Deadly Instincts

Continued from ‘Life Goes On

Why didn’t I play a sport? Why didn’t I go to the gym? Why’d I think exercise was a waste of time?

Dread settles in my gut as I realize how out of shape I am. I don’t stand a chance if I have to defend myself and to think the only things I brought for defense are a pen and a plastic knife, because everyone knows how dangerous those two items are.

A pathetic laugh bubbles up from my chest as I think of how stupid I must look. Both my hands hang in the air in front of me. My fingers cling to the plastic weapons as if my life depends on it, but what good will they do me? Will I really be able to fend off an attacker? I swallow hard thinking how dark my thoughts have already turned, assuming the worst of people just because our entire city is encased inside a magical force field.

All amusement dies as I continue down the sidewalk. I stay to it as if someone might yell at me for walking in the street, the street that’s been vacant for nearly two days now. After all, where is one to drive to in an apocalypse? We still can’t leave and I doubt there’s anyone left on the other side of that glittering wall. Just one glance at it above my head sends shivers down my spine and thickens the trepidation in my stomach.

Tears threaten to spill over as I think of my parents, but a loud grumble of my stomach pushes them away. I don’t have time to be sad. I don’t have time to be fearful. I barely have time to be smart as survival instincts sound like alarms in my head. So many of them ring at once. Run! Find water! Hide! Protect yourself! Yet, every single one of them loses out to one: hunger.

It doesn’t matter how well I barricade myself in my room, or how many weapons I manage to accrue- not that I’d ever be able to use them on anyone anyway. Every other survival technique is useless if I don’t have food to keep me alive. It’s that thought which propels me further away from the safety of my dorm room. Though, I only make it to the campus store. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

My feet halt outside the glass doors, which expose the silent world within. Still, I pause. Anyone could be inside. Anyone could be lurking, waiting, ready to jump me and… Once more I swallow, not wanting to think about the cruelty of human nature. Why do I suddenly think of the worst of people?

Readjusting the knife and pen in my hands I edge towards the doors, unlocked as if an apocalypse didn’t just happen and it were just another Tuesday. As I step into the building I can almost trick myself. My best friend would be standing in the candy aisle, trying to decide between regular and peanut M&Ms. I’d stand behind her, shaking my head. After all, she always ends up picking up the Reese’s Pieces anyway because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as chocolate and peanut butter.

Then, I’d slide past her and snag a coffee from the cooler. We’d pay for our items. All the while, the two of us would pass sheepish glances at the boy behind the counter, the one with the hipster glasses that always has something witty to say.

Yet, no one greets me today. No smiles. No laughs. No hum of the freezer. No clicking of students typing away on keyboards in the lounge. Nothing greets me but the ran-sacked store, which looks like a tornado blew through it.

I should’ve known.

My hands drop to my sides as I glance around at all the empty shelves. Even the tasteless, off-brand foods are gone. No doubt everyone had the same idea as myself, but unlike me they were brave enough to leave their dorms and take food when they could.

Feeling foolish I weave through the wreckage. I’m not sure what I expect to find, if anything, or perhaps it’s just the sadness that settles in me as I realize my old life is gone. I don’t have my favorite store. I don’t know what’s happened to my friends or my parents. My literature professor killed himself. How many others chose the same path? How many others pitched themselves off bridges and rooftops when reality sunk in? When they realized that life as we know it is gone?

For a moment, the thought tempts me. A short jump. A quick fall. Then, it’d be over. I wouldn’t have to worry about slowly starving to death, or fearing for my life from the people I once called friends and classmates.

Light glints off the metal shelf. It glitters at me, welcoming me to its sharp point, taunting me with the quiet abyss of death. I inch closer. My hand stretches towards it, wondering just how sharp it really is.

The tip of my finger just grazes the contorted metal when something wraps around my waist and arms, yanking me backwards.

My scream splits the once quiet air. My feet kick wildly. My hands drop my only weapons in a flurry of panic as a deep chuckle brushes against my ear, churning my stomach.

“Mighty foolish of you to leave your dorm, girly,” they mock. With both arms wrapped around me they drag me to the check-out counter, tossing me forwards with full force.

I crash into it. The fake wood slams into my stomach as my hands fumble to catch me. Pain sears through my abdomen. Air expels from my lungs in a cough.

Next Installment: ‘Brains vs Brawn

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