The siren alerted her that she hadn’t much time to gather her things if she was going. She hadn’t fully decided, although the alternative had little hope to it. Her rations were nearly gone. There was the rest of the rations of her people but only enough for a year or so. Not enough time to create food in this desert that was her home. She stopped digging and looked around at the rubble, decay, dust and little evidence of life that had been her vibrant city. She listened. Once the siren had stopped the silence was deafening. Nothing was moving, not even the dust.
She was desperately looking for a memory to bring, her mind was so tortured from the events of the past month that she knew she couldn’t rely on it. She needed to bring something with her, a connection to home. She didn’t want to forget. If she forgot no one would ever know, remember her people, their history, their lives. Her room had been here on this spot. She could see glimpses of the curtains, the painted ceiling, broken furniture in the rubble.
“There must be something left, anything”
she whispered to no one. She could have shouted, it wouldn’t have disturbed anyone. She spotted something metal, shining, reflecting the hard strong sun back at the clear blue sky.
The clear blue sky that never was before, not in her time. She had only known cloudy days, gritty dusty air and black night skies lit up by the streetlamps. She had been fascinated by the stories of sun, moon and stars but it was bittersweet when she finally saw the magnificence of them, alone. She stood for hours in the dark of that first night staring, talking to her dead father in her head.
” It’s even better than your painting, Dad. Who’d have thought it. Everyone loved my ceiling so much, beautiful sunny sky by day, shining glittering stars by night. It was magical. Everyone was so jealous of it. Isn’t this beautiful dad, are you looking? It seems not real, somehow, like a massive, big hologram. Your work was more real than this, Dad.”
She talked to herself a lot now, in her head and sometimes out loud, long conversations with her family. Mostly her sister, her beautiful, sweet, little sister.
She shook herself out of her reveries and got down on her knees in the rubble again to search. She dug at the spot from where she had seen the glinting metal glaring at her and revealed an antique silver picture frame with her family inside. Yes, that would do. The frame was too heavy so she took out the picture, kissed it and put it in her backpack. She cast the frame aside and made her way back to her tent to pack for the journey away from this place, her life, her world.
She hadn’t been fully alone after the fallout. She wasn’t the only one who survived. There were many that had, just not here. She heard them on the broadcasts stating their names, listing their relations, hoping for family. Some were lucky to find relations, just not her, yet. She kept telling herself, yet. Some distant, far out cousin might still be alive.
The vaccine had worked for 1% of the population. She was the only one of her family that survived, as far as she knew, yet. Talk about being scared when she found out she was alone in this world, no family, no ties, alone. Her history, heritage and home wiped out in a moment. She was terrified despite all the preparation The Company had given her, the scenario role plays, the counselling, the training for the inevitable.
The inevitable. She hadn’t really prepared her mind and heart for the inevitable. Like all the generations before her, she had blocked it out, lived day to day, ignoring the mess they were making of this world. Many in her family had taken the vaccine. There should have been more survivors. She had known early on that her immediate family would be gone but all her relations had been wiped out, all her people. All her known relations, she kept correcting her thoughts.
Her little sister had reacted horribly to the vaccine and died a painful death long before the bomb and her mother was broken from her grief. She was guilt-ridden over whether she should have let her take it. She hadn’t had it as only the younger generation were given it. Those without it all died, including her parents, not even knowing if it had worked so they took that pain to their graves. Maybe they were the lucky ones. Many of those left had taken their own lives, unable to deal with their survivor’s syndrome. She hadn’t, she wasn’t sure where her survival instinct had come from, the vaccine perhaps? It was made from cockroach genes after all.
Cockroaches are among the few creatures able to survive a nuclear fallout intact. Some bright spark scientist fixated on this fact and worked on it throughout his whole career to find a way to use it for humans. Lucky for her, or was it really? If he hadn’t created the vaccine would the war have even happened? Knowing that humanity would survive meant the powers that were had less responsibility to ensure the world itself survived. Corruption in governments throughout the world had led to pollution laws being overturned, genetically modified foods being accepted as the norm, global consumption increasing at such a rapid pace the planet could not contain it. Species died off, became imaginary creatures for new generations. The lion became her generations unicorn, the humble domestic dog became their food until they too were gone. Rubbish was everywhere, incinerators, landfills, boats sailing around the plastic floating islands, full to tipping point going nowhere, paid to drift with their content. Sea life was the first to disappear. Living in the city, she hadn’t ever seen any living creature apart from insects and humans, just moving holograms and old recordings.
Then The Company had taken over, ran the world with it’s Global Government. This was another reason for her survival. The underground Chosen Ones group had agreed to dismantle The Company from within. The Company had already set up base and was ready to begin again but the survivors would be ready. This revolution would succeed. It had to. It had been agreed, those left with no family would take the more dangerous roles, they would be more likely to succeed, no family for The Company to use against them. They made a vow to not attach if it was found they were completely alone in the world. That was why she hoped to find a cousin, anyone. While she knew this battle was necessary she was afraid as it seems others had been too. They took the easy road and joined their loved ones in death. Family would mean a more normal existence for her, whatever normal was going to be.
There it went again. The siren stopped her wandering mind. She packed the small few items she had gathered and left The Company issued fallout tent prepared for the long march north to the ship. She had the map, she knew the drill. They had all learned it long before. Part of her was excited thinking she would soon meet other survivors, other Chosen Ones, despite her fear. She glanced back at her home, her past and made her way. Eve was heading to Mars, a new world, a new horizon, a new war.