Battle for Survival By C.S. Michaels

Looking up at the sky, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Large, enemy transports were making their way towards us. I knew it was bound to happen because they had been hovering in the air thousands of feet above for the last four days. I had hoped we had more time before they descended upon us, but it looked like our time had run out.
Battle for Survival
Battle for Survival By C.S. Michaels

It was difficult to tell how long and wide they were from this distance, but they had to be at least forty yards long and twenty yards wide. They were black in color and were rectangular boxes like a box car.

They were bigger than our transports which could hold two hundred and fifty humans. Although their transports were bigger, I estimated they could hold roughly three hundred aliens since the aliens were so much bigger than us.

Looking over at Peoni, I saw that she was amazed at the transports as well. She was in her early twenties and was a lovely blonde with gorgeous green eyes. Her long hair was tied up, so it was on top of her head which showed a long, slender neck framed by a petite neckless. Her face was round, and she had the most perfect nose. It wasn’t a small button nose, but it wasn’t a large nose either. There’s no other way to describe it, except to say that it was perfect.

She was slightly taller than average and had a thin build, but still had the hour glass figure. She looked different now than she looked when we met because she was covered with dust and blood from escaping the aliens the last four days. To me, she still looked beautiful, regardless of the dirt and blood. She certainly didn’t look any different than the rest of us because we were all dirty.

We had met the first day of the attack. I was at a bar, enjoying my last two days off before reporting to my base for duty. She had just graduated from one of the Universities and she was trying to find a job as a teacher.

While she was looking for a teaching job, she was working as a waitress at the bar that I was in and we had started talking. In fact, we had made plans to go for a walk on the beach after her shift ended that night. Unfortunately, the aliens decided to attack before we had a chance to do that. When the attack happened there was chaos as everyone ran around, looking for cover. We stayed together and had been trying to survive together ever since.

Along the way, we had found four kids that had been orphaned during the bombings on the first day and we didn’t have the heart to leave them, so they had been traveling with us as well. The six of us had been together ever since, which seemed like a lot longer than four days because of everything we had gone through.

I looked at Rolondo Hinman and Serenova Walhart, who were standing next to me. I had just come across them yesterday hiding in what remained of a parking garage. So far, I had been very impressed with both and was glad that I was traveling with them.

Rolondo was a big, burly guy with red hair, a pale complexion and freckles that dotted his face. He was in his late twenties and was a few inches taller than me but outweighed me by thirty pounds. After not shaving for the last several days, his facial hair was growing in patches.

Serenova had short brown hair and a brown complexion. She was medium height with a medium build and it looked like she must work out a lot because there didn’t appear to be any fat on her. Serenova’s eyes were close together and she had a small button nose. I estimated her to be in her early thirties.

“This is not good,” Serenova said as we watched the transports get bigger as they descended.

“No, it’s not,” I replied. “We better get out of here before the Gorlanians see us.”

“That sounds good to me,” Serenova stated then made her way to the small opening in the rubble.

Serenova climbed into the hole then when she was clear, Rolondo followed her. After that, I had Peoni enter the hole then I turned and looked at the transports one last time. Shaking my head slowly, I couldn’t believe how many there were. I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of them in the sky.

Climbing into the small hole, I made my way through the twisted steel that was everywhere. Enemy fighters had been bombing all the buildings in the city over the last four days so there were downed buildings everywhere. The ones that weren’t destroyed completely were still damaged.

In this case, there was a huge pile of rubble, but there was a small hole that led downward through the debris. It was dark, so I had to feel my way through it, but I eventually made my way out the other end and onto steps that went down. Serenova, Rolondo and Peoni were waiting for me and once I was out of the hole, we headed down the stairs.

The steps were thirty yards wide and we followed them down for about forty yards until we entered the terminal. The terminal was fifty yards wide and twenty-five yards long. There were some machines where people could get their tickets to ride the trains. There were bathrooms in the corner and a couple of places on one side of the terminal where food and drinks were served, before all of this happened.

“I’m so happy we found this place,” Serenova said. “It’s going to be much safer than the street, especially now that the troops will be coming.”

“I agree,” Peoni added. “Great job Ty.”

I nodded as we made our way through the terminal and past all the people that I had led to the temporary safety of the tunnels. We numbered twenty-three people and they all stared at us, waiting for their next instructions.

For the last four days, I had been desperately trying to make it to the military base where I was supposed to report for duty, knowing I could help them fight back. However, with the fighters relentlessly attacking the city, it had been difficult for us to make it very far. When I had thought about the tunnels, I knew they would be a great way for us to try to head to the base.

I explained it to everyone that was down there with me and they agreed, knowing it would be much safer there than anywhere else. While they would all look for safety at the base, I wanted to get assigned to a fighter, so I could help defend our planet. Unfortunately, the base was approximately thirty miles away from our location, which meant we had a long way to travel before reaching our destination.

The tunnel I was in was used for public transportation. Some of them were the same tunnels that had been used by trains a couple of centuries ago. However, now they were much wider and had been modified to handle the modern trains. The tunnel was fifty yards wide and twenty-five yards high. The reason they were so wide was because there were usually trains going in both directions.

The tunnels were more like streets because trains could drive in both directions. Like the streets above ground, the tunnels were everywhere in the city. There were even intersections, or interchanges as they were called where trains could turn and go in different directions. The interchanges were like four-way stops except there weren’t stoplights. Everything was automated, so if there were trains coming in different directions, the on-board computers would communicate with each other to make sure one train stopped while another went through the interchange.

After four days on the run, several of us had made it to the safety of the tunnels. The Gorlanians had been bombing the city relentlessly and it wasn’t safe above the ground. I didn’t know how long the tunnels would be safe either, but for now it was the best place to be. Although it seemed to be safe against the bombings, I knew it was only a temporary haven.

My thoughts were interrupted as people were asking questions about what was happening above ground. They must have sensed something was wrong by the look on our faces because they seemed to be extremely concerned.

Knowing they had a right to know what was happening, I explained to all of them that the transports were getting closer to the ground and they would be deploying their ground troops shortly.

Obviously, everyone started to get worried, but I tried to calm them down. “I need everyone to be quiet,” I said in a loud voice, trying to settle them down.”

“What are we going to do?” a woman in her mid-fifties asked.

“We’re going to continue towards the base,” I responded. “Nothing has changed.”

“But the enemy troops will be coming.”

“We knew that was going to happen at some point,” I pointed out. “At least we’re safe in the tunnels.”

“What if they search the tunnels?” she asked.

“We’ll see them coming,” I stated. “If that happens, we can head in the other direction.”

“What if they sneak up on us and kill all of us?” the woman asked.

“We’ll make sure we take turns standing guard,” I answered. “Listen, everyone needs to calm down. At least we’re a lot safer down here than we were above ground. We just need to start heading towards the base and we’ll address issues as they arise. There’s really nothing else we can do about it now.”

“Okay,” the woman replied and everyone else nodded their heads.

“For now, let’s try to get some sleep.”

“The enemy might be right outside the terminal,” a man in his late thirties stated.

“That’s true, but they won’t get through the same hole we used to get down here. They are much too big for that.”

“What if they try to blow it up?”

“They won’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Why would they? They have no reason to believe that there is a terminal and tunnel down here, so the chances of them trying to blow it up are very slim.”

“I suppose.”

“Right now, this is the safest place for us,” I commented. “I suggest we assign people to guard duty and have a schedule to rotate who’s on guard.”

“Okay, but what do we do now?”

“Let’s get some sleep.”

“I don’t know how you can sleep at a time like this,” the woman commented.

“We need our sleep. We’re going to have a long walk ahead of us tomorrow, so we might as well get as much sleep as we can.”

Since nobody had anything to add, I quickly came up with a guard schedule then we all dispersed, trying to find a spot in the terminal to sleep.

Chapter 2

I didn’t know how long I had been asleep, but the sounds of explosions above the ground woke me up. Standing, I noticed that the explosions had woken everyone else in the terminal and tunnel as well. At least we were safer in here, I figured, so I didn’t expect the tunnels to come crashing down. Just as that thought entered my mind, I noticed bits of the ceiling falling on us. The Gorlanians must really be bombing the buildings above us if we could feel the vibrations and see bits of the ceiling start to fall apart.

I assumed the tunnels would be safe enough for us to walk, but I also knew there was a chance that some of the tunnels could be destroyed to the point where we would have to go around them. We could do that, but it was going to take more time.

I was rather confident that I could get all of us to the base before the enemy troops ventured into the tunnels. First, they would need to set up their base camps. Second, I figured they would search the buildings before they started searching the tunnels. At least that’s what I hoped. If I was correct, then we should be able to make it to the base in a couple of days.

As dust was raining down on us, I was happy that we had decided to make it to the tunnel yesterday. Although our group had been hiding in a parking garage, I felt trapped. I hated the idea that the building could collapse and trap us in the garage. At least now we could travel to the military base in a safer environment than trying to walk the streets like we had been doing before.

Now that I knew they were going to be deploying the troops soon, I assumed they would switch from bombing the city to bringing in the ground troops. I figured sending in the ground troops was to eradicate whoever had survived the bombing. Considering parts of the tunnel were falling on us, I concluded that they hadn’t deployed the troops yet. However, I knew it wouldn’t be long before that happened.

It was a depressing thought, but it made me even more determined to go to the base with whoever wanted to go. The others that were with me had agreed to go to the base, however there had been several that elected not to go. I couldn’t blame them.

They wanted to go find their loved ones in different parts of the city. I tried to explain to them that their loved ones, if alive, wouldn’t be where they thought they would be. They would be on the run and hiding just like everyone else, which meant it would be almost impossible to find them. Still, they wanted to go look for them, which I certainly understood.

Pushing those thoughts out of my mind, I turned and could see that the four kids that were tagging along with me and Peoni were sound asleep. They were curled up along the wall and appeared to be in a deep sleep.

I was amazed because it seemed like kids could sleep through anything and I was jealous of that. There was dirt falling from the ceiling and the tunnel seemed to shake, yet the kids continued to sleep as if they didn’t have a care in the world.

It was warm in the tunnel, but the metal floors were somewhat cool, so the kids were lying next to each other, snuggled against one another trying to keep warm. They looked so peaceful sleeping I dreaded having to wake them up, but it had to be done because we needed to get on the move.

“They’re attacking again,” I whispered to Peoni as I stood up and stretched.

Standing up, she stretched as well. “I’m glad we’re in here,” she said with a yawn.

“I am too.”

“They’ve really been hitting this area hard,” Peoni commented. “I wonder if the rest of the city has been bombed like this.”

“I’m sure it has.”

“I can’t believe all of those troop transports that we saw last night.”

“Yeah, there were quite a few of them.”

“There must be millions of troops that are going to invade our city.”

“We just need to stay in the tunnels,” I responded.

“Do you think they’ll come into the tunnels?” she asked, obviously worried.

“I hope not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. However, it will probably be after they check out the buildings, so we should have some time.”

I decided to add that last part even though I had no idea if that was true. Considering I didn’t know what they were planning on doing with the troops, I couldn’t begin to speculate what was going to happen. I felt like I needed to put her mind at ease which was why I said what I did.

She just shook her head solemnly, not wanting to think about the prospect of an alien ground force attacking the city. It wasn’t something I wanted to think about either, but it was now a reality and I needed to be constantly aware of it.

“Let’s start making our way north to the base,” I said. “We don’t have time to waste.”

“It’s at least thirty miles away and it might be even further than that. That’s a long way to walk.”

“That’s why we need to get moving.”

“I know we discussed it, but I think we should just stay here since we know it’s safe.”

“Don’t you see some of the ceiling starting to fall?” I asked. “All of this could come crashing down on us. They may resume bombing the city and there is no guarantee the tunnels will hold.”

“Well, we need to find someplace that is safe,” Peoni replied.

“Where do you think is safe?” I asked her as I turned and faced her, looking directly into her eyes. “Don’t you understand that there isn’t anywhere safe in the city? The only place that’s safe is somewhere high in the mountains where the aliens probably aren’t bombing. Even that probably won’t be safe for long. You need to realize that. This is our life on Earth now.”

I wasn’t trying to be mean to her. I just wanted to know where she thought would be a safe place from the alien invasion. She started to tear up and I immediately regretted what I said. I was just frustrated, and I was taking it out on her. She didn’t deserve that.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to snap at you like that. I’m just tired and frustrated over this whole situation.”

“It’s fine. I just keep thinking there’s got to be someplace we can go.”

I was about ready to say something when we heard more explosions outside. The inside of the tunnel shook as screams echoed inside. The lights flickered off as terror spread through the tunnel. For a moment, we were in complete darkness then the lights came back on. They must be bombing the city again before deploying the troops.

Thankfully, the lights were operated by battery power, just like everything else these days. Depending on the type of battery, they could power things for weeks, months or even years. The main batteries for the tunnels had been destroyed, but the backup batteries had kicked in. They probably wouldn’t last for as long as the main batteries, but they should last long enough for us to get to the base. If they didn’t then we would be in a lot of trouble because it would be awfully difficult for us to make our way through the darkness.

Normally, when there was power to the tunnels the massive flood lights on the ceiling of the tunnel would illuminate the entire area. However, with the battery-operated lights, they were on the walls and pointed to the middle of the tunnels.

Now that there wasn’t any power for the tunnels, besides the batteries, the tunnels were beginning to smell. The air was stale and musty because there wasn’t any power to circulate the air. In addition to that, it was around eighty degrees because the air conditioning couldn’t function with the backup battery power. Even though the conditions weren’t ideal, it was still better than being on the streets.

Besides the twenty-three of us, there were a lot of other people in the tunnel as well. Everyone was acting relatively calm as people started making their way in both directions, wanting to get far away from this place and get to wherever they were going.

Suddenly, another explosion sounded, and more pieces of the ceiling fell to the floor. This time the kids heard the explosions. They woke up and quickly came over, standing next to us then started hounding me with questions.

“Do you hear what’s going on outside?” I asked her, resuming our discussion. “There are no safe places for us to go. Eventually the Gorlanians are going to storm the tunnels.”

“I thought you said you didn’t know if they were going to do that,” Peoni replied.

“I lied,” I replied, deciding to tell her the truth. “I absolutely think they will make their way into the tunnels. I just don’t know when.”

“So, what are we going to do?”

“As I’ve said before, the base is going to be the safest place for us. We’ll be with the military and the base will be heavily defended, so we’ll be safe there.”

I could understand her hesitation of wanting to go to the base. It was a long walk and not everyone was in as good of shape as I was in. Since I had completed the Academy and fighter school, I had been training for the last year and was in the best shape of my life.

I was six feet five inches tall and weighed two hundred and fifty pounds and had very little fat on my body thanks to all my training. My brown hair was still short because of my military buzz cut so it was easy for people to know I was in the military.

“That’s easy for you to say,” Peoni stated. “You’re in the military so they’ll take you.”

“What do you mean take me?” I asked, confused.

“I mean they’ll let you into the base. What about the rest of us? They may not let us on the base.”

“They’re not going to deny anyone entrance to the base,” I replied, relatively confident that what I was saying was true. “They’ll know there’s no place that is safe for civilians so I’m sure they’ll allow everyone in.”

Peoni was crying softly now, so I held her in my arms, gently patting her back, feeling a little uncomfortable. She had been so strong the last couple of days as we tried to escape the fighters I was surprised she was breaking down now. The situation was probably just hitting her.

“Everything’s going to be fine,” I said, not believing my own words.

Chapter 3

I had never been good at comforting anyone. It probably came from the fact that my family didn’t show emotion. We were the Wolfs and my father had always taught me that emotions were for the weak. I didn’t necessarily believe him, but that was beside the point. He never showed emotion, my mother never showed emotion, so I never showed emotion. As a result, I wasn’t good at showing empathy towards others because I had never experienced it from anyone.

“You can stay here if you would like, but I have to keep moving north,” I commented. “It’s my duty to find the nearest base and fight with the rest of the military. Can you understand that?”

“Yes, I understand.”

“If you feel safer here then you and the kids can certainly stay,” I remarked, however I hoped she wasn’t going to keep them there with her.

I wanted all of them to go with me, which was strange that I felt that way. I had only known them for a couple of days and I was a loner, so the fact that I wanted them to go with me was unusual.

“I don’t want you to go without us,” Peoni replied.

“I don’t want to either. I just want to make sure you’re good with going with me.”

“I think it’s best if we all stay with you,” she said, indicating the kids were going with me too. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but I trust everything you do. You’ve kept us all alive this long.”

“I would really like it if we all stayed together too,” I said softly as I gave the kids a smile since they were now standing by us, listening to us debate.

“Thank you,” she said as she hugged me.

“If we can make it to the base, we should be safe,” I replied. “Let’s start walking and see how far we can make it before we need to stop and rest.”

Looking up at me, she nodded, then I released her from our embrace. I smiled at the kids, hoping they hadn’t been concerned by watching me and Peoni argue. Although it wasn’t a big argument, I wanted to make sure the kids still felt safe going with us. After all, they’ve only been with us a few days and I didn’t want to give them any reason to think they shouldn’t go with us. We were their best chance of survival and I wasn’t sure if they knew that or not.

“What do you guys think?” I asked the kids, thinking that I shouldn’t make the decision for them. It would be better if they came to their own decision, that way it didn’t look like I was telling them what to do. “Do you want to go to the base with us?”

The two oldest boys, Zeel and Malick, were twelve years old and had brown hair and green eyes and were the spitting image of each other. They were medium height and were both thin. They weren’t thin from not eating during the attack, but it looked like that was their body type no matter how much they ate.

Ada was the youngest of the four kids. She was six, had blonde hair that went to the middle of her back and her blue eyes really stood out. She had a round face and certainly seemed happy as she smiled constantly, probably not comprehending the dangers around her or realizing that her parents were never coming back.

Jock was nine, had blonde hair just like his little sister, but his hair was starting to turn brown. I assumed it would end up being as brown as the twins in another couple of years. He had green eyes which were hard to see considering he kept looking at the ground.

“We want to go with you,” Zeel replied.

“That’s good.”

I grabbed one of the water containers from my backpack and passed it around to each of them, so they could get some water. We had found a lot of water containers and calorie bars in one of the buildings before we made our way into the tunnels. Using blankets from some apartments we fashioned sacks, so we could carry the food and water. Eventually, we found enough backpacks and put the water and calorie bars into them.

Calorie bars had been created because the population had exploded. Since people lived so long now, we had over sixty billion people on Earth and another forty billion people in settlements throughout the galaxy. Well, we had that many people before the attacks. I had no idea how many people there were now.

Because there were so many people, scientists had come up with a way to pack all the nutrients and calories of a full meal into a calorie bar. There were different types of bars, but I wouldn’t classify any of them as tasting great. However, it was food and we had been lucky that we found a lot of them because our group was growing.

As I thought about that, I looked around the tunnel at the people that were planning on going with me to the base. The other seventeen people that were part of our group came over to us and we were now all standing together. I handed all the other kids some water and food because I knew they were hungry and thirsty.

Once we finished, I said to the kids, “Are you guys ready to start walking?”

They all nodded so I added, “That’s good because we have a long way to go.”

Looking at the rest of our group, I asked if they still wanted to go with me to the base. They all nodded as well, knowing they didn’t have many other options. It was either stay here or walk to the base and now that pieces of the ceiling were falling, they agreed to go with me, so we grabbed our sacks of food and water and started moving.

As we started walking north, I kept an eye on all the other people in the tunnel that weren’t with us as they made their way in different directions. I was surprised to see so many people in the tunnels because we hadn’t seen many people while we were trying to survive above ground. Now, I guess it made sense, because everyone had come to the tunnels.

Most of the people were ignoring us as they walked by, focused on their own agenda, which was fine by me. Some people would stop us and ask questions. We would ask questions as well, but nobody had any useful information.

Everyone was going in their own direction, each with their own plan, some with a purpose and some that didn’t know where they were going. Although I didn’t expect trouble from anyone, I was ready just in case. We had experienced our fair share of trouble while above ground, so I was prepared in case anything happened. I felt like the odds were slim considering we had such a big group with us now, which wasn’t the case before.

After several minutes of silence, Peoni said, “Thank you for getting us down here.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I never had a chance to tell you that was some great flying when we were trying to escape the fighters. I can see why you became a fighter pilot.”

During the first day of the attack, I had used a cruiser that I had rented to try to get us to the base. The cruisers could travel streets like the old cars, but they could also fly when needed. I had hoped we could use the cruiser to get to the base, but the fighters had shot us down. It was a miracle that we had survived. Peoni may have thought it was good flying, but we also got awfully lucky.

“It wasn’t good enough,” I responded. “I still got us shot down.”

“We could have been killed, but we weren’t,” Peoni countered.

“I suppose.”

It looked like she was going to say something, but she hesitated as we continued walking in silence. Assuming it wasn’t important, I focused on trying to calculate how far we were from the base and how long it would take us to walk there. It wouldn’t be a direct route since we had to follow the path of the tunnels, so we may have to walk close to fifty miles to get there. If we could walk ten to twenty miles a day, we might be able to reach it in a couple of days. That might be pushing it because of the kids since I didn’t know how far they could walk in a day. It was probably more realistic to estimate that it would take us four to five days, maybe even a week, to get there.

We were taking a big gamble by heading to the base because we didn’t know what to expect when we got there. I hoped the base was still standing. That would probably be one of the first places the aliens attacked, but I knew the base would have an array of weapons. I didn’t know if it had enough guns that they were able to defend themselves considering nobody could have imagined such a surprise attack being unleashed upon us.

As I thought about that, we walked by a train that was parked off to one side of the tunnel. On the side of the silver train, in big black bold letters that read “Titan Trains”, which caused me some angst. What I never told anyone was that my family owned Titan Trains, not only down here, but even before the attack happened. I was part of one of the richest families in North America, which I tried to conceal as much as possible.

I was glad that I had told Peoni my name was Ty rather than Titan, so she didn’t put two and two together. Peoni and the others didn’t know that I came from a rich family because I hated talking about it.

I was Titan Wolf the fifth. My great, great grandfather, the first Titan Wolf, started the company and named it Titan Trains because he thought it had a better ring to it than Wolf Trains. That was why I always said my name was Ty rather than Titan because I didn’t want to get asked if I was related to the family that owned Titan Trains. Once people found out that I was part of a rich family like that, I was always treated differently, and I didn’t care for it.

Titan Trains had been owned and operated by my family for over a hundred years. The trains were used throughout North America and it has made my family extremely rich. In fact, my father was one of the richest men on Earth, before the attack started. Since everyone in our family worked in the business, my father had expected me to join him at the company once I had graduated from the University.

However, I wanted to make my own way and not live off the family money which didn’t endear me to him. Since I was an only child, my father was upset with my decision to join the military, having always assumed that I would follow in his footsteps.

I guess it didn’t matter now because there was no such thing as being rich or poor. You were either dead or alive and the concept of money was gone. Who knew if it would ever return to the way it was. One thing was for sure, if the aliens had their way, the life we knew before the invasion would be gone.

Seeing the train, I started thinking about my parents and wondering if they were still alive on Mars. They had been vacationing there during the attack, using one of the vacation homes they owned. I knew the odds were not good and they were most likely dead, but I was going to try to remain optimistic. Hopefully they had found a way to survive and I hoped that I would see them again someday in the future.

“Let’s stop for a second,” I said after bringing myself back to the present.

“You want to stop already?” Peoni asked. “We’ve only been walking for a couple of hours.”

“I know, but I want to look at this train for a second,” I said as I walked to the front of the train.

Peoni looked at me and shrugged, not sure why I wanted to check out the train. “Let’s sit down and rest,” she said to the kids.

The rest of the group didn’t know why I wanted to stop either, but they didn’t say anything because they were happy to take a break if that’s what I wanted to do. Everyone sat down their sacks of supplies then took a seat while watching me, wondering what I was doing.

I set down my sack and backpack then I slowly made my way over to the train. Standing in front of it, I looked at it, happy to see it. A lot of things started going through my head as I stood there, looking at the train.

I had an idea.

Chapter 4

My idea was to drive the train through the tunnel rather than walk. That would make the journey to the base much quicker and easier for everyone. Optimism started to spread through my body as I walked up close to the train, looking at it intensely to see if we could use it.

Inspecting the train, I could see a piece of the ceiling had crashed down on the engine car. I hoped it hadn’t gone through and damaged the control panel, but as soon as I opened the door to the engine car, I walked inside and could see that it had destroyed the control panel and killed the operator immediately. That was evident by the fact that there was a leg sticking out from underneath the debris. At least it was a quick death and he didn’t suffer, I thought to myself.

Although a lot of things were made from metals that had been developed over the last sixty years which resulted in a lighter, stronger metal, a lot of structures weren’t using them yet. It was expensive to rip out all the old metal and concrete to replace it with the new metal.

The tunnels were one of those places. Certainly, they were made from metal, but they were still using the metal from a hundred years ago, which was extremely heavy. When that piece of metal crashed through the train, there was no stopping it.

Disappointed, I walked out of the train and over to Peoni and the kids. Peoni and the others were looking at me, probably wondering why I had gone inside the train, not knowing that I could drive it. I had high hopes that we would be able to take the train. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even fix it because we didn’t have the tools, so it was back to walking.

“What were you looking for?” Peoni asked.

“I just wanted to see if the engine car was in good shape,” I replied.


“It would be better to take the train rather than walk,” I explained. “There’s no way that’s going to happen though.”

“Yes, it would be better to ride in the comfort of the train,” she said with a short laugh. “But even if it was operational, who would drive it?”

“I would.”

“But those things are complex. I’ve heard they take a lot of training before someone is certified.”

“That’s true.”

The trains were complex pieces of machinery and took a lot of time before someone could get their license. The trains were like cruisers in the fact that they both had a flight mode and a ground mode. However, there were some differences. To make the trains safer, the flight mode was limited to five feet off the ground. The trains used a propulsion system that pushed the train off the ground, so it could hover, but once it got to five feet it couldn’t go any higher.

By operating in flight mode, they could travel through the tunnels at much faster speeds than they could in ground mode. Certainly, they would have to slow or stop at the interchanges, but those were a minimum of twenty miles apart. They would also have to slow down when they approached terminals which were approximately five miles apart from one another. Because they could be flown or driven, it took several months of training before someone was certified on them.

“Even if it was in good condition, how would you know how to operate it?” Peoni asked.

“I would figure it out,” I responded, deciding not to tell her that I had driven a lot of them as part of my work with my father.

My father believed in making me understand everything about the business, so I had been involved in all aspects of it when I was younger. I knew how to fix them, operate them and I had even worked in the factory building them. He felt that if I was going to run the business then I needed to know how everything worked.

“But it doesn’t matter now because that train isn’t going anywhere,” I continued. “Let’s keep walking.”

The kids moaned as they were forced to stand up and resume our walk. They were getting tired and they wanted nothing more than to sit down and rest, especially Jock and Ada. I’m sure they thought we had traveled far enough today, but we still had a lot further to go. I wasn’t going to tell them that though because I figured it would lead to more whining and I didn’t want to hear that.

“Do we have to keep going? Jock whined.

“We have a long way to go,” I replied. “We’ll stop soon enough.”

“But I’m tired.”

“I know.”

“Let’s go everyone,” Peoni said as she helped Jock and Ada to their feet.

“Can’t we rest for a while longer?” Zeel asked.

“We’ll take another break soon,” I assured him.

“Alright,” he replied with a sigh.

Walking away from the train, I asked Peoni questions about her family, interested in her background. She explained to me that she still lived with her mother and father, which was where she wanted me to take her when the fighters started attacking us.

I had made every effort to do that, but the fighters were everywhere and forced us into hiding. I felt bad that I couldn’t take her to her family, but we both knew the chances of them still being there weren’t good, if they were even still alive.

Peoni told me they didn’t make much money, so they all lived together in a low rent building in one of the many poor sections of town. Although they didn’t have much, she told me with a smile, they were a very happy family and she missed them tremendously.

As we continued walking, I could tell she was starting to tear up, so I changed the subject and asked her about waitressing at the bar where we had met. She told me she worked as a waitress because it was the only job she could get at the time. She hated the job, but didn’t really have any other choice because she needed to make money, that way she could help support her family.

Soon after she started, she realized she didn’t want to do that for the rest of her life, so she enrolled at the local university to get a teaching degree. For five years she worked at the bar while attending the university and finally had gotten her degree. She was just starting to apply for jobs when the aliens attacked. That was news to me because we had been together for five days and I had no idea that she was going to be a teacher. I guess we were so busy trying to stay alive we never really had much of a chance to talk.

I was hoping to get her mind off the war that was going on, but she drifted back to talking about her parents and she started crying because she was concerned for her parents’ wellbeing. Not knowing if they were alive or dead, she feared the worst. Truthfully, they probably were dead unless they made it underground. I’m sure she had thought the same thing, which was probably why she was crying.

We passed an interchange where we could go east and west, but we continued north, making our way closer to the base. Eventually we approached a spot where part of the roof of the tunnel had collapsed, making it impossible to continue north. There were huge chunks of rubble piled up to the ceiling. Where the ceiling had collapsed I could see a hole above us, letting sun shine into the tunnel. Climbing up the rubble I decided to see if I could make it over the top and then down the other side.

“What are you doing?” Peoni asked.

“I’m checking to see if we can get through this,” I responded.

“I don’t think there’s a way around it.”

“I just want to check.”

After a few minutes of climbing up the rubble, I looked for a space where we could get through and climb down. After a few minutes of looking around, I realized there wasn’t anywhere for us to do that. The rubble had completely blocked off the tunnel, so I climbed back down to where Peoni was standing.

“Well?” she asked.

“You were right,” I answered. “There’s no way through.”

“What are we going to do now?” Peoni asked.

“Let’s go back to the interchange we saw and head east,” I answered then turned towards the rest of the people and explained the situation.

There were a lot of moans and groans because they knew that meant we were going to have to walk a lot of extra miles out of our way, but there was nothing I could do about it. We didn’t have anything that we could use to blast through the pile of rubble.

The interchange was a mile or so back, so I knew it wouldn’t take us too long to make it back there. Once we made it back to the interchange we could head east or west. It wasn’t the optimal solution, but it was either that or we would have to continue walking above ground. That was something I didn’t want to have to do, especially if they were starting to deploy their troops because it would be much too dangerous. I would much rather walk many more miles out of our way in the safety of the tunnels.

“How far do you think that will take us out of our way?” Peoni asked.

“I don’t want to answer,” I replied.

“That far, huh?”

“It’s fine. When we find another interchange, we’ll take it north,” I responded. “Hopefully there aren’t any more destroyed tunnels.”

“That’s going to take us out of our way by a good twenty miles, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but we don’t really have any other choice,” I replied. Her estimate was low, and I didn’t feel like correcting her. “We’ll probably just have to keep weaving our way through the tunnels as we find other locations that have been destroyed.”

“Okay, whatever you say,” Peoni replied and we continued with the others following behind us.

Chapter 5

We turned around, knowing we couldn’t go any further in that direction and started walking south, hitting the interchange after a mile and a half. We turned and took that tunnel east, hoping we didn’t find another tunnel that had been destroyed. If we did then we would have to go south until the next interchange which would take us back to where we started, then even further out of our way.

Luckily for us, our current tunnel looked to be in good shape, so I hoped that would continue to be the case. Unfortunately, even if we didn’t find any other destroyed tunnels, we were still going to have a lot longer walk than we originally thought.

As we walked, a thought occurred to me. What if we got to the next interchange then started heading north only to discover that it was blocked as well? That meant that we would have to go east another twenty miles, taking us a long way away from where we needed to go. If that occurred, I decided we may have to start walking above ground. Although it would be more dangerous, it may be worth it because using the tunnels would cost us another eighty miles and I didn’t think we could walk that far with the minimal food and water that we had.

I decided there was no use worrying about it now. If that was the case then I would deal with it later, but right now I needed to focus on keeping everyone walking. I knew if we walked at a normal pace, we could cover three miles per hour. At that rate, it would take us about six hours to make the next interchange, if we didn’t stop. However, I knew we would have to stop several times during the day. Also, I knew the young kids couldn’t walk twenty miles in a day, so we would be lucky if it took us twenty-four hours to get there.

After several hours of walking and frequent rest breaks for the kids, I could tell they were exhausted. They were starting to slow down considerably, and they were complaining a lot. However, they had done a great job of walking all this way and I was impressed with how good the kids had been overall.

Not only was I impressed with the four kids that were with me and Peoni, I was equally impressed with some of the other kids in the group. The kids that were younger than eight were the ones that had the most difficulty. Adults were trying to take turns carrying them, but everyone was weak from lack of food.

Fortunately for us, after twelve hours of walking, and resting, we made it to the interchange then headed to the north once again. Although it wasn’t as fast as I could walk, we had made much better time than I thought we would. In addition to that, the tunnel seemed to be in good shape and we walked another four hours, probably covering at least seven or eight miles.

Deciding they had walked enough for one day I turned to everyone and announced, “Let’s stop here so we can get some sleep.”

I figured everyone would be happy to hear that and as I suspected, nobody argued. Even I was getting a little tired, but it wasn’t from the walking. I was tired because I kept rotating between carrying Ada and Jock. Peoni would carry Ada occasionally, but I ended up carrying them most of the time. It was harder than when I had to carry a hundred pounds during hikes when I was in the Academy. At least at the Academy, we had huge packs slung over our backs. Carrying the kids, I had to carry them in front of me or piggy back style and it was much more awkward and difficult. The muscles in my arms, shoulders and back were starting to ache.

“Stopping sounds good,” Peoni said. “I think we’re all ready for a break.

Although we were a few miles further to the north than we were when we started this morning, we were twenty miles further to the east. That meant we were further from the base now than we were this morning. Still, I had to admit, I was extremely happy with the mileage we had covered. I didn’t think we would be able to cover that type of distance every day.

As people sat down, eager to rest, I noticed there were still a lot of people in the tunnels heading in different directions, although for the most part, they weren’t as hysterical as the ones I had seen yesterday. Since everyone had their own agenda there was very little talking amongst the people. They were as quiet and focused on getting where they wanted to go as we were.

We hadn’t heard any sounds indicating the bombings were still going on, so I assumed the fighters had taken a break. Either that or the fighters were bombing a different part of the city, which was a distinct possibility. Another possibility was that the ground troops were now swarming the city, which would explain why the fighters weren’t bombing us.

It was difficult to tell what the reason was, but it didn’t matter to me. I was just happy they weren’t bombing the city anymore. We had seen a break in the bombings several times over the last five days. The fighters would bomb us for thirty minutes or an hour then move on to another location.

Just as people were sitting down, thankful for the respite, I saw a train up ahead. “It looks like there’s another train,” I said as I pointed towards the train, hoping this one was in better condition than the last one we saw.

“Do you think it is in working condition?” Peoni asked.

“I’m not sure. Let’s go check it out.”

People started moaning, not wanting to go any further. “Its fine,” I told them. “You can stay here while I check it out. I’ll let you know what I find.”

“I’ll go with you,” Peoni stated.

“That sounds good,” I replied then looked at the kids. “You guys stay here, okay?”

They all said okay then Peoni and I made our way to the train. My hope once again turned to despair as I saw what had caused the train to be sitting still in the tunnel. Two trains had crashed into each other. Something probably fell from the ceiling and it sent one train into the other. Both engine cars were destroyed and there was no chance of driving either one of them.

The next thing I noticed was all the dead bodies piled up alongside the wall of the tunnel. I didn’t know how many bodies were there, but it was a lot. There were men, women and children all lying there bloody and battered. As I was looking at the bodies, Peoni came up from behind me, wanting to know what I was looking at.

Before I could grab her and turn her away, she saw the bodies. Certainly, it wasn’t the first time she saw dead bodies, but I didn’t want her to have to see more of them. “Oh no,” Peoni stated as she saw them lying there. “What happened to all these people?”

It was a common occurrence to see people dead now, so she wasn’t too upset. I turned her away and walked her away from the bodies, intercepting the kids as they were coming over to check the train wreck. Apparently, they had decided not to stay where I had told them.

“They probably died in the train crash,” I said as I led all of them away from the trains. “People must have moved them out here.”


“I don’t know.”

“But they’re all just piled there.”

“At least they piled them along the wall behind the train, that way people can’t see them.”

I wondered why people that piled the bodies up didn’t just move them all the way to the wall where they would be hidden by the darkness. Instead, they moved them to the other side of the train where the light still shined down on them. I guess they figured they were hidden behind the train, but it would have been better to have them along the wall where nobody could see them.

Peoni shook her head in disbelief then said quietly, “I can’t believe all the death we’ve seen.”

“I know. It’s hard to get used to.”

“I will never get used to it.”

“Yeah, I don’t think anyone ever gets used to death,” I responded.

“It’s just so sad.”

“Let’s get some rest,” I replied with my arm around her, changing the subject as I led her away from the train.

“I’m fine with that. I’m really tired.”

“So am I.”

As we made our way over to the rest of the group they heard our conversation, so I told them to stay away from the other side of the train then explained why. They understood and the ones with kids told them the other side of the train was off limits and to avoid it.

“Everyone,” I said and prepared to address the group. “Can I have your attention please?”

“What is it?” a man in his thirties said as the group wearily stood up and approached me.

“I have an idea for the sleeping arrangements for tonight,” I responded.

“What is it?”

“Rather than spend another night sleeping on the ground, let’s go inside the train and try to find somewhere to sleep. It will be a little more comfortable than sleeping on the hard floor.”

“What about the bodies?”

“I don’t think there are any bodies on the train,” I answered. “I’ll check.”

“I was talking about the bodies alongside the train,” he replied.

“Oh, that. I wouldn’t put the kids along that side of the train. They’ll probably see the bodies out of the windows. If they’re on the other side, they should be fine.”

“That sounds good,” Peoni said

I could tell everyone was happy with the thought of sleeping in the train even though there were dead bodies piled up next to it. Sleeping on the ground was getting old and all of us could use something more comfortable to sleep on even if it meant sleeping in a chair on the train.

“Let’s go inside the train,” I told the kids and started to lead them over to the door of the train. “We’re going to stay here tonight.”

Chapter 6

As we approached the train, I wondered if there were people on there. I didn’t want to run into any gangs of people that might try to steal our stuff like they had when we were trying to hide out in the buildings. So far, we hadn’t seen anything like that down here in the tunnels, but it was something that I still had to be prepared for. Making sure I felt my gun in my pocket I decided to check out the train. I didn’t want to pull my gun out yet because I didn’t want to scare someone into shooting me, but I was ready to pull it out if needed.

I knew there were some people in the train because I could see shadows moving around. Most likely, they were people just like us. In fact, they might be watching us, worried, thinking we were a gang. However, if they looked out the windows then they should have seen the kids, which would tell them we weren’t a gang.

I hoped the people on the train were like us and they had been walking through the tunnels and stopped here, wanting a place to rest. Even if it was, that didn’t mean that we could assume we wouldn’t encounter any trouble. They might want the train to themselves and would do anything to keep it which was another reason I needed to be careful.

As we approached the train, we could see the doors had already been ripped off. Apparently, the train had been locked and people had to forcibly open the doors, by ripping them off, just so they could get inside. It was either that or people that were on the train when it crashed had wanted out, so they ripped the doors off.

Walking up the steps of the train, I made my way inside and could see people everywhere, staring at me, wondering what I wanted. However, they didn’t seem scared. Most likely, they thought we were like most other people that had been walking by and taken refuge in the train, knowing it would be better to sleep inside the train rather than on the hard tunnel floor.

There were some just sitting there talking quietly while others were trying to get some sleep. Some of the people were taking up three or four seats because they were lying down. Looking at them, I hoped they would give up some of their seats to allow us to sit down, but it looked like they were comfortable and had no intentions of sitting up.

I realized they must have been the ones that moved all the dead bodies outside, so they wouldn’t be inside the train while everyone tried to sleep. I couldn’t blame them for not wanting dead bodies next to them while they were asleep, and I assumed I would have done the same thing.

“It looks like we’re not the only ones that want to sleep on the train,” I said.

“Do you see any open seats?” Peoni asked.

“No, I don’t,” I responded. “Let’s check the rest of the train.”

Coming back down the stairs, I looked at my group. “There are already a lot of people on the train,” I told them. “Everyone can try to find some seats to sleep on the train. Please let the kids have the priority. The rest of us can sleep in the tunnel.”

“When are we going to leave?” a woman asked.

“We’ll leave in the morning,” I answered.

“Are you going to let us know when you’re leaving?” she asked.

She probably was worried I would leave without the rest of the group. Although that would enable me to get to the base much faster, it was also something that I would never do. I had committed getting these people to the base and that was exactly what I was going to do.

“Yes, I will make sure I come and get everyone before I leave,” I assured her.

“Thank you.”

Turning around, I made my way back into the train and led Peoni and the kids through the passenger car. The train was like trains from centuries ago. There was an engine car then several passenger cars. In this case there were four passenger cars that hadn’t been destroyed when the trains hit each other.

After walking halfway through the train, we saw three seats that were open across from a mother and her child. “Are these seats taken?” I asked as I pointed to the empty seats.

She shook her head no as she held her child close to her. “All of you can sleep here,” I said to Peoni. Since Jock and Ada were so small, I assumed that they would be able to squeeze into the three seats.

“It will be a tight squeeze,” Peoni replied.

“It should be fine.”

“Where are you going to sleep?

“Don’t worry about me,” I replied. “You sleep here, and I’ll sleep out in the tunnel.”

“I don’t want you to leave us.”

“I’ll just be outside the train,” I responded. “I’m not going to leave you.”

I think Peoni had been worried for the last several days that I would ditch her and head out on my own. Certainly, I was used to being on my own, but there was no way I would do that to her or the kids.

Ada ran up to me and gave me a big hug. “Please don’t leave us Ty.”

“You can trust me. I won’t leave you.”

I was a little surprised that Ada said that to me. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. They had just lost their parents a few days ago, so I’m sure Ada and Jock, the younger ones, were scared they would be on their own. Zeel and Malick continued to brood, obviously upset over their parent’s death and not thrilled with being with me.

Jock hugged me after Ada pulled away while Zeel and Malick just watched. Since the twins were twelve, I didn’t think they were prepared to hug me, especially since they had only known me for three or four days. Sometimes I wondered if they even liked me, but I knew they were still upset that they lost their parents, which was understandable.

None of the kids had said much today as they all did their best to walk and keep up with me. I was really impressed how the kids did what I asked. I was starting to find myself liking them which seemed odd to me since I was used to being on my own. Now I had Peoni and four kids with me everywhere I went, and surprisingly, I didn’t mind. A week ago, I never would have guessed that would have happened.

“I feel bad you’re going to sleep on the floor again,” Peoni commented.

“I’m not going to get any sleep tonight no matter where I sleep.”

“Why not?”

“I want to keep watch on the tunnel.”


“Not only do I worry about the alien ground troops, I also worry about gangs, so I won’t sleep no matter where I lie down,” I replied.

“I’m sure it will be fine.”

“You never know. I would rather be cautious and keep an eye out for any trouble.”

“I still feel bad that you’ll be on the hard tunnel floor rather than on these seats with us.”

“I actually prefer to be in the tunnel where I can keep an eye on things. I wouldn’t be comfortable on the train because I would feel trapped.”

“I still don’t like the fact that you’re going to be out there, sitting or lying on the hard metal ground again,” Peoni commented.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said as the kids let go of me and squeezed into their seats. “Somebody should stand guard outside the train and it might as well be me.”

“Do you really think that’s necessary?”

“You never know,” I answered. “You’ve seen the type of people we saw in the buildings. Not only that, but I want to watch out for enemy troops. Even though I don’t think either of those scenarios is likely I just want to be prepared in case there’s any trouble.”

“What are you going to do if the aliens come into the tunnel?”

“I guess I’ll just warn everyone, so we can try to escape,” I explained.

“I can understand having someone on guard,” Peoni responded. “However, I don’t like the idea that you have to stand guard by yourself.”

“I’ll have some of the others in the group rotate with me, that way I can get some rest.”

I don’t think she believed me because she said, “Please don’t leave us.”

“I’m not going to leave you here,” I replied, trying to assure her that I wasn’t going to leave them here without me. “How many times do I have to tell you? Why is everyone so worried that I’ll leave them?”

“I guess everyone knows how much you want to get to the base and we also know how fast you can make it there if you went by yourself.”

“I have no desire to leave anyone. We are all a team and we’re going to stay together.”

“Do you promise?”

“I promise that I will be right outside the train when you wake up in the morning,” I said, trying to convince her that I was telling the truth.

I didn’t know why she was so worried about it. I never once gave her any indication that I was going to take off. At least I hoped I hadn’t given her any indication because I certainly wasn’t planning on doing anything of the sort. After all, this was going to be our sixth night together and I had no intention about heading out on my own. In fact, the thought never crossed my mind, especially now that the kids were with us. It would be a horrible thing for me to do to leave her and the kids alone. That wasn’t the type of person I was.

“Okay,” Peoni responded, finally looking like she believed me. Thank you.”

“Good night,” I said as I turned and walked down the aisle, making my way to the door watching the rest of our group try to find seats to sleep.

Stepping out of the train, I could smell the dead bodies that were next to the train. The smell wasn’t too overwhelming, yet, but I knew they would be soon. The sad part about that was that I knew we were getting used to the smell of dead bodies which was why it wasn’t overwhelming.

I walked onto the metal floor, looking up and down the tunnel. I was serious about standing guard because I really was worried about the Gorlanians storming the tunnels even though I had told her it probably wouldn’t happen.

Although we hadn’t seen the ground troops yet, I firmly believed it was going to happen soon. In fact, they may have already deployed them while we had been walking through the tunnels today. If that did happen, I didn’t want to be confined to a small train. Not that I wanted to be confined in the tunnels either, but at least there was room to maneuver in the tunnel.

We had two others in our group that had guns so we could try to slow the enemy by firing our guns at them but there were only three of us and if they had dozens of them then we wouldn’t be able to stop them. The best I could do was hurry up and warn everyone then we could leave this area in the opposite direction of the enemy.

I walked north through the tunnels, making my way through the throngs of people. It looked like there were more people here now than there were before. That was probably because we had walked by another terminal, so the people were streaming in trying to get away from whatever hell was being unleashed up above.

I figured it would get even more crowded as more and more people realized this was much safer than being outside. I was sure that every time we walked by a terminal we would see more people entering with few people exiting.

I saw a lot of wounded people, injured by the alien attacks. Some of them were bleeding profusely, causing them to hold extra clothes against the injured area, trying to stop the bleeding.

A lot of them weren’t injured too badly, so they were able to move around. Others were being carried and they looked to be in bad shape. One look at them told me they wouldn’t survive the night. I wished there was some way I could help them, but I wouldn’t be able to do anything more than the others were doing already.

It didn’t look like any of them had food and water and I thought about sharing what we had. Unfortunately, we only had what we had found before we entered the tunnels and that would only be enough to last our group a few days at the most. If I started to hand out food and water to everyone I saw in the tunnels, then we would all be without in a day.

It was something to think about because I felt horrible for not offering it to people, especially the ones that I could tell really needed it. Until I figured out what to do, we would have to continue being discreet about having our food and water like we had been doing throughout the day.

For the time being, we had to make sure we were careful when we got something to eat or drink, not wanting to let anyone else see us. Since the sides of the tunnel were darkened, I instructed the group to only take food or water against the wall.

It had worked because none of the other survivors had noticed that we had supplies. I was afraid that if they did find out, we would be swarmed by people and there would be no way for us to keep it from them.

Thinking about rationing our food and water, I walked up and down the tunnel in both directions, looking at everything, making sure nobody looked threatening. I saw a lot of groups of two and three people, but nobody that looked like they were part of a gang or that they were intent on taking everything from people.

As it got later, I started seeing less people. Most likely, they were all bedding down for the night. After a while, there was hardly anyone walking the tunnels, so I decided there wasn’t anything to worry about. The people that were in the tunnels were scared and just wanted to get somewhere safer.

I finally decided I didn’t need to stand guard. There were so many people in the tunnels that if the aliens did attack, I would know quickly as all the other people would be yelling and screaming as they tried to get away. If I heard that then it would give me plenty of notice to get Peoni and the kids and make our way in the opposite direction. That’s assuming they only came from one direction. If they came from both directions then we were all dead, so it really didn’t matter.

With that thought, I found a place against the wall, sat down and tried to get some sleep.

Chapter 7

I woke up the next morning after not getting much sleep, thanks to sleeping on the hard, cold floor. Standing up, I stretched a little to try to loosen my muscles. Looking around, I saw people spread out everywhere, trying to get some sleep. There were men, women and children in the tunnel, none of whom could have ever predicted six days ago they would be in this situation.

As people were starting to wake up, I was thankful the tunnels had emergency lighting, so we could see and move around without bumping into anything. I couldn’t imagine what we would do if we had to walk down here in the dark. It would have been quite dangerous and probably would have forced us up to the street level which would be equally dangerous.

“There you are,” I heard as I was walking around, checking everything out.

I turned to see Peoni standing there, looking happy to see me. “Hey. I was just coming to find you,” I replied.

“I’m glad to see you,” she said. “I was beginning to think you might have left us.”

“I told you I wouldn’t leave,” I said.

I had to admit, I liked having Peoni with me. Not only was she beautiful, but she seemed sharp and perceptive, so it would be good for us to stay together. In addition to that, I liked having the company which was weird to say given the situation we were in.

“I know, but I was still worried,” Peoni commented.

“You needn’t be.”

“How did you sleep?” she asked.

“Well, I don’t know if I would call it sleep, but I think I got a little rest,” I responded with a slight smile. “How did you sleep?”

“I didn’t get much sleep either. The child next to me cried all night.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said as I looked around the tunnel. “Where are the kids?”

“They’re still sleeping.”

“Let’s get them. We should probably go now.”

“So, what’s the plan for today?”

“We’ll just keep heading north and west in the direction of the base until we finally get there.”

“That sounds good to me. Hopefully, we won’t find any more tunnels that have been destroyed. I don’t think anyone wants to walk even further out of our way.”

“I know. We’ll just figure it out as we go.”

There were some other people that were not in my group that had been standing around, listening to me and Peoni talk about heading to the base. They interrupted and said they wanted to come with us. I didn’t care if they wanted to go to the base with me or not. In fact, it was probably the best decision for them because it would be much safer there than it was here. Also, there was safety in numbers and I liked the idea of having more people.

The only issue was that I didn’t want anyone slowing me down. There were young kids and old people that wouldn’t be able to make as good of time as I could. I should say they couldn’t make as good of time as the rest of the people in my group. Nobody could make as good of time as me. In fact, if I started running right now, I could be at the base in less than a couple of days, however, walking as slowly as them would require us to take a week or more to get there. That was several days too long, in my humble opinion.

However, I knew I couldn’t leave them behind. Knowing that, I turned to everyone and yelled to all the people that were walking through the tunnel, “Can everyone gather around please?”

Several people looked at me, wondering who I was and why I wanted to talk to them. Slowly, people started coming over, anxious to hear what was about to be said. I knew there were still people on the train, so I asked Peoni to get them and bring them outside the train, that way they could all hear me. She nodded and went inside, returning in five minutes with almost everyone that was on board.

While she had been gone, I had ushered everyone else over to where I was going to stand. I wanted everyone to hear me and I didn’t want to have to repeat myself multiple times. As I looked at the gathering crowd, it seemed like there were roughly seventy-five people standing around, in addition to the twenty-three in our group, waiting for me to say something.

“What’s this about?” a middle-aged man asked.

“I’ll explain in just a second.”

“Well, I have somewhere to go and don’t have time to wait around for you to say something.”

“I’m just waiting for everyone to come near, but if you want to leave, be my guest.”

He looked at me for several seconds then decided he would wait to hear what I had to say. Everyone else also stared at me as they awaited my comments, wondering what was so important that I dragged them over. No doubt, my youthful appearance was making people wonder why I wanted to address them.

* * *


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