Dead City


A window is open on the second floor. Most of the doors on these buildings are locked, so the only way in is through the windows, and I don’t like breaking glass. It’s too loud, attracts too much attention. Even in a dead city, attention is not what I want.

I clamber up the fire escape toward the second floor. The bars are rusty, and I’m careful not to cut my hands. Once upon a time, we could go to a doctor if we hurt ourselves. Now there are no doctors, no hospitals, no nurses. If I’m hurt, I’ll stay hurt. Or deal with it myself.

And I don’t have the kind of experience, or courage, to stitch up my own hands.

Inside the apartment, I sift through the remains of what used to be someone’s life. Plates and cutlery are scattered on a table, crusted with food so old there’s nothing left even for the mold anymore. Dust clings to the stove, the sink, the chairs. A child’s doll lies in the corner.

The food in the fridge is long ago spoiled, but I find some stale crackers in the pantry, a bag of trail mix. A box of pasta. And water. Bottled water. It might as well be gold. I tuck as many bottles as I can fit into my backpack and hide the rest until I can come back. They’ll fetch a high price on the black market. Imagine: water that isn’t contaminated, that we don’t have to filter.

Liquid gold.

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