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I knelt next to the campfire, stoking it up with twigs and sticks before I rubbed my hands near the flames. Daryl, Danny, and Aardvark all lounged nearby under the log overhang Jed, Matt, and I had built. A shot suddenly rang out, echoing off the mountainsides and causing me to grin. Robert had wanted to go hunting since we got up here and had finally gotten to since I had agreed to stay in camp.
It was hard to believe that a month had already passed since it had all began. I had no idea what had happened to my parents. No doubt my dad would be fighting with the Army, as for my mother, I didn't know.
Some time passed before the three returned from hunting. So much so that the sun was sinking behind the horizon. Jed tossed me some deer meat in order to cook. Robert had dried blood around his mouth, causing me to grin.
"Spirit of the deer?" I asked. He nodded, grinning. I had proven my hunting skills shortly after we arrived, downing a deer on the run with my Contender.
"That's the last of it," said Daryl as he poured the last can of Campbell's into a pot. This sparked a sort argument that I ignored as I formed the dear meat into patties before placing them a frying pan. Finally, Daryl said the only thing that made sense.
"We need to know." I looked up at this, watching Jed's reaction. To my surprise, he nodded in agreement. I had expected him to try and continue our isolation, but I guess separation from civilization for this long was taking effect.
"Matt, Jessie, Robert, and I will go into town tomorrow. We'll find out everything we can and bring back supplies," he said. This seemed to sit well with the others. I nodded in agreement with this, as I was their best chance at identifying various threats.
The night passed quicker then expected, even though I got little to no sleep. Robert came and got me around Three AM, starting our trip down the mountain. Despite stumbling and almost falling several times, we made our way down in the dark.
An orange light was filling the sky behind us when we reached the pastures between the mountains and Calumet. The sun had risen higher in the sky when we where approaching the outskirts. Rusting relics of tanks and jeeps sat on a ridge-overlooking town. Old impact craters around them confirmed the fact that a battle had definitely taken place.
"Looks like its been here for a thousand years," said Matt as he climbed on top of the tank. Robert opened some metal compartments along the side, but found only dust. Together, we made our way over to a small embankment, settling down as Jed brought up the binoculars to study the town below.
"Those shops are open, there's people everywhere," said Matt.
"Maybe its over," said Robert as he tried to climb over the embankment and make his way down to the town. The three of us rushed to quickly pull him back below the embankment. After he calmed down, we looked back over the embankment. On the main road near town, a military convoy was rolling past.
"Those aren't ours," said Jed, pointing at the vehicles.
"How do you know?" asked Robert.
"They're not ours," I confirmed, studying the convoy through the riflescope. Jed lowered the binoculars and nudged me slightly.
"That's one weird looking tank," he said, pointing at one of the tanks.
"It's for anti air, taking down choppers mainly," I replied. I couldn't see his reaction, so I left it at that, still studying the convoy.
"We'll leave the guns here," Jed finally said. I lowered the scope and looked up at him, bewithered.
"You're still wanting to go down there?" I asked. He nodded as he sat the revolver he always carried on the ground.
"Want to go back to camp?" he asked. I shook my head, looking back down the hill.
"You got guts Jed, I'll give you that," I replied before I pulled the Contender from my belt and sat it next to the other weapons. We descended into town, keeping quiet as best we could as we walked. It wasn't until we reached Main Street that we began to talk amongst ourselves.
Barbwire barricades lined the street in several areas. A T72 in Russian colors sat on a side street, surrounded by various troopers. Red banners with gold lettering hung from a few buildings, proclaiming the supposed evils of America and attempting to recruit the locals. A few troopers in officer's coats down the street were throwing books in to a barrel with flames roaring out of the town. A convertible carrying several high-ranking officials passed us and rounded the next corner ahead of us.
"That's the mayor's car, they got Daryl's dad's car!" said Robert in surprise as he watched the car move up the street.
"Look at the size of that tank," said Jed as he glanced at the tank. We continued to walk, attempting to talk to various townspeople we recognized. But rather then say anything in reply; they gave us a wide berth like we were carrying a deadly decease.
This behavior put me on edge, causing me to tinker with my belt where the Contender usually sat. I had seen the same type of behavior in school, when a bully was targeting a new victim. Quickly, we ducked off the street and into a shop.
"Six tooth brushes please," said Jed to the woman behind the counter. I didn't recognize her, so I turned my attention to the rest of the store. I quickly elbowed Jed when I took notice of a man standing on a balcony overhead, watching us. Judging by his uniform, I figured he was either an officer or KGB.
Jed lowered his voice and began to talk to the woman again. Both Matt and I watched the man until he disappeared over the railing. We continued to watch until Jed tapped us both on the shoulder, a signal to leave, which we quickly did. With out so much as a question, we began to follow Jed in a new direction.
"They're keeping prisoners in the old drive in Movie Theater," he finally said after a few blocks. I shot a glance at Matt, who returned it.
"Jed, even if any of our parents are there we can't get them out," I said. He didn't turn, but his shoulders did slouch a bit.
"I know," he finally said.