Day 24

The rain beat heavily against the windshield. Donna leaned forward, squinting through the distorted glass. She was concentrating to hard that her head ached, a tight pain right in between her eyes. She could barely make out anything outside, just blurry pinpricks of light far ahead of her. The sky was a dark green, and she could feel the wind making the car sway as she raced down the interstate.

Tramp, her big black lab, lay on a blanket across the backseat, panting. Her leash and the remains of a bag of dog food were on the passenger seat, along with the box of protein bars. She’d been stocking up for awhile, keeping cans and boxes from the last rounds of prepared food around her bunk. A crate of water bottles were still in the back of her car, and she’d also managed to buy a two pack of the giant bottles of One-A-Day Vitamins off a woman selling them out of the back of her truck. Donna hoped they were legit.

Her rifle lay across her lap, and she had two more guns and six boxes of ammo in the trunk. She was surprised by how clear the roads were. When the emergency alarm had sounded in the early morning, she’d already been awake. At the first blare of the horn, she’d grabbed Tramp and been off. She’d been on the highway heading north-west within two minutes. She assumed a pack of traffic was building behind her, and that, as more time passed, the roads would begin to clog up. She figured that if she could get a good 30 miles west before having to figure out the back roads, she would be in good shape.

Not everyone had a car these days. She’d shot two jackers who’d tried to take off with hers. One had been a young girl, barely over fourteen. She’d looked soft, laying on the ground after Donna had shot her. She hated to shoot a sister, but it was survival of the fittest.

She’d been invited to stay in the Clutch, but she thought she’d be more likely to make it on her own. Her only regret was leaving her sister behind, but Karen was a zealous revolutionary. She and the other women of the Clutch had decided to stand their ground and face down the invading troops.

After the Law had passed, the Clutch had stormed the capitol, laying waste to everything in their path and rounding up the men. They had cordoned off the city. The leaders of the movement, who had seen the Law coming for years, had been prepared. They had stored weapons, and food. They were prepared to take over the city.

They burned the men alive one week later. The smell of burnt flesh hung in the air for days afterwards. As each man was brought to the bonfire, Karen read their list of crimes against women aloud. It wasn’t long after that that the Clutch had rounded up the rest of the men of their relatively isolated city. Donna and some of the others fought it at first, but they couldn’t dissuade the Clutch from killing the rest of the men too. It was days before the Government could decide how to respond. After all, who wanted to go after a city completely occupied by women and children? But then they began to receive daily announcements, jamming up the radio waves, and appearing in texts and emails. The men were coming. That was when Donna decided she had to go out on her own. Better take her own risks by crossing the border than burn everything to the ground.

Besides, her belly would begin to swell soon, and she couldn’t be sure what she was harboring. And she wasn’t going to let anyone else make any decisions for her.

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