The library was a marvel on its own. I loved the feel of it and planned to spend as much of day there as I possibly can. I found peace amongst the bookshelves and the faint echo of my steps only added to my enjoyment. Of course, I tended to it was well. Nowadays, all people cared about was surviving and scavenging, but at least in these dark times I found my light. I read, I read every book I could get my hand on. If I had to choose between extra food and a book I will eat what I have with an adventure in my mind.
Today I decided to make my way up the to the fourth floor. I started a small fire indoors so nobody could see the smoke. I watched the sun rise over this city, green light revealing a damaged and old city, slowly being enveloped in green. I kept my movement to the minimal, but there was still a chance of me being spotted from the opposite building. I scanned the windows as the water boiled. A few minutes later and I was sipping a mug of coffee. A rare resource, a luxury, but there was no point in savoring it. Drink it while it hasn't expired is what I say.
Dousing the fire and resting my free on my pistol I made my way slowly up the stairs. I kept my senses keen as I tested the steps before climbing. I stumbled across this library a long time ago and realized that it would have to be home. Nobody looting this ravaged city decides to scavenge in a library. There were no resources that would help you survive till your next day. However, the smart ones would realize that there were books here that would help survive for weeks with little effort. Learn how to forage, clean water and hunt.
Much like the old tale of the fisherman; it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. The sad thing was it would be what saves this humanity from the brink of extinction. We shoot each other like animals, we murder and destroy all before us all to keep us going. Everyone is your enemy and that is why the last of man will be those who found their peace in the wilderness, hunting and gathering. Making contraptions from the broken world that would bring civilization back after us losing it so long ago.
I walked onto the fourth floor and surveyed it carefully. It was large and open, several bookshelves stood holding their prizes and I glanced at each one shelf as I walked. The floors carpeted floor was in good condition, obviously packed with dust, but not water-logged or overgrown. It is amongst this dust surface that I spotted my first clue that I was not alone. There were prints in the dust, small prints. I couldn't decipher what they belonged too, it could have easily been a child or an animal. Finishing my coffee I retrieved a book from my rucksack; a small guide to surviving the wilderness.
Squatting down I paged to the section on animal tracks and scanned the images, comparing them to what I saw. The prints were almost indecipherable, but from their size and spacing I recognised that they belonged to a four legged creature. Small, but not harmless. Putting the book away I decided to follow them. The last thing I needed was animals searching through this place, they were almost as bad as people. Many driven feral, even domestic animals no longer had a master. If it was wild, I had to put it down.
I followed the prints for a good ten minutes, going in-between bookshelves and aged stands. The tracks led me in circles for a while, but I kept a keen eye. Eventually, it wasn't the tracks that helped me find the animal, but the movement out the corner of my eye. There it stood, sniffing a small kiosk, a wolf. It's fur dark on top, but lightened below by the grey dust it had been padding through for who knows how long. I counted myself lucky that it was so dusty or it would have found me by scent. Furthermore, I had the advantage of it not belonging to a pack. You can tell the runt of the litter was abandoned from its back leg. It wasn't visibly wounded, but it limped painfully.
Even in that moment I felt pity for the wolf. I had food it could eat, but it would not willingly eat what I leave it. I kept it in sight at all times as I placed a piece of wood on the ground, wiping the dust away. Eventually it did indeed see me and we shared a moment of eye contact. I immediately stopped; you never stare down a wolf. I placed the wood down and opened a jar of preserved, string meat. I kept one hand on the gun as I walked and it padded closer, growling threateningly.
Once finished I backed away from the wolf, both hands on the gun and pointing towards the creature as passively as I could. The wolf walked closer and I walked further way, The limp made it seem less fearsome as well as kept it from attacking at a full sprint. You never go near an injured dog like this, no matter what. The wolf stopped at the meat and sniffed it. For a long moment it sniffed the food and I waited expectantly. The wolf's face softened and it began to eat the meat greedily, as if the small amount would restore his able body from this injured, skinny form.
Giving the wolf I wide berth I walked around it and kept looking back at it. It made short work of the meat and stared at me without bearing it's teeth. I took this as a good sign, but I didn't want to take any chances. I continued my searching of the shelves while the wolf sat in the same spot. Never getting closer, only getting further away. Before turning the corner I gave one final glance at it and walked upwards. The fifth floor held more shelves and finally the roof was mostly clear. If I was smart I would set up camp here, above the other buildings with only one entrance for people to go through.
Walking back to this entrance I saw the wolf waiting there, sitting and blocking the way. Once more I drew my gun and pointed at the wild animal, but it continued to sit there passively. Eventually it's head twitched and it looked down the stairs, padding down them. I watched it descend and waiting a few moments before following it. I watched carefully to make sure it wasn't waiting for me in ambush, but it was clear. I didn't make it halfway down the steps before I heard screaming and gun-shots. I increased my pace and there was silence before I reached the bottom. Peaking through the doorway I saw a bloodied foot sticking out behind one of the bookcases. Above it was a wagging tail and the sounds of viscous crunching and biting.
I almost threw up seeing such and awful sight. There was a sicking popping and snapping sound and the wolf backed away from the scavenger with an arm in mouth. It padded over towards me, sure to keep its distance, but maintaining a scary level of eye-contact. It dropped the arm in front of me and padded back to the body to continue its meal, watching me as it ate wildly. I stared at the savaged arm that bled out into the dusty carpet and back at the wolf.
Be sure to follow!