Since the day it happened I’ve been guarded. Not guarded in the sense that meant I’d be protected but guarded from anyone and everyone who dared to pry open my elusive shell just a tiny bit. Most people refer to the events as ‘The day the sun disappeared’. I disagree with this as my sunshine never left, she’s right beside me with her chubby little hand clutching onto me. I simply call it ‘Fin’. Everything sounds a little less terrifying with a butchered French accent.
People don’t talk anymore, no conversations, no small talk – nada. You’re lucky to make eye contact with somebody because given the opportunity they will – “SAFETY IN 4 MILES, NORTH WEST”. The Lightguards will greet you at those infamous brass gates, smiles cramping their cheeks. They’ll take you in, bathe you, and even give you a set of freshly washed clothes. They’ll give you a packed lunch, give you the necessary supplies you need to survive, promise you “salvation and comfort here whenever you need it”. They’ll offer you all this and so much more, and then strip it all away from you before you could even mutter “please”. A single bullet straight between the eyes; they practically aim from the moment you press your eager finger against the buzzer. Or so I’ve heard from passing nomads. Sometimes I think I can hear the gunshots or maybe the screams of distress but then again it could just be the wind.
I miss the luxuries of Fin. Instead of bold breasted chimneys, wielding fires with warmth that enveloped me, I am now accustomed to puny campfires that spit and claw. Instead of duvets and mattresses that paw back at me I am now used to soil and stones that scratch me in the night. Abigail often offers me her blankets but I am far too proud to accept although I admire her generosity, it’s the trait I respect most in people. I’m yet to find anybody like us.
It’s noon. The Lightguards will patrol shortly; I assume they are stitching those ghastly grins to their faces before they do so. They search for what’s left of the families they have eradicated, putting up posters of them with bold directions to lead unsuspecting family members to the same fate. We have seen those innocent, hopeful faces on the photos nailed to what is left of the trees, their gnarled branches curled around them like bars. Every time we turn against each other I swear the sky darkens.
She is faster than me, but I am more agile. We have different ideas on the course of action we should take whenever we are faced with threat, I urge her to hide in what’s left of the shrubbery but she is resilient – she will run until her legs give out underneath her.
“SAFETY IN 5 MILES, NORTH WEST” A new tannoy splutters before the women speaks again, overly sweet and assertive, as if we will turn around and invite death into our lives. Abigail joked once that I had 9; this was after I had survived being run over by our not-so-friendly neighbor one September morning. Luckily, he only got my tail.