“Cooper, it’s time to go,” said Marcus. I was frozen on the ground, kneeling. Tears streamed down my face, against my will, splattering the scorched ground with tiny droplets of water.
I’d had enough. If ever there was a time to give up the fight, it was now. Now, as I looked up and saw the ruined city my home was once in. Smoke billowed from such frequent intervals, they looked like hairs sprouting from the earth.
Fires burned everywhere, and so few structures remained standing, how could anyone ever believe there was a city like Las Vegas here, one time? If we only could have gotten here in time.
If only ¾ what? I thought about what would be different if we had gotten here in time. This was all part of their plan to begin with, what effect could twenty members of a Resistance effort have had on the power those above us abused here, today? When the last light flashed and everything ended for the millions of people here in this valley, a piece of me died. Died along with the family I tried so hard to save. Nothing remains now.
I turned to my left, and there was my last flickering flame of hope. Bertrand. My little brother who, in all my selfish grief, had lost everything I had. He sat there crumpled, lines drawn down his face where tears had wiped the dirt off. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at me. He just stared at the ground, eyes unfocused. I had never thought in all my life to hope that he, when only fourteen, would have to go through everything we’ve been through. I hope, for both of us, he forgives me one day.
Forgives me for not getting us here in time. Forgives me for leading him on, making him believe we could save the family we were forced to leave behind. The family that’s gone now, because we were too slow. My Dad, my Mom. My little sister, Arielle. Gone.
I put my head in my hands and considered. Around me I could hear the others shifting anxiously, ready to leave. It was true, we had to leave right then before they came. Where would we go? If there was only one thing I was certain of, it was our destination: the Hills outside Montezuma Wells.
Whatever was there, I didn’t know. I only had one thing on my mind now: Revenge. Revenge for the powers that be, the ones who did all of this to us.
Whether fueled by adrenaline or pure insanity at this point, I couldn’t be sure, but I got up from the ground where I sat, and picked Bertrand up onto his feet. His head lolled while his body was limp, eyes still unfocused as though they’d never see again. I started slapping his face lightly, “Bertrand, hey. Hey,” I said.
The fourth or fifth slap his head rose unsteadily as his eyes met mine. Lifeless, but I would make sure this wasn’t the last thing he remembered. We were going to come out on top from this. I’d make certain of it.
“It’s time to go.” I said sternly, hoping deep down that he’d still listen to me. He looked past me at the ground, but nodded absently.
“We’re going to get out of this, please, trust me one more time.” I pleaded. “Don’t leave me, Bertrand.” If my brother’s sanity was left behind here, who would I have? Nobody.
His small head rose again as he looked me dead in the eye.
“You don’t leave me, either.” he said. Tears were welling up again, and I could see the carnage reflected in his hazy green eyes. It was time.
“Let’s go,” said Marcus. I nodded.
“Are you ready?” I asked Bertrand. He nodded, sniffling and wiping his nose. Marcus rounded up the other seventeen of us and we all plodded up the hill away from the shells of our past existences.
Where were we going? Wherever we could find revenge. Be it our last stand, avenge and conquer was always our motto. We walked up the hill with a newfound drive as to where we wanted to go.
To life and liberty, or death,
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