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Girl Unauthorized

I don’t know where I am. It’s dark, dingy. Like a basement but concrete and steel. Like a bunker from a war movie. I was running. Dirt and debris everywhere. Horrendous wind in the streets blowing around the trash and spraying the water on the streets into my face. Screams and panic everywhere around me. Covered in dirt. Losing my brother’s hand in the press of bodies as we all fled on foot. The city was burning. Brighter than anything I have ever seen, and I wasn’t even looking in the direction of the blast.

Where is my brother? I was running along the street, and a fight broke out from some men and I slipped into an alley. The buildings would provide some shield from the blast, right? All I could think about was vague fears about radiation and to get away from all these panicked people. They scared me. Adults acting like animals, fighting, and killing each other for simply getting in the way.

We were in traffic, the cars were jammed together in the streets, and then the cars shut off. It was quiet for a moment then everywhere people were panicking, bolting from their cars and running along the streets. Mama dragging me and Omar out of the car, telling us to run. Yelling at me to hold my brother’s hand.

“What about you?” I asked.

“Just run, Dia. We’re right behind you.”

But Dad wasn’t moving, he was in the back seat frozen, mouth wide. Screaming.

So we ran. Through the dead cars. Surrounded by other panicked adults and children. Flashes coming from behind us. And the shockwave. Tossed me into one of the cars, cracked my forehead open. I got up, staggered, fell. Then realized Omar was holding my hand tight, sobbing. I got up and balanced on the cars as we moved away. Hot rain started to fall. How could it be raining when everything was so bright from the fires?

I don’t know when I lost him. But he’s not here with me. Down the alley away from the fighting men, drenched in rain and dirt. Don’t know how long I ran, and then I slipped and found myself in the entrance to a basement. I couldn’t fight it anymore, had to lay down. The blood seeping down my forehead ran into my eyes, I opened the door and slipped inside.

Felt my way through the dark until I found something to lay down on, some blankets wrapped in plastic I think, on a pallet. And now I’m awake and I don’t know where this is.


There, written on the wall. Next to a metal door sitting a little ajar. I know I should go back to the street, find Omar. But I’m so tired and feverish. I’ve thrown up twice since I woke up. No idea how long I was asleep. Maybe I caught the flu? What a ridiculous thing to do in this situation. Need to find some water.

Through the door then. It's hard to open, clearly uses motors to open. But only emergency lights are on down here. Flashing yellow. Making me feel even more dizzy. My head hurts so bad.

Through the door there’s a security station, like I imagine would be in a prison. What is this place? I sit against the wall for what could be a moment, could be an hour. Need to find water. I can hear someone moving down here, I’m not alone. But I can’t even summon the energy to be scared.

The door down the corridor opens up to a small number of cells, lined with thick glass. One of them chipped in the corner. E-7198. O-8821. O-1120. I have no idea what they mean. Can’t see through the glass anyway.

I stumble into a room as I shove the door open. A locker room of sorts. Body armor hanging from some of the open lockers. There, a bottle of water. I drink greedily. I don’t care if anyone touched it before.

I spend the next few minutes vomiting again. Collapse into a ball on the floor and fall asleep again.

When I wake, I hear a snuffling sound outside the door. Like a dog maybe? I crawl towards the door and see something at the end of the hall, dragging a man in riot gear. Snout like a dog, but elongated. Its eyes smoldering like they are on fire. Saliva drips down the man it is dragging, and onto the floor. Looks like a man and a dog were smashed together and put back together sloppily. The snuffling is from it as it drags him away. The eyes look up, glowing red and steaming in the darkness, brighter than the emergency lighting. Our eyes meet. I slam the door to the locker room and slide the lock bar across. There’s a big security bar I turn down, blocking the door from opening. It begins to slam against the door for a few minutes. The noise is terrible. I slump against the wall, the room spinning around me. My head throbs with every impact.

It finally gives up and I slide to the floor. Clutching the mostly empty water bottle, shivering.

What is this place? The snuffling sound fades down the hall, and I start shaking. I can’t stop. I manage to drink some more water before laying my face on the cool concrete of the locker room floor. Maybe Omar found Mama. Better than here with me. Why do I feel so sick? Need sleep, maybe make more sense in the...


Grigori Karpin

Ignota IronShears


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