War

by Andy Zebrowitz

I was eleven when they came for us, and she was a bit older, though I never knew how much; they rumbled through the streets with mechanical indifference, heavy treads ripping asphalt and shoving aside the burning debris left from their first salvos the day before, their searchlights playing across corners and alleyways as they looked for survivors to be gathered or slaughtered. Like a big sister, she'd been watching me, keeping me safe, teaching me how to keep moving, to hide, to hold on, to survive. We'd been lucky so far, but not this time; their electronic eyes pierced through the gloom and their trackers let out a low digital shriek as they advanced on our hiding place beneath an abandoned Datsun. "Run," she told me, "and keep running," and then rolled out from under the car, standing, letting them swivel their weapons towards her, and I did as I was told - scrambled out from hiding and ran, kept running, acrid smoke thick in the air and in my throat. I looked back only once, long enough to see their flechettes tear into her; it was difficult to see her clearly, but I am convinced even today that she did not cry. That girl died loving me, and I've never forgotten the lessons she taught about holding on, so it is for her that I shoulder this rifle and prepare to do my part to reclaim this city, to send them all back to Hell.

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Andy Zebrowitz lives in Atlanta, a city that has yet to crumble into post-apocolyptic ruin. (He wants to leave anyway.) He is the author of North.