2. Under Ignorance
(Before the Fall)
Heidi idled outside Alec's dorm room, her hiking pack empty and slung over one shoulder. It's bulky mass was something to get used to as it bumped against her thighs in time to her rocking lightly to her toes and back to her heels. Behind the door, she could hear him scrambling to throw clothes on, occasionally running into the corner of his desk, where he would swear loudly and she'd hear another loud thud as he kicked it.
Other students, mostly guys on this side of campus (though there were a few girls who came out into the hall and smiled at Heidi when they recognized her), milled about. Most frowned at the camping gear she had laid out at her feet in a messy pile, but there were some who saw the pile, looked up at her face, and, nodding, turned back to their own businesses. She felt a thrill of fear and kinship whenever that happened, because she knew they knew.
Alec's door swung inward loudly, bouncing against his wall with a resounding smack. She rolled her eyes.
"Nice to finally see you..." her eyes flickered down to his attire, a pair of cargo pants and a black T-shirt, "Fully dressed." Bending down to scoop up the pile, she smiled sweetly and shoved past him into his room. It was clear by the multiple piles that he'd attempted a last minute clean up upon her arrival. He shut the door quietly behind her and smiled awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck. His pack was laid out neatly on his bed, beside a similar pile of camping items like her own. She dumped hers beside his and set her pack down.
She turned to see him rolling out a pile of papers. Her brow creased.
He glanced at her with a smile.
"Maps," he said, pinning down the corners of the biggest with whatever he could find on the desk. She took the rest from him, flicking through them. They were geographical maps, the school's campus set out in the center. Some had nothing on them, while others had light pencil scratches through the school or around the area. She rolled them up, and leaned over the map he'd pulled out with him.
"Maps," she repeated.
"I figure it's important. We don't want to get lost when it happens, and-"
"If," she snapped, trying to fight up the run of chills up her spine. "If it happens."
Ignoring her, he tapped the map with a pencil.
"-and I figure the best way to do that is by memorizing routes, surrounding areas, and deciding on safe points. So if we get split up-" he took the other maps from her and dragged out another one, unrolling it over the top. There were several areas circled with quick notes sketched around them. "-we know where to look to find each other."
Heidi sighed, shaking her fingers through damp hair.
"All right. All right, so we memorize these," she said, pointing, "and then, what? Practice hiking?"
Alec frowned. Nodded his head.
"We need to go over them and map out our possible routes. We need plans. We can't just be physically prepared." She left him at his desk as he began to discuss tactics, imagining that most of his knowledge came from video games and movies he'd seen, to turn on the TV. It took a good five minutes before the signal caught an actual channel, and like always, it showed the propaganda programs. A woman stood in all black, her jacket pocket bearing the red symbol Heidi had begun to see almost everywhere when she left campus. A half circle with a jagged line through it, two small spirals on the right side of the line. She was looking sternly into the camera, while in the background, a brick building was destroyed under rapid gunfire.
"There will be no end to the cleansing, until the world sees its new future. We must wipe clean the slate, tear into the fabric of our universe, and build anew. We cannot continue. We have already let our race, so mighty once before, deteriorate into worthless nothings. So much waste." The woman turned to look at the destruction behind her. The sound of the automatic fire was far enough away that it didn't interfere too much when she spoke into the microphone clipped to her chest, but close enough that Heidi could hear it. It didn't seem real. "We will make our own future. We will pave our own path. We will des-"
The TV shut off, and Heidi blinked. Alec stood beside her, a stony look on his face. She sniffed, shifting her feet.
"Sorry," she muttered. He just shook his head.
"It's not- It's not right. They think they can just change the world by getting rid of everything that was. I-" His head dropped, and he turned back to his desk. "C'mon. Let's start making these plans." She watched his back as he leant over the maps, hands braced against the desk on either side.
The militia had been attacking institutions, any system of organized groups of people. Science labs, the CDC, sports programs, the army, the government - schools. They didn't televise the actual attacks - what was shown on TV was just the same footage it had been for a week now. People still weren't comprehending the severity of the attacks. As long as the government still stood, they weren't as frightened as they should be. But the rumor was that this group of armed nutcases were targeting high schools and universities like their own. Wiping clean the future. And the worst was that their teachers were telling them to forget it, it wasn't true, it wouldn't happen. The majority of their school's population was nervous, at best, but otherwise remained ignorant.
Heidi shivered, and stepped up behind Alec. His shoulders were bunched underneath his shirt, and she couldn't remember a time when he hadn't been relaxed this whole week. Winding her arms around his waist, she held on tightly, feeling his arm covering hers and his fingers trap hers against his stomach. A breath shuddered out of him in a sigh. She closed her eyes.
"Let's do this," she whispered into his back.