Last Chapter: “Yea, Ariel and I talked about it. You did the right thing, but just be careful. You can’t be going crazy when we need you the most, alright. You’re no hero.”
“Yea, I know I’m not; it’s just-”
Mikael interjected and turned towards him, “Promise me that you’re not gonna run into any type of dangerous situation.”
“I can’t promise that, and you know it, Mikael,” Carlos grinned devilishly and walked away.
“Kid, you’re gonna be the death of me,” Mikael sighed and followed suit back to the group.
North Atlanta, Georgia
Sunday, September 23, 2018
2:00 P.M. - Apocalypse Day 1
The band of policemen and the Ramirez Family were now resting after a long trek from the police station onto I-75. Wrecked and parked cars lay across the interstate. What was once a bustling road filled with trucks and cars from across the country was now the shell of that. Cars in ditches, most doors left open, and others mangled into another. Under the bridge were the Ramirez Siblings, both holding their preferred weapons in hand and facing each other. They stood exactly five feet away from each other.
“Are you sure about this, big sis? I don’t wanna hurt you,” Luis said, keeping his shield steady in one hand and his ax in the other.
Sara smirked, “Last time I checked, I was always a better fighter than you.”
“We’ll see about that,” Luis burrowed his eyebrows and pushed forward. Sara matched his pace right before they crossed paths. Sara, making the first move, brought her two axes up into the sky and dug them down into his shield. Impulsively, Luis parried her axes and jabbed her in the stomach with his elbow causing Sara to wretch and stumble.
Sara coughed and staggered back, “You asshole, that was dirty.”
“Hey, you’re the better fighter, right?” Luis chuckled before putting his shield back and assuming the position.
“Dirty it is,” Sara said as she ran up to Luis one more time. This time she used her shortness to her advantage against his height and slid on the ground to sweep him off his feet. The thud of Luis’ body hit the ground with a loud thud. Securing the win with an ax at his throat, “Who’s the better fighter again?”
“Not so cocky yet, sis. We still have one more round,” Luis grunted while getting up. They readied their weapons once again in preparation for their next and last battle, but before they could finish, came a loud noise from up top.
“Hey, kiddos! Come on up, the rations are being served!” their mom said.
“We’ll finish this later,” Sara said.
“Yea, you’re lucky mom saved you from getting your ass whooped!” Luis taunted.
Sara laughed it off and walked back up the hill to the highway with Luis following suit. Both of them being a tad bit exhausted from fighting each other.
“Why do we have to eat this… goop?” Luis asked, playing with his food. It was mushy and brown like a weird thick soup. It smelled like nothing and had the unpalatable texture of soggy bread.
“Stop playing with it and eat!” George scrutinized. “We can’t waste food. Everyone is rationing what they can. Be grateful we can eat at all after all of this happened.”
“Sorry, sir.” Luis apologized, dipping his head down and ate his food.
“Your mom told me that you guys were under the bridge. What were you both doing down there?”
“We were just practicing with our new weapons,” Luis smiled, patting the shield on his back. “We wanted to get some practice and see if we still had it in us.”
“I’m assuming you guys do? I didn’t pay a ton on those lessons for nothing.”
Both Luis and Sara nodded in unison.
“Still a little rusty, but other than that, we should be back in shape in a couple of days.”
“Good. Now, I’ll be back. I have to have a short meeting with the Chief today.”
“Speaking of, dad, why are we even following them, anyway? Don’t you hate Chief Erik?” Sara asked as she forced herself to chew and swallow the food in front of her.
“Hate is such a strong word,” George stated. “We just have different opinions. Even so, these people are honestly the safest to be around at a time like this. They’re equipped with weapons and have enough food to last us a while.”
Sara looked around, almost all of the officers were still in uniform, but instead of their guns, some had bows or swords on their sides. Most talking with other officers or keeping watch. “I guess you’re right… Excuse me,” Sara stood up and walked off.
“What was that about?” George asked.
Luis shrugged his shoulders and went back to eating. George sighed and walked off to the Chief’s tent. Inside one of the big tents near the center of the camp were Chief Erik and his secretary.
“You made it finally!” Erik scoffed.
“I was eating with my family. I’m here now; what is it that you need?” George asked, slightly annoyed with the way Erik had announced his presence.
“We have a couple of things we need to talk about. Close the tent.”
George raised his eyebrow and reluctantly closed the tent behind him.
“Considering the possibilities, it’s gonna be hard to have everyone on board at this camp, and I need you to be my eyes and ears,” Erik admitted.
George paused out of shock, “My help? That’s new, but why exactly would I help you out? Because it definitely won’t be out of good faith.”
Erik sighed, “I knew you would say that. How about this, if you do me this favor, I will return it. That means anything you want, within reason I’ll get it to you. Especially if things turn back to normal.”
“Anything?” George’s eyes sparkled devilishly.
“You got yourself a deal,” George said as they shook hands. “Now, is that all?”
“No, there’s actually one more thing-”
Before he could finish his sentence, Sara ran through the tent flaps, “Wait, Chief! Dad!”
“What?” They both said in unison.
“We have a big problem. Combustion doesn’t work anymore. That’s why none of the guns won’t work. Well not like it used to actually,” Sara stated.
“What do you mean it doesn’t work?” Erik said, puzzled.
“Well, usually, gunpowder burns really quickly, but when in a confined area with no outlet, it can create an explosion, right?”
“Yea, basic chemistry, what about it?”
Sara moved closer to them and pulled a small pile of gunpowder she collected and put it on the desk, “Well, in front of us is a pile of gunpowder. Now watch what it does when I set it on fire,” Sara said as she lit a match.
“Wait, no, don’t do that in here!-” Erik yelled, right as she moved the match to the gunpowder. Instead of burning quickly, the gunpowder slowly burned in front of them.
“What? It’s not gonna explode,” Sara chuckled.
“Yea, but it’s gonna leave a disgusting smell,” Erik coughed, covering his nose, “Great, now we have to air out the tent.”
“Sorry!” Sara apologized while opening the tent and letting the gunpowder air out.
“How did you even know to test that?” Erik asked.
“AP Chemistry was my favorite subject in school, and it was a wild theory. That also explains why cars won’t work either. They produce too much heat with this ‘new world’ logic and can’t start.”
“That’s not good…” George mumbled, “If combustion doesn’t work anymore, then there goes modern civilization.”
“That changes a lot of things, and it doesn’t seem like we’ll be going back to Atlanta for a while, but that still doesn’t explain why our phones don’t work, or any type of electronics at that,” Erik mentioned.
“Well, that could be for many reasons that I can’t even conceptualize, but there’s a science behind everything, so we’ll find out one day.” Sara rationalized.
“Now that we got that out of the way, where are we going?” The secretary asked, pushing up her glasses and rolled out a geographical map of Georgia.
“North. The further north we get, the fewer people we’ll come across,” Erik said matter-of-factly.
“What about sustaining food? We only have enough for a couple of days if we ration really well,” George countered.
“Blue Ridge is known for its corn and chicken. If we make it long enough, I’m sure we’ll find a couple of pastures and farms.”
“Your hope could very well be the end of us. We should head south.”
“And what’s south? More people and risk of death by going through Atlanta again? I’d rather take our chances by going up north.”
“I couldn’t care less what you think, we’re heading north, and that’s final,” Erik retorted while slamming his fists onto the table, giving him the final say.
“Understood, chief,” George grunted and walked out of the tent.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Sara said.
“He challenged me, of course, I did,” Erik hissed.
Sara sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes, "That's so childish.”
“The hell does that mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean. It’s not good to make enemies,” Sara scoffed. “I’m going to go check on my brother.”
Erik watched as she walked out and looked back at the map. Ahead of them was a long and risky journey. ‘We have to make it,’ Erik thought.