The first hint that things had gone to shit was when the government increased the maximum number of care kids per home. I was used to maybe sharing my room with one person in some care homes. But suddenly I was cramped in with four other girls, most younger than me and crying. Then the disease struck and children were left orphaned.
It was clear the big guys were struggling under the pressure to support us with so little money left. Then the banks finally crashed. The carers in my home tried to persevere, but eventually they all left to join their own families. Me? I've never understood what a family was. I ran away when there were only two carers left. I stole food and my books of crappy lyrics and just left. It was easy to forget about the people I was leaving behind. I was used to leaving people and new places. Adaptable. It was one of the few good qualities that was written in my file.
I know I shouldn't have looked at it, but when I was twelve it got too tempting, just lying in the filing cabinets I knew would be easy enough to pick.
I guess the “gifts” I had that no one recognised in the old world are what save me in this new one. I can sneak around, pick almost any lock. Steal, reserve what food I have, eating only what I need. I'd run away a few times and lived on the streets. Admittedly I have picked up a bad habit. But drinking and numbing yourself is kind of a necessary when you've seen past a hundred dead bodies. How I didn't catch the disease when I was in such close quarters with huge numbers of people I'll never know. I just know that all I have left to do is survive.
I don't why. I just have to.
Which would be easier if I hadn't got myself caught.
“Give me everything on you, or else girlie,” the man shouted, pistol gun pointed at my head. I'd thought the house was empty and snuck in for food, except it wasn't.
“How about I just return what I took?” I replied, not that what I'd already had was much.
“Consider it a fine, now hand it all over,” He yelled, clicking off the safety.
“Fine,” I muttered through gritted teeth, sending him my best deathglare as I leaned forward to hand him my frayed shoulder bag. He reached out to take it, lowering his gun as he did. Sucker.
I grabbed his wrist and threw him against the wall he'd pinned me against. He was so surprised he didn't even fight back. I pressed hard on his wrist and he released the gun. I darted down and grabbed it. Now it was my turn to hold it to his forehead.
“Now, I'm leaving. And you won't dare follow or attack me,” I said calmly.
“How-” he began.
“You made the same mistake everyone makes. You underestimated me.” With that I turned and left, aware of his eyes burrowing into my back. When I was halfway down the street I re-clicked on the safety and shoved the gun into my belt. Shivering slightly against the cold of the metal. I didn't want a weapon. But if others were starting to grab them, I had no choice but to do so as well. My name's Amanda Kinston, I'm seventeen years old. Welcome to the new world, you'll love it. Unless you get in my way.