Across the ravaged landscape, between battered and destroyed buildings, there rested a makeshift tent. It was perched upon the fallen remnants of a skyscraper with a green tarp sloppily nailed down in place through the rungs at the end. The floor was tarp of the same make, and all across the ground, tools and equipment were scattered around. Three old computers rested at the front most part of the tent, sapping power from portable generators and clinging to life as desperately as possible until the generators would finally burn out one day or another. Outside, the sky was a constant grey. There was no life in the heavens, simply a dull dreary grey that seemed to bring nothing but pessimism and negativity to those who looked upon it.
The tent lied there, unoccupied. Yet, no sooner had it been left, it was reentered by its occupants. Through the opening in the tarp walked a tall, dark haired young man, no younger than eighteen, and a white, wavy coated Kuvasz. The boy flopped onto the ground and ran a hand through his already incredibly messy hair. His grey eyes darted towards the Kuvasz.
“Well Bear,” he started, “S’pose we better check things out. But I know won’t be anything new…” Although Bear was a dog, he seemed to understand the boy’s words and whined in a somewhat sympathetic manner. After a minute or two of silence, the boy moved from his sitting position and towards the middle of the three computers. He booted up the prehistoric computer and after a moment, opened a video stream showing a street in the post-apocalyptic ruins of the city. The boy intently focused on the video and fast-forwarded through many hours of footage. Yet nothing seemed to happen.
“Damn… Not a thing…” he sighed. He looked to the timestamp. It read “2198-07-19 T 3:26 UTC”. At least the time was right. He closed the video and opened another stream named “D.C. Cam 2”. Nothing again. He opened fifty more files of video stream watching over the streets of the ruined remnants of Washington D.C. yet there was no sign of what the boy was looking for. Frustrated, he plopped himself back to the tarp floor. Bear moved his way over and lied down next to him. There the boy and Bear sat in silence and frustration.
The day moved on and sleep had crept upon both the boy and the dog. Both were sprawled across the cold tarp. However, their slumber didn’t last long. An older man with a bald head and a wrinkled face poked his head through the opening in the tarp.
“Simon, if you and that mutt of yours want any food today, you better wake the hell up!” The man called. Groggy, Simon sat himself upright and rubbed his eyes. There wasn’t a whole lot of food left in the ruined remnants of D.C. these days. And meals only came once every few days or so. Simon lived on the outskirts, away from the other survivalist colonies scattered around the city. However, a colony that took refuge close to Simon and Bear’s tent had always offered portions of whatever they were able to scavenge to the two of them.
Simon got up, and Bear followed suit. They walked out of the tent and headed towards the Castle. Simon didn’t have to worry about a leash when it came to Bear. The dog just didn’t seem to wander that often. And if he ever did, he always knew his way home. The walk wasn’t too long; only a few minutes away. It was muggy outside. Simon could feel beads of sweat forming on his face, yet he had only been walking for a half a minute or so. However, he knew that any amount of walking was worth whatever meager amount of food he could get.
Looking up, Simon could see the Castle as he and Bear crossed a field of dead, scorched grass. Simon knew that the nagging hunger pangs he felt would soon be eradicated when he finally had the chance to eat. He glanced towards Bear and couldn’t help but feel pity for the animal. Simon felt that he could go a day or two without eating much more easily than his companion. The crunching sound of their footsteps upon the destroyed grass turned into the patter of feet upon concrete as the both of them approached the pavement outside the Castle.
The Castle had apparently been a beautiful building that housed a part of one of the most prestigious museums in the country. But after many years it had become an old dilapidated building with vegetation growing up the sides of the building and extensive weathering to the brick that it was built from.
Simon and Bear stepped into the Castle where they saw the grubby faces of the members of the survivalist colony sitting around a fire. The smell of meat wafted through the air and both Simon and Bear’s faces lit up. The Castle’s generators had died out a long time ago. Thus, there was no power inside. The only light was the red glow of the fire.
Simon walked towards the fire, Bear behind him. The people of the colony seemed to think of Simon as some sort of mentally ill person, as they always gave him looks when he was with them. He didn’t care. He was there for the food. He sat down next to a woman in her mid thirties maybe. She glanced towards him several times throughout the meal. Simon looked at her and managed a half-smile.
“Still planting cameras around the town looking for ‘them’ huh?” she asked in a somewhat condescending tone.
“Yeah.” Simon replied through a mouthful of poorly seasoned, tough beef.
“Going out on your own like that’s a bit dangerous kid. Why not just live here with us?”
“Leave ‘im be Marissa.” A gruff voice cut in. It was the bald man from before. His name was David. He was the leader of the colony and had always been very fatherly to Simon. “If he doesn’t want to live here so be it. Doesn’t mean we can’t be polite and let ‘im eat with us. Leave ‘im to what he wants to do.” With that, Marissa turned away and David nodded to Simon.
After eating, Simon no longer felt hungry. Yet he couldn’t say that he felt full, particularly. He gave half of what he had to Bear just so he could have more of a decent meal. He stood up and approached David.
“Thanks for the food.” Simon said softly. “I think it’s best if me and Bear head home now though.” As Simon turned to leave, David grabbed his shoulder. Simon wheeled around to face him.
“You’re not walkin’ outta here alone boy. That dog ain’t much protection, and if you die I’m not gonna be held responsible.” Simon hesitantly agreed, and the three of them headed towards the door.