I woke up. The camp was quiet all around me. I groaned and climbed out of my sleeping bag and walked out of the tent. I started the fire up and nodded to the guy who was on guard duty. I put the pot over the fire and added water. I looked around the camp.
So much had changed. Forty years ago, I was a doctor and a soldier. Now he was a leader and a survivor. People used to think the nukes would end it all. They didn't. What did was a lot smaller. Nanobots. North Koreans developed the attacker versions, America developed the defenders. Then, something went wrong. North Korea's bots became sentient. And their one goal was to kill everything.
"You gonna sit there thinking or are you gonna game us some oatmeal, Doc?" Someone said from behind him.
It was John, my best friend and the guy who lead the US Nanobot program.
I shrugged. "You want to make breakfast?"
"Nah. Just hurry the hell up so I can get back in bed!"
I added oats to the pot. The camp started to stir. They had seven tents. Four for six people, three for two people. The group had twenty eight people. Lewis, or Doc as they called him, was the leader. My three deputies, John, Nate, and Hana and I get the two person tents. John lead tech and weapons. Nate lead guard duties and missions. He used to be a CIA agent. Hana was in charge of supplies and the well being of the people. She used to be a psychologist. How much things have changed.
The oatmeal was ready. "Breakfasts hot." Me called.
"Better not be anymore damn oatmeal." Someone called, followed by laughs. People came to the fire and got their share.
"Lewis, we need more fucking food." An angry voice said behind me. Hana. She was always mad about this or that. "They can't just eat oatmeal. Their mental health is deteriorating-"
"It's the end of the world. Of course their gonna be depressed. They'll have to deal. If you want more supplies, ask Nate to go into the city and get more."
"Also, I want to separate woman and men tents. That could help their state of mind."
"You can't act like a parent to these people. They can sleep with who they want to."
She paused before speaking. "Fine, but if that is the case then you will lead the mission into the city. Find some better food."
I sighed. An hour later, Nate and I stood outside the camp with six armored men. We had laser rifles and a few pre-bot guns. Just in case we met human threats.
"Doc, we need ion batteries." John said as we walked out of camp. "We're almost out."
"We'll find some" I assured him.
We made our way into the city. Buildings were wrecked. The road was destroyed. Governments tried to stop the bots from spreading with bombs. They didn't succeed.
We reached an old grocery store. We searched it for food, then grouped up at the back. We had barely any. "Okay, on to the next store." As we left, a noise comes from the vents. The sound of metal on metal. "Run" I yelled as a botswarm broke through the nearest vent. They were Cleaners-They surround a person or animal and leave nothing behind but a skeleton. As we ran for the doors, I pointed my laser rifle behind me and shot at the cloud. Another man near me did the same but tripped over a can on the floor. I ran back to get him and shot at the cloud. He climbed to his feet and shot at it. "No!" I yelled as it overtook him. The flesh was gone from his bones in seconds.
I ran faster to catch up with the group. We made it to another building and slammed the door. "We're safe, for now." I said. We were in a hotel lobby. The windows were covered with sheets of steel. We laid out sleeping bags. I took first watch. In the morning. I checked if everyone was good. The last guy, his name was Chuck or something, didn't say anything. "Are you good?" I asked again. He choked. Blood came out of his mouth. "What the fuck?" Someone behind me said. Chuck's head exploded, drenching us in pieces of brain and blood.
"Slicers!" I yelled. "Move!" Slicers are Bots that form into blades and other things. They also can go into people and expand. And they had just done that to Chuck. We ran for another building. Inside was a man who we didn't notice yet. One of the men had a finger missing which we bandaged. After a bit, we saw him.
"Who are you?" I asked. He stared at us for a while. Still without a word, he walked over to me and grabbed me by the throat. He lifted me high up them slammed me down. "It's a Hypna!" Nate yelled, reading the scanner. I groaned. Hypnas are people being controlled by bots. This one also probably had strength modifying bots. I tried to breathe. My ribs were definitely broken. I felt the healing bots start their work. John made me take the only ones we had, since "You're the leader".
John took a shot at the Hypna with a pre-bot gun. It disintegrated before the shot hit. "Of course it can fucking teleport. Why the hell not?"
It reintegrated, pieces flying together. It stabbed Nate in the leg and reached for his gun. I activated the anti bot gun John gave me and pulled the trigger. The Hypna fell down. His head was partially melted from billions of tiny explosions the bots made when they died. We tended our wounds. We looked around. All the supplies we needed were here. "No more goddamn oatmeal" someone said.
We went to camp the next day. When Chuck's friend heard the news about him, he ran off. Later we found his body next to a laser rifle. I sighed. Hana yelled at me. "Suicide is not a good sign of the groups mental health!" I let her go on, then we buried him. That night, I told the group the whole story. I told them they could choose to stop trying to survive, or they could stand with me and try to live. "What is left for us?" A woman said. "Our lives our gone."
"We have each other." I said.
"An inspiring speech." John told me.
"I meant it."
"You should've told then were having pancakes for breakfast. That would keep em here."
I laughed and stayed by the fire with John as we watched the group talk and laugh with each other. So the world isn't perfect. Was it ever? It's time we appreciate the small things, because for right now, they're all we have.