I sighed as I ran a hand through my hair. The blazing sun above me flashed in my eyes when I briefly looked up to check the time of day. It was a little after high noon, when the temperature was at its worst. I grumbled as I felt the beads of sweat sliding down my face. Even though I was dressed in a dark tank and shorts, I still felt unbearably hot. I let out another breath before checking my surroundings again. The streets were empty for now, but I knew it would fill up quickly in a matter of hours. Cars were littered amongst the rubble, some flipped and others merely abandoned. Others were missing wheels and engines. My eyes shifted to the various homes around me. Most all of their doors were closed and locked shut with symbols messily painted on each one. Blinds were drawn and lights were seemingly off, shutting whatever inside away. It's been like this for five years now. The devastation that hit our precious planet wiped out over half of our population. Those alive knew that it was a matter of survival. Your family could turn on you at any moment and your friends slowly became your enemies. It became a very harsh world.
Necessities became scarce in the first year, sending everyone into a panic. The majority always had access to supermarkets and convenience stores. I watched them lose their mind as those were ripped away from us. I watched as the electricity shut down, sending parents and kids alike into a hysteric frenzy. Water soon became a treasure and we fought. Another percentage of us died off within the initial months and years. Some of them from suicide, others from dehydration, sickness, and starvation. The worst would be when you're torn apart by the ones you used to hold dear because we weren't alone anymore.
In the third year, a pair of people ran down the streets, yelling at the top of their lungs. They looked to be well fed and strong. I remembered their determined faces as they ran past my house. The memory of peeking through the blinds that day was embedded into my mind. There was a woman with tanned skin and curly hair and a blonde brute of a man. They were shouting so loud that I could see the shifts in people's windows. We were all at attention.
"We have it! We've done it!" they screamed together, as if they had practiced many times before. They stood back to back once they got to the middle of the street. "We've made a haven everyone! You don't have to hide here anymore. Come with us," they shouted.
"We have children and families there and a giant wall that's protected. We have food and plenty of water! Come with us, we will show you safety," the man took out a few pieces of paper. He took out some nails and went to a few houses. He stuck what seemed to be a map onto cars and walls. "Please come out now if you wish to go. If you need time to think, we have left you maps. Please, this is a safe place and we ensure that you will prosper there!" the man continued after he finished securing the last map. The pair stood there for an hour as they waited to see if anyone could come. I watched that day as two families hesitantly stepped out of their homes. They spoke with the pair before packing up their things and following them away. The news of a haven brought me hope.
Throughout the week, I noticed many of the maps disappearing. I knew that people had left our little street behind for the prospect of a safer home. That's when I took another venture outside. There was an older man, standing in front of a map. He was stroking a short beard as he seemed to think about going. He noticed me right away after hearing my door creak open. He gave me a small smile before turning to study the map again. I was about to continue on my way before he spoke up.
"You know, it surprised me," he said, eyes glued to the fluttering paper. "My wife and daughter left to go to the haven the day after those crazies came yelling down our street. I begged them not to go," he turned towards me with his arms crossed. He leaned against the pole that the map was nailed to. "They told me that they would come back if this haven was real and left. I was so worried," he mumbled the last part, eyes trained on the ground. "And they did," his gaze fell on me with a giant smile. "They came back, dressed in new clothes with food and water. It's real," tears fell down his face. "The haven is real."
I was never prepared to hear that. There was always a hope that our race could make something of ourselves in a dire situation. A hope that our survival wasn't us pushing against fate's decisions. And the answer was right there, in my face that day. We did it. I didn't know how long this haven might last or if other would replicate it. All I knew was that we were able to do something to broaden our chances. I remember he came up to me and put his arms around me.
"Child, don't wait. This is our chance. Humanity's chance," he pulled away from me, eyes glistening with tears. "Tell your family that the haven's real and that you need to go. We can finally live." He walked away from me with his head held high. I watched as he entered his house without a care in the world and I turned to enter mine.
That was over two years ago. I never saw the man again but I knew that the pair came back. They placed two bottles of paint in front of each door step. There was also a small note under them.
Blue for living. Red for dead. Purple for gone.
I had just gotten back from scavenging when I found that. I looked around the neighborhood and saw that many had already painted doors with a giant colored diagonal line. I did the same.
And now I stand, staring at my own door, wondering if I should leave or not. Does the haven still exist? It's been so long since I last heard of it. Those who wanted to go have already left that year. What if they got destroyed or worse, corrupted?
These questions were not foreign in my mind. I've had them for months and months but it's always been the same answer. I couldn't leave. This house was everything I have and grew up with. But maybe it was time to move on. I stared at the key in my hand, wondering if I should lock up my past now. I eyed the gold mechanism in the door and slid the metal in. I closed my eyes and turned.
AN: Thanks for reading my very first chapter of a new series. It's a little heavy on the setting but I really wanted to establish the background a little bit. I hope you didn't have suffer through that and I will be having more action and dialogue in the next chapter. Thanks so much for checking this story out and review if you have any comments!