The beginning of a novel in which Rose must navigate the past to save a dying world.
|The week of December 14, 2025 marked the end of the United States. That was exactly four months ago. Lucky for me, I didn't remember that week. Unlucky for me, something kept trying to make me remember.
I ran. The sky was the color of blueberries, but I could only see it out of my periphery as I navigated the rubble underfoot. I actually preferred running with bits of cement and brick covering the ground. It was more of a challenge. I felt my brain working with my legs, instead of my body burning on automatic. It was easier to run with an occupied mind. If a runner has nothing to concentrate on, she will end up concentrating on her sharp lungs, and the boredom of it all. I hopped over a piece of wall in the middle of the cracked road. I was a primate in a city of debris. I was a collection of blood and organs in a fragile shell-shocked world. I knew people were watching me, wondering. I occasionally noticed their wary eyes, their tired frowns, their unkempt hair. They peeked out of empty windows in the bones of what used to be homes. They blinked around brick corners and over fallen concrete. They cried sometimes, but I didn't see tears this evening. If I did, I think they might look beautiful under the darkening deep blue, under the waking stars and pale moon. Pain isn't beautiful, but sometimes tears can be.
I ran and ran, I raced through the smell of baking corn over a trashcan fire. Firelight bathed my face. I ran through my rumbling stomach. I ran around hushed chatter, and the sound of skin punching muscle. I ran because I had no home, just one empty house after another, just one floor or beat up mattress to sleep on, just my switchblade and my speed. My friends and family were gone. I looked and asked around and never found them. I searched the streets and screamed their names. I waited for a sound in the surrounding hush. I dug. I helped people dig and they helped me dig. My fingers bled and were sore for weeks and weeks. weeks turned into months, and here I was, running. I felt like a traitor. I was not moving on, I was just moving. Like the shadows rushing past me. It's not like men never whistled. I think I tried to act as hard as possible, for protection. I think they saw a darkness in my eyes, one so familiar in this new world, and they moved on. I think they noticed the empty gun around my waist.
I wasn't much more scared of this world than the last. Just more lonely. I ran as far as I could go before I had to stop. I would sleep somewhere new tonight.