Refuge

We all received tattoos of the bombers that killed us. Mine was a woman with hair like Medusa, and eyes that haunted her face. Grant and Marie had the same face, along with the few others who we were hiding with. I never had the chance to learn their names but we shared a connection, once the ink had bled into our skin.

I was not unhappy that I was dead. It was better to know at least what I had become of, rather than be stuck back Below, waiting for the inevitable. We had all foreseen our de

We all received tattoos of the bombers that killed us. Mine was a woman with hair like Medusa, and eyes that haunted her face. Grant and Marie had the same face, along with the few others who we were hiding with. I never had the chance to learn their names but we shared a connection, once the ink had bled into our skin.

I was not unhappy that I was dead. It was better to know at least what I had become of, rather than be stuck back Below, waiting for the inevitable. We had all foreseen our deaths, one way or another. The troops had come in by the hundreds of thousands. The government and military was no match – they were the first to go. Millions were killed, thousands went underground. Those who were smart enough to see it coming years ago had already fortified a secure placement for them, or even left the country. I doubted other nations would be safe for much longer, so I hoped those who ran were prepared to go underground when they touched down on new land.

I had stayed. Grant, Marie and I had met up within the first two weeks. I was near dead at the time, using the few beads of energy I had to scuttle between charcoaled buildings, ever searching for new sources of water. I killed for water – everyone left did. It became natural to walk past corpses with their eyes picked out by flies and rats, their throats slit over a meager amount of water they had on their body. At first I had avoided the bodies but eventually I grew used to them, even hid under a pile of them once when a patrol unexpectedly rounded a corner.

Marie's family was all dead, she'd told me; it was lucky that she was out at the time. Grant had told her that it was amazing that they'd managed to stay alive for the time that they had – all six of them. It was true, but she'd almost killed him for saying it. It was scary; all of us had been close at one point and there Marie was with Grant at the tip of her knife. I knew it was dangerous to travel in groups, to depend on someone other than yourself, but it was true that three heads worked better than one. We split up through the day, scavenging food and water, and then met up at a spot we had agreed on the previous night. We changed locations every evening as it was unwise to remain in the same place for longer than 24 hours. Sometimes we returned to earlier spots, but after more than one had been bombed while we were away we decided to keep moving.

We were killed on the 17th of August, two weeks after my 24th birthday. We hadn't celebrated my birthday, nor Grant's the month before. Even if we had the supplies, nothing could be wasted on such an insignificant day. Food was too valuable and we had next to nothing anyway. The day had passed un-noticed; even I had forgotten. It was Marie who had remembered two days afterwards, as we sat in an abandoned bakery that still smelt faintly of hot loaves.

Ironically, it was another bakery in which we were bombed. We had been out well past dark, searching for a place to stay, to shut our eyes momentarily. We were exhausted, hungry, parched. No food, no water for three days and it was almost welcoming to see someone beckon us in from the remains of a door. Instinctively, we were wary, suspicious of the people who sat inside, but our mistrust fell away as they gratefully handed us two slices of bread to share between us. Still, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it was perilous to be sharing a room with a group this large; including Grant, Marie and myself, there were ten of us in total – far too many for my liking. Everyone looked between 16 and 40 years of age and all seemed as tired, hunted and famished as I felt.

The bomb exploded sometime around 6:30am. I was just waking up, about to shove Grant and Marie awake for us to set off, when the world shattered. I think Marie registered what was happening the split second before it did, but by then we were dead. There would have been no time to run, no time to leave. There was no pain, no impact, just the swift feeling of nothing enclosing around me. After I had my tattoo inked I took a visit back to the bakery but there was nothing left but rubble. I saw a bone poking out from under a brick but turned away, terrified that it was one of my own.

The End

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