Missy woke up to the same routine everyday.
Her watch vibrated on her wrist to wake her up. She crawled out of her makeshift bed as she made her way through her shack of a house. Everything was either war-torn or scavenged. Her tiny kitchen/bathroom had a sink, a hot plate, and a toilet. The toilet and sink were the two things that still worked when she found this place. To her surprise, someone had left. It was almost pure luck that she was able to make this her new home.
Her watch vibrated on her wrist again, this time it wasn’t an alarm, it was to notify her of someone’s presence. She set up security points throughout the perimeter. If someone tricked the silent alarm, she’d know. Her watch said north point triggered.
Missy put down her cup of water and grabbed her shotgun she found along her journey. She checked the ammo and made her way to the tiny window that faced the north side of the shack.
There wasn’t anyone there. Either they triggered it by walking by, or they made their way to the door.
Her watch vibrated again. She looked down and it notified her of the south point trigger.
Great. Missy had managed to stay alive this long on her own. She didn’t want to die now.
Her watch vibrated: Speech detected.
Missy tapped on it, a hologram popped out from the watch with the following text: Hello. Is anyone there? We are just passing through. We need rest.
Missy swiped away the hologram and gritted her teeth. She had dealt with people in the past that was “just passing through” and they almost killed her. She didn’t respond, but waited.
Her watch indicated a knock on the door. Missy looked at the door, it was double locked with two deadbolts. Whoever lived here before made sure this place was security tight. Only one window and one door no other way for someone to intrude.
The hologram popped up with more text: Please, we mean no harm. It’s hot. We have a child.
Missy sighed. She couldn’t tell if they were being serious. If she denied the family and they were found dead later on, she would feel extremely guilty. But these were mad times and only the fittest could survive. It wouldn’t be her fault if they could not.
The hologram popped up, again: Please. Just some water for our daughter, that is all.
Missy clenched her teeth and closed her eyes tightly. She couldn’t believe she was going against everything she learned.
Holding onto her shotgun close she unlocked the deadbolts and slowly opened the door.
She raised her barrel to face whoever was standing at the door.
A little girl was staring right inside the barrel with her two parents behind her. They were a young couple, probably not more than twenty-five. Their brown faces covered with dirt as well as their ripped clothing. The only clean “thing” was their daughter, who barely had a speck of dirt on her.
They used everything they had for her. Missy thought.
Missy gestured for them to come in.
Her watch’s hologram relayed the texts as the woman spoke.
“Thank you so much, we just walked for two days and we ran out of water. I saw your tank outside and it would be great if we could just take a couple bottles before we continue.”
Missy put her hand up to allow the text to catch up with the speech. She finished reading and nodded.
The man looked puzzled at his wife.
“Can she speak English?”
Missy read that question on her watch and chuckled. Missy signed the international sign for “I’m Deaf” to the man.
Missy pressed a few buttons on her watch to change functions.
“I am deaf. I can communicate through the watch. Please take some water, but you have to leave right after.” The watch spoke as Missy signed.
Missy stood by the unlocked door and watched as the couple quickly filled the water bottles up and placed them in their backpacks.
The little girl stood quietly and stared at her surroundings. Her deep brown eyes scrutinized every little detail. Her long black wavy hair fell just below her shoulders.
“What is your name?” Missy asked the girl.
“Sabrina.” The little girl responded meekly.
“Very pretty name. Do you want to know how to sign it?”
Sabrina nodded. Missy fingerspelled all the letters and Sabrina copied.
Sabrina’s parents watched as the interaction went on.
“How long have you been here?” The woman asked.
“A few months. I found this place empty. I was very lucky.” Missy responded. She was looking at her watch for the time. They’ve been here too long. “I’m sorry, but you have to leave. I’ve survived this long because I’ve been on my own.”
The couple nodded and agreed to leave. Sabrina waved goodbye to Missy as they walked out the door.
The woman stopped and turned before she walked out.
“We are forever in your debt…” The woman trailed off, waiting for a name.
“Missy, thank you.”
“Wait. Don’t go north. Okay? Bad people live north of here.” Missy relayed the warning.
The couple nodded and they each took Sabrina’s hands before heading west. Just like that, the family left. Missy was alone again.
Missy wondered if they would survive. She wondered where they were headed. They said they’ve been walking for two days… where were they before?
Since the war broke out three years ago, this country’s been destroyed. Anyone who could afford to leave the country, left. The others were left behind to deal with the aftermath.
Her parents died by the hands of the ex-military. They called themselves the Cleaners. They wanted to clean out anyone who wasn’t “pure” enough to rebuild this country.
Missy looked down at her hands. They were getting paler. She hasn’t been in the sunlight for days since she saw the Cleaners flag posted in the north. She was surprised they hadn’t made their way to her, yet.
She stared at her reflection on her watch. Her face was a dead giveaway that she wasn’t “pure” in the sense of the Cleaners. She had slanted brown eyes, jet-black hair, and on top of that, she was deaf.
Missy spent the rest of the day eating canned soup and reading the same book she’s read since the war broke. It was the only thing she was able to keep from her home when her parents tried to escape the regime.
The night her parents died, her mother told her to stay quiet and whatever she saw, to not come out until it was safe. Her mother gave Missy the smart watch and told her this would protect her. Missy was confused because up until recently it was just a smart watch. It wasn’t anything special.
It wasn’t until the Cleaners came to their hideout when she found out what her mom did to it. Her mom, the computer engineer and software designer for the company that made this watch, redesigned the interface so that it allowed Missy to be able to hear what was happening around her.
Missy held back her tears as she read what was happening around her. There were a lot of screaming; someone was barking orders, and then finally two gunshots.
She saw two bodies hit the floor through her blurred vision.
A couple pairs of feet walked around the place before they finally left. Missy crawled out after a few minutes to where her parents were. Her dad was already gone; his soulless eyes stared blankly at the ceiling.
Her mom woke up briefly.
“My bag… security… take with you… run… hide…” Her mom was able to sign weakly. She took a shallow breath before closing her eyes. The last thing her mom signed was “I love you.”
Missy wanted to scream. She was only a teenager. She wasn’t prepared for this life. She ignored every single survival tactic lessons her school tried to teach the students before the teachers were banned. She didn’t think anything bad could happen to them. People would put a stop to all the hatred before this got out of hand, she thought.
She was naïve.
When the Cleaners took out the headquarters of the ACLU and publicly executed every single lawyer that worked inside that was when her parents realized it wasn’t safe. But, by then, all flights outside of the country were grounded. People were banned from leaving.
Then Canada tried to help by bombing certain areas where the Cleaners were coordinating their efforts… but they ended up bombing civilians, too. They stopped that attack immediately, fearing any more unnecessary casualties. Other countries would not step in to help, since our country broke all alliances in the years prior.
The people were stuck. They were alone and left to die.
Missy was angry at the world for not stepping in. How could they let an entire population die? Were we all expendable to them? Were we not significant enough to live?
She promised herself that she would survive this so the future generations would know what happened here. She would do whatever it took to make sure the world didn’t forget what they ignored.
The light has gone down for the day. Missy walked around the shack, making sure the door was double locked and the window was shut.
She crawled into her makeshift bed with her shotgun by her side and closed her eyes. She was running out of food, she reminded herself. She would have to wake up before dawn to get supplies.
Missy reset her alarm and went to sleep.
Walking to the local store was scary. Her watch kept vibrating at every single noise. She was getting jumpy. She walked stealthily with her shotgun clutched in her hands, finger ready on the trigger. She swiftly checked her surroundings from side to side.
Her drawstring bag hung tightly against her back. She only carried the essentials just in case she needed to set up camp somewhere else: the security alarms and her book.
The town was eerily devoid of humans. A lot of animals rummaged through trash and looted stores, but there were no signs of humanity. The animals seemed to not notice Missy, or not care about her as she walked past them in the aisles. All she needed was some more canned food. Her hot plate worked well enough to be able to eat comfortably.
As she turned to the canned food aisle, she gasped. It was empty. Others had the same idea. In fact, the bloodied bodies on the ground showed just how far people would go.
One can remained, in the hand of the deceased. Missy slowly approached the body and tore the can out of its hand. She took a closer look and noticed the clothes looked familiar.
She took a few steps back when she realized… this was the couple she had saw that day… but there were only two bodies.
“Missy?” The voice triggered Missy’s watch. She looked down and then looked around to find who spoke.
Missy signed, “Sabrina?”
Sabrina ran out from behind a bunch of boxes and hugged Missy tightly. Her little face was covered in snot and tears.
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