"Deteriorated; a person who's mental and physical state are slowly decaying. Their minds and sanity leave them incredibly quick..." Terra paused, unsure of what the rest of the definition was. She glanced back at Lily, her small seven year old legs struggling to climb the rubble of a collasped building. Terra paused to allow the child to catch up, then offered her her hand. Lily smiled her adorable smile that shone like a small beacon.

"Whats the rest of it?" Lily asked curiously as Terra helped her over a fallen chimney.

"Ah, I can't recall. But do you know what to do when you encounter a Deteriorated?" Terra asked, her little lessons were essential for making sure Lily would be able to survive if anything happened to her. Lily nodded vigorously as she found a good foot hold.

"You save them." Lily stated, looking up at Terra who smiled and nodded with a sullen expression. To save them... killing was the only way to save the Deteriorated, but there were those who killed everybody and everything. Cruel people that took what they wanted, and did what they wanted now that the world no longer had order.

Terra slid down a slope of debris with Lily just behind her. They took cover behind an old convertible, watching the road for any movement that could indicate strangers. Nothing caught their eyes, so quickly and quietly, they snuck across the road and into a small shop whose windows were blown out. Without hesitation, both went to check the back counters and cabinets for any supplies, food being the one they cared most about. Terra grinned with happiness as she pulled out a box of croutons. Lily leapt out of the lower cabinets, her excitement heavily visible.

The two sat down to divide their spoils, Terra unconsciously giving Lily more then herself. They leaned back as they began to nibble on their food with Lily leaning against Terra's arm with her dark brown hair splaying out in tendrils. With a smile, Terra cleared her throat.

"Ya know, when I found you, you'd been left on a metro station bus, that was when you were four... do you remember your actual parents at all?" she asked curiously. Lily stared at the food in her hands and shook her head.

"No, I don't. But that's fine with me. Cause I don't need a mommy or daddy when I have you." Lily stated as if it was set in stone, and looked up with those chestnut brown eyes. Terra smiled as she ruffled Lily's hair affectionately.

"...do you remember when you were my age?" Lily asked suddenly.

"Hmm... yes, I lived in a rural area, with my parents and two younger brothers... and I had a neighbor who was my best friend up until the war. Thats when his family moved away. A couple days later is when the bombs dropped." Terra remarked with a small smile. Lily nodded, blinking as she soaked in that information.

As the two finished their food, they strolled out of the shop. They walked along side the street, watching the cloudy sky pass by. It was always silent in cities now, dark, silent, and unknown. Every corner could hold a surprise, but rarely did they ever run into one. Terra glanced at her watch, reading it to be around 10:49 p.m. She gingerly grabbed Lily's wrist and led her to a building in fairly good condition.

"Alright, you need to catch some sleep Lil'. I'll go see if I can find us more food, or some water." She patted Lily's head, but took note of how sad Lily looked. She always looked sad, and afraid, whenever Terra left her for a while. Terra concluded that it was because she was afriad that Terra would not return. She smiled at Lily, and pulled her into a hug. With a kiss on the head, she headed out, leaving Lily to catch some sleep.

Terra took a back alley to an intersection, and peered around the edges of buildings with caution. When she felt it was safe, she would carry on, keeping away from anything that could make noise and draw attention from anybody within the city. Terra turned paused by an old produce shop, deciding whether of not it was safe to enter such an obvious target. She took the risk, and entered the shop that looked as if it'd been ransacked ages ago. Carefully, she maneuvered her way through the store, her sharp eyes pausing at everything that could be important. She entered an isle that had barely been touched, looking from thing to thing to determine if it was valuabe or needed for her and Lily.

She bagged a box of sanitizer wipes, along with a small jug of bleach that could come in handy for blinding somebody. She continued on further, finding spoiled dairy products in the far back, while to her right was the deli counter that had mold and fungus overgrowing its walls. She slipped down another isle, this one being for pet care, but even the pet food was all gone. Desperation definately hit hard when the end came. Terra sighed, disappointed at her failure to find food or water. She made her way towards the exit, then came to a stop. She was staring at something... a body. A young man, maybe in his early 20's, was on his stomache, with a hole in his head. Terra felt the panic rising in her as she realized how fresh that body looked, and how no animals had found the body.

Terra was about to rush out of the store when she noticed what the man had in his left hand. It was a box of saltines. She grimaced, but even her own desperation was enough to drive her to kneel down beside him. Gingerly, she pulled the box from his hand, and backed away. She bagged that saltines and quickly exited the store. She felt the urge to fun, and bolted back towards the building she'd left Lily at.

A loud, splintering sound lashed out at the air. She fell in surprise, thinking she'd been seen and somebody was shooting at her. Her eyes became paniced as the realization that nobody was near her collided with her brain. Lily. Lily, Lily, Lily, Lily.

She shot forward, her panic and fear driving her towards that building that held her precious companion. She no longer checked the streets with hesitance, she simply was running, running to her only peice of salvation in this wretched world.

She broke through the door and skidded to a halt. Pain and sorrow filled her heart, as she saw what layed before her. She lunged forward, pulling the lifeless body of Lily into her arms and screaming in pain. Tears flowed easily, held back for so many years, now no longer able to be held back. She choked on the pain, on the sorrow, and especially the guilt. She had left Lily there, left her to die. Her screams became more shrill, filled with the pain of a mother, a sister, a friend. She rocked on her knees, clutching the little body to her.

Then she heard it. A click of a gun loading. She held Lily close to her, and looked over her shoulder. A tall, emotionless looking man stood there, a pistol pointed at her.

"Your a monster..." she sobbed until the trigger was pulled, and everything in her life went dark. She fell against the ground, with Lily in her arms.

The man stared down at the woman and the child, then ran his hand over his face. He turned back to his group, who stared at him mournfully. One of the men stuttered quietly, while another looked him in the eyes.

"Did you know her?" he asked the gun weilding man. He glanced back at the bodies of the females. Both were leathery looking, their skin long since dried out since the decay took over. Their eyes glinted with blindness, but with sight of another kind. Their ribs were prominent, showing their bones and showed how food couldn't be digested properly, forcing them into starvation.

"...she was my neighbor." he said in a near whisper.

Deteriorated; a person who's mental and physical state are slowly decaying. Their minds and sanity leave them incredibly quick... yet some don't even realize they're suffering, and view themselves as normal people.