Chapter 22: Svetlana
A lone calendar hung on an otherwise empty wall. The guest room I was sleeping in these days had only a bed, a lamp, a dresser, and the calendar I looked at now. The rest of the house was normal, in terms of room contents, but I chose the guest room because there weren't any obnoxiously themed bedspreads or sheets of wallpaper. I reached over with a thick red sharpie and put an "X" through July 9th. A week had passed since the Destruction and during that time frame I had stumbled upon a relatively well-kept, empty house. An empty house stocked with food.
Without a moment's hesitation I had begun to think of ways to prevent people from entering the house. I had finally concluded to board up the doors and windows, with the exception of one in the back. In the last seven days I hadn't gotten any visitors and was able to live in peace. And that was a problem. The food wasn't exactly what I was used to, but I ate it anyway. The DVDs stacked in the home theater weren't what I'd normally watch, but I watched them anyway, just out of sheer boredom. The plumbing worked and the beds were comfortable, no one came visiting and no one wanted to.
Sitting on the edge of the bed I leaned back on my hands and stared up at the blank ceiling. Oh, how I'd love to crash through it. Or throw someone through it. Getting up I decided that sitting around for a week while doing absolutely nothing wasn't going to cut it. What's wrong with you, Svetlana? a voice inside my head asked, The apocalypse has just happened and you're not taking this opportunity to wreak havoc on the remaining citizens? Who cares if your friends are all dead, it's not like they liked you in the first place.
I narrowed my eyes and tried to ignore the thoughts as I made my way down the stairs and into the front hall. "I need some sort of weapon first," I said to myself, looking around the room in frustration, "I can't threaten people without anything to back me up. I'm not like Flameheart. I don't have any power," That's right, The voice said, You used to have power, but you lost it. What can you do now? Take it back.
I clenched my fists and felt a deep, hot anger starting to burn inside me. I took a deep breath and wiped off the sweat that had begun to form on my brow. As the one open window came into sight a shot of adrenaline spread throughout me. The light of day came closer and I could feel the taste of action, of danger. Danger caused by me.
I rolled out of the window ungracefully and landed on my hands and knees with a thud. I got up quickly and dusted the flecks of dirt off of my clothes. It was then that I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the top of the window and realized that I wouldn't exactly blend in with the crowd. Never had I seen a citizen of Reyesent with bloody hair and a tattooed eye. "Fuck," I whispered, lightly pounding my fist against the side of the house. Maybe it's best if they do see you coming, the voice said, Then they'll know exactly who to thank when they see their friends in Hell. I shook my head and couldn't help but disagree with the voice, but what could I do now? I closed the window and ran around to the front of the house. I wasn't terribly far from the city- I had walked here from that family's shed and made it here in less than an hour. But I knew I'd want to save my energy for later.
A dark blue jeep was parked in the driveway. I grabbed a stone from the former resident's rock garden and hit it against the driver's window until the glass shattered. I jumped back right before the glass hit the ground and reached over to pull up the lock on the inside of the door. After a few seconds of struggling to grab the lock, I finally got a good grip on it and was able to pull it up as far as it would go. I swung the door open and, reaching my leg and arm over the pool of glass, pulled myself onto the seat. The door closed behind me as I pulled down the visor. Just as I had expected, the spare set of keys fell from its perch and into my lap.
My red lips broke into a smile at the sound of the humming engine. I pulled out of the driveway smoothly and drove off in the direction of the city. Speed limits no longer existed so I figured flooring the break was the only option- and it was a fun one. I appeared in the city in seconds, it seemed. The tires screeched to a halt when the sight of an artillery warehouse caught my attention. My smile broadened as I leapt out of the car and began to jog over to the monstrous building. It was a miracle, and perhaps a blessing, that the warehouse had been unaffected by the Destruction. If anything had so much as touched it we would've seen the explosion of a century, leaving no one to tell the tale.
Approaching a small door next to the gigantic garage doors it occurred to me that I once I got my hands on a sweet AK-12, locked doors would cease to be a problem. But it was a problem now and even I wouldn't try to drive through a wall with shelves beyond shelves of weapons. I leaned against the door and thought for a moment. Then it occurred to me: I could just kick the door open. And I did.
It was glorious; there was no other way to describe it. Rows upon rows of cold, hard destruction came to life as I discovered the switch that illuminated the storage space. I walked down the rows in a dream-like manner, my eyes aglow, my mouth slightly open in silent awe. And then I saw it: the Kalashnikov AK-12 from my own imagination. I hadn't seen one like it since I had more or less moved to the United States. As I carefully lifted it off the shelf it occurred to me that there probably wouldn't be any ammunition in it. I ran with my new best friend to the back of the room until I came to another door, leading me out of the storage space.
After searching through too many halls I finally found the right room. It seemed to take even longer to find the right kind of bullets, but when I did I made sure to take as many as I could carry. I left the room feeling quite pleased with myself; I had just looted a new, top-notch machine gun, along with two boxes containing fifty bullets each. As I walked down the hall I passed a women's bathroom. Setting down the boxes I pushed the door open and made a beeline for the mirror. The lighting wasn't great, but I could still make out my appearance; I was disgusting. I held up the gun and slightly turned my body away from the mirror while dramatically looking over my shoulder; now I was beautiful.
With my new found confidence I headed out of the bathroom, picked up the boxes of bullets, and soon found myself outside. I threw the ammo and AK-12 into the passenger seat beside me before I sat myself down in front of the steering. I relished the moment of loading the gun with bullets until it could hold no more before starting up the engine. I had decided long before I even got in the car the first time where I would go: Saper's. Sure, City Hall might symbolize a place of power, but the source of life was where it was all at.
The instant my stolen car pulled into view the two kids guarding the grocery store door became alert. I watched, wanting to laugh, as they pointed their pathetically small guns at my vehicle. I didn't recognize either of them as members of the Sky Force that had chased after me and my companions for so long, but terrorizing them would still be fun. The jeep came to a halt and I threw the door open, wasting no time. I hopped out, holding the gun at my side, trying to appear casual. The two kids blocking the entrance had guts, but those guts were easily accessible and might soon be visible.
I walked up to the girl decked with skulls, thinking that out of the two standing there she might give me a straight answer. I looked down at her with a smile, "Are you going to let me in there?" I asked.
The girl narrowed her eyes and replied, "Do you have an appointment to meet with Preston?" I looked at her for a moment and then burst out laughing. As soon as I stopped I swung my gun around so that the end was pressed against her cheek, my finger resting on the trigger.
"No, I don't have an appointment," I replied, tracing my sharp fingernail across the girl's cheek, "But as for whoever this Preston character is, I'm guessing that very soon he'll be making appointments with me," The girl was terrified now, her eyes stretched wide and her breathing starting to come in shallow gasps. I didn't want a scene, though. Not yet. Quick as lightening I turned away from her and faced her companion, a tall brunette boy with eyes to match my own. "Are these doors automatic?" I asked. He nodded silently, not one trace of an expression to be found. I was a little disappointed, but shrugged it off, knowing that he wouldn't matter in the long run. "Then why aren't they opening?" I asked, my voice still friendly.
"We've locked them," he replied monotonously, as if talking to me was some kind of chore, "You need the key to get in,"
I was starting to lose my patience, "And where would I get this key?" I asked, my voice barely above a whisper. The boy shrugged and reached into his jacket pocket. His hand returned with a shiny silver key which he then used to unlock the door. They slid open effortlessly. As I walked through them and into the dark store I couldn't help but feel a little unnerved at the boy's compliancy and lack of emotion. He was probably just scared and didn't want to say anything that would finally make me use my gun.
Strolling down the rows of food almost gave me as much pleasure as walking down the rows of guns had given me earlier. I was sick of the endless amounts of sushi I had found stashed away in my adopted home's refrigerator and within a matter of minutes all of this food would be at my disposal. A door that read "Manager" loomed in front of me. Undaunted by the idea of someone with whom I might need to negotiate with being in there, I opened the door and strode in. Yet another child was sitting behind the desk, although a little more nicely dressed than the ones outside.
"May I help you?" he asked, his high British accent not surprising me in the least.
"My name's Svetlana," I said, walking over to his desk and slamming the AK-12 down in front of me. "And now, you work for me,"
"Ha!" The boy laughed a little, "I am Preston Winthrop Esquire. I'm a 17 year old CEO of a lucrative water bottle company and I have taken the management of Saper's because, honestly, no one else is fit to manage anything around here. I've heard of you, Svetlana. How much money do you make on a daily basis, hm?" The butt of my machine gun collided with his skull before he could guess. He squealed in pain and stumbled back, clutching the side of his head. Part of his blond hair was slowly turning red as the assault began to take its toll. "Vile commoner!" he cried out, "You've killed me! Call for an ambulance immediately!"
I laughed, almost uncontrollably, "I haven't killed you, stupid boy," I replied, "Sound's like you've never felt pain before. Consider this to be your first lesson. Now please, save yourself the humiliation and just step aside," Preston made his way over to the corner of the room with difficulty.
The chair he had been previously sitting in was found to be quite comfortable. I swiveled around to face Preston, "Don't take any offense at this," I said, "But I just cannot believe that you are the one behind the whole operation going on down at here at Saper's. So tell me; who should I really be worried about?"
Preston groans and I can't tell if it's from the pain in his head or from having to admit that he's not the one who's really in charge, "A kid named Derek Vouge," he replies, "He's a Council member and he's not here right now. Can I get this bandaged?" He turns his attention back to his wound.
I shrugged, "You might need more than a bandage," I replied, "You might have a concussion. There's a hospital you can go to to get that checked out, right?"
"Are you kidding me?" Preston asked, angry now, "Everyone knows the hospital was destroyed! And what do you mean I might have a concussion? What could happen?"
I smiled and looked over at him condescendingly, "Pity," I commented before swiveling my chair back around. I heard Preston groan and sink to the floor but paid him no attention as I fooled around with the intercom, "I need some food delivered to the manager's office," I thought for a moment, "How about a salad? I thought I saw some boxed ones in one of the freezer cases. Thanks!" I took my hand off the speaker button and leaned back on the chair, propping my feet up on the desk.
Pretty soon a kid draped in tie-dye came in the room with a half-asleep look, holding the box of greens. "Just set it down right there," I said with a smile, motioning to the edge of the desk.
He did as he was told and then looked at me, his eyelids still drooping, "Uh," his voice was the definition of ignorance, "Who are you?" I looked over at Preston, who's eyes were moving in and out of focus.
"Who is this?" I asked him, "Anyone you care about?" Preston lifted his head slowly and looked over at the kid.
"That's Iggy," he replied, "He just started here yesterday. And no, he hasn't got any money. Why should I care about him?"
Without breaking eye contact with water bottle CEO I lifted my precious AK-12 and shot Iggy right between the eyes. Blood spattered onto the desk and onto the plastic salad cover, "No reason," I replied.