Four days had passed. The streets were virtually empty, apart from the odd wild animal scavenging for scraps left behind. The TV was still on, but the signal had been lost for over three days. I hadn’t had the heart to switch it off though, hoping for any update on the situation. I had kept a regular eye on my phone too, but the network was still down. It was fortunate that the power was still working, but for how much longer was anyone’s guess. We used it sparingly and only when absolutely necessary so as not to draw attention to ourselves. As for contact with the outside world though, we were completely in the dark.
The last broadcast we received was of armed forces making their way downtown towards the epicenter of the attack. We heard gunfire, and then silence as the signal cut out for the last time.
Over the following day or so, we heard sporadic gun shots in the distance, and sometimes even closer. The sound of jets screeching overhead had become a regular occurrence, but eventually that too had stopped. Had the military been defeated, or just fallen back to regroup? There were so many questions, and we had none of the answers.
Our office hideout had been a safe haven so far, but our supplies were running low. The only thing keeping us from venturing outside was fear; fear of the things we had heard outside. The nights were the worst…
Things crept about in the darkness. We had heard the strange clicking and scratching sounds as they, whatever they were, prowled the streets, followed by the desperate screams of their victims as they were torn from their hiding places.
We didn’t know what they were, and we hadn’t dared to risk a peek when we heard them scuttling just outside our window. Doubtless we likely wouldn’t have seen much anyway. The regular smog had been replaced by dust and smoke churned up by the downtown explosion, if that’s what it was. The air was thick with the stuff, and the office window had become caked with grime.
The things outside seemed to be most active at night and those were the times when we were most alert. Whether by some miracle, or just due caution, we had avoided their attention… so far.
We had managed to fashion a number of makeshift weapons from what supplies we had available – scissors duct-taped to the ends of chair legs; metal clubs made from pieces of cabinet frame, and the like. It wasn’t much, but it was the best we had to defend ourselves should those things outside find us, and I still kept my Stanley knife close by.
The constant vigilance had also left us tired and fatigued from a lack of sleep. We tried to sleep in shifts, but rest didn’t come so easily in such stressful times as these. There was another concern too… we were fast approaching peak winter, and the nights were growing noticeably colder. If we didn’t starve first, we might very well freeze.
During the day, when things were quieter, we would search the rest of the office building, level by level, room by room. It was slow work while trying to keep a constant lookout for any danger. We didn’t find much, and it looked as if we weren’t the first scavengers to have searched many of the rooms. At least we seemed to be the only people left in the building. What little we found kept us going just a bit longer, and we made sure to check that each and every entryway to the building was locked or blocked off. The more barriers between us and the outside, the better.
At night we blockaded ourselves in the office room and kept silent, praying for the dawn. And each night I thought would be the last.
Although I had worked with my shelter-buddies for several years, I felt like I had never really known them before now. I suppose it goes without say, but there’s something about spending extended periods of time in an enclosed space, and under the worst circumstances imaginable that brings people closer together. You also learn a new appreciation for the term ‘body odour’. I had never been so thankful for the fact that the bathroom was located within the office area itself. That, along with the still-running (if unsanitary) water supply allowed us to ward off the worst of ourselves. It’s interesting that Hollywood disaster films often don’t mention those details…
Hygiene concerns aside, I’d gained a new level of respect for Vivian and Charlotte. Once the initial shock of the first day had passed, they had proven themselves reliable and resourceful. I guess tragedies can bring out the best qualities in some people. All the same, I occasionally heard soft weeping late at night. Outwardly they may have appeared to be coping, but deep down they knew the reality we were facing as well as I did.
Both girls were originally from the country side, and lived alone. I suppose that was a significant factor in their decision not to flee at the onset of the attack… where would they go?
I could empathize. I too desperately wanted to hear from my own family back in Australia. We might as well have been on different planets. Were they safe? Had something happened there too? A person could be driven mad by such thoughts, and I tried to push them from my mind. Right now all we could do for sake of ourselves and our loved ones was to stay alive.
I fear we won’t last another day like this. We’ve begun to make plans for a supply run tomorrow. There’s a convenience store around the corner from our building, and I think we can make it safely if we use the basement entrance. It’s a risk to be sure, but I don’t see another option. We’ll die here if we don’t try.
to be continued…