Chpt.1

The sun shines red through my eyelids. I feel sand pressed against my face, sticking tight to my lips. I let out a small, involuntary moan as I stretch myself awake, and ready my gear to move on. As I load my things back into my pack, I wipe some of the gritty earth off my face. I roll up my bed, make sure my knives are secure, and make my way west, putting my back to the intense rising sun. Sometimes it's hard, making my way, left foot over right, down this lonely trail. Sometimes I miss my old life. But this was it. The best option. My only option.

I've lost count of how long I've been out here. It's almost noon now, and the sun can get to my head. I adjust the torn cloak I keep draped over my shoulder, and keep walking. I look up.

Crows? Buzzards? There's nothing big enough to be worth their while anywhere around here. I wonder why they're-

My thought is cut short when the toe of my boot slips into a crevice in a rock. I fall face first, slightly embarrassed at my lack of awareness. I pick myself up, and dust off my clothes. I take a quick glance at the offending rock, then begin to walk again.

Wait

There was something odd about that rock… an odd perfection to it. It was perfectly smooth, and bleach white. I walk back over to it and pick it up, sand streaming out through the openings. My foot didn't catch in a crevice… It caught in an eye socket.

Still smooth, but sun bleached… it can't have been here to long… but it has been a while. Probably just another lost soul wondering around.

I casually toss the still-intact human skull over my shoulder, but pause as I see something shine a few hundred yards away. I carefully approach the shining, and see that it's a bus. Long, black, and sleek. Something only a very wealthy place could afford. I can see that a tire is blown, and there are tools lying about the front end as if it had been worked on.

Probably engine failure.

One thing about buses like these is that they are usually full of supplies. I come around the side of the bus, checking in all the windows. I draw one of my knives; a long slender wicked blade I pulled from the chest of a half decomposed body leaned against a rock. I climb on top of the bus, and drop in form the emergency exit. I turn quickly, scanning for life. Seeing none, I begin my scrounging. I rip the bus apart for anything useful.

Leather seats. A good bladder, but not as good as my canteen. Next. Steel wire. Too thick to help a fire. Next. An iPhone 5. Not only useless, but stone age old as well. What kind of person is rich enough to afford this bus but is so poor as to carry around this piece-of-junk dinosaur?

Finally I find some spare cloth to use as blankets in the cold night, and some cushion stuffing that will help to insulate me as well. No food. I check the bathroom in the back of the bus, and have to reach around a corpse to grab a half-used roll of toilet paper. Poor girl died retching her guts out in the toilet. You can tell because rigamortis made sure to freeze her forever with her arms around the bowl, head hanging over the rim.

I walk back out and am about to leave when I hear something out of place. It's weak and ragged, but steady. And definitely there. I hear breathing, and it's not mine. I crouch low, knife held close but loosely, in my signature stance. I check between every seat until I see him. A man, sitting propped up against a wall, half rotted away but still alive. He tilts his head with a low, slow cracking sound. His eyes slowly open to look at me. One look tells me everything I need to know about the man. His eyes are clouded and desperate. He's useless to me. I'm about to leave when he speaks.

"Wait… Son…" his voice is raspy and faint. "Please… Help me."

"And why should I, exactly?"

"From one humanitarian to another maybe?" he manages to whisper out. Bits of skin flake off as he talks. "Please. Our bus broke down here months ago. Our food supply ran out a few weeks back. I'm the only one left. Sir please-"

"Well then won't it be a pleasure to meet back up with the rest of your group?" I start to stand until a crispy hand grabs my arm.

"Son... We barely got away from the city with our lives. We lost so many friends in the escape… don't let it be for nothing. Help me to survive. Take me to the freedom we believed in so much, worked so hard for…" he takes in a long, ragged breath. "I know it's out there. Help me son. Help me."

"I'm afraid to say that-" I stop. There's no point in crushing an old man's dreams. "Very well. I'll help you."

"Thank you son. Thank you."

"No problem… just hold still." I lean forward to pick him up. He attempts at a smile. His eyes widen and his smile fades as he feels the blade slide neatly into his side.

"Sorry Ol' Chap, can't have you slowing me down. Besides- no help for the helpless, right?" the last thing his eyes convey are pure hatred at hearing our once-great nation's unspoken motto. I pull the knife out and admire how little he bleeds.

So close to death he almost wasn't worth the effort of stabbing. I think to myself as I wipe off the blade. I slide the knife back in my belt and walk out of the bus's front door. I notice night coming on. I could use a little warmth. I syphon the gas from the fuel tank, drench the interior in the liquid, and light a match. Soon, the bus is a roaring inferno. I'm a mere fifty feet away, warm and sleeping like a baby.