You probably already know what happened. Then again, you might not. You might not even give a shit. But I’m going to tell you about it anyway. We went about our daily lives, oblivious to how bad things were getting in the world. And then they hit the reset button, erasing all of their problems along with hundreds of millions of lives.
No one saw it coming, the end.
The lucky ones were killed in seconds. As for the rest of us, immune to the black poison, we had to decide; hang on to the civility of the past, or become savages in a new dark future.
Derek turned the radio on, going through the waves in hopes someone out there would have made a message. There was none. Just the static mocking him. With a sigh of defeat, Derek went to the only station that was on the air, got out his notebook, red pen, and expanded his map on the table. The map was his only resource for safety. He’d gotten the idea a few months ago when one of his neighbours had come running back hollering about Nailers in their supermarket, which brought an uproar about how they were going to get food if a gang had taken the only store that supplied it.
It was a useful tool, and Derek wouldn’t go anywhere without it. He needed to know what their territories were, where they were going, how big were they getting. This was survival, and he couldn’t just stay in his home and hope for the best. Looking down at his map, Derek uncapped his red pen and started planning out his next route. It was difficult to get around nowadays with people giving up on trying to get by on their own and joining an expanding gang, or just eating a bullet. Derek had marked whole cities off as gang land as he tried to figure out a route to Milwaukee, where Stiles’ father was holding down the fort and keeping them informed on their portable radio.
“Hey kids! This is 99.2 KILU, and you’re listening to Crazy Al’s radio party, The Last Radio Show. Here’s another safety update for all you domestics out there, just trying to stay alive. If you’re new to the area, listen up and I’ll fill you in on all the shit we’ve been dealing with here in the once beautiful Midwest.” Crazy Al’s voice was an annoying but comforting background noise, it gave him hope that there was someone out there who actually wanted to help people that weren’t involved in the gangs. It also helped that he played really great music – it was rare that anyone got to listen to music since no one could keep electricity going.
He did go on a tirade though which Derek found really fucking annoying, sometimes it went on for hours, but who could stop him? No one, he was alone in the studio, the only radio station left as he likes to often remind his listeners of whenever he goes on the air. At least the crazy man could give him proper information about where was safe. “This once great nation on God’s green earth no longer belongs to God. It belongs to the gangs. That’s right daddy-oh, the Midwest may have been the land of macaroni casserole, fresh cut lawns, and Schlitz beer, but we’ve got some of the worst gangs in the country. Nailers, Plowboys, Gamblers, Cherries, Sheets, just to name a few.”
As if trying to live in this desolate wasteland wasn’t bad enough, there were gangs actively trying to kill you. Nailers; they were expanding every day. They were sadistic people who used anything as a weapon but they were mostly known for wielding axes. They wouldn’t take survivors, instead whenever they met people who weren’t in their gang, they would slaughter them and take their possessions. Plowboys, in Derek’s opinion were a collection of the worst people. Looking for any woman they could find to kidnap and then enslave them to be raped until they died. They thought of women as breeding stock to be handed out as prizes or would give another gang a lady if they’d let them go. They were disgusting cowards who bargained other people’s lives to save their own neck. Cherries, the complete opposite of Plowboys. It was a gang of women who severely hated men, and who could blame them in this world? They would go about America trying to save as many women as they could while killing men without remorse.
Gamblers, descriptions with the title. They spend all their days gambling what they had on anything. While that sounds harmless, they are one of the deadliest gangs out there. They wear animal heads as helmets, and carry around a wheel that decides whether someone lives and walks away, dies, or lives and becomes a bet at their base. Derek doesn’t know what happens once they take you but no one’s lived to talk about it, and he isn’t planning on finding out. Sheets. There wasn’t much to say about the Sheets, they were kind of a mystery but people have had their ideas. Most people think they’re made up of white men who go looking for non-white people to murder. Some think that they’re only hellbent on stealing cars and weapons, while attempting to decimate the Nailers. Who knows, but it’s the Sheets that have made it unsafe for people to go on the road at night.
By the end of the fourth record playing, Derek had found a plan to get down to Milwaukee. It may be the longest route taking all the backroads but everyone knew that the highways were blocked and even trying to cross it on foot would make you a dead man. He had a car, he had gas and extra to spare, he had plenty of weapons should he have to use them, and he had enough food and water to last a couple of days.
“So you’re really doing this huh?” Boyd stood by the car watching Derek haul all the luggage into the back of Stiles’ jeep. It was a miracle this car had survived so much, but it was running on empty by the time Derek had gotten round to fixing the disaster as much as he could.
He sighed and pushed the backseats down while stacking the box of food on top of them, shaking his head. “Stiles wants to get his father, what can I say?”
“Well, you could always say no. You’ve got everything you need right here.” Boyd was one of the good ones, he had come to the neighbourhood a year ago with his wife begging them to help. He’s been loyal ever since, assisting anyone with the heavy lifting or going on supply runs while Erica could fix a gun faster than anyone in their small town.
Placing everything inside the trunk, Derek shut it and turned to his friend. “You think I don’t know that? This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, but if this saves our relationship then I’m going to risk it.”
They were all safe here. It was barricades up to the nines, with a multiple people doing perimeter checks, and enough guns and ammo to knock out anyone who tried to fight them. They had shelter, and food, and Kira had actually made something that connected to the electricity so they had power to warm showers. It was his slice of heaven, but he knew that Stiles would never be happy here without his father, who lived right in the middle of a warzone. He had also barricaded his neighbourhood but they still had gang members coming up and down their street. It wasn’t safe, and Stiles knew that. He needed to protect his family.
Boyd leaned against the jeep, crossing his arms and watching the way Derek rubbed his face with frustration. He loved Stiles with every fibre of his being, it crushes him every day knowing that Stiles is pulling away. He pat Derek on the shoulder, letting out a chuckle. “If you feel this is the best option, for the love of God, take a different car.”
“I fixed it.” Derek grinned and brought his friend into an embrace, patting Boyd’s firm back before going around to where Stiles was waiting on the doorstep with his arms crossed. He had already said his goodbyes to everyone last night; they had a small party. No one said anything but it was clear that they thought this would be the last time they would see the disjointed couple and they were going to make the most of it. Boyd didn’t say anything, just waved as they got into the jeep and pulled out the driveway down the road and to the gates, slowing down and waving at Jackson who had the roster this morning. The man sniped a hello and manually pulled the gates apart enough to Derek to get through and they were off. This was it. They could turn back now if they wanted to but by the determination in Stiles’ eyes, Derek would never be able to forgive himself if he didn’t take this.
With a full tank of gas, and a spare in the back, they had enough to get most of the way to Milwaukee without any stopping. Derek didn’t know what they were going to do about nights just yet but it was likely they were going to be breaking in to other houses to sleep and get supplies. This was all so they could get to Milwaukee, how they were going to get back Derek had no idea, and that’s even if they get there under the radar of the gangs and other survivors who weren’t above killing someone for food or shelter.
Stiles leaned forward, turning the radio on and fiddling with it until it came onto Crazy Al’s station. The soft tunes were a relief from the awkward silence that had built up. He doesn’t know what went wrong with their relationship, why Stiles was so distant. Maybe it was because he was more focused on staying alive rather than being in the moment and enjoying the time they had, maybe it was because he wanted to give back to their small town by being out most of the night doing perimeter checks and fixing small problems. It was going to be a long and dangerous journey, and he hopes that they could make it. He hopes that the Sheriff appreciated breaking their backs to get down there, hell, he hopes Noah is still alive by the time they get to Milwaukee.
With Roosevelt Nettles playing softly in the background, Derek turned the corner until their safe town was out of view, pulled out of the cul-de-sac and onto the open road. They drove.