ADIA LYNN A scream pierced the cool September air. The night had fallen on the small town and survivors were sleeping soundly in their beds, as if the scream did not affect them. Guards along the town’s limits turned on all four watch tower lights and searched the surrounding woods for the girl the scream originated from. There was little to no sign of her. Where had the noise come from? All of the town’s people knew not to venture into the woods without proper supervision and special training. Why would someone venture out at night? Sure the mutant crisis was over, but one could never be too safe in a world like this. Guards crunched tiny twigs and forest floor debris under their boot with each step they took, hands held large swords and few guns that were left after the battle with the colossus. Mist rolled along the forest floor, the light of the moon illuminated the forest causing it to appear more eerie than normal. A guard by the name of Eddie was south of the town with a tall girl called Adia. She was the girl who lived in the wild for her whole life, whose brother died in battle, whose father tried to kill her so she killed him, she was the girl who gained everything and then lost it all within a year. She was strong, but she was broken. Adia walked with much grace as she walked through the woods, pushing low hang branches and bushes aside from the her path. Her double glaive weapon were in their carriers on her back. The glaive split into two when needed, yet stayed strong together. Having gained this weapon from a dear friend and who she thought was her real father, Beady, she cherished it with her whole being. Those glaives were what kept her grounded, that and the few friends she seemed to have made in the last two years. Long through the mist, Adia could hear Eddie talking to her about going hiking with him sometime. “Sorry Eddie, I’ve got a busy schedule.” She said, politely turning him down. It was true, she was busy, but Eddie just wasn’t someone she found interesting. He was basic. A solider who woke up, readied himself, did patrol, ate breakfast, back on patrol, checked security barriers, patrol, etc. then he would repeat the next day. He was too predictable. Their life styles would have clashed. Eddie was about to make an excuse of why she could still go with him, but Adia covered his mouth with her hand. She needed the silence to hear whatever was coming their way. Being deaf in one ear wasn’t favorable when in danger, especially being paired with a chatter box like Eddie. Eddie’s eyes widened as he looked at her. “Quite.” She murmured, as she let go of him. Looking around, Adia had this sense that they were in serious danger. Focusing as best she could, Adia looked off into the distance north of her. The moonlight proved just enough illumination as the fog cleared to spot a figure in the distance. He was larger than any human Adia knew. As the fog cleared more, Adia saw him for what he truly was. A mutant. He was looking at her, but not. Was he blind? Maybe. Adia was about to turn and tell Eddie to stay still, but it was too late he stepped back causing a twig to snap loudly. Adia’s fist balled and looked back at the mutant all at once. He saw them for sure now. Roaring and beginning to charge, Adia turned to Eddie. “Run!” She exclaimed as she took off towards south, further from the town. Eddie bolted off towards the east. Taking two daggers from their holders on her pant legs, she started to cling them together making sure to get the mutants attention. She wasn’t going to take it on, but she did know of a cliff not too far from here. She’d just have to run as fast as she could. Tall, dark, and mutated charged through old oaks and tall pines causing them to fall and some to send splinters flying through the air. Whatever this thing was, it knew how to cause destruction. Adia huffed in air as she picked up her pace a little. She needed to just make it maybe fifty more yards. Noticing a fallen tree blocking the path, she quickly assessed the situation and noticed an opening below it. It was going to be a tight squeeze, but she was going for it. If she didn’t, she’d die. Coming up to it at top speed, she slammed her body towards the ground and slid. The ground was moist thanks to the low cloud cover. Getting up and darting off again, this time with a smaller gap between her and the big guy, Adia could feel the scrapes and cuts along her left arm. She was only thirty yards out. Just a little bit further. Push yourself, Adia. Twenty five yards I can see the cliff. Twelve yards. Not much longer. Six yards. As she crossed six yards, she slowed greatly, allowing for the beast to almost catch up to her. Dipping to the right, she took off. Big things weren’t good at sharp turns. However, it did make the turn, but a second too late. It was at the edge and the inertia, from the fast pace sprint forward to the cliff, sent the beast tumbling over the edge. Adia could hear the thing plunge down the cliff’s edging and smack at the bottom. Standing still for a small moment, Adia breathed heavily trying to catch her breathe. She could feel her lungs begin to burn from the cool air. Her break didn’t last long, because she soon heard the faint rumple and loud sound of buildings breaking… Adia shot up from her nightmare of a memory. She lad in a sleeping bag on the dirt, inside a shitty tent that leaked on occasions. But who was she to complain? She has slept outside in rain storms before, so this was a step up from roughing it in the trees. Looking around the damp tent, she saw a small ray of morning light peaking in. It was still early, but she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep again. Once she was awake there was no going back to sleep until her body gave out again. Adia hadn’t told anyone what was going on with her, she didn’t feel like someone doubting her ability to perform her duties or fight against a mutant. She had resented people for less, and in a predicament like this she couldn't be making enemies. Crawling out of the tent, Adia stood up and looked around her. Noticing the fire was out, but yet still gave off heat, she walked towards the pile of ash. Bending down next to it, she hoovered her hand over the shoot. It was still warm. Someone hadn’t gone to bed that long ago. But who? Probably one of the night guards, Adia figured. Standing she brushed the sides of her hands off on her pants. Sure there was no ash on them, but it was force of habit. Returning to her tent, Adia reached in and took out her satchel. It was separate from her bag, and she had it much longer. It was small, but carried what she needed for small scavenges or hunts. Putting the strap over her shoulder, and head, Adia grabbed her glaive and headed off westward from the camp. She didn’t remember who said it, but someone didn’t want anyone wandering off from the group. Good thing she wasn’t. Going to a tree about twenty seven yards out, Adia looked up through the branches. It was sturdy. Grabbing hold of the branch, she began to climb until she reached the top. Adia sat on the thickest branch there was and looked out. Taking the water bottle from her satchel, she starred out at the sun rise. This world, this forest, was beyond beautiful, but so tainted with mutations from Earth’s mistakes. Adia chuckled a little bit and shook her head. It was funny how the universe went full circle. The earth began covered in forestation and ended in forestation. The circle of life was real. Watching as the sun rose in the east, Adia looked at the oranges, yellows, and faint blues filling the sky. She looked down. Pulling the dog tags out from beneath her shirt, she starred at the name. Jocelyn McBeth - S.S. The S.S stood for senior scavenger. Jocelyn was Adia’s first friend, and best friend. Key word, was. Jocelyn died in the fight against the Colossus almost ten months before today. Adia was there by her side. If only they were able to take down the king of mutants two minutes sooner, and Jocelyn would have still been alive. Maybe. Jocelyn was impaled through her abdomen by debris that escaped from the Colossus as a last defense maneuver. She bled out minutes later. A warm tear rolled down Adia’s cheek as she stared at the dog tags. It had been hard without Jocelyn. The unit was family, but Adia never talked to them like she talked with Jocelyn. She missed her. Removing a granola bar from her bag, she opened it and pulled off a small square. Popping it in her mouth, she began to chew as she shifted and started back down the tree. Once her feet hit the ground, Adia heard the forest floor be crunched under a heavy foot. Her eyes darted as far left as they could. Something moved in the distance. Turning around, Adia felt the beat of her heart quicken, but soon calmed itself. It was a deer. One of the few that was left untouched by nature’s way of exterminating. Adia smiled and slowly walked towards it, hands up in order to show she meant no harm. The deer realized that and allowed Adia to come close to it. With all the mutants out there in the world, Adia wasn’t surprised that the deer saw her as no threat. She wasn’t big and bad…or ugly. Adia chuckled a little as she moved close enough to touch the deer. “All alone out here, huh?” She asked knowing that she lacked the ability to communicate with animals; however, she could just tell that the deer was in fear of the world, and he should be. A roar came from the south. It was strong, bold, and full of anger. Something big was moving this way. It startled the deer and caused one of his horns to hit Adia’s forehead causing her to bleed. “Shit.” She muttered as the deer scurried off into the woods. Holding her hand up to the cut, the tips of her fingers were soaked in blood. The wound would recurring stitching. She sighed and looked to the south. Where did that roar come from? What did it come from? Within the past few months, the old race of mutants died out and new ones arose; more vicious than ever, and they didn’t appear like before. They didn’t allow groups of surviving humans to know of their individual species existence until they wanted to. They were smart. No one person would know what all species of mutant there were. Not even in a span of a month. Part of Adia wanted to go and investigate the roar, but she knew all too well that if she did, alone, she wasn’t going to be coming back whole. So she turned and went back to camp. They needed to move. Entering camp, Adia began to make a round. “WAKE UP!” She yelled out. If there was one person who didn’t hear the roar in the distance and woke up, they did now. A boy by the name of Rylie crawled out from his tent. “What’s going on, Adia?” He asked as he rubbed his eyes. But before Adia could say anything, the roar of the mutant came again. This time closer. The group would need to move and move now! Adia, after looking in the direction of the mutant’s menacing roar, she glanced at Rylie and said, “That’s what’s going on. Everyone up. We are moving out yesterday!” She couldn’t stress the importance of leaving sooner than later. Adia walked to her single tent, and brought it down quickly. There was no time to waste. She put it into her carrier and attached it to her backpack, along with her sleeping bag. Adia never fully unpacked because she knew home wasn’t ever going to be found unless mutants weren’t roaming the earth.