“It was a very stupid idea to let it stand with ruins all around it, but we had no choice. I promise you, we didn’t. And now we need you to keep quiet.”
Indeed, it was a very stupid idea. A very stupid idea to follow a person I have never seen before. To follow her through a town which was not even safe during the day. It was a stupid idea to sneak out. It was nearly impossible to sneak out of the headquarters after dawn, it was indeed impossible to sneak back in after dawn. But – and that was a huge, thick, black but – but I couldn’t let it be. I just couldn’t. This house was dangerous, it was wrong somehow, that was for certain – and I needed to find out why. Madame X could investigate with her soldiers and her protocols but I would investigate too – no matter the costs.
And now I was here, following that women with her long, grey hair, into the dark, into the destroyed city. Thousand questions where running through my mind. I kept quiet. I granted her my trust. Nevertheless, that didn’t mean I was careless. I listened, I saw, and all over, I observed her. The grey-haired lady was a middle-aged woman, maybe old enough to have witnessed the dawn and surely clever enough to have survived that long. She was strong, strong enough to overcome me, built like a soldier. Her face was sunburnt enough to be a soldier indeed. If it came face-to-face, it was hard to predict who would win.
The grey-haired lady had told me she knew me, so maybe she was someone of my colony. That would explain how she knew about that house as my colony controlled this part of the city. However, she didn’t look like one of our kind. I couldn’t say what exactly led me to that conclusion, as she talked, moved and dressed like us.
Though none of ours. She had talked of a “we”. A group then, a unit. Of another colony, maybe. Worse, she could be part of a militia. This fancy word was used by nothing less than the criminal gangs who roamed the street at night, and at day. They were dangerous and the colonies tried everything to fight them, if they weren’t too busy to fight themselves. Or – and I didn’t want to think about that possibility – she was an Aliter.
I didn’t bother to ask. If she was clever, she would not tell me anything anyways. Certainly, I would find out soon enough. We walked for half an hour, more or less. We didn’t use the main roads to avoid patrols of one of the colonies. And one time, we heard distant laughter in the night, laughter, a sawing sound, and screams. Without exchanging a word, we hurried up and changed direction for a while.
And then, we entered another street as destructed as the others. There were piles of masonry, rubble and rubbish laying around, blocking the street half-way. The grey-haired lady started climbing on that little mountain of rubble, stepped on a huge piece of a long-destroyed wall and leaped from there in the air – she was out of sight now, the masonry blocked my view. I heard her voice coming somewhere from above, demanding me to follow her. It was a stupid idea to climb on that rubble. I did it anyways. Stepping on that destructed piece of a wall, I looked around to find where I needed to go now.
“You need to jump.” The voice of the grey-haired lady told me, “There is a ladder above your head.”
I looked up but there was no ladder – just the walls of a half-intact building and the wine-tinted sky. No ladder insight.
I hesitated – and then I jumped anyways. I felt my hand touching something cold and I grabbed it –my hand had found that long-forgotten steel-ladder. I climbed up to the first floor where they grey-haired lady was waiting on me. Seeing me climbing she started doing the same. We arrived on the third floor. There we jumped again – to the next window. Breakneckish it was and the lady helped me to get into the room. I stumbled and fell. The floor was dirty, a pebble pricked into my cheek. When I looked up, I was surrounded.