All I can feel is being submerged underwater. It’s warm, dark and has no surface. No floor. There was no up. No down. Just floating in an endless expansion of water. But I felt no fear. I could breathe. This endless, warm dream. Something that I wanted go on forever. To always sleep. Always dream. It was safe.
Why do I need to feel safe?
A loud cry, bordering insanity, jolts me awake as others join in chorus. A separate, more desperate scream soon follows, gurgling into a slow bloody silence, drowned out by this morbid rain that had started two days ago and showed no sign of stopping any time soon.
I had accidentally fallen asleep. More like I lost consciousness. I’m currently under a stairwell on the roof of some old abandoned nameless apartment building. I had fallen asleep curled up with my knees in front of me, hiding out from the rain and the insanity beneath me as I was trying to catch my breath.
They had found me. I was too preoccupied, too hungry, too exhausted, too desperate, too stupid, to pay proper attention. I made a near fatal mistake. Luckily enough I’m naturally fast and found an old emergency fire escape that was latched onto this building. I shimmed up, raised the ladders and wound up here.
It seems they must have found a new target on their grand hunt. Lucky me. Not so lucky the person down there that they caught. But then again, death can be considered a mercy, right? Considering the world we now live in, it would be far easier to toss myself from this roof and go ‘splat’ below than to live this life of constant fighting, hiding and raw fear. I can’t even remember a day where I haven’t felt on edge to the point of insomnia-induced paranoia.
My body has gone completely numb with the rain and the cold. I move my muscles with a groan as I had stayed in that position for far too long. Stretching out my limbs, I investigate my surroundings closely. The roof was completely covered in harsh grey gravel the scrunches every time I move but luckily I was at least six stories up and the rain heavy enough to suspend any chance the psychos below could hear me. I get up, ignoring the rain and the pins and needles creeping up my legs and chance a glimpse over the roof’s edge. As I do I catch a glimpse of maybe ten to twenty kids and teenagers running into the depths of the city, through the streets to what I imagine would be their den. Two of them were dragging their latest kill behind them, leaving a trail of blood that soon diluted in the rain. Erasing any evidence that they were even there.
You heard me. Pubescent Homo sapiens. From what I could tell, the world no longer contained rational-minded adults. That left children with no one to tell them to go to school. To do their homework. To punish them. To tell them what to do. No order. No structure. Just pure ‘nothing’. And to those who felt suppressed by the world we once knew, this chaos was sweet euphoria.
The tribe down there that had chased me through the streets just hours ago, had taken to the idea of murdering anyone who wasn’t one of them. And why not? No one was there to tell them what’s ‘right’. No one is there to punish them for what was once said to be ‘wrong’ in the old world. It was total and utter anarchy. The social structures have changed. Tribes formed. Rules changed. Pure and utter madness. I know that another group that I had spotted hanging around a school had punched in all the windows and set fire to the library. They dance and drank with glee as they watch their textbooks all go up in smoke chanting crap like ‘no more school’ etcetera. Yet they still hung out there, despite their protesting against education and educational institutions.
I turn away from the roof’s edge and back at my hiding spot that was under a door. I weigh up my options and not wanting to risk creating any unnecessary noise by making my decent via the fire escape, I head towards it to see if it was unlocked.
I move the handle, finding that it was, of course, locked. I sigh, catching a break is apparently too much to ask. I glace to my side with my hair dripping water in my eyes before kicking in the door on impulse. It crashes against the wall to show a dreary interior that smelt like mold and old people. The contrasting silence inside made my ears ring as I make my way down the stairs to the highest floor. The carpet was some monstrosity from the 1960’s and smelt like it wasn’t cleaned since the either. I strain my hearing to make sure that my rather impressive entrance didn’t draw the attention of anyone who might be in here. A row of doors lined both walls of the hallway. The first door on my left had thick golden numbers across it at my eye line reading ‘701’. So this is the seventh floor. I try my luck, turning each door knob and met with resistance as I advance up the hall. Coming up to the last room on this wall, number ‘704’ the door grants me access with a creaky swing and opens up to a scene that made me want to reach for the door and slam it shut again.
But, I clench my jaw hard enough that it felt like my molars were going to break as I step into the musty old apartment. It was filled with old wooden and plastic furniture that had seen better days. I was immediately in the living room, an old maroon sofa facing an old TV set. On and in front of the sofa was some’s clothes, including the tighty-whities all covered in an ash-grey dust pile. I do my best to ignore it as I head for the vinyl floored kitchen that also had a dining table and three chairs, one which had the grey sand-like dust piled on it and a light blue dress on the floor.
I head directly for the cupboards and draws, looking for anything edible. I spot spices and a taco mix before locating the tinned food with some relief bouncing around my ribcage. I immediate ransack all the cans from the pantry and shove them into my backpack that I’ve held onto since the day I woke up in this hell. Finding nothing else of value, I get out of the place as fast as I could and headed for the roof but stayed in the little room just before the door that lead outside. I set myself up in this tiny hidey hole that was close to the now broken door so that I could make my escape to the roof should anything come up here. The concrete beneath me was hard but I was used to it by now.
After I catch some z’s I’ll look through the floors for anything else and move on as quickly as possible. Staying in one spot just begs for someone to find me. Especially if that murdering lot are in this area. They will check every building for food. And not necessarily the cans if you catch my drift.
I lean my back against the wall, opening a tin of fruit with my tin opener and began drinking it like water. Sweet lumpy water. After finishing another can, I set them outside to catch rain water so that I have something to drink when I wake up. Looking in my bag, I pull out ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and read until my eyelids couldn’t stay open and fell asleep.
Waking with a start, I quickly whip my head around, not understanding where I was at first. But as my mind clears, I get to my feet, shoving the book back into my bag and listen in complete silence.
Over the months of accumulated paranoia, I’ve learnt to be the lightest sleeper possible. Even the wind moving a curtain would jolt me out of sleep and on high alert. I didn’t want to stick around for whatever it was that woke me up, so I headed for the roof and immediately regret it as the wind smacks me in the face and tore out any warmth I had accumulated from being indoors, even with my rain proof jacket tightly zipped up as far as it could go and the hood covering my head.
The sun had long since set, the darkness made me stumble blindly as I make for the fires escape. I know when I’ve outstayed my welcome. I’ve always considered moving on to another city but it took me four days to even reach this one. I make my way down the ladders until I hit the alleyway on the ground. Looking around, I head for the street and try to navigate my way through the nightscape.
It’s a little difficult to do this without any electricity. No streetlight or lights from houses to show you where to go. The rain may have stopped but the heavy clouds had severely limited any help from the moon but I manage to restrain myself from running into fences or walls and find myself in front of what I think was a cinema. I was tempted to go in there and spend the night but something made my feet stop from taking a step further. Peering at it carefully, I see a shadow moving in front of me and beside me. I step back and move to an alley, my heart hammering in my chest with a mix of adrenaline and exhaustion spurning me on. I knew that if I stopped I was dead.