiers at camp are starting to pitch in. On the flip side, that means that the Service soldiers are close enough that they can be seen from the high walls of the base. 

I decide to make a final break for the wall; the main door is wide open, heavily guarded by our soldiers. Between the edge of the woods and the door is an open field, roughly fifty yards long. I hesitate by the edge of the trees, noticing the swarm of Army soldiers behind me. Although it'll be out in the open, there are numbers there. 

I try to remain in the trees as long as I can-- offer myself some protection, at least. 

The gunfire coming from the trees is beginning to lessen as the gunfire from the base grows greater and greater. 

Finally, oh sweet finally, I hear a blessed voice from behind me, from the mass of Army soldiers. 

"Jay!" Distant, far away, but certainly there. 

I turn around and meet her flaming, golden eyes from across the field; so unattainable. I start sprinting back to her just in time for a final explosion to blast through the woods, flattening a good number of trees, and throwing me viciously through the air. As I land on the unforgiving ground, I feel the unsettling crack of something breaking, and feel a twinge of unbearable pain run through my torso. Ribs broken, for sure. Likely some internal trauma from the initial blast, as well. But I'm still alive. 

Adrenaline courses through my body, granting me the strength to pull myself up slightly, just enough to prop my elbows under me so I can look around. Many soldiers are on the ground; others are still standing. 

I look to where I had seen Amber... Just that one, split second of seeing Amber-- before the bomb went off, and I see her again. Covered in ash, now, and with many cuts and scratches probably caused by debris, but still standing. 

I can see her looking around the field, a panicked, crazy look on her face. She runs her bloody hands through her disheveled hair. 

"Amber!" I croak out, my voice scratchy and quiet. I will myself to be louder. "Amber!" 

Still, she doesn't hear me. I let out a yell of frustration and work my arms under myself, trying to inch towards her. I don't make it very far before her eyes finally, finally lock on mine, which is good because every movement sends pain coursing through my entire body. 

The bomb went off in the woods, but gunfire continues pursuing us from the woods nonetheless. Despite the danger, Amber runs towards me anyways. As the gunfire from the forest thickens, I try to yell at her to stop; everyone still on the field is on the ground. She's the only standing target, but I don't think she notices. She's running towards me. She sees me, she's calling my name, she's still running, and oh God why won't she get down? She's running, she's yelling... 

She's falling. 

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