Since April 17, I have been on the run from both men and women alike. Men are passionate about their "cause," which has not been specified. The women's ideology has not been disclosed either. From what I have observed in the news, which is no longer in production due to the war, and in direct contact, it seems that the only reason for the intense and deadly battling is that both sexes believe they are superior. The misogyny and misandry that was seen in the beginning of the century is nothing compared to this. Feminism is a dying idea, except for with the Independents.

Those who are still using their logical brains can see that this fighting is completely aimless; neither side can actually win. The destruction of one means the destruction of the other. Humanity cannot exist without the male and female counterpart, which is a blasphemous thought in these times.

When an Independent finds another Independent, it is a great relief of frustrations; we can express our displeasure and absolute horror about the mental state of the country. Jokes can be made about the frigid opinions, but at the end of the conversation we know that it is sad. Completely depressing. But finding a friend, even if for only a brief amount of time, is always nice.

Having company in the midst of the war as an Independent was rare; we were all constantly running and hiding from the same enemy, but we could never run into each other. Too many people got hurt that way. If your group was too large, it raised the possibility of being caught by the men, who called themselves Sons of Solis, or the women, ironically called Mother Moon. Most of us traveled alone, or fought to find the pockets of sects, where the numbers were great enough to produce a feeling of safety and belonging- something that seemed alien and out of reach.

Finding Norman felt like a blessing. I had been traveling in one of the many dark underground passageways, hoping to find the Independent Sect as the signs saying "Solace" indicated, when I stumbled over his legs while he slept annoyingly right in the way of the path. As he stood up, mumbling in his sleepy language, I realized how exposed I was. This towering six foot four man, easily a foot and one hundred pounds my superior, could be carrying any weapon imaginable in the stuffed army bags he had arranged around his feet. And there I stood, a meek five foot four with only a small handgun with limited ammunition and a hammer I found along the path two days prior, both out of reach in my backpack.

Instead of a bludgeon to the head or a shot through the stomach, he greeted me with a gentle and charming "oh, I'm sorry. I must be in your way."

After having walked for quite some time through a small tunnel in the middle of a devastating civil war, I was not in any sort of cheery mood, but his charisma betrayed me and left me with a warm feeling. "No, no. It was my fault; I'm so clumsy," I awkwardly mumbled with a girlish giggle.

With a comforting voice and eyes that seemed to sparkle, Norman appeared to be the calm in the storm. "My name is Norman. And who are you, lovely lady?" he asked with a half grin- the best kind of smile to make a girl hooked.

As I stared into his eyes, already aware of the potential danger of getting too involved, I replied "Alyssandra Rose. Where are you travelling to?" In my mind, I was already kicking myself for letting this stranger know my name. What if he was apart of the Sons of Solis? What if he was a criminal? No man could be this charming; not these days. Everyone had an ulterior motive. But how could he be evil if he sounded so genuinely sweet? I decided to trust my heart and continue the conversation.

Seemingly relieved to have decent human contact, he released all of his stresses and air in his lungs, and responded with a smile on his wonderful face. "I'm trying to find a group of people. The Unit I think is what they are calling themselves. Men and women live together, just like before the war. I've heard that they need people to help repopulate, and I've always wanted a family. The Unit is supposed to be somewhere in Utah, which isn't too far from what I can figure. Are we not in Colorado now?"

Of course we were. The people who had created these passages had decided to seriously help out those who would come after them, so they drew maps showing your current location. The illustrations never included diagrams of where the tunnels led to, just in case a Son of Solis or member of Mother Moon infiltrated and took it upon themselves to destroy what had taken so long to construct in the name of their respectable gender. To humor him, I said "yessir, we are, as you can see from the many maps drawn upon the walls of the tunnel you are currently in."

With a childish snicker, Norman snorted "Oh, well look at that! Miss Alyssandra Rose is beautiful AND smart." This comment was enough to turn my caramel skin a subtle shade of pink, which did not go unnoticed by the flirtatious man, who took it as a compliment. "So Miss Alyssandra," he continued, "where are you headed?"

Still recovering from his flattering words, collecting my thoughts and forming words seemed to take a lifetime. Once I finally composed myself enough to speak intelligible words, I replied, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm just trying to not get myself killed. When the war broke out, I wasn't one of the lucky ones who fled to Canada or Mexico before either sex...controlled the emigration. I wasn't one of the lucky ones who got ahold of a map of possible refugee centers before the Internet was shut down. I wasn't one of the lucky ones who had a remote home to go to and hide in, hoping to not be discovered. I was one of the late ones who had no family or close friends to be with, so I've been by myself this past year. My god, it's been a year already?" This last realization struck me with particular intensity. What little friends or acquaintances I had before The Great Division could be dead or worse- fighting. Why hasn't anyone done anything? Why is nobody helping us?

Norman seemed to be able to read my mind. As he exhaled, he explained, "And nobody has done a damn thing about it. The government has seemed to completely vanish. I bet they're all hiding in their multi-million dollar bunkers just watching our civilization crumble. Fucking cowards..." His anger was the same as what we all felt. How could our nation's leaders abandon us in our most desperate hour? Norman continued, "the whole world has abandoned us. I can't blame them either. The United States has always butted its head in where it doesn't belong and ended up causing more harm than good. The entire world hates us." In deep thought, he paused. "There is no 'us' anymore. We aren't United. We're a nation divided. There is no 'we' either. Everything this country has spent its entire existence trying to create has completely been wiped away by the hands of the oppressors."

In the small passageway, Norman and I shared a moment of silence for the loss of our country, our freedom, our safety, and almost everything else. It was a depressing world we lived in. It's a miracle anyone has made it this far.

He inched toward me, apparently getting caught up in the emotions of the moment. Reaching for a lock of my wild, curly hair, Norman softly said, "you are so beautiful, you know that? Your heritage, are you mixed?"

Getting a creeping, nauseous feeling in my stomach, I took a small step backwards to avoid contact with him. "Yes," I replied, "my mother was from Mexico and my father was African American. They're why my hair is so out of control," I laughed nervously.

He continued to advance towards me, eyes sparkling and locked on me as though he was an animal and I was his prey. As he extended his hand toward my waist, I quickly exclaimed, "sir, you are making me uncomfortable. Please stop."

He did not stop. My heart began to beat rapidly and I could feel the perspiration droplets forming on my forehead. "Stop! Didn't you hear me!? Why are you doing this?" I screamed. I rotated my head slightly to my left to see if I could run, but by the time I turned to face my attacker again, he had what appeared to be a weapon in his hand.

"You shouldn't have done that," he said ominously without a single expression on his face. I pivoted my body to run, but it was too late. His wingspan covered too much distance and he was easily able to bash me over the head with a dense maglite flashlight, knocking me to the ground and leaving me slipping in and out of consciousness. As he dragged me to an opening, which had been covered by one of his army duffel bags, I caught a glimpse of a tattoo on his ankle that I had not yet noticed.

A sun. The symbol of the Sons of Solis.

Why did I trust my heart? Why is the saying "follow your heart" when all that does is lead you to trouble? Why did I think I could trust anyone? Nowhere and no one is safe. I've always done better when I was alone and thinking with my mind. Much safer.

But there I was. Fooled. Being dragged to God knows where, where anything could happen to me.

Being born on October 19 has doomed me for failure and misfortune, and I have learned that things always get worse.

The Great DivisionRead this story for FREE!