I took a deep breath and looked around the room. It was all just an illusion. My entire life now. I would blink and wake up soon. Sometimes that's what life felt like right now, an illusion. Just a long dream. That's what life felt like. I could never tell what was real anymore.

"Janine, Janine, Janine, Janine, Jani-" I whipped my head around.

"What do you want, Mr. Yao?" I snapped and raised my head from its place on the table. I was sick a tired of Sam Yao bothering me about every single thing that every went wrong.

"Janine, my computer is broken. Can you fix it?" He asked. I sighed and shakily stood up.


Is that what I was to everyone? Is that all we were? What is family anymore? Alliances? Was it that simple? We just have alliances. No more friends, family, trust, or love? We're human beings. We are programmed to survive and do whatever it takes.

Is that how we picked our friends now? What about a certain smile that people had that made you feel good? What happened to being able to make you laugh or being able to help you when you're scared?

"Janine, it's over here. Do you know what I did to it?" He asked me. I groaned. I was not in the mood to deal with him and I wanted this done as quickly as possible. I took the laptop in my hands and opened it up. Sam Yao was luck I was an engineer and he was luck I was more patent then he would ever give me credit for. I opened the laptop and touched the track pad. It was all wet. I looked up.

"You have got to be kidding me, Mr. Yao!" I snapped and dropped the computer back on the desk.

"What's wrong? Do you know what happened to it, Janine?" He asked me. I rolled my eyes.


That's all my help really was. To everyone. Sam knew damn well what was wrong with it. He just liked to make me angry. I would never understand him. He yells at me to get out of his shack and he begs me to fix the laptop.

"You can't fix it, Mr. Yao. It's wet, you spilt something on it. It's broken." I snapped and stood up, exasperated with everything. "Now, as you know a engineer can only do so much. If you want me to fix your things in the future, I'll kindly ask that you don't break them by being carless." I hissed and stormed off. I could hear Sam protesting about how he was careful and some other ridiculous excuse he has for wasting my time. I walked over to my farmhouse and sat down on a chair. No sooner had I sat down than I herd a knock on the door.

"Finally, someone who remembers what privacy is!" I hissed.


Privacy is a funny word now. It's really the only thing that never changes, regardless to what I say. People always pretended to respect your boundaries before the outbreak but never did. Now they don't even try to pretend. It's just another illusion and trick of the mind. Another side effect of the outbreak. It didn't change now that half the population was dead. We still all know what's going on with each other.

That is the worst possible disadvantage.

The only thing that changes was the amount people cared. They were still just as nosey and self-centered.

"Come in!" The door opened to reveal Sara Smith, or Runner Eight as she is called. "Ah, Sara, I'm not surprised that it's you. You have always had respect for the fact that this was my house before the outbreak." I snapped. Sara walked over and sat down in a chair.

"What's going on with you, Janine?" She asked me and I shrugged. "Come on, I know it's something." Sara said. "We've been friends for months now, Janine. You can talk to me." She said.

"Sara, do you think anything is real anymore?" I asked. Then I realized how stupid that sounded and I looked down. Sara was probably the closest thing that I had to a friend here in this thing that we call our town.

"What do you mean, Janine? What's going on with you? Is everything ok?" She asked. I sighed.

"I don't know, Sara. I just think that everything has changed and-" She cut me off with a laugh.

"You can say that again!"

"And I don't know what's real anymore. I don't know whom to trust and I don't know whom to believe. Everything is just strange." I said and then realized just how much I hated myself for opening up to Sara. I stood. "I'm fine though, Sara." I said. "I appreciate your concern."

"You know what it is? It's that damn runner." She swore. I rolled my eyes. "I don't trust them, Janine. Coming from Mullin's? Coming in all this way to help set up tents? And what do we do just let them in because Sam's grieving and Dr. Myers says that this new Runner Five is clean." I held back a smirk. This was all Sara had talked about for the last three hours.

"Sara, we don't trust just yet, but Runner Five did good work today and Dr. Myers is concerned about that box Five picked up." Sara snapped her head up too look out the window.

"Don't expect me to play nice until I get proof that our dear runner isn't the one who shot the chopper down." Sara snapped.

"Play however you want to, Sara, just don't let Sam onto it. He's already attached to the new runner."

"He just needs someone to care about and now that Alice is gone he has no one." Sara said. I nodded in agreement. "Back to you, Janine. Are you all right? You don't seem yourself. Is something bothering you? I mean except for not knowing what's real." Sara said. I caught a bit of sarcasm at the last part.

"I guess just that, Sara." I finished, not really wanting to explain to her about what I felt. She wouldn't understand. Everything was black and white with Sara. She didn't understand that some things were there but you couldn't see them and I'm not talking about ghosts or goblins or the things in Mr. Yao's video games. Even I didn't know what I was talking about.

"You are going to be ok though, right, Janine?" She asked and I nodded. She smiled at me.


They were the same as lies. No one was going to be ok. We were a dead generation and we might all die off. We might lose the battle to the dead. I was not going to be ok.

"Ok, Janine, good. We can't lose you, you know. Go get some sleep. I'll keep Sam out of your house. You just worry about sleeping to tonight." Sara said. She might have had an obsession with making Runner Five's life miserable but she was a good friend a fiercely loyal.

"Thank you, Sara." I said and she smiled, walking out. I lay down on my bed and took another breath of air. I closed my eyes and just inhaled and exhaled. Sometimes one needed reassurance that they are still alive. I closed my eyes and, now satisfied that I knew I was alive, breathed, not just for myself but also for all the forgotten souls who will never breath again.