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The Survival of Corliss Sinclair-A Third Excerpt
Just when America thought Orielle could rise no more, she perfected the use of two guns, and knee-mirrors. The use of knee-mirrors was very rare, because they required extreme martial arts. Most shots didn’t come at knee level, so jumping and flipping was essential. It had never been so masterfully executed before. The Rookie of a Lifetime had no limits, it seemed.
After her first couple Cups, people thought she was bound to lose a fight sometime. But there was no match for her. She was in her own category of skill. There was no one to even challenge her. She fought each battle with an almost lazy ease. To her rivals, it was maddening.
I infused my memory of Orielle’s strength into each sweaty step I took. Brock was trudging along next to me; his breaths were ragged and rough. We had no containers to store water, and the last drink we’d had was at a lake a day and a half’s walk away. I had finally given him back his knife once he demonstrated his knowledge of land mine detection. Apparently some of the bombs that were used were meant to drive into the ground, and not explode until it sensed movement. Brock would continuously throw the knife in front of us, setting off the occasional mine that would have definitely killed me if I hadn’t been with him. I didn’t try to take his knife away after that. I began to trust him.
We ventured into the occasional grocery store to try and find food, but found that most everything had been blown to smithereens. There were no cyborg sightings.
We did, however, find a dog. It had a limp, one of its paws were horribly bloody and mangled, but Brock didn’t want to leave it. I didn’t either, even though I thought it would probably die of infection. It was raggedy and matted, a springer mix, I guessed, but it was a sad, mangy looking thing. Surprisingly, she wore a blue collar. According to her tags, she had belonged to the Tyson family, and her name was Soda.
She shivered in my arms all night.
She was dead by noon.
Brock, who’d told me he was eleven, dug a shallow grave with his bare hands, and sullenly lowered her into it. They were the first tears I’d been able to shed since the attack. I accepted this as confirmation that I was still human. Tears. I took comfort in them.
Orielle didn’t cry when she fell. She was hit in the forehead, forever branded with humanity. People were starting to believe that she wasn’t even human, but her unjustifiable defeat showed that she was. Burns. Tears. War. Humanity wasn’t sounding all that good anymore.
Brock coughed. “Where are we even going?” he rasped.
I looked around at the smoldering, ashen place that was our new world. “I don’t know,” I apologized weakly. “I really don’t know.”
He sighed dejectedly. “I thought so.”
So we walked. We drank from the lakes. We nursed lost animals until they died. We buried them. We cried. We walked. We survived.
I saw the cyborgs for the first time on the Minnesota-Iowa border. They were grotesque things, and I recoiled at the sight of them. Most of them had arms, steel, naked bones that were exposed and uncovered. There were no traces of skin, except for their faces. Their pock-marked, cruel faces with teeth like razor glass. Noses that were almost nonexistent, they were so flat. Skeletons that were half-dead, but deadly as well.
I panicked. “What do we do?” I whispered to Brock. My breathing quickened, and my lungs felt to small to hold the air I required. I was hyperventilating.
“Shh!” Brock swatted me on the shoulder. “Shut up! They’ll hear you!”
We had camped in a small pine forest the night before, and had woken just in time to take cover. The cyborgs were destroying everything in their paths. They were making sure that America couldn’t be resurrected by any remaining survivors by personally killing off any survivors they might find. Which made Brock and I’s lives much more difficult.
Goal: Don’t let the cyborgs see you.
Too bad cyborgs are practically bionic.
Too bad they’re real.
The real adventure had only just begun.