Lori Loud gets out of the small bunker built in what had been the garden of her house, several years before. The rain had stopped, but it was still too cold. In the always gray sky, the sun was a pale ghost that was no longer light and hot. It seemed to be crepuscule, but the she knew very well that they were in the middle of the day.
He snatched up in her thick coat, trying to ward off the terrible claws of the cold. That was worse every year: shorter days and harshest winters.
Lori looked around. She should already be used to it, but pain and anguish gripped her heart. The city she had loved so much had been reduced to ashes and calcined skeletons many years ago. She had not seen anyone for many months. Only scavengers who ventured from time to time in the wasted remains of the cities.
Suddenly, a streak of icy wind hit her. The girl tried to protect herself, but it was too late. The cold wind and ashes irritated her throat, and gave her uncontrollable coughing. The young woman felt her lungs tearing, while making desperate efforts to stop coughing.
Several minutes passed before she succeeded. Lori searched her pockets, until she remembered that last mouthpiece had broken, several days ago. She covered herself with her coat flap, and made a face of disgust. Despite the years, she could not get used to her forced pestilence and lack of hygiene.
Lori felt the first drop of rain, and ran to refuge in her bunker again. It was almost the only place in Royal Woods where she could be kept completely dry.
She felt distressed and feared for herself. Rain and wind in the middle of June. Every year was worse.
The young woman closed her eyes and began to cry. She didn't want to do it, but she had run out of options. She could no longer delay it. If she was going to keep the promise to her sister Luan, she had to leave Royal Woods as soon as possible.
She would escape to the south: there, she would not survive for another winter.
Lori allowed himself to cry again, when she visited the graves of her four sisters and Grandpa Pop-Pop. There were the names and crosses of her beloved partners of misadventures throughout those terrible years... Since the fateful night that their parents had to leave the house in emergency, for never to return.
“Grandpa ... Little sisters...” she whispered “Leni. Luna. Lynn ... Luan!
The young girl felt her heart broke when he reached the latest of the crosses. The one that had to place by herself, less than two years ago.
Luan... Who would say that the beautiful girl who loved comedy would be the bravest and most determined of all? Tenacious until the end, Luan did save her from death, at the cost of her own life.
Certainly, her grandfather assured their survival by training them in the use of weapons, hand-to-hand fighting, rescue, and self-protection techniques. But Luan and Leni were the fire of their desire and hope to survive; after the death of Pop-Pop.
Lori sat on the wet ground, and stroked the cross while crying. Bringing the Luan's body and digging the grave alone had been appalling. But that was not what she remembered about her beloved little sister. Instead, she saw Luan on her deathbed, asking her to survive and try to get going on, no matter the cost.
“I'll try, little sister. For the memory of all of you ... I swear!” she replied.
But... It was so difficult! After two years alone, Lori had thought about taking her own life several times. Only the memory of Luan's sacrifice prevented her from using her weapon to end at last with her loneliness and suffering.
Before leaving the graves, Lori kissed each of the five crosses; trying to imprint in her memory the reminder of that Pop-Pop and her sisters ever walked on the face of the Earth. Lori knew that, even if she managed to survive, she never will going to see the graves of her loved ones again.
Almost everything was ready. Lori had to leave very soon, in a couple of days at most. She had studied routes and destinations the night before, and realized in horror that she barely had a few months to reach the southern United States, before the weather will really get worse. And that at best, because the route that had been drawn was very complex. Lori had to remain covered from weather as much as possible, but she also had to maximize her chances of getting food, when the supplies had run out.
Her grandfather, always restless and worried about food and safety, had built a long and deep tunnel that descended tens of meters under the ground. Lori took to the end of the tunnel the supplies and bottled water that she couldn't carry with her. In the new climatic conditions, that would be preserved for years. Decades even. Surely, she could never go back for that supplies, but... Who could say it for sure?
And if some another lucky guys came to find that buried treasure... That God bless them for make good use of it.