The world had reached the limit in its patience. Fifteen years before today a cold snap hit the world harder than any natural disaster. Major lifestyle choices had to be taken, but the change was so sudden that large countries not used to such cold weather suffered greatly. Pain and suffering became a daily ritual for them, but only the rich survived in their heated homes and with better clothing. Ten years ago it became survival of the fittest. It was chaos and no amount of government speeches could save us, especially since the power cuts began.
For these ten years the new generation was forced to cope with its own circumstance and be the best of us. A beginning of a race that was ready to survive the New Ice Age. At least, that was the hope of the parents, because the alternative was extinction. Once more the common survivor was starting to lose interest in the future and just make it from day one too day two. It wasn’t their fault; they could not work for the future if they were struggling to work for themselves; which is why our story follows three young individuals.
Samuel was the youngest, a five year old that was buried behind the layers of clothing he wore; warm, but hopeless. The second was Miguel, a child born when it all began, now age ten. The third was a teenager named Sarah, who needed to become an adult at the age of fifteen. Sarah was a part of a larger group that encountered a group of harsh scavengers. The two groups were strong and needed to grow in strength, especially with the skies getting darker for the coming winter. The second group decided in order to move on they should leave their youngest behind, Samuel and Miguel, but Sarah saw them and begged both groups not do so.
Unfortunately, there was no longer compassion within the snow-worn husks of people and they moved on towards their next home. Sarah took them under her wing, so to speak, leading them through the snow to follow the survivors. The trek was a long one and the snow didn’t cease its decent from the supposed heavens. Eventually, the inevitable happened. The three lagged too far behind and the snow covered the tracks. It suited Sarah just fine; she led the two off the path into the nearest building. The ground floor was submerged in snow, so there was no door to go through. However, the window was no obstacle to the hammer Sarah carried. With a few swings she led them into the stale air of the old building, but even stale air was warmer than the frigid wind that cut at their skin outside.
Both climbed the building till they escaped the draft they now created. Sarah walked out onto the fourth floor, closing the doors behind her. Pulling Miguel and Samuel close she examined their hands, feet and faces. Checking for signs of frostbite was important, especially with children, so when Samuel struggled to move two of his fingers Sarah knew they should light a fire.
Finding wood wasn’t too hard, in such a build there seemed to be plenty of furniture that would burn under the right conditions. Sarah worked fast, collecting a chair, breaking it with hammer and chisel. The cold outside would not catch the flame so easily, but the inside was certainly flammable enough. Soon she had the beginnings of a fire; however that wasn’t the end of the work. Collecting more wood and even paper to increase the flames potency was much needed, lucky the high oxygen count in this apocalypse made making a stronger fire easier.
The three sat around the fire, not staring at each other, but into the burning warmth, searing their eyes. It was sadness in its strongest form, but Sarah raised her eyes now and then in deep concern for the two children. She started to feel what the adults did, a fear of loss. The adults did not fear the children or hate them in any way, but they had seen this before. A terrible sadness in these times was common, but the loss of a child was worse. No adult could bear it lest they take their own lives sooner in this hardship.
These thoughts were a plague in Sarah’s mind and she pushed them away. She sat Samuel down and Miguel against him. She flanked Samuel’s other-side, holding his hand close to the fire, between her hands rubbing them slowly. The two boys could see her care and they treasured it, for they had nothing else. The night drew closer and the fire kept them warm, albeit hunger became their next problem and it would for a while. Sarah ordered the two to stay by the fire and both were happy to oblige as she went scavenging throughout the building.
There wasn’t much she could collect on the first floors, save for frozen rocks of coffee mix in tins. Water was plentiful with this snow, but coffee wouldn’t save you in the long run. Still, she chipped off a slate and placed it into a fold of her bag. Sarah continued her ascent, the upper levels looking a lot grander than the lower ones. She found another break room in the office complex, but this one was occupied. It appeared to be a sleeping man on the floor, a plastic bag near his feet, made red by the fresh meat stored within.
Sarah knew she couldn’t fight the man or steal such a packet without waking him. So she decided to bargain, tapping his foot with her own, clutching a hammer in her hand if it grew necessary. The man was unmoving and Sarah understood why. She pressured both the mans feet beneath hers, there was soft crunching and a solid feeling beneath her boot. The man had a serious case of frostbite in his legs and could not feel her.
Sarah leaned down and grabbed the plastic bag, knowing full-well the man could not catch her. There came a mumble from his unmoving body, a grim request that Sarah could not follow through, but she assured him that once he felt the emptiness in his lower back, he wouldn’t feel any pain in his last moments. The man wishing to die sobbed, heart-broken and depressed as Sarah walked away to eat her food with the others. There were only three and she wanted it never grow less.