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The Day the World Ended

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"What you are about to see may never happen... but to this anxious age in which we live, it presents a fearsome warning... Our story begins with... THE END!"

August 17, 2277

"You've got to run! They...they killed Jonas."

Clara Nelson pressed a hand to the stitch in her side, tears streaming down her face. She could barely see, could barely breathe, just wanted to drop into a puddle and cry. The image of Jonas beaten and bloody, her first dead body and he was a friend.

She hadn't seen what had happened to Amata in the security office, only heard the gunshot. Dead, alive, dead, alive, dead, dead, dead. The word started skipping on repeat, a broken record.

She stumbled down the secret stairs to run into a mole rat. Panic sank into her. Hands slippery with sweat and snot, she swung her baseball bat over and over and over and over and over until it dropped from her suddenly numb grip.

She blinked and the mess of blood and brain matter was Jonas and she killed him and then she was throwing up whatever she'd eaten for dinner last night. She couldn't remember. That was before and this was now and she had to keep running. They wouldn't believe she didn't know anything. She'd be like Jonas too. Dead and beaten, brains spilling onto the floor.

She heaved again, eyes closed, breathing loudly through her nose.

Can't. Had to keep running. Follow Dad.

She picked herself up off the floor and stumbled forward, fighting the way her stomach roiled at every motion and thought.

Go. Go. Go. Go. GO. GO. GO. GO. She kept running on trembling legs to the sound of that thought, that prayer.

She didn't notice the second mole rat, barely felt it tear into her calf before she was into a control room and shutting the door behind her. Then her leg buckled, throwing her back onto the ground.

She didn't look at the damage, didn't dare.

She crawled into the main entrance. She knew what the control panel for the gear shaped door looked like, had been forced to stare at it enough for Remembrance Day every year.

She wasn't an engineer or anything that would have been able to work it fine. She was a doctor and right then, she knew she was going into shock.

But she had to get out.

She gripped onto the sides of the control panel and hauled herself upright. Hands shaking, she plugged her Pip-Boy into the designated slot and told the door to open.

An alarm started blaring. Lights flashed.

They would come for her. They would come for her and kill her like Jonas.

No.

She dragged her leg to the door. "Come on, come on, come on, come on," she whispered. Too much blood loss. Had to find her dad.

The door finally finished opening just as the door behind her did.

"Stop her!"

She heard gunshots behind her, one striking her sharply in the back near her shoulder.

She went down, crying out.

Clara lay there, unmoving, before forcing herself to rise again, to rise against the pain. She didn't look back as she limped out of the vault and into a tunnel, to be reborn into the brightness of the morning sun of outside.