Madeleine shivered in anticipation, licking her chapped lips as she clutched the gun with both hands and close to her heaving chest, the undulated outer walls of the gas station they had just stumbled upon digging into her poorly clothed back as she struggled to keep herself still.
They had been starving for too many days and the lack of nourishment within their organisms was already starting to show its negative effects.
Her sky blue eyes darted back to Tate, her best friend and the closest thing to a paternal figure as he'd been the one to take care of her and basically raise her since she'd lost her parents right after the start of the pandemic.
She smiled as for the millionth time, she recounted the way he'd found her five years ago, wandering the streets all alone and starving.
She still couldn't fathom how she'd managed to survive on her own for almost a year, after the death of both her parents, thanks to the virus.
Right on cue, her stomach cramped in pain once again, making her snap back to reality.
She watched Tate give her a signal nod, right before he swiftly turned and slammed his raggedy boot against the weathered door, sending it flying against the wall.
Holding their guns pointed, they carefully stepped past the threshold, the man being the first to enter the worn-down establishment.
He protectively held the girl close behind his back as his calculative eyes scanned the area for any other scavenging intruders, entirely pleased when he found none.
"All clear," He informed her, both rushing to roam every shelf and storage space for something edible.
And though the place was unfortunately fairly empty, they still found some useful things like band-aids, matches and even a few cans of old peanuts.
She didn't waste a single moment as she could still feel her stomach hurt so badly so she opened a can and shoved a fistful of stale peanuts into her mouth, sighing in contentment once she'd swallowed.
It felt good to have something to fill their bellies with after days of starvation.
"This is definitely better than that skinny-ass rat," She commented as they kept searching around, earning a nod of approval from her protector.
They rounded another section of shelves before they stumbled upon a simple white door in the wall, both looking at each other for a moment.
Tate moved forward and slammed his boot against it, raising his gun just for safety before he carefully stepped inside, followed by Maddie who was still munching on her precious peanuts.
Only the moment they turned on the lights and finally saw what was hiding inside, they both broke into a joyous laughter.
"Oh my god!" She cried in disbelief, eyes wide as saucers as she gazed at the stacks of candies, snacks and bags of coffee.
She couldn't even remember the last time she'd had a coffee, let alone a snack or a candy!
"Sweet holy jesus!" Tate exclaimed as his grey eyes fell upon a box filled with bottles of liquor, like a man thirsted in the desert immediately rushing to grab a bottle and unscrew its cap, taking long and greedy gulps right after.
It'd been a while since he'd last enjoyed the taste and sweet buzz of an alcoholic beverage.
"We have to load up the Cammie," She told him, reffering to the old and beat-up Cammaro waiting outside that had been their home from a while now, knowing that they would have to take as much as they can and hurry up since there were chances that they could be followed inside and have another fight for the food with other starving people.
God knows how much she hated it. She didn't enjoy hurting other people since she knew they were only trying to survive, just like her and her Tate.
Unfortunately, the world abided by only one rule; kill or be killed.
"Come on, we have wasted so much time already," She told the man as she snatched the bottle from his hand and took a long and hearthy swig, earning herself a narrowed look from him.
"What? I turned nineteen yesterday!" She hurried to defend her actions right before taking another swig, only to have her bottle taken away right after.
"I want you to be able to drive," He told her as he put the cap back on the bottle then moved to place it back into the box, together proceeding to take as many boxes as they could and carry them to the car.
They had just finished, taking a few things to eat and the opened bottle of liquor to the front seats with them when the faint rumble of engines touched Tate's sensitive hearing, despite his respectable age.
"Shit. We have to hurry," He told the girl as they both scrambled to their seats and slammed the car doors closed, immediately taking off with screeching tires.
Madeleine's heart wildly pumped within her chest as her eyes kept darting to the rearview mirror, her trembling fingers hovering over the gun strapped to her tattered jeans.
And soon enough, a black pick-up truck came into view from behind, loudly roaring as it kept gaining in on their old Cammie.
"Oh no...S-scavengers," She shakily whispered under her breath, her limbs trembling in terror as she already knew that the chances for her and her Tate to survive after a Scavenger raid were extremely slim. They were pretty well-known for their ruthlessness.
"You know what you have to do, Mads," The man told her with a quick glance as he drove, earning himself a quick and shaky nod.
Eyes wide, she thickly swallowed before climbing on her seat and reaching for Tate's shotgun from the backseat.
Tightly holding it to her chest, she then rolled down the window and leaned her upper body over, carefully taking her aim. And with an exhale, she took a shot, unfortunately only managing to shoot off one the truck's side mirrors.
"Damnit!" She cursed under her breath, preparing to take another shot when the sight of what happened next had her gasping in utter horror.
"Oh my god!"
"What?" Tate asked back, his gaze immediately darting to the rearview mirror, only to widen in pure shock as well.
There were two individuals on the back of the truck, holding a semi-automatic gun pointed straight at their Cammie.
His boot floored the gas pedal, going as fast as they could. Yet it turned out completely useless as as soon as they started shooting the rain of bullets hit both back tires, making the car flip into the air for a few times before it slammed into the ground.
Maddie's ears loudly rung, her vision blurry as her mind struggled to comprehend what just happened, feeling nothing but pain in her entire body.
She groaned as she tried to move, her eyes quickly darting to Tate's seat.
"Popsie?" She weakly called, her breathing starting to come out in short and uneven puffs as she received no response.
"Popsie please," She called out again, groaning in pain as she managed to flip herself onto her knees since the car was now upside down.
She grabbed onto his shoulder and lightly shook him off, whimpering in utter horror as his head lastly turned, noticing his bloodied face and neck.
"Popsie!" She screamed, tears streaming down her cheeks as she struggled to help him move, completely oblivious at the sound of a vehicle approaching.
"Just...go..." He croaked out, too drained to even try and look at her. His whole body hurt so bad and judging by the gut wrenching pain striking inside every time he breathed, he knew pretty damn well that he only had minutes left.
"Just fucking go you stupid kid!" He roared at her with his last ounce of strength, praying that she would manage to save herself. He couldn't bare the thought that she could get caught and tortured by those savages. He knew exactly what they would do to her if they caught her.
"No...I'm not leaving you!" She cried between hot tears, but before she could even try and touch him again a rough hand wrapped around her ankle, forcefully dragging her out of the vehicle with a loud scream.
She wailed her heart out, both out of fear and hurt as one of the scavengers grabbed her by her matted hair and forced her to stand up, meeting the hungry gaze of a raggedy and dirtied young male, wickedly grinning at her.
She instantly started to thrash and scream in his hold, even managing to land a kick in his groin.
He groaned in pain, shoving her to the ground in anger.
She landed with a dull thud, hitting the back of her head against the asphalt, dark spots dancing in her vision as she stared up at the four males now surrounding her, making crude jokes as they hungrily gazed down at her.
"It's Dale's turn now, isn't it?"
"Come on, Dale, you can go first,"
"Can't wait to have my turn, I bet this bitch is gonna scream,"
"I wanna fuck her in the ass. Come on, we can do it at once. Dale is gonna fuck her pussy while I can have her ass and Joe can fuck her mouth," She faintly heard one of them say as she struggled to get up.
"Hey! What about me?" Another one said just as she managed to roll over her stomach, and just as she got up on her knees one of them yanked her by the hair again, making her scream in pain.
"Shut up you fucking dog!" One of them said but before he could give her a kick he suddenly found himself with a bullet planted within the back of his head, immediately falling to the ground.
A loud and fast row of shots followed, making the girl scream and duck her head between her arms, crouching on the ground.