Chapter 1:

Chapter One

Bookworm at the end of the world

Alexander couldn't remember how long it had been since he'd left his shelter. He had only left upon hearing over his radio that the local scavengers had finished raiding a building on the south end of town. Alexander hoped to find something the scavengers had missed, some useable food or appliances but above all, he held out hope for books. 

Alexander had only managed to remain sane following the disaster by giving himself the goal of filling up his shelter with every book he could find. He'd salvaged from the library what few books had not been taken for firewood as well as several private collections that had been overlooked by scavengers.

Alexander finally came upon the building he was looking for, number 13 a large apartment complex located in the southern regions of the destroyed city. He walked in, drew his small handaxe from his backpack and gripped it with both hands. He began his ascent, all the doors were busted open on the first floor. 

He walked into the first apartment, which was a complete wreck from the scavengers tossing the place, but underneath it all, he could still see the place as it was before the disaster. He continued walking through his place when he came upon a round framed mirror that hadn't been smashed hanging on a wall. 

Alexander hadn't looked at his appearance in a long time. He found it hard to believe that the tall gaunt man with dirty skin and tired black eyes hidden behind glasses was him.

He strapped the mirror to his backpack with duct tape, thinking it might be useful to have around. He continued and found a few books and some food. He ravenously devoured what food couldn't be kept and bagged the rest along with the books. 

He repeated this process with every apartment on that floor and then on every floor following that, till he reached the tenth and final floor. He was carrying about six bags worth of books and non-perishable food. He'd gone through almost all the apartments. He only had one to go but there was something off with this apartment, then he realised the door was closed, all the other apartments doors had been partially or entirely open, some even ripped from their hinges. Alexander knew this meant there was someone in that apartment and if he'd learn one thing from surviving in this hell hole, it was everyone was the enemy. He thought about fighting the occupant and taking his supplies, but he remembered the other thing he'd learnt survival was about avoiding risk.

Alexander took a step back and there was a loud creak from the floorboards. He froze dropping some of his bags, and in that instant, the occupant of the closed apartment wrenched open the door and came running out brandishing a kitchen knife. Alexander thought if he was gaunt this guy or girl as he couldn't tell from the long black hair was downright skeletal. He stepped back out of the way and avoided the occupant's knife.

Alexander decided to try to calm the occupant "I'm not here to hurt you I just heard over the radio this building was clear of scavengers"

"You think I'm stupid, you're an evil demon here to steal my soul but I won't let you,"  said the occupant in a shrieking but distinctively male voice

"Clearly crazy, no hope of peaceful resolution got to take him down," he thought as he continued to backstep

Alexander suddenly change tacks and stepping forward brought his axe down on the occupants head cutting right into the skull killing them instantly, the body dropped to the floor still holding the knife with Alexander's axe wedged into its skull. 

He wrenched his axe free from the dead body and placed the knife in one of his bags. He picked up all of his bags and entered the occupant's apartment. The scavengers had clearly been through but had not been attacked by the occupant, Alexander searched through the apartment for anything of value. He found some more books and a little bit of food, he ate the perishables and bagged the rest.

He walked out into the hallway and over the dead body of the occupant, a long time ago he would have been bothered by what he'd done but those days were gone.

N. D. Skordilis
Joe Gold
Syed Al Wasee