It had been a week since Grims and I had sealed ourselves into the storm shelter. Fortunately for us Grims was a bit of a prepper. There had been enough food stored in there that we didn’t starve, although the composting toilet left much to be desired. In fact, as soon as Grims said we could check the surface I carried that thing out and dumped it. I didn’t even care what was waiting out there.

Now that essential task was complete, we had to figure out what to do next. If I didn’t know for a fact that we had been stuck in a hole for the past seven days, I wouldn’t have known where we were. The house was gone, not even charcoal left to mark where it had stood. The air was thick and gray with stale smoke, gusts of wind lifting dust devils of choking ash from the unrecognizable ground. Grims’ orchards were nothing but twisted stumps, stark against the smudged sunlight weakly fading through the smoky cover.

I coughed and covered my nose with my now smelly t-shirt. Grims grunted in displeasure at my exposed midriff, but I didn’t see the point. From the looks of things no one was going to be around to see it. I wondered how many of the neighboring farmers had made it to shelter in time. Maybe they were better off if they hadn’t. On the bright side, there wasn’t anything left for the beasts to come back for. We’d die from starvation instead of fire. Or maybe from suffocation; the inside of my shirt was as bad as the air outside.

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