“Well isn’t that just perfect?!” I cursed to myself as my last and only match sparked to life before suddenly turning to smoke, wisps of wind carrying it into the moonless night. With it went any chance of having a decent meal and keeping myself warm through the night. I groaned loudly, stepping outside my shelter and threw my head up and looked at the stars. They are the only thing that have stayed consistent since the world ended and the only thing i can count on to remind me I am still alive and there was still a reason to remain that way.
My mind is suddenly flooded with the memories of my family. Every Sunday night we would take a blanket out to the edge of the lake, lay side by side by the shoreline and stare up at the stars for what seemed like hours. My dad would point out a different constellation to my brother and I every week and tell us their stories and what made them special. My mom always packed our traditional Sunday night fried chicken dinner and more snacks than we could ever imagine eating in a single night just to make sure there was something everyone would like and enjoy. We would laugh, play and eat until we where gorged and then mamma and dad would walk us with heavy eyes back to our cabin hand in hand and put us to bed. Life was so simple back then, so easily taken for granted. I missed my family so much. I try so hard to push these memories out of my mind in my day to day life. If i ever have a chance of finding them again, I had to stay focused and keep myself alive. Letting my myself get distracted, even just for a second could mean the difference between life and death out here. These days you have to believe everyone is out to kill you and i cant afford to trust humanity anymore. I had to find my family.
My eyes stung as i tried to hold the memory filled tears back. With a sniffle i wiped a stray tear from my face and looked around. This pieced together plywood at the edge of the forest was a far cry from our beautiful oak cabin walls but it was my home now and i was determined to make the best of it. What other choice did i have?
Shrugging on my coat, I pulled back my sewn together rabbit furs that served as a makeshift door, and stepped outside into the cold dark night. Taking a quick look around the perimeter of my camp for intruders, and seeing the coast was clear, I walked over to the fishing line i hung with strips of rabbit meat to dry in the sun. Pulling a thick piece of now dried up bunny meat I took a large bite and went to check the traps. As i made my way to the first one i could see there was a small unmoving lump of fur caught in the trap. I approached it cautiously before i realized it was just a small jack rabbit that had succumbed to the frozen night.
” Great, more rabbit meat” i said my myself with an eye roll. Starting to feel the frost myself, i quickly detached the rabbits foot from the string and tossed the frozen body in my side bag. As i started to make my way back to my camp before i myself could freeze to death, i heard the crunch of frozen leaves behind me.
I came to quick stop and spun around to look my attacker in the face, If i was going to die, i certainly wouldn’t allow myself to be an easy kill. I glared into the night, looking for the source of the noise but came up short. I couldn’t see anything, but that didn’t mean someone wasn’t out there waiting for me to let down my guard before making their attack. My hand quickly fell to my hip and i pulled out my hunting knife i had sheathed there and I stayed morbidly silent, listening for their next move so i could pinpoint their location. I stayed so still an onlooker would have thought i froze to death right in that very spot but my eyes where constantly moving, the only sign indicating i had any life left in my body. When i didn't hear or see anything for a few minutes i let my body relax a bit. Maybe a small animal racing to escape the fresh blanket of snow that had quickly coated the ground?
Just to be safe i walked backwards the rest of the way to my camp so i could keep my eye on the surroundings and see if someone was trying to follow me back. I knew this area like the back of my hand, i knew where every fallen log was and where every trap i had set for humans or animals alike, was located so i didn’t have any worries about walking back this way. I took slow and nearly silent steps back. When i came to the small bolder marking the edge of my self claimed property i allowed myself to turn around and face the camp. I quickly looked at the very minimal belongings that made up my home, looking for anything out of place or signs someone had been here in the short while i was gone. There was nothing i noticed in the very dim light shining down from nothing but the starry night but i proceeded to my shelter with caution anyway. You can never be to careful when the very people you used to call friends are now trying to kill you and take what very limited resources you have for themselves just so they can survive another day. But so is the way when the world as we know it does a complete 180.
Once i was sure there was nothing out of place i walked over to the pile of frozen rabbits i had collected over the last few days and added the newest addition to the pile. I took a long remorseful look at the small pile of frozen bodies. I hated that i had to kill, It was the complete opposite of everything i believed in, but these animals where my only source of food at the moment and i had to keep my strength up and that meant doing things i hated doing.
I was certain i was now frozen half to death and decided to turn in for the night, praying to whoever would listen i would be able to keep myself warm in the minimal pelt blankets i had. Walking into my shelter i quickly changed out of my large winter coat, that was starting to drip freezing water from the fallen snowflakes that had dusted the fabric, got into a dry change of clothes and hopped under my fur blanket, hoping sleep would take me quickly.
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