Chapter One

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The snow had stopped.

One second, it was coming down, ravaging the earth with its white flurries, just as it had been for the past six months.

And then it was gone.

No flakes falling through the air. No icy hail coming down and wrecking everything in its path.

Just a dark cloudy sky.

My fingertips went to the sky, my ruined fingerless gray gloves offering minimal protection from the cold. A gray hue coated the earth. I waited patiently, knowing a flake would fall. This had to be an illusion. It had to be. My fingers splayed out in the air, as I felt the frosty breeze against my dry, cracked skin.

Nothing.

My arm fell back down to my side, my mouth slightly opened as I kept my gaze skyward. It stopped. The snow had stopped. My mind couldn't seem to be able to wrap itself around the words fast enough. How? Why now?

And then another thought entered my mind: It wouldn't last long.

Because that was the mistake we'd made the last time the sky had stopped trying to ruin us. The only difference this time was that the sky had already destroyed us.

Humanity was dead.

Maybe there were survivors, but not humanity.

I had to keep moving. Stopping meant death. Falling meant death. Staying outside too long in an area as open as the white field I now stood in meant death. I had to reach warmth. Safety.

I knew my destination. I saw my goal ahead of me. The mere idea of a warm shelter kept me going. It was only a hope of course: that the store I was headed to would somehow still have electricity. And a very unlikely hope at that. But if anything, at least I could scavenge supplies from it.

There was one thing left that was keeping me human: my hope. And I wouldn't let it go.

I forced myself to lift my heavy boots out of the snow and plant them down again. I trudged my way through the cold, basing my movements on what I remembered seeing on the map. I'd found it not too long ago, allowing me to decipher where exactly I was in the world. It'd been a long time since I'd started pushing myself through the snow, trying to get as far away from my origin as possible. That was where it'd all gone wrong.

A chill went down my spine.

A sudden blast of wind hit my face and my hand instinctively went up to block it. Just a little further. The thought of heaters and electricity filled my mind as I pushed myself to move faster, to drag myself just a bit farther...

And then I saw it.

A glimmer of light amidst the spiraling flurries driven into the air by the harsh wind. Light – something I hadn't seen in a long time. My heart rate began to speed up as the possibility of warmth became more realistic. My feet stomped through snow at a faster rate, as I struggled against the wind and forces of nature. My foot caught on a particularly dense pack of ice and I tripped, my body propelling forward and my face landing against the freezing ice, fingers splaying against the hard surface.

I lifted my head off the ground.

A large building stood in front of me with white-painted walls covered in multicolored graffiti. Words from a past age, before everything froze over, adorned the bricks.

I pushed myself off the ground, eyes focusing instead on the white light that glistened out of the glass doors of the store. A sign hung crookedly above the entrance with words that were impossible to read, their deformities too great to make out any solid letters.

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