United States

One Last Battle

November 4, 2019

It’s seven fifty-nine in the morning. The sound of footsteps ring in Henry's ear. She runs down Grilrdel Alley and makes a sharp turn, nearly falling into the street below. Her bag slides down her shoulder as she trips over her untied shoelaces. The crosswalk ahead flashes a red light. However, Henry doesn't stop running. The Military Base had opened thirty minutes ago, so she couldn't stop now. As she neared the flashing stoplight, Henry leaped over a passing armored car. She sticks the landing and continues to run.
Henry can see the yellow lamp in the front of the green base flicker on as she makes it to the entrance. The door swings open with a ding of a bronze bell. The front room is full of display racks and ammunition that is littered throughout the room. There doesn't seem to be any signs of life except for Abigail who sits behind the cash register, filing her nails.
"Henry! I thought you weren't coming in today?"
"Yeah, boss man called me in late."
Abigail runs up from behind the counter.
"I was about to call you." Abigail tugs at Henry's bag, almost breaking the straps.
"Well, I'm here now! I'm cleaning guns until one. Want to get lunch after?" 
Abigail has freed the bag from Henry and is now digging in it for a pack of instant ramen.
"Sorry, can't. Jason is taking me for pizza. There is this new place down the streets that has no surveillance! It's in Danimere Alley. Next time though." She says, finally finding a chicken-flavored pack.
"Wow. Some sisterly love you got there." she taunts. "Give me that back!" Henry playfully grabs the bag back from Abigail, walking towards the back room.
"Can I keep the ramen?" Abigail yells back. "You always do!" Henry laughs to herself as she places her bag in a nearby locker.
She grabs and apron off of the coat hanger and ties her short hair in a small ponytail. Walking into the armory, Henry grabs the supplies that are scattered throughout the room. Oil, cloth, and metal poles fill the small wooden table in the center of the room. Fifty guns sit in a case across the table. She carefully grabs two, knowing that they are loaded.
She takes five shots at a target, clicking the shift out of place and unloading the rest of the bullets.
The constant shots ring throughout the metal-plated room as Henry fires the remaining five hundred shots and cleans the rusted guns.
  By one o'clock, all of the guns are cleaned and shot. The target's big hole sits in the center of the bullseye. Perfect shot, every time.
Henry packs her handgun into her bag and heads to the front room. Abigail is still sitting on the other side of the counter. Her short brown hair is tied into two messy pigtails. Pink coloring is littered throughout her small locks as it glimmers against her green eyes.
"Abigail, I'm heading out! Don't be any trouble!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" she calls back, still filing her nails.
Henry exits the small green building. Her camo pants blend in with her dark surroundings. She walks back to Grilrdel Alley, one of the few alleys that weren't covered in security cameras from the Imperial Palace. 
The sky is a dark gray as smoke fills the dying air. The sky never shines blue. Ever since the great war, hunger and despair have fallen over Nataroma.
Henry walks toward the Orphanage for Unfortunate and Deprived  Children. The small building is covered in splotchy brown paint and cracks are scattered throughout the exterior of the deserted building. The orphanage closed years ago. No one ever comes to adopt a helpless child or troubled teen. No one has the money or time. 
Henry walks up the tattered stairs to the dusty red door as her dirty hands reach for the old door handle. However, the sound of pounding feet that hit the floor disrupts the quiet air beyond.
The door swings open, revealing two identical little girls and a small infant, cuddled between them.
"Henry!" the twins scream in unison.
"Noel, Cheryl, and Ellie! You rascals!" Henry says, cheerfully, as she scoops them into a big hug.
"Henry, guess what!" Noel pipes up. "I killed a rat yesterday! It was a big one!" Her proud ton could knock down the tallest of buildings.
Noel was the oldest of the bunch. Her bright red hair hung loose and her tan skin burned like fire.
"That sounds, evil. You didn't make a mess right?"
"No, Cheryl put the fire out, which I didn't like!"
"The house was going to burn because of your stupid fireballs!" Cheryl yells at Noel.
"But I wanted to watch the rat burn but your stupid water put it out before I had the chance!" Noel screams back.
"Cut it out you two! There is surveillance everywhere, you know this.  Everyone inside." Henry shooed Noel and Cheryl inside, as the two hold hands in fear. Henry scooped up little Ellie who was shaking in terror. The door shuts behind them as they walk up the long narrow hall.
"Henry, are we going to die? I saw a lot of stuff about bombs on the big box." Ellie asked, sucking her thumb. The question was awful for Henry to hear. A small three-year-old asking, if she was going to die, was horrid. "I won't let that happen," Henry said, determined to allow these children to live.
The hall was long, tattered, and dirty. Old wallpaper peeled from the wall and burned wood litters the ground. The foul scent of chlorine hits Henry's nose like a bullet. Small plants grow in the cracks of the house, causing dirt to spread throughout the stinking rooms.

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