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In the Jungle

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“Ugh.”
Laura couldn’t help but groan when yet another leafy piece of foliage smacked her in the face, compliments of the old lady in front of her.
Rolling her eyes, Laura pushed on, feeling vines snap against her legs and gnats fly up her nose. Overall, she had to agree that she had gone through better days. But such a mythical thing didn’t exist anymore. Not since The End came, bringing with it all of the lovely mutations passed onto the natural plants and animals of the world.
Unable to take another stinging slap to the face, Laura pushed past the oddly sturdy old lady and into the point position, beside Dan, the scout leader. “How much farther until we reach base?” she asked, her hushed tone almost lost beneath the crash of the group’s feet against the scrubby ground.
The man – because no one could mistake Dan for a boy – glanced down at her with a look equal parts exasperation and humor before replying, “Not long Laura. You’ve made this trip enough times to know by now that when we reach that creek we passed a few lengths back we’re only a mile or so away.” Rolling his deep azure eyes, Dan pushed on, leaving her behind as he disappeared into the dense foliage.
Sighing wearily, Laura marched on, always the good soldier she was, leading the most recent group of refugees to safety. They made it to base in no time at all, just as Dan had promised, and thankfully without incident. After handing off the newbies to a guide to show around, she stretched and began towards the scout barracks, yawning by the time she reached the entrance.
Like always the barracks were filled with all of the off-duty scouts, either sleeping, playing cards, or just relaxing. The only difference was the blaring lack of men in their midst. Laura waved hello to the few that called out to her as she passed, too exhausted to try to carry on a conversation when her real goal was to get to the bath house and clean off some of the dirt that streaked down her face and arms.
It wasn’t long before she was enveloped by the warm steam that rolled off of the luxurious running water offered to only the people of power (whom she referred to as POPs). She was, however, an exception. Though she didn’t hold a position, her father was the head of this particular jungle base, allowing her some things others weren’t. Unlike most, however, she didn’t feel guilty that she got running water or first dibs on fresh food. No, Laura made sure that she wouldn’t feel guilty by pulling double her weight, doing her tasks as well as anyone else who couldn’t complete theirs.
That’s why there was little animosity between her and her fellow scouts, though there were always those bitter few who believe that they deserve what she has simply because they want it. So it came as a great surprise to her when she felt her water turn to ice. Her shock soon turned to anger when she felt a punishing blow land just above her ribs, sending pain radiating across her chest. “Who’s there?” she hissed, searching blindly around in the steamy shower area, “What do you want?” She groped around for her towel until she had safely wrapped herself up, though she was still apprehensive. She hadn’t heard any doors close to signify the attack’s exit, yet… When she thought about it, Laura couldn’t remember hearing the door open after she came in either. That meant that the attack must have been waiting for her!



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