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It has been a full year since the end began, and still we get ever further from a salvation. I have not done much in the efforts to obtain freedom, but I have done more than others. It would be a lie if I said I believe we will prevail. In all honesty, this world will burn and when it happens I will have but one regret. It is the very thing which fills my heart and soul with sorrow. Hey. It is her. The sun¶s light awakened me from my slumber within the wreckage of a van. It is rare to be visited by the sun. Usually, clouds of ash and pollution mask the sky. I don¶t remember the last time I felt the warmth of the sun, and even as its ray¶s reached me, I still could not feel it. I struggle to get out of the van through the windshield. I stretched and felt the good aching of my joints as they prepared to start today¶s endeavors; another day of endless walking. Good morning Again, her voice calls out to me. It¶s as if she never left. No! As if I never left. ³Good morning,´ I said in a solemn voice. What¶s wrong? ³Nothing,´ I answered. ³Now, leave me alone.´
2 I started walking through the forest, thinking that she would do as I said without another word. Oh, okay. I¶m sorry. ³It¶s fine. Just, wait till later. Okay?´ I could never be meant to her, or be angry with her. Okay. She was cheerful. Hey, guess what? ³What?´ I asked a little more nicely. I love you. ³Okay.´ Don¶t you love me? She was saddened by my reaction. ³You know I do, so I shouldn¶t have to say it.´ If I said it every time she needed to hear it, I would be annoyed to death by my own voice. Okay, but I really do love you. When are you coming back? ³Soon,´ I said flatly. Do you promise? She sounded as she did when she was about to cry. ³I promise.´ Life was never easy for me. I was always alone, always left out, always used. I had only a handful of true friends, and a lot of other friends. Most of them just wanted something from me; test answers, copy homework, tell them what happened in a book, or be their partner in gym. I¶ve dealt with all of those, but the worst is when a girl I like uses me. They usually just want me to
3 do whatever their other friends won¶t do, or hang around with them so they¶re not alone. I usually thought they liked me too, and that¶s why they hung around me, but when another friend came by, I became the invisible man. I figured that there are two types of friends; the friends that think of you as a friend, and the friends that like the idea of being your friend. They abuse and use the people because they like them as a person, but not enough to be friends. I was fed up with it, so I avoided them and stayed with who I knew were my friends. Then she came into my life. We knew each other since middle school, but never really hung out or talked. We were completely different when I last saw her. She had this Goth thing going on and she hung around potheads. Well, I¶ve changed since then too. I last remember looking at her and seeing a beautiful girl covered up in a lot of darkness. We had a class together, I think, and she skipped a lot. She¶s been different since then. She looked even more beautiful and full of color. I¶ve always had a crush on her, but never did anything about it. I had my chance and I took it. She had just broken up with her boyfriend, and we had a class together. I decided to re-introduce myself. ³Hey. How¶s it going?´ I tried to be as friendly as possible. ³Okay. My boyfriend¶s been cheating on me and continues to lie to my face about it, but other than that it¶s okay. What about you?´ Obviously, she¶s been bottling up all her emotions. ³I¶m fine. Do you want to talk about what¶s going on? It seems like you have a lot to let out.´ I made my offer. She could choose to decline or accept. Her choice would affect the outcome of how this will turn out. ³Not now,´ she whispered as the teacher gave us a dirty look. ³Can I text you?´
4 ³Sure.´ I wrote my number down on a half sheet of paper. ³Anytime you need to talk, I¶ll be here to listen, no matter the time.´ ³Thanks.´ She smiled. I walked for hours through the forest, thinking of nothing but my past. Mostly, I thought about her. In these times, I would think everyone is haunted by their past or at least dreams for it to return. ³Hey,´ I said in the same solemn voice. Hi. She was always cheerful. How are you? ³I¶m really bored,´ I said as I leaned against a tree for a break. ³How are you?´ I¶m good. Do you know where you are? She sounded concern. ³Not a clue. I know I¶m headed north. I think I might be in Wisconsin.´ That should make her happy. Really?! Are you trying to find your way home? Her excitement made me happy. ³It will be nice to see you, but I won¶t stay long. I need to continue moving.´ I paused for a second to hear what she had to say, but she didn¶t answer and I felt terrible for saying that. ³I¶m sorry.´ It¶s okay. I wish you would stay ³I know, but this is what I want; to keep moving.´ I pushed myself off the tree and continued walking down forward, looking for a street.
5 Do you think I can come with you? I could picture her sad face, begging me to let her come with. ³I would like that, but I don¶t want you to get hurt.´ I brushed my hand through the leaves in the trees above. Okay. I¶ll see you soon, then? She wished for it as I wished for it. ³Yes.´ I love you. I pictured a tear fall down her cheek. She texted me at the end of the day as the sun began to set. I remember sitting outside, looking at it, and thinking that if this a mistake then it should end now. How am I to know if this is the right thing to do? Hi. How are you? I was surprised to see that she texted me already. I thought I¶d have to wait a few days to hear from her. Maybe this is right. Good. You? Waiting for her response, I remembered a dream I had. It had made an impression on me because of the scene of the setting sun, and the image of her. I remember seeing all of this before. There was more to the dream, but I couldn¶t remember all of it. I did remember her crying as I held her and us kissing. What was I thinking? Its just a dream and that¶s all it ever will be. Not good. I¶m crying lol
6 Instantly, I assumed something happened involving the ex. Why? What happened? It took a while before I got a text back. When it takes forever to get a text back, it usually means the person has a lot to say. He stopped by today to drop off some of my things and I tried to keep myself together but I couldn¶t. I slammed the door in his face when I saw him. He tried to get me to let him in. I told him to leave everything by the door. I sat by the door and cried for so long until I realized he was gone. I got my things and tried to calm down but I can¶t stop thinking about him. I still love him. He hurt me so badly but I still love him. I thought carefully about my response. The wrong words would cause more pain. Try to do something. You need to focus on something else to stop thinking about him. I know this is hard but you¶re tough and you can handle it. The hardest part is trying to forget and push away the feelings and memories. I didn¶t have a lot of experience with dating, but that didn¶t mean I couldn¶t help. I saw things from a different view and gave my honest opinion. Since, he had cheated on her, all of them were mostly me siding with her. Thanks :) Do you wanna hang out sometime?
7 I thought about her state of mind before I answered. She just wanted someone to talk to, someone to be with, someone to help her forget. Sure =) I walked for hours without stopping for anything, but to rest for a minute. I couldn¶t eat because I ate yesterday. My food was slowly running out. Soon, I would be out of food, and then die, eventually. I couldn¶t beg or steal. It¶s not in me to do either. With the recent events, people think they can do anything they want, but I don¶t. I will not steal to survive, and I won¶t go to those who have stolen or killed for food. I will be honorable as I¶ve always been. I will do what she would have like me to do. ³Where the hell am I?´ I asked myself. Are you lost? ³I guess I am. Leave me alone while I look for a road or something,´ I ordered. Okay. ³I¶ll see you soon, I promise.´ I love you too. Searching the area, I began to hear a lot of movement. At first I thought it was just some wanderers, but then I heard the growls and battle cries. ³The Plague!´
8 I pulled out my Magnum pistol and cautiously tried to walk around them. I thought I could locate where they were by the noise, but I was wrong. I forgot about the quiet ones; the Silences. The trees didn¶t make a sound and neither did the bushes. I walked by them, and as I passed the tallest tree closest to me, they attacked. The Silences fired their weapons. I quickly shielded myself with my bag. Their tranquilizer darts landed all around me and pierced my bag. Surprised I wasn¶t hit; I searched my body and then ran for it. They chased after me, I could feel it. I continued to run, stupidly looking back. If I had kept my eyes forward, I would have seen the group of Sins in front of me. I ran into one and fell to the ground. They stared at me as I froze in shock. How could I be so dumb? Why weren¶t the attacking? I didn¶t move, I didn¶t breathe, and I didn¶t expect to live. When I saw the Sin closest to me raise its gun, I knew it was over. ³Goodbye,´ I whispered as I shut my eyes. Andrew! I waited with my eyes shut. I thought it would hurt, I thought I would feel pain. Nothing happened. Maybe, I died and didn¶t know it. I opened my eyes and saw all the Sins were still. They were now frozen. What happened? The Sin that I thought would be the one to kill me fell to the ground; its head rolled to my feet. The others fell one after another; some cut in half, sliced down the middle, limbs torn off, and one with multiple stab wounds. I searched for whom or what was responsible, but there was no one.
9 ³Hello? Is anyone out there?´ I called out. It was silent. There was nothing around. I scanned the area, and then remembered the Silences. As I turned around to see if they were advancing or surrounded me, they fell. Three Silences fell to the ground from behind me, and two others fell beside the Sins. I looked all around me, seeing all the bodies that had fallen; all the Sins and Silences that were mysteriously killed. Who did this? The leaves and branches began to rustle. Someone was up there. I took aim, in case whoever or whatever was going to attack. ³Who are you?!´ I called again. What are you talking about? You know who I am. ³Not you. Please leave me alone right now,´ I muttered. Okay. I love you. She was sad again. ³I¶m sorry but I¶m busy.´ I focused on the trees and spoke quietly. Be careful. Before I could speak, another body fell from the trees. It was a Death. I shielded my eyes before it hit the ground, so the dirty, twigs, and rocks it blew around wouldn¶t pierce my eyes. When the air had cleared, I looked around again, but still nothing. ³Show yourself!´ I demanded, staring at the tree tops above. ³Who are you?´ a woman asked as she pressed what felt like a gun to my back.
10 I calmly and slowly raised my hands. ³I¶m just passing through. I mean no harm.´ ³Walker!´ she stated loudly. ³No!´ I didn¶t know what that was, but I had to clear things up. ³I¶m just trying to find my way home. I¶ve been gone for a while and I don¶t remember the way. I think I¶m lost.´ ³Liar!´ ³No! I¶m telling the truth! I moved to Florida before the war reached home. I¶m trying to find my way back to my family. The only family I have left. Please, believe me.´ I began to panic. I never thought a person would kill me. I always thought it would be one of them. ³Sorrow!´ she called. I heard the steps of another person behind me. They whispered to each other, and I, unfortunately, couldn¶t hear what they were discussing. I prayed they would believe me. ³What region are you from?´ she asked. I couldn¶t tell where the other had gone. ³I¶m from the north eastern part of Illinois. I lived in the town of²´ ³Your town no longer exists. There are only two towns in that area. Do you have a map?´ She calmed down. ³No. I¶ve been using the roads, but when I crossed into Indiana, the roads got too dangerous and the forests became denser than I remember.´ I lowered my hands. ³A lot has changed.´ She lowered the gun. ³You said followed the roads till Indiana? How? Weren¶t there Plague all over?´
11 ³Yes, but I had a lot more guns and ammo then. I should¶ve found another way than taking the roads, I see that now.´ I turned to face her. She had beautiful, short, red-black hair. Her eyes were deep brown. The clothes she wore were torn and nearly rags. She was average height and weight from what I could tell, which meant she had a good food supply; most people become skinny and fatigued because of the war. ³What¶s your name?´ I asked. ³Rose,´ she replied. ³What is yours?´ ³I¶m Andrew.´ I looked around. ³Where is your friend? Sorrow, I think.´ She shifted her gaze to the ground. ³She doesn¶t do well with others, so I sent her home.´ ³So what now?´ I asked. I assumed she would take me to her town and point me in the right direction to my town. ³You leave.´ She turned and walked away. ³Wait!´ I ran after her. ³Where do I go?´ ³The next town is ten miles north. They¶ll tell you where the other nearest town is. If you don¶t find who you¶re looking for in either town, then stop looking.´ She ran off. I let her go. She couldn¶t help; not when she has her own problems. I began to walk north even though I felt like someone was following me. Are you okay?
12 ³Yeah, I¶m fine.´ I whispered to myself. That¶s good. Who was that girl? ³I don¶t know. She was tough and pretty though.´ I laughed. ³She reminded me of you.´ Really? I don¶t think so. She looked like one of a kind. I¶m not like that. ³You could¶ve been.´ I mumbled. The first town wasn¶t right. It was too far west. The next town was to the east. She had to be there. I walked over a thousand miles, and I¶d walk a thousand more just to find her. What if she left? What if she went west? How could I find one person of the many who lie lifeless on the road to salvation? She wouldn¶t follow what others believed, would she? You¶re almost home. She was happy. ³I think so. Are you in this new town or in our hometown?´ I asked to confirm her location. Both. They¶re the same place. She was excited. I can¶t wait till you¶re home. ³See you soon.´ I walked in silence for hours, listening to my follower. I assumed it was Rose or her friend Sorrow. They were different, and I bet they could sneak up on a Silence. Actually, I think they have. ³Who were you talking to?´ a woman asked me as she held a blade to my throat. ³No one.´ I coughed out the words.
³Don¶t lie! I heard you talking to someone.´ She was just as hostile a Rose. ³I was talking to myself!´ She forced me on my knees and pressed the blade to my neck. I felt like I was about to be executed. With Rose I felt more at ease, but with this woman I felt like death were minutes away. ³Stop lying!´ she demanded. I closed my eyes and prayed. If this is where I die, then I shall look back on my memories and not the forest around me. I will die reliving my precious moments with her. ³Stop!´ a voice called. ³Sorrow, let him go. I made a mistake.´ The blade was removed from my throat. I stood to see who caused all of this. Rose was approaching from behind a tree, and the woman with her arms folded across her chest must be Sorrow. She was dressed in all black. Everything was black; her lipstick, nail polish, and hair. Her eyes though, were red and her skin was a pale white, like in those damn vampire movies. ³I¶m sorry, Andrew. We heard you talking to yourself earlier, and I had to find out if you were« I¶m sorry.´ She bowed her head. ³It¶s fine,´ I muttered. ³You saw something that you didn¶t trust and had to make sure it wasn¶t going to be a problem. I understand.´ ³Can we accompany you to town?´ she raised her head and asked.
14 ³Sure, I guess.´ It didn¶t matter to me either way, as long as I wasn¶t going to be threatened anymore. ³Thank you.´ Rose glared at Sorrow. ³I apologize for Sorrow. She¶s not good with other people.´ ³It¶s okay. It¶s not like we¶ll be seeing a lot of each other.´ I smiled. ³Thank God for that,´ Sorrow mumbled. I laughed. Sorrow smiled. We walked for almost an hour in silence. We were all uncomfortable with being around people. I had been alone for so long that it felt strange to me, and they must have felt the same. Nightfall soon overcame us. I gathered some fallen branches for firewood, Rose set up some Claymores, and Sorrow disappeared in the tree tops. We had no food, no water. The town I had just visited barely had anything for themselves, so I refused anything they offered. I did accept a grenade, though. They were very peaceful and had a strong, solid wall around the town. They didn¶t want the grenade because, according to them, they had no use for it. Rose and I didn¶t talk. We sat at the fire and stared at it. After I put more wood in the fire, we lay down and went to sleep. ³You¶re moving?´ she asked, stunned. ³Yeah,´ I said, numb.
15 She wrapped her arms around my torso. ³I don¶t want you to go.´ ³I don¶t want to go.´ I held her close and tightly. We sat on her bed for a while, embracing. Time escaped us. It was almost time for her dad to get home. ³Damn!´ She wiped away her tears. ³Time flew by fast. Do you want to come over tomorrow?´ I cradled her head in my hand, and pressed my lips to hers. She placed her hands around my neck to keep me close. I removed my lips from hers. She smiled and forced our lips together. I tried to stand, but she didn¶t want to move. Knowing I had to leave, I picked her up with our lips still attached. She wrapped her legs around me. I walked out her room and down the stairs. She laughed as I struggled to unlock the front door. I forced my lips from hers. ³You know I have to leave.´ She pressed her lips back to mine. I pushed away again. ³We¶ll both be dead if your dad catches us.´ She pushed her lips back on me again, and I didn¶t fight it anymore. I forced her against the wall and made sure she wasn¶t going anywhere. She removed her lips from mine. ³You¶re right. You need to go.´ I pushed her lips back to mine. She forced my lips off her. ³Let¶s go to the couch.´ She smiled. I carried her to the couch and tripped on the coffee table. We fell on the couch, but it didn¶t distract us. It was as if nothing ever happened.
16 I woke up in the middle of the night. Rose was asleep. Sorrow was still out of sight. The fire was out. I searched for wood and started a new fire. Looking at Rose, I noticed she was cold. I took off my coat and set it on her. Then I went back to sleep. I was lying on her couch, and she was laying on me. She walked her fingers from her left hand on my chest. I brushed her hair with my right hand. We held each other¶s free hand. ³Do you love me?´ she asked focused on her fingers walking across my chest. I stopped brushing her hair and grabbed her hand. She looked at me. ³You know I do.´ I answered. ³Then why don¶t you say so?´ She rested her head my chest. ³You know I do, so I shouldn¶t have to say it.´ She raised her head and faced me. I stared into her eyes and saw her disappointment. She leaned over and kissed me. ³I love you.´ ³Wake up!´ My eyes opened and I saw Sorrow knelt beside me. ³Get up, now! We need to go,´ she said. I got to my feet. Rose came to me and gave me back my coat. I put it on and followed Sorrow, east. ³What¶s the rush?´ I asked still drowsy.
17 ³Plague!´ Sorrow said flatly. I didn¶t question her again. I followed her and did as she said. Along the way to the next town, we had to evade a few groups of Plague. Sorrow had the answers on how to get away without being seen. We finally made it to the gates of the town, after four hours of walking. It was just like the other town to the west. ³Hello?!´ I called. A man appeared on the wall by a spot light. ³Hello. What do you want?´ he asked. ³Was this town once called Antioch?´ I asked. ³It still is,´ he confirmed. ³I lived here two years before the war, and moved to Florida.´ I informed. ³That¶s unfortunate. Wasn¶t Florida one of the first to be attacked?´ ³It was and it was also partially submerged under water.´ I answered. ³That is still a very terrible thing to hear.´ ³Yes. Will you let us in? I¶ve come a long way to find someone very dear to me.´ ³What are your names?´ he asked. ³I¶m Andrew. This is Rose and Sorrow,´ I introduced.
18 His eyes widened. ³Rose! Why didn¶t you say so to start? Of course you can come in!´ He turned around. ³Open the gates!´ The gates began to open. I looked behind me to face Rose. ³We aided this town and the other. My Captain had a plan to build up the peoples¶ morale, and give them the will to fight again.´ She stared at the ground. The gates opened, and the man, who was on the wall, greeted us. ³Hurry up! Get in!´ He motioned with his hands Rose walked by me, I grabbed her by the wrist. ³I didn¶t ask for an explanation. We all have a past that we may not wish to share.´ Tears were building up in her eyes. I let go of her wrist. ³I¶m sorry.´ I followed her into the town with Sorrow behind us, looking into the forest. The town was just as I remembered it, except with a lot of demolished building, destroyed roads, and natural growths taking over. ³Is it as you remembered?´ the man asked. ³Yes. The destruction was expected, but it still looks the same. How far do the walls extend?´ I asked. ³It captures most of it. What area do you want to know in particular?´ ³Woods of Antioch,´ I answered.
19 ³I¶m sorry. Most of it was destroyed during the Northern Siege. The bodies we could find were buried in the local cemetery. Most of them were identified.´ He saw my sadness. ³If you need help with anything else, I¶ll be at the high school.´ He left us. Rose put a hand my shoulder. I looked at her. ³I¶m sorry. We¶ll help you look.´ I grabbed her hand and held back my tears. ³I¶m going alone.´ I said and left them at the gates by the Ace Hardware store. I walked up the road and took a right toward the cemetery. It was bigger now. They extended it to where houses were, across the street beside the local dive restaurant. I started with the newest graves. I didn¶t miss a gravestone. At first they didn¶t have names, but then the names started appearing. Some names I recognized and others weren¶t. I saw the names of neighbors, high school teachers and friends. I saw so many names that hurt me so much, but not her name, not yet. I didn¶t realize I skipped a few nameless graves. After finishing all of the new graves, I went back to check the ones I missed. After the first four, I fell to my knees at the fifth. I couldn¶t stop the tears, I couldn¶t stop the pain. I screamed in pain until my throat hurt. ³You¶re dead,´ I cried. I¶m sorry. ³Why didn¶t you tell me?!´ You never would have came. I wanted you to come home. I missed you.
20 ³You¶re not here! You can¶t miss me!´ I clutched my chest. I love you. You were the only thing that went through my head. ³That doesn¶t make me feel better!´ I love you, Andrew. I could hear here cries. I wish I could be with you. ³You¶re not real.´ You know that I love you. I wished you were with me every day you were gone. I wish I could¶ve seen you one last time before I died. ³You¶re not real!´ It was silent. She was gone. I looked back at the grave marker; a cross marked her grave with a rope holding a ring. I gazed at the ring on my right ring finger. They were exactly the same. I gave her the ring as a promise that I would return to her. ³I promised you I would return.´ You did return. I couldn¶t stop my tears from falling. They flowed from my eye like a waterfall. ³I love you. I always have and always will.´ I love you too. Goodbye. ³Don¶t go! Rachel! Don¶t go!´ I called out for her. She was truly gone. I called for her, but she never came.
21 I wiped the tears from my face, stood, and headed to the gates. Rose and Sorrow waited for me. They knew I found her. ³Andrew, I¶m so sorry,´ she said as I passed her. ³Open the gate!´ I ordered the guys in charge of the gate. The gate began to open, and I played with the ring on my finger. ³Where are you going?´ Rose asked. ³Anywhere but here,´ I answered. I was impatient. All I wanted was to leave and forget ever seeing that grave. I wanted to leave, so I could hear her voice again. I kept playing with my ring, wishing to hear her. The more I looked at the silver ring, the more I began to feel unable to keep my composure. Rose saw how badly I was struggling. She approached me slowly, and put her hand on my shoulder again. I looked at her and saw Rachel¶s face. A single tear fell from my eye. Rose wrapped her arms around me, and I held her tight. ³I wish I was with her when it happened, so I could tell her I love her one last time.´ I confessed to her. ³She knows you love her, just like he knows I love him,´ she said, comforting me. ³I love you.´ ³I love you too,´ she said with a smile. I looked at the clock. ³I have to go.´
22 She quickly got off me. I stood up, and she launched herself back onto me. I carried her to the door, and we continued making out. We ended up back at the wall we were at before. We looked into each other¶s eyes when I unlocked the door. She planted her feet back on the floor, leaned up, and kissed me one last time. I opened the door, and stepped out the door onto the stoop. I wrapped my arms around her waist, pulled her close, and I kissed her one last time before I left. ³Same time tomorrow?´ I asked with a smile. She nodded and giggled. Now, I roam the country. I no longer fear death; I welcome it. She would never forgive me if I made it easy for the sons-a-bitches. I¶ll die the same way Rose¶s boyfriend did. She told me he died after killing around a hundred Sins, Silences, and Deaths. Disease will not affect me; hunger will no longer bother me. I will do kill as many of the basterds as I can; that will be my revenge.
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