"We're getting out of here."
Words I never thought I would hear. Sikowitz leads us into his bedroom, a room completely off limits until today and over to a radio.
"They're giving out radio transmissions, some group called the United Way. They've been sending them out for the last few weeks now, asking for any survivors." We all look at him in disbelief that he had kept that a secret from us. "Look, I had to make certain it wasn't the enemy." He explains. "This is legit, I think. I think they truly are Americans. I…" He looks at us all closely. "I wanted to see if you guys were alright with me responding to the radio transmission, telling them our location."
I looked at Robbie who was already looking at me. Cat was tightly gripping my arm.
36 hours and were out. Only thirty six hours and the United Way convoy would arrive to 'rescue' us. It's late, my watch says nearly three in the morning but I can't fall asleep, none of us can. We had spent most of the evening after Sikowitz had connected the group, packing up the rest of the food, which was a lot more then I thought. Then Sikowitz dug out the masks and suites we would need to go outside.
"Tori, do you think everything will be alright?" Cat whispers drawing me out of my thoughts.
"How could things get any worse?" I ask her. She coughs making the cot tremble. "Let's go to sleep, Cat."
"I'm afraid to see outside." Her voice is solemn and low. "The world can't be anything like it use to be. I can't even imagine, Tori." She gently sniffs. "All those…"
"We'll be fine, Cat." I tell her, tears pricking at my eyes. I hadn't cried in a long time and I didn't want to start up again.
I hoped we would be anyway.
Robbie helps me get my hair under a thin face hat, his already on along with his pale white hazmat, his tank around situated on his back, but his mask hung around his neck, He had his glasses on, which are usually kept in a safe location careful to not break them.
When he's done he gently kisses my forehead for a long time and I can feel myself blush and my stomach flutter.
"Awww," Cat gushes playfully and both turn to find her watching, her suit half on - incorrectly.
"Let me help you, Cat." Robbie offers half smiling, moving over to her, throwing me a look over his shoulder.
I can't help my smile and I look around. Andre is helping Sikowitz carrying bags out of his room, talking and stuff. Beck and Jade are harshly whispering to each other near the bathroom, Beck grabs her arm and she winces - I ignore it.
An hour later Beck and Andre are fully dressed in their suits and turning the large iron door handle, it's shaped like a wheel. I look at Robbie, only his eyes viewable behind the face mask. I'm afraid and my heart is thudding in my ears.
Then the heavy door is opened and blinding light enters the bunker and I close my eyes. Before I could open them I can feel a gloved hand take mine and I'm being pulled towards the open door. Robbie glances back at me, his eyes speaking to me, my sudden panic diminishes a little.
I almost fall to the ground and if it weren't for Robbie, I think I may have. It's gone, the city is gone. Grey rubble and tall demolished naked skeletons of buildings stretch out towards a cloudy sky. Ashes still float from above like toxic snow flakes, it's hell.
"They will come to us." Sikowitz assures looking around. "They should come very soon." He honestly sounds like he's trying to convince himself.
Robbie gently pulls me closer to him, and I look around for Cat happy to see Andre close by her, one of his hands carrying a large bag the other holding Cat's arm, holding her up.
Minutes ticked by then the ground rumbled and we all moved closer to one another as we looked around trying to see the location of the rumbling. Then out of the cloud of ashes emerges a large black vehicle, moving over and pushing debris out of it's path.
It comes to a stop before us on the cracked dusty road. Then the back doors swing wide open and a person dressed in hazmat like us gets out, a long black weapon in his hands. He takes a look at us, then lowers it, the blackness of his mask lightens to reveal a face.
"Are you Sikowitz?" The male asks curtly.
Sikowitz steps forward his boots crunching over old glass maybe bones. "I'm Sikowitz."
The man nods. "Follow me, all of you." He leads us to the back of the vehicle and by the tinted window in the front. We load into the back and I can't help but feel vulnerable, we had no idea who these folks were and no idea the location they were taking us.
But at this moment, the only thing I am certain and aware of is… I'm sick and tired of being in that bunker.
We ride for hours, which turn into a day and another. No one really speaks except for the guy with the gun and that's to whoever is through the thick metal walls in the front, and that's threw a speaker.
We can't eat because we can't remove our suits and we can't use the bathroom either which has both Cat and Robbie completely squirming.
Then finally the vehicle rolls to a stop and the man moves towards the back van doors and opens them. Blinding light once again blinds me. Trees there are trees outside and above isn't cloudy but blue, I gawk at it. Forgetting how it looked.
The air obvious isn't very safe to breath though because the man doesn't remove his mask as he motions us out. Another person is walking towards the back when I get out.
"Girls, follow me." The female behind the mask speaks and turns and heads towards a metal door carved into what looked like the very side of a mountain. I look at Robbie, who I can tell is frowning but he looks at me and nods.
I hesitate before taking hold of Cat's arm and follow the woman, Jade catches up a moment later. The woman is already tapping on the metal when we get there and pushing it open. She holds it open for us and were in a narrow brown stone hallway, that we have no other choice but walk down.
We enter a sterile white room.
"Take your suits off, along with any clothing you are wearing underneath. Step into our showers through that brown door over there and wash with thoroughly with the green soap inside, then step through the other side. On the other side you will be given towels and robes and told to sit in on a metal stool. Do so." While the woman was telling us to do this she was stripping out of her clothing, which gave me a sense that this was the norm.
I looked at Cat and Jade removing my mask first and then the rest, the others followed suit. The woman nodded at us, her brown hair short before moving through the brown door. We followed once all of our clothes had been removed then into a large green shower like room. I went to one of the many stalls turning on the water - it was hot. I mean actual hot water. I can't remember the last time taking a shower, let alone with hot water.
I opened the container sitting on a tiny shelf taking out the bar of green soap and began washing myself with it. When I got to my hair I was disturbed at how much of it was simply falling from my head, tears began to prick at the back of my eyes again.
Then I moved through the other door, finishing with the others. Three other women were on the other side and handed us towels and robes. I sat on one of the metal stools in the large rectangular room like told.
"We have to cut your hair." One of the woman said, an older lady wearing a kind smile.
"What?" I asked hoping I had heard her wrong. The woman smiled sympathetically.
"The radiation clings to hair and to keep the inside uncontaminated everyone has to cut their hair when they first get here." The woman explains softly. I touch my thinning hair feeling panicked all over again. I glance at Cat who is already silently crying. "Look at it this way." The woman says. "When it grows back in, it will be thick and you won't have any more balding spots."
That hadn't made me feel better about losing all my hair, and I felt completely shallow for feeling so upset about it.
With no other choices our hair was cut into a buzz. I cried like a baby through the whole thing, but Cat and Jade cried too. Then we were lead into another room were we were then separated and I sat behind a thick green curtain in nothing but the robe waiting on a doctor to show up.
When he finally did he looked way to young to be a doctor, which made me nervous. He had short black hair and green eyes.
"I was pre-med when it happened." He told me noticing my uncertainty. His grins at me in an disarming way. "Trust me, I was the top of my class." I suddenly feel self-conscious, being bald and in front of undeniable handsome man. Which made me think of Robbie and how he would react to my new hair do. "I'm Dr. Limingburg, but you can call me Tony. Say ah…" I do as told and he flashes a light into my mouth. "Very good…"
"Tori," I tell him quietly and he grins and nods.
"I had a sister named Tori." He lightly says. " Take a deep breath for me and let it out very slowly, ok?" He tells me as the cold instrument touches my chest. He then does it again this time to my back. He then scribbles something down on a notebook and hands me a cup. "Do you think you can pee in this for me?"
Could I? I've been holding it for two days, I think I needed a bigger cup. He then directs me to a tiny bathroom outside of the curtain and I return with what he asked for. He takes it and places it inside another container before throwing away his gloves.
"I forgot to weigh you." He mumbles and tells me to step on a scale. "93lbs," he mumbles out loud. Then he get's my height and makes me take three white and yellow pills. "You must have met my brother today?" He asks before I could ask what they were for.
I frown and shake my head. "I don't think so…"
Tony smiles. "Yeah you likely didn't get to see his face but he looks exactly like me. We're identical twins. I just wanted to warn you that if you run into a jerk in the hallways it's him not me."
I blink, remembering the man who had picked us up. "Oh, that's your brother." I quietly state. He nods.
"He can be a real ass hole especially when he's around pretty women. He makes a fool of himself and you're a pretty woman so be expecting it Tori."
I blush, wondering did I just get hit on by this pre-med doctor. He then tells me to go see a woman at the end of the hall and that it would be her that gave me actual clothes. I meet Cat there as she is struggling into a small blue tank top which is still large on her.
The woman - Amy - hands me a bra she thinks will fit me and I put it on. I'm nearly dressed in my baggy pants and sliding into a grey T-shirt when I realize we were missing Jade.
"Have you seen, Jade?" I ask Cat worriedly. Cat eyes grow wide and she looks around shaking her head.
I frown. Then I spot her turning into the hall her robe tightly wrapped around her, she looks in deep thought until she catches us looking at her, she rolls her eyes.
"Are you alright?" I ask her as she unties her robe and let it fall from her shoulders, she reaches into the box before the woman could hand her anything, grabbing black jeans and a black shirt.
"Why wouldn't I be, Tori?" She asks in annoyance. "You seriously worry to much."
I'm not relived. We are led into another room to a woman seated behind a desk and she asks us if we will be rooming together.
"I need to sleep with Beck." Jade actually says, and I mentally sigh.
"Are you and this Beck married?" The woman asked. "We only give family unites to the married and those with children."
"No but…" Jade began glancing at Cat and I. "Fine, I'll room with them."
The woman smiled at getting her way. "Alright," The woman wrote our names down in her ledger. "Everyone has to contribute here and we currently have openings in the gardening department and health department, we always have openings in security." The woman said dully.
We all shared looks. Cat and Jade chose health and turned to be waiting on my answer.
"Security," I tell the woman who shrugs. Cat and Jade both stare at me. I'm not even sure why I chose that maybe very deep inside of me I was aware it was because I was tired of sitting around and waiting. I was tired of being confined to walls and doors like I was a prisoner.
"Fine," the woman says and hands me a piece of paper as well as Cat and Jade's. She then gives Cat a key. "To the room, the number is 439, third floor down."
Inside is a massive circle and the main floor we enter seems to be a type of cafeteria, with large counter on the other side and tables littered throughout. There are a set of metal stairs to the left leading upwards and the ceiling is high. There are another set of metal stairs to the right which led down, and that likely goes for miles as well.