2020 Chap. 2 by Jo Celine

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get to shelter. Those in cars just drove, hoping the next crater in the road wouldn't contain their car, or parts of it. The Family Recon group were just a single bubble of cars caught alive between the shattering city and a bridge that suddenly broke and fell. They could not leave, and the road back to the metropolis, no more than a dozen kilometers away, was littered with potholes and wrecks all the way to the gates which were, they had heard, guarded by soldiers. We questioned each other in curious but unsuspicious ways. I wondered what soldiers would guard a smoldering ruin for, and from who? They wondered about the city I had just escaped from and did I have any news? News. Even the cars with batteries still working could receive no radio signals at all. The soldiers probably knew nothing, it was assumed but nothing could be certain except that something terrible had happened, an accident, a war, or the end of the world.

I spent the night encircled by tires on fire, trying to find a spot not in the direct line of the cloying and acrid smoke. They kept patrols on guard constantly, armed with tire irons and bits of wood and metal, all because of the dogs. They said that I was lucky to have only encountered a wolf, the dogs are apparently much worse. They run in packs, fearless of humans and suddenly possessed of a wild and vicious hunger. I saw some of them through the wafting mists, haze and smoke, wandering close and brazenly snarling, kept away only by the fires and smoke and the regular pelting of stones. I had no idea of the population of dogs our society had amassed, or of the reality of popular breeds. They were black, tan and sandy coloured, all different, all big, and of several sets of types. Doberman types were the runners, like advance guards, followed by the mastiffs, Rotwieler types, with the Alsatian types mixed into to both groups, some of them resembling the 'wolf' I had encountered. The motley pack ran with a barking assortment
of everything from Poodles, Pit Bulls, shaggy Setters and towering Great Danes. So many, where had our society been hiding them all?
Sheila was a mother with her baby, constantly in tears, still breastfeeding but unable to sleep anymore. Her husband had been at work, only miles from here, and her daughter, Angela, in grade three, well no one really knew now, did they? Maybe in the Metropolis there were some havens, some buildings still standing, maybe some makeshift shelters where the survivors are fine, and just waiting. And then she'd cry again, and several of the group would snuggle in and try to comfort her with the wisdom of the moment. 'It's going to be fine. The army will rebuild. This is just an area particularly hard hit. The first bombs would have triggered alarms and the children would be the first to be sheltered. The city has stockpiles of food and medicine and from here on, things will just improve. The worst must be over.'
That night some of the people asked me to attend a meeting tomorrow. They were going to share their information and plan to re-enter the Metropolis, they planned to go home.

It is noon, we've been marching since dawn stopping only to repair and relight our torches.

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