Alicia had just taken the lives of at least ten men. But she didn't care. She had learned not to care much when it came to do what she had to do. The past had taken the lives of many people she had loved, some way or another. Who cared if even more people were killed now? The world wasn’t one to care no more. And she, Alicia Hall, wasn’t one to feel sorry anymore. She just didn’t care.
The fight had happened just outside of the many quarantine zones. This one encircled the whole city formerly known as Panama City. As many knew, even then, Panama had been a worthy ally to the Statian cause. So much that, during the attempt of the Confederation to take the south part of the continent, they built a parallel city on the other side of the Panama Canal to ensure their troops were properly supported. They had even built a large nuclear energy complex to feed both cities with electricity.
But no one predicted a surprise attack; done by the Southies (slang termed the Statians used to call the people living on the other side of the canal) but covered up by the Statians, calling it a “failure” of the energy station. There was an explosion and everyone got evacuated. Many people died, though but no one ever knew about any of them. The place was rapidly turned into an exclusion zone for airplanes and the whole city was barricaded and put into quarantine. The people living beyond it were left to their deeds. In other words, they were left to die to the radiation.
That had happened almost thirty years ago. The world today was very different: the war had ravaged entire regions. Food was hard to come by and countries were not as important as they had been before. The Statians had been reduced to a mountain range and many others had done the same. Technology existed, of course, but had been improved. All innovation had stopped. Anyway, people were more worried about feeding their families than about anything else.
Alicia herself remembered her parents and brother often. It was true that she cried every night, thinking of them. She would always remember the day she had been taken from her home by a group of Righties. Righties were people that still believed in the superiority of one race or one group of people. They were loads, as people in fear always trust the wrong folk. They ravaged towns, raped women and killed innocent people, thinking they were Vikings of sorts. They also kidnapped women to be sold as sexual slaves and that’s what had happened to Alicia.
But she had escaped. After an awful trip across the ocean, she had been sold in New Africa, the center of the Statians country. Strangely enough, the city was located by the sea. It was the commercial center of the country. Nevertheless, most of those folk lived inland, scared of invasion. Alicia then became the slave of a renowned politician and lived in his state for two years. Then, a storm broke out and there was fighting between the Statians. She took her chance and escaped the compound, unseen.
But the day after, when she got up to a high hill, she realized they were following her. So began a journey of many days, even months, chasing through wilderness of all types to escape her captors. Eventually, they let her flee thinking she would die in the wild but Alicia was better than that. She learned to hunt and gather fruits in the forest. The young woman had even found useful things in more deserted cities: clothing, weapons, water bottles and food.
The food was the best, by far. People everywhere were starving and there she was, having a whole city for herself, where she could pick up anything she wanted to eat. For example, Alicia had never had a spoonful of ice cream. The first time she had some, she laughed like a little girl and ate a whole bucket of it, tasting of vanilla. The stomachache that followed was awful but she thought it wasn’t a high price to pay for such a delicious treat.
It was in that deserted city when she first killed. A group of men in military clothes walked in the center of the city and she saw them as they dragged two women along. The women looked foreign, like Alicia. She realized they were slaved. Rage ran through her veins and in that moment, she decided to do something bold. Without giving them the chance to say a word, Alicia penetrated their camp at night and killed the four men, with a couple of knives she had grabbed from a department store.
When she was finished, the women escaped screaming like mad, looking at her as if she had done something horrible. But she knew she was right. All those men, all those people that thought were better just because they were of some color or lived somewhere, all of them, they had to pay. So, in her time in the city, she killed no less than a hundred men. She had trained herself, alone, to use every single weapon she found. Alicia had a small flat on the top of a small building and, in a case where she kept guns, knives, axes, arrows, grenades and other instruments to kill.
But it was after some time that she realized she had to move on. Someone would get wise and would come to hunt her. And she didn’t want to give none of those people the satisfaction to do so. So, after gathering her things, she did a tour of various stores to replenish her stash of food and ammo, as well as some technology devices. These didn’t really worked well but she needed a GPS in order to know where to run.
She wanted bad to go back to her country but she knew that was even more dangerous than facing a buck load of army men. She would have to penetrate the Statians territory and then, somehow, board a boat back the other side. No, that was a stupid idea, filled with things that might go wrong. Instead, after looking on a paper map, she decided that her best choice was to go south, through the old border and beyond.
At the border, precisely, she met friends for the first time. They were indigenous peoples. Alicia had never seen people so beautifully dressed, not after the devastation of the war. But the indigenous women she met told her, in signs that they wanted to preserve what was theirs. War had torn them apart but they trusted that everything would get better. Alicia wasn’t as optimistic but shared a couple of days with them before continuing south.
It took her months to cross through jungles and devastated cities. It was incredible to see how many people had survived the war, hiding in forests and going back to the lives lived by their ancestors. They were casual hunters and some had even started to grow food again. Many volcanoes made the soil a good friend but many people ran scared when rain came of when the wind blew to strongly. They talked about La Mancha, some sort of explosion that hey had seen and had destroyed, even more than war, the land were they lived.
La Mancha was no other than the horrible stain floating over the nuclear power plant that had being blown up by the Southies. Alicia heard of the story many times, by many people, on her way to the canal. But she noticed something else too: the more she traveled, the more Statians she saw. Some of them were taken as refugees by the locals but others were in occupation of small territories.
After crossing lake Nicaragua, Alicia was arrested by one of these Statians. The man called himself a general and said they were retaking these territories “in order to protect them, as only us have the intelligence and power to do so”. They had killed several locals and threatened to turn Alice into a slave, again. But this time she knew better. She faked compliance and started giving them all a private show but when she was almost naked, Alicia took a gun from the general and killed him. Everything turned into chaos but the locals and Alicia prevailed.
In the midst of the fighting, Alicia realized women where also members of the Statian army. They were not many, but they were there. She realized she had no compassion for them either, thinking of how low they had gotten. They were no different than the men. Alicia realized her struggle was not again the Statians alone; it was against every person that wanted others to do as they said.
After the skirmish, the young fighter crossed more mountains and forest until she got to the exclusion zone. It was there where she killed ten more army men. She went through several papers they were carrying and realized they had been set to check the plant and retrieve something from it. Dead as they were now, they weren’t going to finish nothing and, hopefully, it would take some time before the Statians knew what had happened to them.
Alicia then reflected on her being there and realized something: she was alive. She inhaled and exhaled several times and then stood still, as if waiting for something to happen. Nothing. Somehow, she could breath. Was that why those men were there? Then, she heard something she had only heard from afar and in television: a helicopter. It appeared just above her, flew a bit further ahead and landed softly. From the machine came out a gorgeous women, tanned and with short black hair. She neared Alicia and she was surprised by her question.
- Are you all right?
The young woman nodded. The woman told her to come with her. She took Alicia’s hand and they both walked towards the helicopter. Once inside, the machine started roaring again and rose above the trees and old buildings. Alicia didn’t say a word but saw the woman besides her give her a smile.
- My name is Rosa. You might refer us as Southies…
But Alicia was fainting. Unknown to her, one of the soldier’s bullets had gone straight into her right lung. The last thing she saw, before falling asleep, was Rosa pulling out a needle from a case and yelling at her. But Alicia couldn’t her a word. She was pretty tired and just let herself go.