Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Anyone normal would think I was insane. Thunk. But no one that was “normal” survived. Thunk. Thunk. Unfortunately, I’m not normal. Thunk. No one could’ve guessed what was going to happen.
Flash back to 2084, a normal day in America. Then screaming. Running. Crying. Dying. Everyone around me falling, as the buildings surrounding us crumbled, crushing some with swift, painless death, others left to bleed out, suffering until the end.
Not my favorite memory, but it’s all I can remember. After that, I woke up and everyone was dead, everyone but my father and me. Why did we survive? I don’t know. But sometimes, I wish we hadn’t.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. I look up. Sure enough, all 10 throwing knives, right on target. I pull them out of the wood, and start packing up. I shove the knives into a backpack I took off a dead schoolboy. After all, it’s not stealing if it’s the apocalypse. I put my food in next. Probably the most expensive thing I own, in this new world where paper money means less than the tree it was made from. After all, money doesn’t burn as well as wood.
I set off, climbing over piles of rubble. The piles used to be full of color from the buildings they once made, but the harsh wind has since then worn the paint off of everything, leaving a gray, barren landscape of life. The skeletons of the buildings loom like war torn soldiers, still standing after their comrades have fallen. Sometimes I feel like I could scream for days and no one would hear me. But that isn’t true. The rats are always there, like fat, hairy vultures, just waiting to pounce. The landscape changes slightly as you walk along, all depending on where the bombs were dropped. They fell from the sky like rain, the governments of the world uncaring how many were killed.
I have dark brown hair, like the rats, with eyes to match. I was always an average kid, okay at sports, not too tall, not too short. The only way I could have stood out in a crowd was the scar on my eye, and that happened after the planes came, after the rats became hostile. I was always a quiet person. I didn’t have many friends, but the ones that I did have were the kind that would stick with you through life and death. Not that that mattered now.
I can’t say I’ve had a better life since the bomb dropped. Sure, my family didn’t have to worry about the almost dead world economy, but we had anything but peace after that. In the early stages, before many died of radiation poisoning, what we would call “crime” back then was rampant. It was hell on earth, and whatever the military tried to do only resulted in more death. The gas masks the soldiers wore made them seem inhuman, as they silently killed thousands in the name of peace and order. I quickly learned that the only things I could trust were my arm and my knives. I never missed my mark, and could hit a fly on the broad side of a barn, or, as was often necessary, could hit a rat moving at high speeds.
After the initial shockwaves, most people died of diseases they didn’t know they had. The few houses I’d attempted to go into had reeked of decay, and blood had been thrown up on the walls like a paint job half finished. Then the biggest job shifted from self defense to scavenging. Food that wasn’t irradiated was hard to come by, and we had to get to it fast. In the early days, the government would drop canned food from the safety of their airplanes, and the ensuing bloodbath around the packages would make even a vampire turn away in disgust. Those who brought weapons would kill without mercy, mowing down men, women and children. It was… Unfortunate.
My father and I were caught in one of these drops. We weren’t stupid enough to seek them out, to put our lives on the line just for a small amount of canned food. Unfortunately, we just happened to be scavenging in that area. I can remember it all too well.
“Damion, get over here! I might have found something!” I look up, the setting sun casting a shadow over my father’s face. I scramble over the rubble to my father, who is in what’s left of the frozen foods aisle.
He was never very close to me; he was always at work. My memories of him before the apocalypse consist mostly of him kissing my mother goodbye, his immaculate hair shining, his business suit always impeccably ironed, always the same smile. Perhaps it was good I didn’t know him very well. It made it easy to let him go.
He’s pulling bricks away from what seems to be a sealed package. I wait with anticipation as he gets closer to the brown and green plastic. Then suddenly, he stops and puts his face in his hands. “Empty. Again. How many times are we going to keep trying? Keep looking? Keep hoping? Keep-”
Then we hear it. The sound of pounding feet, accompanied by the drone of planes. The food planes. The death planes. “Damion! Run!”
We sprint, trying to outrun the tidal wave of people coming to kill all those who oppose them in their crusade for food. Someone finally reaches a box, coming out of nowhere, business suit and all. He grins maniacally, and everyone freezes, eyes glued to the heavy machine gun in his hands. He starts the barrel spinning, and suddenly everyone is screaming, running for cover from the evil mouth of the machine gun. He pulls the trigger. People fall, their corpses stained with the blood that ran through their veins moments earlier. The man is screaming, laughing as if this is all some cruel game that means nothing to him, and we are just animals, fresh for the killing.
My father and I run for cover in the cutlery isle, but feet from the concrete remnant of a wall, my father is hit. The businessman hasn’t noticed him yet, but it’s only a matter of time. “Damion!” He shouts.
“My gun… Use it! Hurry!”
My eyes quickly find the small pistol on the ground in front of me, but I’m suddenly frozen. I can’t move my eyes, my hands, my feet, do what needs to be done, pick up the gun, kill the man. I can see the bullet rain getting closer, chewing up the ground and spitting it out as the man turns towards us, towards my father. “Damion! DAMION!” My father screams, and is eaten alive by ravenous bullets.
The man stops, seemingly pleased with his handiwork, and turns towards the food, whistling a mocking tune. Suddenly, I am empty. I turn away from the gun on the ground, towards a long steel knife. I pick it up carefully. My reflection in the gleaming blade is blank and bloody. I stand up slowly and turn towards the businessman still bent over the food cache.
The knife leaves my hand as if it has a mind of it’s own, flying in a perfectly straight line, meeting its target with a soft crunch. The businessman’s corpse is against the setting sun, the knife sticking out of his skull. I walk over to him, not even glancing at the body of my father. I remove the knife from his body, and wipe the blade on his previously perfectly white suit. The food in the cache is ruined, contaminated by warm red liquid. I never liked corn anyway.
Even now I can recall that event with perfect clarity. The way my father’s body looked in the grass. The way the vivid green of the newly formed trees were complemented perfectly by the cold gray of the uncaring giant buildings. The way the shards of glass crunched under my feet as I walked up to the man’s corpse.
Now, sitting on the top of a building that was unfinished even before the apocalypse, it all seems so far away. Perhaps it never happened. Perhaps I am in a deep sleep in a normal world, where people who care about me wait for me to wake.
I start the long climb down the scaffolding, towards our broken society.