Outside, on the frigid surface of the world, a lone figure walks down dark alleys. Clad in clothes of any variety, her footsteps echo against the outside walls of the dead buildings.
Her weapon is at the ready every moment she remains outside. Eyes watch her every move, she knows this. But what keeps her alive is the looted submachinegun she holds onto with a white-knuckle grip.
The figure’s breath condenses and rolls over her shoulders as she marches onward in the maze.
Alleyways get narrower, with more clutter. Her pace slows to navigate the accumulated trash.
Her motorcycle helmet cuts off her peripheral vision, so she turns her head up to be vigilant. Being so close to her home, there are many who would love to cast a brick from above and take her place in the safety of the family bunker. She would rather die a painful death than let a desperate, starving, surface-sitter inside.
A puff of snow enters her vision, falling from the rooftops.
Was it disturbed from a person? The winds? A bird?
She raised her weapon, scanning the thin horizon.
A sound came from behind her, like a muffled, powerful spring. Halfway through turning there was a feeling of an embrace. One that had just enough force to throw her to the asphalt.
A net was around her, the submachinegun awkwardly pulled against her waist. She shot at once, but her arms couldn’t raise it for an accurate shot.It would be enough to scare off the surface-sitter savage. She wormed to the wall of the alley, and with leverage she righted herself.
The end of the hallway was devoid of moment, they had fled, but the familiar sound of a flare being let into the sky pushed her into a panic. She began to line up sections of the wire net against the barrel of the gun, firing before its time. Four shots, all misses.
A glass bottle landed between her and her destination. Fire erupted in the small alley.
Using what little vision she had, she caught a slight movement at the rooftops.
Bricks began falling, and she was glad her helmet was in good condition.
This time she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and lined up a shot against the net. It worked, the metal separated at frayed ends. She lined up the next one, but a brick landed on her unarmored right shoulder.
“Fuck!” she screamed in pain.
Her body tumbled back to the ground. Only a moment passed before she began righting herself, doing her best to focus on anything other than the shooting pain.
Was her arm still there, was it working?
She attempted to move her shoulder. Pain cascaded around the joint, but her arm moved. Her breath staggered, and another brick landed directly on the crown of her head.
It was enough to throw her balance. Even if she had been fully conscious, she was still bound.
She toppled face first; the visor on the helmet flew off on impact. The next moment she was back.
Blinking, she took another brick to her back. Her breath pulled away. Pain enveloped her being.
Bricks were landing all around her now, every couple of seconds. There was only one thing left to do.
She took a hand away from her weapon and with considerable effort and luck; she removed a set of keys from her belt. Her breath was staggered, and there was no way to know when or where the next brick was going to hit.
But she had to try.
With the smallest amount of movement, she threw the keys in the direction of the fire. In the heat, they would melt enough to be unusable. Her mother and son would be safe behind the reinforced door.
Her hand went back to her weapon, aiming as best she could at the keys on the asphalt.
A brick bounced off the alley wall in between her and the keys. She shot it to pieces, gaining vision on the keys.
Briefly, the rain of bricks stopped. She used this time to get a few shots around the keys, lining up a shot. She fired; they bounced vaguely in the direction of the flames. She tried again.
The next brick came down hard. It was directed, it was thrown with more rage or intention. Her ankle exploded in pain, and that pain reminded her body of the other impacts.
Her shoulder, her back, her ankle. She nearly passed out, but screamed instead.
“You god damned SAVAGES!”
A deep voice came from the rooftops.
“Hey! FUCK you!”
There was no mercy in either of the screams. But the savages had the advantage.
She lined up another shot on the keys, which were fading from her vision, and the light of the fire was making it more difficult to see anything else.
Her time was running out. She fired in a zig-zag motion, moving her whole body like a worm on the ground to do it. There was a glint of a shimmer, and she felt confident that the keys were melting away.
One last smile winked on her face.
She lied on her back, taking in the sight of stray bricks being carelessly thrown from the edge of the roof. A figure hard to see stood defiantly over the edge to get a clear look. It made a swift movement.
She let out a deep breath, her hand relaxing away from her weapon. There was a flash of darkness against the gray, cloudy sky.
A brick, thrown with hate, found the visorless section of her helmet. Colliding with her face, her body grew limp.