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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Chapter 4 - Preparations

Jude slept that night in a collapsed bus stop. He dreamt of Tyra, and saw her leaving the village just before the attack. And not only had she left, but he saw two others leaving with her, though he could not make out who they were.

He woke with a start, when he heard thunder. It was raining heavily, and judging by the amount of water pooling in the streets, had been for some time. Jude muttered a few curses, and spat on the wall. Rain was the worst thing that could have happened today, for he had been planning on scavenging parts of the city in order to start his journey.

Nevertheless, he knew that he would still be able to search the city, he would simply have to spend time within the abandoned buildings, searching for water, canned food, and other supplies.

Jude left the bus stop without having eaten; he had no food with him. Unfortunately, the area around where he was was nearly completely demolished because of the battles fought there during the invasion. Jude knew, however, that he would could travel beyond the park that still lay in the center of the city, its trees dying from lack of human care, and that on the other side the buildings were still mostly intact.

And so Jude set out on his travel across the island. After some time of travel, Jude found the area he had been thinking of. He had frequently camped here on hunts, as there was a fair amount of nonperishable food and still relatively intact shelter.

Jude entered a building, not terribly tall from the standards of those around it, and walked into what appeared to be a lobby or entranceway of some kind. Tables were strewn across the floor, and broken chairs were to be found everywhere. Walking to and climbing over a counter, Jude was glad to find some canned food sitting in a plastic box, and a few bottles of water. He also found a staircase leading up into the higher floors.

Jude was usually reluctant to travel above the first floor of a building, after years of termite damage many were on the verge of collapse. But in this instance Jude felt no reason not to go upstairs and search for rations or equipment.

When he arrived at the second floor, it had obviously been a residential area, though was also apparently used as a bunker during the invasion. Empty boxes of batteries were strewn across the building, and laser burn marks decorated the ceiling and walls.

Still, signs of whoever had lived in the building were still obvious. Jude found clothing, of which he took a sweater for colder weather, a hatchet, which he also took, and a few books.

The only book he took was a children’s book on spacecraft. Jude had never known much about human spacecraft, and so he wished to learn more – especially should he find a still operational craft somewhere on the mainland.

There was also a map of some kind, and Jude realized that it was probably a map of the island before the war began. As he looked at it, he realized that it was, for he could recognize areas such as the Square of Time (though it referred to it as Time’s Square) and a large park in the middle of the city. In the upper right-hand corner was a strange cross, with an “N” above the top mark. Jude had no idea what this was supposed to mean.

And at the bottom of the chest was another strange item. It was a multi-colored cube made of smaller cubes, measuring three units on a side. Six colors were on the cube, and each face could be rotated independently of one another. Jude took the cube, assuming at the very least that he would be able to use it for amusement if he had to spend some time somewhere.

With his bag full of food and supplies, three guns and whatever ammunition he could find, and a map, Jude went back to the first floor.

Map in hand, Jude found his way to the harbor, where he knew he would be able to find a small boat capable of transporting him to the mainland. When he got there, he did indeed find a small metal rowboat, although it looked rusty and dangerous. More powerful, larger, safer boats were at the harbor, however Jude had no idea how to operate them.

But it was not the boat itself that made Jude fear the passage across the channel. Instead, it was a boat, one single boat traveling up the channel that made Jude’s skin crawl, for he knew who they were.



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