Damn rats, you have to keep them away from the cables, otherwise they'll chew them off.
Where was I? Oh, yes, the city. I wanted nothing to do with the blow I found with the looters, but I knew it might give me an edge for barter. I took the pickup, it was the first time I drove one. It was difficult to move between the wreckage of the cars, so after half an hour of driving pretty much to nowhere, I decided that we needed to walk. I traveled light, and my dogs kept their eyes and ears well on the spot. Dodged a few more looters, most of them carried pipes, knives, maybe a gun or two, but I was outnumbered. I have never seen my dogs more quiet as I did those days. Maybe the felt that 'nothing was right' ever since the Fires started. Maybe it was their survival instinct.
I needed to get away from the city as fast as I could, but I was, honestly, afraid. We had to move slowly, block by block, avoid the big streets and keep to allies and already looted houses. The point was to keep moving and keep hiding. Maybe even scavenge what I could find. A little bit of water here, a bit of medicines over there; also, the leg wound from the past firefight was aching, but it was nothing more than shrapnel, and I had to remove it during the night. All it took was a bit of wood to chew, some rubbing alcohol to clean the wound, hot tweezers, and lots of booze. It hurt like hell, and I drew a bit more blood, but I was able to make it. Bandaging the wound with part of my clothes (soaked with what was left of the alcohol), I made sure the wound was clean. I didn't slept well that night, not because of the wounds, but because of what I heard.
Screams. Women's screams. Apparently they were taking them... Somewhere. I did not know where back then. But I was scared shitless. I heard several men, and lots of machinery. Cars? No, it was heavier. Tanks? Could be.
Morning came, and it was time to keep moving. Keep pushing forward. I ventured a bit in the less wrecked streets, and thankfully, there was no one. I set up shop in an abandoned bus and made breakfast there. At that point, I've never thought Spam would taste so good, but it did. One can less, and I knew me and my dogs might be able to survive a day or two on the food and water we had, but I had no idea what I'd do after that. Keep scavenging, I guess. Or maybe start hunting.
This was gonna be a month of firsts, I thought.
After an hour or two, I got closer to my college campus. I remembered there were oranges there. Sweet ones and plenty of them. I hoped that no one figured that out. But as I got closer, I could see soldiers, holed up in the campus buildings. I kept hiding, and looking... And there they were.
A few friends of mine, some of them I thought they were hot. Captured, and tied together with rope. There was a line of men, about four of them, standing in line looking at them. They'd pick one and the soldiers would untie them, and they'd go inside to one of the buildings.
... Their look on the girl's faces... It is a look that will always haunt me. It boiled my blood just looking at it.
I looked for a safe place to keep my dogs hidden. I tied them down, and told them I'd come back. They just wiggled their little tails and sniffed my face. Bless the dogs. Even at the bleakest of days, you can always count on their loyalty and love. I left the books and part of the food, and most of the water. I only took with me two berettas, an AK-47, a bit of food and the cocaine.
The guns were loaded.
As I moved closer, the soldiers pointed their guns at me, screaming. I just showed them the blow and told them I wanted to do business. They complied, and one got close to me.
They told me, since their captain was dead, they pretty much survived on what they could: Prostitution of any girl unlucky enough to be on their way, or slavery. I pointed at the girls: Fionna, Alex, Nadia, and Kathy. He said that the cocain could only get me two. We bartered for a bit, and with an extra of the food, and the AK, I took the four. Their look still haunts my dreams, but when they saw me, I think something in them grew back, like if they were trapped in darkness for a time, and now they finally saw the light of day after a while.
However, the soldiers did not needed to know I knew them. I yelled at them, ordered them to move. The look on my friend's faces was of confusion and horror, some even really thought this was true and pulled the noose of the ropes I was holding, as if they thought the soldiers treated them any better. I kept the act, but when we were at a safe distance, I told them what was going on. Kathy, who was more scared, didn't believe me; the others didn't seem to care, as if they were now used to this 'life'. Only Alex, her brown eyes staring at mine, asked me to how did I survived. I assured them all I was on their side, but I did not said anything of what happened on the house, or the panic room. I removed the ropes from them, and they all cried. Kathy hugged me and thanked me. It's funny, months before most of them didn't either cared much about me, but now... Now I needed to know how I was gonna feed five people and two dogs. And no way I was kill the dogs.
That was going on when the soldiers came, and tried to ambush me.
I need to take care of a few things. I'll leave this for later.