Tuesday, 1 September 2009 - 9:51 pm

Rough awakening

Guns woke us up today.

Not distant, not barking at the low sky. Not firing at all. Not even outside.

They were inside, pointing at us like hollow fingers. Luckily silent, but they were still enough to stop our hearts when we saw them.

It’s not a pleasant way to wake up. In the dim of dawn, those on guard never saw them coming. They were just suddenly here, swarming in and around us, and pointing.

From the uniforms, they’re professionals. Army, unless I miss my guess. We found the base that the ECC talked about. We found the place so many were sent for help. I wish that it felt like a good thing.

There were questions, so many questions. Who we were, what we thought we’d find here. We’re Seekers, we told them. We’re trying to find out what’s left. What’s next. How we’re going to survive to tomorrow, to next week, to next month. We’re just… looking for answers, even if we’re not sure of all of the questions yet.

We can’t blame them for caution – you never know who’s carry weapons now, or what they might do for a bite to eat and the chance to live just a little longer. But I lost it when I heard them going through the vehicles. They had no right. No right at all. We had worked for months to get that stuff together and they took it all. Tools, clothing, equipment.

I have to be honest: that wasn’t why I was so upset. All I could think about was Dillon’s stuff. Those last little bits I have of him, still crammed in his pack. They took it – they took all of it. Even his soccer ball. So I went off at them, told them exactly what I thought of them, ignoring the hands that were trying to hold me back. There were a lot of voices shouting but mine was the loudest, right until I got the butt of a gun to the face.

I’m not sure what happened next – I saw stars and my knees buckled. Someone caught me. By the time I could see again, everything was blurry and Thorpe was standing over me like he was ready to pop the guy’s head off. Someone kept saying my name, wouldn’t stop until I answered. I still have a headache from it, and a nasty bruise according to winces my friends give when they look at me.

They went through everything, even our packs. They missed the laptop – they saw a skinny case with paper in it and didn’t look any further. Thank goodness I kept those notes and maps in there. I don’t dare let them know I’ve got it and it still works – they’d take it, I’m sure. They’d take the hearts right out of us.

When they were done pillaging our stuff for everything of use, they escorted us into our vehicles. A couple of them rode with us – though there was barely room – and the rest braced our pair in their military trucks. I’ll never know how we didn’t hear them coming.

I think it’s the only time I’ve wished one of the cars would break down, just to spite them.

We drove for a couple of hours, heading into the open space. After a while, I couldn’t even see the bump of Greenberry against the horizon and we were still going. The road seemed unending, carrying us off and away, but it wasn’t even noon when roofs prickled the skyline before us. Rising up out of the rolling earth, from what used to be grass and trees and training grounds, were barracks and buildings. Hard edges, fenced off and frowning at the skin of orange clouds overhead.

They didn’t talk to us, didn’t tell us what was going on. We tried to ask, even demand, but they just shepherded us into a circle while they carted our stuff off. They left our packs with our clothes in, but everything else grew booted feet and stomped off. I hid the laptop bag under my coat; Matt helped, while he held me up. Standing felt like such an effort. Thorpe tried to stand up to them and got winded for his trouble. We were unarmed and felt more naked than we have in a long time. Not since the Pride.

Once they were done stripping us, they marched us into a shed. The door closed and locked, and we’ve been here ever since. Even after the rain came. We all watched the door and walls to see if it was going to seep in, huddling together. It didn’t, but we stayed huddled together anyway. Feels safer that way.

It’s cold tonight. They left us blankets, but this shed rattles and so do we. I don’t know what they’re planning. I’m afraid to go to sleep because I don’t know what I’ll see when I wake. Matt doesn’t want to let me sleep anyway – he keeps nudging me when I doze. My head aches and all I can think of is holding onto my friends as tight as I can.

I’d better go before they see my light. Morning seems so far away.