Last Chapter: Sara started fuming and walked up to the man until Luis stopped her, "Wait, I think I have a better idea," Luis released the guy to warn their leader that they would stop them at any chance they get. Sara then scavenged the place for anything valuable. Realizing that some of the two of the kevlar vests they had used hadn’t been pierced, she put it on. It didn’t fit, but it’ll get the job done. Looking closer, she saw a branding on one of the men.
“Is that a laurel leaf crown? Like the one our dad mentioned?” Sara asked.
“Looks like it, why?” Luis asked.
Sara groaned, “This might be worse than we thought.”
After scavenging what they could, they went back to their stuff with the people they had helped and gave them some spare rations and directions back to Holm Castle to be safe from whatever or whoever those bandits are.
Atlanta, Georgia (Ruins)
Friday, January 18, 2019
Morning - Apocalypse Month 4
For a while now, Luis and Sara had been traveling across the northern parts of Georgia meeting nothing but small bands of roaming people giving them directions to Holm Castle, news of a crazy man holding people hostage in Atlanta being the common tale of most travelers, empty and abandoned towns that were once thriving with a beautiful community; now desolate and filled with nothing but wild animals, hope becoming more and more desolate as they traveled.
"How far south have we reached so far?" Luis asked.
"Well, so far we should be riding into Smyrna, which is a couple of hours until we hit downtown," Sara stated, holding the map in her hand, "Do you think those bandits we encountered are still there?"
"They have to be. Our words only do so much, Sara."
"I just had some hope that they weren’t.”
"I’m gonna keep it blunt with you Sara. They probably got more workers from last time we checked,"
Sara hadn’t spoken much ever since the battle that happened a few days ago. She had secluded herself into her mind and just thought. Her body convulsed and shook as her mind raced at a thousand miles a minute.
I killed someone... for the first time... I murdered. Blood was everywhere… All over my clothes. They probably had a family, Sara thought as her mind fluttered. Sara sobbed, letting the tears fall onto her bike as they rode. Not being able to take it anymore, she stopped her bike suddenly and collapsed onto it.
Luis stomped on his brakes and skidded to a stop, "Sara, are you okay?! What's wrong? What happened?"
"No, I'm not okay! We killed them, Luis! They're dead! They were people, and they died! We killed them and... now we're murderers!" her voice faltered from the sobbing and uneven breaths.
"Sara, it's either them or us! You're the one who even formulated the plan! You know those people were bad and evil... those people were in chains."
"But... he probably had a family," Sara's face became pale, and she ran onto the side of the road, puking her guts out.
"No Sara, we can't think about that. He was going to take those people and put them into forced labor. People like them are pure evil, trust me."
"I know what they were going to do," Sara said, wiping her sleeve across her mouth and fixing her posture.
"Damn... Sara, listen. It's hard, I understand. I have nightmares about it every night, they're horrid and I can't stand them, but we have to ignore it for now. We're in a new world and we need to survive in it because if we don't, we're dead. It would've been them or us... especially if it were like those people." Luis sympathized next to her consoling her, "We can get through this. This is our duty."
Sara nodded and wiped her mouth again, splattering the residue on the ground, "Will this be how we live for the rest of our lives, Luis?"
Luis stood there and thought about it for a second, "Yes, we will, if we want to survive. This isn't the modern world anymore, we don't have luxuries as we did a couple of months ago. We have to adapt as our ancestors did."
Sara pulled herself together and adjusted her gear, "I didn't think it would be this hard... The people, the suffering, the blood. It's just so much."
"I know, I know," Luis agreed, "It's a struggle, but we got this. We're siblings, and we'll always have each other’s back."
Sara nodded and smiled at Luis, "Thank you, Luis."
"No problem, sis. Now, come on. We're almost to Atlanta... who knows what awaits there."
Reaching Atlanta was not what they had expected. Scorched buildings stood vacant, and crumbled buildings lay blocking streets. Feral animals like dogs and cats roamed the streets as they tore for scraps—signs of humans, desolate.
“Wow, this has to be worse than I thought…” Luis murmured as he looked around. He found nothing but rotting corpses and dead cars.
“Me neither, do you think people still live here?”
“I doubt it, the city is sort of landlocked unless you count the Chattahoochee river we crossed a couple of days ago.” Luis looked at the map as they stopped for a second. Most cities they’d traveled through had been abandoned with the very few and small amount of people staying where they were. After all the hordes of humans that had left all the major cities, nowhere was left except the country. Who knows what kind of altercations could’ve happened then.
“Let’s just keep heading south, maybe we’ll finally find some people down past the Fall Line.”
“You have a lot of hope in finding other survivors, huh.”
“People have to survive. It’s impossible that we’re the only ones.”
“Who knows. This world is a lot different than we remember.” Just after Luis finished his sentence, Luis’ felt the back of his neck hairs rise; looking around, he saw a lion and two lionesses standing across from them down the road. They crouched among the cars like it was tall grass in the wilds of the African Savannahs.
“Oh shit,” Luis gulped.
“What?” Sara asked, confused, looking around.
“We need to go. Like now!” Luis pushed his kickstand up and started pedaling with Sara and the hostile pride behind them. The lions began picking up speed after them, getting closer and closer.
“We’re not faster than them Luis!” Sara yelled, “We have to do something!”
Luis pedaled in thought, trying to decide what to do to keep themselves alive. Seconds passed. The lions gained ground and were getting closer and closer.
“Luis!” Sara yelled.
He looked up and saw a familiar building nearby with a fantasy flag from Dungeons and Dragons, “I know that building! Take a right in that alleyway and make a run for the door!” Stopping at the alleyway, Luis jumped off his bike and started sprinting toward the door, finding the hidden key, and eventually, after shaky hands opening the door.
“Hurry up! They’re right behind me!” Sara shrieked as she heard the growls of the now apex predators getting closer and closer. Entering the room, the door slammed behind her and locked immediately. The lions scratched and hissed at the door for minutes on end until losing interest.
“Since when were lions native to Georgia!?” Luis hissed.
“Never, it looks like the zoo couldn’t keep them in.”
Luis thought, “Doesn’t that mean the Elephants are out too?”
“Great, we live in Africa but with a southern twang,” Luis sighed, collapsing onto a nearby chair.
“Where even are we? How’d you know where that key was?”
“Remember how on weekends I would leave to my buddy’s house and stay there for hours on end?”
“Aw, your little boy crush?”
“No mames. He was a cool guy and helped me out, besides didn’t he have a big crush on you?”
“Yea, don’t need to remind me. It was creepy just thinking about it” Sara shivered.
Luis laughed, “Anyways, he would host here after he closed down his dad’s shop. Upstairs, is where they live. I’m surprised you’ve never been here. It’s a great comic shop.”
“That’s why I’ve never been here, nerd.”
Luis rolled his eyes, “Stay down here and check things out. I’m gonna go upstairs and see what happened or where they might be.” Walking up the stairs gave Luis a sense of familiarity that he hadn’t felt in a while. He missed his past life, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it, nor did he want his family to figure that out.
“Jake, I wonder where you are,” Luis thought aloud. Each step felt heavier, and each heartbeat pounded harder, feeling like a nervous wreck looking for any sign of his friend surviving this apocalypse. He opened the door to his friend’s room, it was perfectly clean, and nothing looked out of place. Neat and tidy like he usually kept it. Multiple books lay on a nearby shelf; he was the biggest nerd of them all and even had sketchy religious backgrounds. On his bed sat one of his recent interests, Norse Paganism or Asatro. A thick leather book etched with ancient text laid saying, “The Edda,” on his bed like it was about to be packed over his clothes. Suddenly, Luis heard a scream from back downstairs. Luis sprinted down the stairs to see what his sister was screaming about.
“Don’t come over here!” Sara yelled in shock.
“Why not?” Luis asked, confused.
“No, Luis! Back up! Don’t come over here!”
Luis ignored her, being curious as he was. His eyes instantly began to tear up. The last thing he thought he would see was his friend lying dead on the ground with his family.
“Luis, I’m so sorry.”