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The Survival of Corliss Sinclair-A Second Excerpt
Orielle was the rookie of a lifetime. No newbie had ever risen so quickly. She was a source of comfort for every fan. If she could be so victorious, so unbeatable, who was to say America couldn't be the same? The largest superpower in the world had risen within 200 years of its birth. A rookie. Just like Orielle.
But nobody ever thought America would fall. Nobody ever thought Orielle would fall. And in the end? Both of them fell.
The first human being I met after America's death attempted to kill me. Poorly, yes. I saw the knife coming before it even left his hand. And he would have missed me by a good two feet even if I hadn't moved out of the way. But poorly or not, it wasn't very encouraging.
"What the hell...?" I muttered as I tried to get a good look at him. He was dirty, like me. Hard not to be. It was the middle of a Minnesota summer, and moisture clung to the air so densely you could almost take a sip. Dust from the attacks lingered in the humidity, giving you a a layer of grime with every step.
The boy seemed around my age, maybe younger. He seemed like he'd been walking for days. So had I. I wondered where he’d come from. I would have offered an alliance if he hadn't just tried to knife me. I waited for him to speak. I'd never been much of a social butterfly.
He trembled. "Who are you?" I couldn't tell if he had any more weapons on him, and decided not to test it by going any closer.
"My name is Corliss," I answered carefully.
"Well you stay away!" the boy exclaimed desperately. He raised his fists.
Surprised, I asked, "Why are you afraid of me? I'm not the one throwing knives." I glanced down at the ground where the knife had stuck. I figured it had been the only one he had if he was resorting to fist fighting. "I'm not going to hurt you," I told him earnestly. "I 've been walking for days, am tired, and have lost everything. Just like you. You're the first person I've seen alive."
He lowered his fists. "Can I have my knife back?"
He frowned. “Have you seen the cyborgs?”
“What? What do you mean?” I hadn’t seen anything except the stray fox every now and then, and a few fish. The lakes really hadn’t been touched, thankfully enough. But I hadn’t seen any cyborgs. I had never seen one. There had only been one cyborg army in all of history, and it had belonged to North Korea during World War 4. After the War had ended and North Korea had lost, America had destroyed the cyborgs. I had never seen so much as a picture of one.
“They’re all over,” the boy whispered, deadpan. “They’re horrible.” He shuddered. “You really haven’t seen them?”
I shook my head. “Are you sure they were cyborgs? Cyborgs are part human you know, they could have just been robots.”
“No. They were cyborgs. I’m sure of it.”
We were silent for a moment. I didn’t trust this boy, and for obvious reasons, he didn’t trust me. So how could I believe anything he said? But I didn’t want to leave. I was too lonely to leave the first human interaction I’d had since the attack.
“What’s your name?” I demanded.
He bit his lip. “Brock.”
“Well, we have better chances if we travel together.” If I was going to die, I’d rather not die alone. If I was going to survive? Then I wanted a friend. “But you can’t have your knife. Not until I trust you.”
He groaned. “Look, sorry about the knife,” he apologized. “I thought you were a cyborg. You’re the first normal person I’ve seen. I’m glad it didn’t stick you, actually. You’re kind of…a relief.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, you too,” I admitted. “But you still can’t have your knife. At least, not for a while.” I bent down and grabbed hold of the hilt, jerking the blade free of the ground. ”Ready?”
He nodded. “Yeah. Fair enough. Let’s go.”
Orielle fell before America did. But they both fell in the same way. Nobody had a chance against Orielle in face-to-face Lyte battle. Nobody had a chance against America in outright war. So, in a time of peace they bombed. Orielle had just won the Cup when she was shot at in the midst of her victory. It was unfair. But America saw vulnerability. She had let herself be hit. She no longer held their faith, and she fell.
Nothing good ever lasted.
This was when I started living for myself.