“Record. Journal entry May 19, 2278. Half of the day is already behind me and I have roughly two to three more hours to find shelter before dusk. It is not safe out here, especially in the middle of nowhere with nothing but highway and desert for as long as I can see. My last place of shelter roughly lasted for four days and that was pushing it. Survival requires constant busy. I do not stay in one place for more than three days. Between the wild and the zombies, you are better off constantly in motion. The wild comes out during the day with temperatures sometimes peaking between 115-125 degrees. Between the zombies and frigid weather, nighttime becomes your best friend.” I place the recorder back in my pocket. I curse myself for miscalculating the heat. My car has been sucking up coolant for the past hour and has now shut down. After spending the last few minutes camouflaging my ride, I venture southwest from its location in search of water and or shelter. I take all my belongings with me. I have no choice. I do not want to run into anything living that is looking for me to be their next meal. Water. Shelter. Survival. My map does not show this area at all. If I had to venture a guess, I think I finally reached the tip of what use to be Oklahoma, which borders Colorado and Texas.
I am still a long way from the territory early ancestors called Guatemala. The last strong transmission from six months ago stated there is a secure post and ships at sea harboring safety from the elements. This terrain is not like any I have seen since I started my journey. I tread cautiously as the ground cover is as thick as the trees, an eerie shade of deep green with black moss. There is a smell of decay and death about. This is not a good sign. I continue my trek, eyes darting front, side to side, looking for any motion. Snap! I scream out in pain. Wrong move man. If anything is out here, they know you are here now. Failing to look down I stepped right into a steel trap. Effective measure as I look back up into the bunt of a weapon that knocks me out cold.
Quickly the young girl throws a blanket of deep green and black moss over the man she just rendered immobile. Senses heighten, she works quickly. She has not been this far from the complex in quite some time. Spotting his vehicle, she frisks it swiftly retrieving some items before covering it with a more effective camouflage that would render any followers immobile. She makes her way back to the man, removes his ankle from the trap and wraps it with a bandage. With great strength she loads him onto her sleigh-like vehicle and with the speed of a jaguar they move smoothly and swiftly through the vegetation without making a sound. Within several minutes she reaches her destination at the garage. Entering from the east, she opens the first steel grid. Easing the sleigh into the sewage pipe, she turns and secures the grid, and then pulls another steel grid down from the top of the pipe repeating the process. This is the first line of defense. Moving again with great speed, she has only another thirty minutes to get to her destination. After making several turns through the pipes, she comes to a dead end. Carefully removing the debris, she uncovers a steel door with a decipher lock. Entering the code, she places her left hand to the right of the door. It smoothly opens. Remounting the sleigh, she enters, debunks and pulls the door closed behind her. She checks her stopwatch, 00:15:00. She made it back with 15 minutes to spare before dust begins to make its descent on the world outside. Adjusting her mask, she places a spare mask on the man and covers the sleigh with a protective cover. She waits as a fine mist falls from the atmosphere. Once it clears, she drives ahead another fifty feet with its unconscious cargo to the waiting elevator. “Argo, open please.”
“Welcome back Brooks. What floor please?”
“I detect that you are not alone.”
“No, I found a stray in the woods. Once I get him to the lab let us keep him out for a little longer while we find out more about him."
A few seconds later the elevator opens to the sixth floor. Its appearance is in huge contrast to the floor leading out to the sewage pipes. The sewage entrance is rusty, designed to detour anything walking or crawling inhibiting its space. The mist is designed to kill anything living object on site, sans the mask. The sixth floor is quite open and divided by glass like walls into three sections. To the far left appears to be a clinic area, with the center being completely sterile and the right filled with ten rows of electronics from servers to security cameras and more. Pulling the sleigh into the center room a door closes behind them. Shower heads emerge from the walls on both sides of her. She quickly undresses the man and herself, placing the clothing in a container resembling a trash chute that has appeared at the back of the room. Pressing the wall above it, it retreats into the wall. The clothes burn instantly. She moves the man to the right of the room, careful not to touch the walls. She collects the remaining of his belongings and places on the wall opposite of the trash chute onto a conveyor belt which disappears once she walks away. On the left she taps the wall above the far-left showerhead and quickly showers. Tapping again, the showerhead retreats and opens a panel in the center. She dresses and exits the room making her way to the room of cameras and devices.
Sitting at a display of monitors labeled for each floor, she quickly reviews the footage before redirecting her attention to the man on the floor. Argo had already inspected his belongings and had the items laid on the table before her. He travelled light. A stopwatch, a couple of metal objects that resembles keys, a digital journal, some writing materials, some tools, a couple of knives and a gun with ammo. Thumbing through the journal, it looks he kept a daily account of the terrain he traveled across and pictured in the front was a rough map of what was once called The Americas. Circled was the country known as Guatemala. Nothing indicated his name or how old he was. She suspected that they were close in age, maybe one of them older than the other by only a few years. Inspecting the man again, she notes that Argo has also finished a preliminary physical. Charcoal in color, his height was just shy of six foot four. Great muscle tone which meant he takes great care of his body. Lean which meant he might have some speed to him. No missing teeth, no signs of contaminated blood, no other physical scars or marks other than the teeth of the steel trap which will disappear in a few more days. “I’ve already given him the necessary disinfectants. Shall I wake him?”
“Yes, Argo turn on the water so our guest can bathe please. When he’s finished lead him to the third floor.”
"What the hell,” as he jumps up from the white floor to warm water streaming out of the walls. Shaking away the cobwebs he turns about to get his bearings. The room was devoid of furniture, just the water streaming from what seem to be faucets on the wall. Standing for several moments he wonders if he is dreaming. It had been a while since he had use of a shower. After a few minutes he assumes that the water is clean of germs. On a ledge is a bar of soap and a small plastic dish with a white powder labeled baking soda. He cleans his body and uses the baking soda to clean his mouth. Stepping away from the faucets, they shut off and disappear into the wall. That is interesting he surmises internally. A panel opens with what appears to be clean clothing. He dresses noting that no shoes were provided, or belt. The clothing fit him comfortably, as if his donor knew his exact size. Nothing fit snug or too loose. It was obvious that someone had working technology wherever he was. He glances about the room again but notices no visible signs of cameras. His instincts though were telling him he was being watched. The door to the space opens, and he exits the room. Judging the size of the hall he ascertained that the space was quite large, however he was only given sight to the space before him which was illuminated. He concluded that whoever was his benefactor was not quite ready to share information on where they were located or in what. His belongings were not in the room he exited, also giving him no idea or clue to the time and how long he had been unconscious. One curious note was how quickly his ankle was healing from the trap that snared him in the first place.
Following the light, he is enlightened as a voice speaks from speakers he cannot locate. His path takes him to an open elevator which he steps into. Glancing at the panel he notices no numbers to select from, just a space for some type of keycard entry perhaps. The door closes, and he continued to listen to the female voice. The motion of the doors closing so smoothly, he listens for the gears to give him an indication to whether it is moving up or down.
“Welcome to the town of Aeverless. Nestled in these mountains is a throwback to small towns of old. If you blink too hard, you will miss it. For there are only four main streets, Northside, Westside, Southside and you guessed it Eastside. Northside is what we call our main business district. The bank, cleaners and two general stores occupy the mile-long road. On Eastside, Ms. Joy’s Diner and Callie’s Bed and Breakfast are the only tenants. Southside is the busiest with the gas station and garage owned by the Mootles family. They also own the movie theater and pool hall. That leaves Westside, home to our local post office, court, police and law office. The courthouse has a small local office that manages the utilities.
If one were to look for this town on any map, they would not find it. It is just that small. Most folks only learn about it because they missed a turn on the main highway, looking for gas or a quick bite. That is the way the town folks liked it. The day of the bombings came as no shock, but we were not really prepared. When the sirens stopped, the infrastructure was so fray that no one was prepared for the massive storm that followed. My family fled New York with a few neighbors and we just kept heading west. The year was 2262, and I was four years old. The devastation we saw along the way was horrific. What started as everyone pulling together to help their neighbor quickly turned sideways. Power hungry folks who had wielded that power became elite again, resuming a class structure of the have and have nots. My family kept its head down and kept moving west. Our goal was to reach the west coast, maybe San Diego or some coastal area of Southern California. We made it as far as New Mexico. I did not think New Mexico had mountains but there are mountains. Our transportation broke down leaving us to walk. Hence our finding the town. My family, thinking we would stay only a day or two, found between the storm and the war life as we knew it was about to get extremely unstable. It was not safe to travel at night and during the day, well I did not know which fear was worst. Thinking we would be okay, we stayed. However, this town was not as it appeared to be.”
The doors to the elevator open and he find himself staring down the barrel of a twelve-gauge shotgun with the most incredible brown eyes and full head of onyx curls he has ever seen staring dead back at him.
“I’m sorry I'm getting ahead of myself. My name is Brooks Coveia and I am the last living survivor in Aeverless.” “What’s your name?”
He simply cannot help himself. Was it a fact that he had not seen another human much less a woman in more than a year? He stood there taking in the view. She must be somewhere in between 5’5 to 5’8, thin but curvy in all the right places with the skin tone resembling a juicy piece of dark caramel. When she opened her mouth, her teeth were pure white. Amazing. He felt a stir in his loins but quickly closed his mind and body to those thoughts. His priority was to find out where he was and who or what she was.
“Are you finished gawking? Name?” she commands again. This time the brown of her eyes glared and darkened, like an oncoming tsunami.
“No, I’m not. I am enjoying the view. It is been a while since I have seen a woman. Even angry you’re quite pretty.”
“Even angry I’m quite deadly. Name.” Relaxing his stance, he laughs. She, however, does not budge. Her voice does a number to his pulse. It stirs at his heart and loins and a longing he is never known overcomes him. Damn, this is not the time to start feeling any emotions. “I’m sorry, even angry your voice,” he starts, “is music to my ears. I am Alexander Whitehouse. Nice to meet you Brooks Amanda Coveia.” Eyes still darkened; she lowers the gun.