The Mountain and The City: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale

Free The Mountain and The City: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale by Brian Martinez

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Authors: Brian Martinez
the wound before we leave the City.
     
     
    **
     
     
    Child holds my Leg. It's hard for her to see the things on the Ground that might trip or hurt her, so I let her hold on, even though I'm not seeing very good, either. The same as in the New Cavern, I don't tell her anything's wrong. I'm finding I have to hide a lot from Child to make her feel better, and now it seems she's hiding things, too.
    What I wonder is, did she do it for me or the hunger? After too many minutes thinking about it, I speak.
    “The Apple you brought me.”
    She stops trying to catch a small Beast under a fallen Sign. She lets it run back into its Hole in the concrete and looks at me.
    “Want Apple?” Her big eyes search for a Tree where the Wood starts. “Want?”
    She was planning to make Supplies of that small Beast until I spoke. Then she just let it go.
    “No, just...thank you for bringing it to me.”
    Her face tells me she doesn't know what that means, so we let it go and continue to walk up the Mountain. I look back as we cross the blurry border where the green and gray mix together, and I can only make out the outside lines of the City, the shadows and corners that make its face and name. That's all my Eyes will give me.
    The City. I spent so much Time there, but I refuse to get the Death there.
    “Where go?”
    “There's a low part of the Mountain where we can get through to the other side. I only tried it once. I turned back, but I think it's the shortest path to a new place.”
    She looks upset.
    “We have no choice. Too many Munies know the smell of your blood here.”
    My Skin is hot again. The Suit holds to me and my Hair is string in my Face. The fever went away but now it wants the Time back, and maybe some extra.
    I may have to hide some things from Child for her good, but if I'm going to be smart I can't do the same to myself. I have to accept what life is. Life is my Eyes are getting worse, and I need new ones.
    I tell her we have to climb faster. There's a place we have to go first.
     
     
    **
     
     
    The last time I came to the Building with the sharp metal Fence, I was taking Supplies from it to the Cavern. I didn't take all the Supplies from it, not because the Yellow Room couldn't fit everything, but because on my last trip I'd seen dark shapes moving around Inside. I didn't bother to see what they belonged to, I just ran from there and never went back.
    Watching it from behind a great, big Tree on the side of the Road that leads up the Mountain, I know what it was I'd seen Inside the Building. I know what those shadows belonged to.
    Real People.
    Two of them stand Inside the Fence. They have Masks on their faces and Guns in their hands, and they wear strange clothes with lots of pockets. They talk to each other, just like Real People do.
    I can't believe it. I haven't seen a Real Person in ten years, three months. A few Days ago I would have killed to see a Real Person again, but things are different now. Now I'd be killed if a Real Person saw me.
    Saw us.
    But you need the night eyes.
    The Building behind them looks the same as it did, except there's a strong Light coming from Inside. It doesn't look like Sunlight, either, but like Real Light, which is hard to understand, and I almost don't recognize it because I haven't seen it in so long.
    I feel pulled toward it.
    The Boots will be too loud on the Concrete, so they come off. Filthy Water pours out with my Feet as I tell Child to stay behind the Tree.
    She says, “No.”
    “Do you remember my Eyes when we met? Those were Night Eyes, they helped me see in the dark. The only way we can make it away from the City is if we walk when the Sun doesn't. In that Building they have enough Night Eyes for both of us.”
    “Go with.”
    I shake my Head. “I don't know what they'll do if they catch me, but I do know what they'll do if they catch you. So you have to stay here, where they can't see you, no matter what happens.”
    She fights me a little longer, but

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