Jonah woke up to the sound of a gunshot. He jolted upright and looked around. He was in the backseat of Jake’s truck, parked in a motel parking lot. Sam was sleeping next to him, and Rachel and Jake were in the SUV behind them.
He grabbed his baseball bat and got out of the truck. He saw a man lying on the ground, bleeding from his chest. Another man was standing over him, holding a pistol.
“Give me your keys and your wallet,” the man said, pointing the gun at Jonah.
Jonah felt a surge of fear and anger. He had no intention of giving up his belongings or his vehicle. He had worked hard to get this far, and he wasn’t going to let some thug take it away from him.
He swung his bat at the man’s head, hoping to knock him out. The man dodged and fired a shot at Jonah. Jonah ducked and felt the bullet whiz past his ear.
The noise woke Sam, Rachel, and Jake. They got out of their vehicles and saw what was happening. They grabbed their weapons and ran to help Jonah.
The man saw them coming and panicked. He fired a few more shots at random, then ran to his car and drove away.
Jonah breathed a sigh of relief. He checked on the man he had hit with his bat. He was still alive, but unconscious.
“Is everyone okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, we’re fine,” Sam said.
“That was close,” Rachel said.
“Too close,” Jake said.
They looked around and saw that the motel staff and some other guests had come out to see what was going on. They looked scared and angry.
“Who are you people?” one of them asked.
“We’re just travelers passing through,” Jonah said.
“Well, you can’t stay here anymore,” another one said. “You’ve caused enough trouble.”
“We don’t want to stay here,” Jonah said. “We’re leaving right now.”
They quickly packed their stuff and got into their vehicles. They drove away from the motel, hoping to find a safer place to rest.
They realized that they couldn’t trust anyone anymore. The world had gone mad, and people had become desperate and violent.
They had to stick together and protect each other.
They had to keep moving north, towards Alaska.
Maybe there they would find peace and safety.
Or maybe not.
But they had no other choice.
Jonah and his group drove in silence for a while, each lost in their own thoughts about the close call at the motel. The gunshots still rang in Jonah’s ears. He had come so close to losing his life or one of his friends.
After driving for a couple of hours, Jake pulled over at an abandoned gas station. “We should check our weapons and supplies,” he said.
They did a quick inventory. Their ammo was running low. They were also short on food and water.
“There’s a small town up ahead,” Rachel said, looking at a map. “Maybe we can find supplies there.”
“It could be dangerous,” Sam said. “We don’t know who or what might be there.”
“We need supplies though,” Jonah said. “Let’s scope it out but be ready in case of trouble.”
They cautiously approached the town, which looked deserted at first glance. Trash blew down the empty streets. Many of the buildings were boarded up and dilapidated.
As they drove further in, Jonah spied a small grocery store. The windows were intact and the lights were on inside. Jonah pulled into the parking lot, the others right behind him.
Weapons ready, they approached the store. Jonah stepped inside first, batting at the ready. Empty shelves and ransacked aisles greeted him.
“Looks like this place has already been scavenged,” Jonah said.
“Let’s check the back. Could still be something useful,” Jake suggested.
They carefully made their way to the storage area. Jonah’s heart leaped when he saw stacks of canned goods and other supplies.
“Jackpot,” Sam grinned.
They hurriedly loaded up their packs and the trucks. Jonah did a final sweep of the store and stopped short.
A man stood blocking his path, shotgun aimed right at Jonah.
Jonah froze, staring down the barrel of the shotgun. He held his hands up slowly.
“Easy there,” Jonah said calmly. “We don’t want any trouble.”
The man was unshaven and wild-eyed. “This is my store,” he said. “My supplies. You’re stealing from me.”
“We didn’t know anyone was still here,” Jonah explained. “We’re just trying to survive, same as you.”
He noticed the others quietly entering behind the man, weapons drawn. If things went south, at least they had the advantage of numbers.
“Please,” Jonah implored. “We have women and children with us. They’re hungry and scared. We just need enough supplies to get us to safety.”
The man blinked a few times, seeming to waiver. Jonah pressed his advantage. “You can spare some food and ammo, can’t you? As one human being to another?”
Finally, the man lowered his shotgun. His shoulders slumped and he nodded.
“Thank you,” Jonah said sincerely. He signaled the others to stand down as well.
The man helped them load a fair share of supplies into their vehicles. Jonah made sure to leave enough for the man and his family if he had any.
Before leaving, Jonah approached him again. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Simon,” the man muttered.
“I’m Jonah. Stay safe, Simon.”
Simon nodded curtly then turned and disappeared into the back of the store. Jonah and the others quickly got in their vehicles and left town, before he changed his mind.
That night, sitting around a campfire, eating warm soup from Simon’s supplies, they breathed easier knowing they had survived another day. They would need to be sparing until they could find more provisions.
At least now they were prepared to head further north. Hope was still alive. They just had to keep moving forward, together.
To be continued…