She breathed out a sigh of relief when her fingers caught on the rough tar that made up the runway. Her clothes were torn, blood seeping from vicious bite marks along her arms and legs. She’s hungry and dying of thirst, her body just having enough strength left to slump into the thick uniform of a soldier that had picked her up. Her head slips off his arm, giving her the smallest glimpse of the moving ground before her eyes close, leaving only her memories and nightmares to keep her company.
Images flash brightly behind her eyelids, they’re the only things she can see right now. She winces unconsciously when she remembers pulling herself through the rough sand, the grains getting into her cuts and remaining bits of clothing. Her body going through more tiny convulsions as her mind plays back the fight she and her research partner had gotten in that inevitably led to her killing Kaia and ripping her apart for food. The memories won’t stop running through her head as she lays in the infirmary at the air force base.
They had been squabbling over what kind of microscope to use when the lightning storm had started, knocking out all the power. The fridge, bathroom appliances, their science equipment, and anything related to communication had been completely wiped. Kaia remembered trying everything twice to see if things had started back up. Her and Seline, her research partner, had waited days for the power to come back on, only using certain electronic appliances when absolutely necessary. The food was starting to go bad, the air stifling in the desert heat, so they had decided to pack a few backpacks and venture out to try and reach civilization.
That had been one of the worst ideas the two could come up with. Rather than wait a few more days or try the emergency generator once more they had decided to go out into the desert, alone, just the two of them. They hadn’t stopped fighting since they had left the small research center. It was little things at first, just about certain lizards or plants they came upon. Then it escalated to things centered around the college they had gone to and who had the better grades, or better life, or anything better in general.
When they had first met, Kaia and Seline had been the best of friends, enjoying talking about what they enjoyed most when it came to research. They could always be found together until one assignment during a course they had decided to take together. The two got competitive and it ruined their friendship. They’d planned on never seeing or talking to each other again, but that had been ruined when they applied for the same research facility and were put on the same job. It had forced them together and now all they did was bicker of little things.
Kaia didn’t know how they had gotten so competitive over something so stupid and why they had never tried working out their issues. All she knew now was that she was stuck with her once best friend trying to find civilization. It was hot and she was tired. Her hair was matted to her forehead and she was sure she would collapse from exhaustion if they didn’t stop for the night. Kaia knew she was made to sit and study objects, not walk miles in the desert trying to find people. She looked ahead of her to see Seline fairing much better than her, and she sped up to try and keep step with the woman.
A few days later found them still walking. Kaia was literally dead on her feet. She couldn’t feel her legs anymore and she was so thirsty her mouth was dry. They’d since drained their water canteens and hadn’t happened upon any oasis. They were also running low on edible food and weren’t anywhere near civilization for all Kaia knew. A jet had flown them out at the beginning of all of this so they didn’t even really know how far out in the desert they were.
Seline looked back and huffed at the pathetic sight. She knew they had walked a long time, she was tired too, but being that exhausted after only a two days hike? It was just pitiful. If Kaia collapsed or slowed them down anymore, Seline would have to stop them for the night and she didn’t want to have to do that. If they stopped they would have to eat and they were at an all time low for edible food. Half of it was rotted and Seline knew they’d have to find more somewhere.
It was rough for them as they kept traveling. Days of walking and trying to find anything they could scavenge from the dry desert. They had, luckily, come across an extremely small pond that they drank from greedily. Nothing really changed after they filled their canteens and left the only water that would be found on their journey. Though this was a blessing they never found anything they was safe to eat and soon their supply of food was dwindled to a handful of dried fruit and a few nuts. That too was consumed, leaving the two women with nothing but the clothes on their back and empty bags. Seline took the bags and threw them to the side, saying they wouldn’t be needed anymore because they were empty and the two went on their way.
Kaia felt like the remaining days she travelled were longer than the rest. She was starving, her stomach making itself known every couple minutes or so, and again she was out of water. Her head was buzzing, making it hard to concentrate on the trail Seline was weaving in front of her. Soon the buzzing turned to a dizzying pain and she collapsed. Her partner had rushed to her side, checking her over and giving her the last of the liquid that she had been hoarding. It was enough to get Kaia to sit up but they had to rest for the remainder of the day.
It was impossible for them to travel much the next few days as Kaia kept getting sick, ending up purging the only thing left her stomach was harboring. The heat was too much, the sun bearing down on them and turning their skin a deep, burnt red and without food or water it left them weak and indisposed. Seline just didn’t know what to do anymore.
The two women travelled a few more painful days before the worst of their fights broke out. Kaia begged for food, anything they could eat and Seline had told her there wasn’t anything unless she planned on finding a rattlesnake and making it her dinner. They had snarked back and forth, escalating so quickly and so violently it soon found the girls rolling around biting and clawing at each other.
They were hungry, willing to eat anything at this point in time, be it poisonous snake or human flesh. Chunks were torn from arms and gashes sliced into clothes and skin. It was impossible for them to stop, desperate for sustenance their body was begging for. Neither of them cared how they got it, they just knew they needed it.
Blood gushed out of ripped skin, staining the sand underneath a vibrant red. Kaia didn’t know what she was doing or how she had enough strength to fight like this. She couldn’t feel anything but the liquid washing over her dry tongue and the flesh falling down her throat and easing up the pain in her stomach. Then she could feel everything. Pain, tears falling onto her, nails ripping into her with teeth following. It was all she could notice when it came but she couldn’t stop attacking Seline, couldn’t stop because if she did it meant death.
Seline wasn’t in control of her body, she couldn't stop this, didn’t know how. She knew she shouldn’t keep fighting, this woman had once been her closest friend, practically her sister, but she needed food. Seline could feel everything from the moment it started. The feel of her tears falling from savage eyes onto the girl underneath her, could hear the sound of ripping flesh as her nails dug in.
It felt like hours that they were like this, just pain and agony, but truly it only took minutes for Seline to overpower Kaia and finish what they both had started. Her belly was hurting by the time she could stop herself from eating, it was too full, she was sick and she couldn’t believe what she had just done. Killed a human being, her once upon a time friend, but now she had enough energy to get back to civilization.
She felt dead as she pushed herself up from the kneeling position she had taken while finishing her meal. Seline limped through the sand, dragging her torn and bloody leg behind her as she attempted to get away from what she had done, as if it would help ease her mind if she got farther away from the mauled body of Kaia.
Her mind had blacked out at this point, her soul practically dying as she forced herself to keep moving, never stop until she found human life. Seline got glimpses few and far between of the drab landscape around her. A lizard or snake now and then, never any pools of water or anything that resembled food. She had long since gone hungry again and though it disgusted her wished she had brought the dead body with her just so she knew she’d have the possibility of getting out of the desert alive.
She’d collapsed many times after the incident, crying into her bloody hands as she tried to force what had happened out of her mind. Seline had tried forcing herself to throw up some of those times but she just never could, so she forced herself back up from her fallen position and trudged on. She had to find civilization for her and for Kaia.
Again her mind blacked out, she was numb to the world and everything around her. It was then that she saw, rather she heard, signs of life as a jet roared overhead. Then another, and another, all three planes flying in perfect formation. In the back of her mind the words “air force base” popped up before quickly vanishing again. Even though she had heard the jets, she couldn’t see the tarmac that meant she was on the base.
Another day, a few more miles, and then another day and still no air force base. Maybe she had been mistaken and her mind was just playing tricks on her. She had just about given up hope when her body collapsed in exhaustion once again, her eyes not taking in the sight of dark asphalt just yards away. She didn’t catch the formation of men marching around the base or the jets getting ready to take off. The only things her eyes could see at the moment was sand or blood or her dead friend.
She laid there for hours with her face in the sand thinking about everything that had happened the past few weeks she had spent trying to find her way back to civilization. It had been like this ever since she killed Kaia. Just the overbearing thoughts of death and desert. Seline just couldn’t take it anymore but she knew she had to keep going, if not for her then the partner that would never get to make it back.
She forced her hands to grip the sand, pulling her heavy body forward. It was pain, just pain as she felt the harsh grains of sand slide underneath her ripped clothing and pull on the badly healed cuts. It rubbed away the scabs, causing the worst of the wounds to reopen and bleed onto the sand. It brought tears to her eyes as she kept pushing her torn and battered body towards what she could now see as the air force base. She was almost there, her fingers cramping up as she got closer and closer.
Just a few more feet, Seline told herself, and she would be close enough to where the soldiers would see her. She knew she could do it, knew she had the willpower, and the moment her fingers touched the solid concrete she finally could stop and rest. It was over, she made it. She knew because she could feel strong arms scoop her up and rush her to the building, could see the ground moving. Seline breathed one last sigh of relief as she let herself go into black oblivion, finally letting her body have the rest it needed.