We stretched in the morning summer air. It was sweltering, which was good and bad. While our water bottles were running dangerously low, everything else was in good condition. We had been traveling through ash and rubble for days. Every time we got to a new town, Alisha's eyes lit up. They sank just as quickly when we saw the abandoned houses, pilfered goods, and flattened stores. Every town had been the same thing, destruction. We needed transportation. We needed more water. We needed food.
So when we got into Fulton, I wasn't expecting anything to be different. She scraped the ash off of the road sign. "We might as well know where we are." Alisha dusted to soot off on her jeans, which didn't really help. We were covered. "I really want to find new clothes." She spat into her hand and tried to rub off some of the mess, it only made it bundle up into black chunks on her hand.
"I really want to get out of the north east. The last newscast I heard said that the virus had hit there the worst. That's why they bombed so far out... I guess."
"You're lucky you heard the news one last time." Alisha kicked a stone. It bounced in the ash like it was skipping on water, causing small wind ripples across the street. "I didn't even see any of this coming. I ran outside after the first explosion. The apartment complex across the street was engulfed in flames."
And that's what you get for being completely unaware of your surroundings... kids. We walked in silence until we got to the town. The buildings looked more windswept than destroyed. "Maybe this is the end of it." I walked to the first house. While the ash had smacked into the side, blacking out the windows, the inside looked like it was picked clean.
I kicked the door open, a sharp pain shot up my hip. I still wasn't used to all this physical activity. Living a cushy office job was probably the worst possible career for someone in this world. Other than some cushions left with the couches, there didn't seem to be anything else. Alisha crept in after me and marched around. She disappeared through a doorway and I heard cabinets open and shut.
"Nothing - no food... no anything. Oh! The tap still works!"
I heard the running water, "I don't know if I would-"
"Ew!!!" She came out, her hands blacker than they were before. "Is everything around here destroyed?"
I chuckled as she wiped her hands on the cushions, leaving deep stains on each. Then I saw it. A small metal object that reflected the light. "Hold on, Alisha. What's that?"
She looked down and smiled. Her hand curled around the object and tossed it towards me. The keys jingled in my hand as I caught them.
"Garage." We both said at the same time. We scrambled over the couches and busted the door down to the garage. There it was, the most magnificent thing I've seen in my whole life.
"Why does it have to be open?!" She whined.
I walked around it and kicked the tires. "Still good. I say we take it." I grinned and leaned myself against the jeep. It had no top on it, and the top wasn't anywhere to be seen. But it was a vehicle, a set of wheels, and something that could probably still get a grip on the mess that is outside.
"Ugh." She threw her pack in the back. "We are going to die from ash inhalation."
"Probably," I tossed my pack in and jumped into the driver's seat. I pushed the key into the ignition and cranked it. The engine roared to life. "At least now we can do it in style." I put on my best grin.
"You give a guy a nice car, and he reverts into a five-year-old." Alisha rolled her eyes.