Part I: August
I’m running for my life again. It’s the second time today and the twelfth time this week that I’ve been forced to run flat out, avoiding debris and decaying corpses like an Olympic athlete. Glancing left, I use the few windows still intact after the bombs to peer behind me, my sluggish brain trying to come up with a solution for escaping the nightmare that has been tailing me for weeks. My energy is quickly flagging. You knew better than to leave the coop with those assholes so close behind, August. Yeah, well I didn’t exactly have a choice.
The chicken coop on the Miller farm was a saving grace for me when I was desperate for a place to hide. The small, dark space made me feel safe and hidden. It also helped that the recently deceased chickens masked my scent so the Raiders dogs couldn’t easily sniff me out. Downside was the lack of food or clean water that forced me into the city long before I was recovered enough for travel. It’s hard to rest and recuperate with no sustenance. Add in the fact that the nasty head wound above my right eye made me nauseous enough to throw up my last can of tuna and you get a skinny, injured, dehydrated survivor that has maybe a mile left in her before she becomes a used up play toy for the Raiders MC. Been there, almost got the t-shirt. What a horrible souvenir it would have been. I'd take the knock to the head and a few aching ribs that I earned escaping their clubhouse of sin over being used by them any day of the week.
I make a split second decision and veer off into the alley to my left. Praying to whoever’s listening that dumb and ugly keep running straight while I find somewhere to hide. If I keep running in the shape i’m in, the Raiders could become the least of my worries. No, I need to hide and regroup. Feeling like my lungs may burst from trying to quiet down the forceful pants breaking through my chest, I frantically look around the alley.
There. Halfway down I see an old rusted fire escape that leads all the way up to the roof of the deteriorating apartment building to my right. I waste no time. Using the last of my energy, I force my body off the ground into a leap, barely grabbing onto the bottom rung of the ladder. I swing there for a moment, trying to gather the strength to pull myself the rest of the way up, praying that the old piece of shit doesn’t announce my presence with its moaning and groaning. I honestly don’t know how close they are or if they saw me turn into the alley.
I know climbing up is a gamble that I may lose. I could essentially trap myself on the roof with no way down. As I begin the arduous climb up six stories by absolute will alone, I picture the MC blocking me in like baying hounds on their shitty old recycled bikes. The asshole leader who gave me this pounding head wound leading the pack, smiling ear to ear at his supposed prize. What all these fuck sticks fail to realize is that I will not be leaving this roof top with them. I knew when I chose to climb up that this may be my funeral in the sky. Because I will jump before I let him have me. Before I let any of them have me.
If I can just make it to the top, I may live to see another day. But the dizziness is so bad. I’m exhausted. My body is shutting down. And honestly i’m so, so scared. The blackness closes in around me just as my arms latch onto the lip of the roof, struggling to pull myself up and over, knowing in the end that I can't. There comes a point when even an iron will to survive just isn't enough. I feel myself slipping. The last thing I see before the darkness swallows me whole, is a masculine arm grabbing onto mine and hauling me over the edge.
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