He was a corporate man. He had power and wealth. He lived in an apartment most could only dream of. Vale had everything he could ever want. One day he started his day like any other. He made his coffee, got ready for work, and made his way out the door. This time though something happened.
He didn't remember passing out, but he woke up outside. A groan left his lips as he sat up. Vale was shocked when he looked at his surroundings. He shot up and frantically rubbed his eyes, hoping he was dreaming. He wasn't though.
All around him was rubble. There was a foul smell in the air. The bodies of water he could see were polluted with run off from factory waste and other chemicals dumped there. The ground was littered with trash. There were animals scavenging in the remains of this long forgotten city. When they spotted him, they looked him up and down and continued on their way. As if they deemed him not to be a threat.
He wasn't sure why they didn't attack him considering how starved they looked.
"What happened here," he thought to himself. "Where am I?" He couldn't spot another person from his perspective. He deemed it to be too dangerous to go around screaming for some help, so he started walking. Vale didn't know where he was going, he just knew he needed to get home. If he could remember correctly, he was in the elevator going down to the lobby of his apartment.
Did something happen while he was in there? It looks like a bomb tore apart his surroundings, from what he could see. The sun was starting to set, he was getting weak. All the walking was getting tiring. He had no food, water or shelter. Vale had been careful to avoid puddles of suspicious looking liquid. He was starting to panic. What if he was all alone? What if he never got home? Before he could lose himself in his thoughts more, something moved in the corner of his eye catching his attention.
It was a child. He was dressed in dirty rags. When he saw Vale, he darted behind the remaining wall of a brick building.
"Wait," he yelled. He ran toward the boy, tripping over some larger pieces of debris. When he turned to look behind the wall, he saw the boy cowering in a ball against it. When he felt Vale's presence advance toward him, he curled further into a ball, as if that would protect him.
"Hey, what's wrong? I'm not going to hurt you. I just have a few questions." The boy looked up at him with a dirty face. He had greasy, dirty strawberry blond hair. His blue eyes seemed dull, but still held a large amount of fear. He wasn't wearing any shoes. Vale felt his heart break for the poor boy.
"Can you talk?" The boy nodded his head, looking cautious of the stranger.
"Where am I?" The boy looked at him confused.
"Sector 1," The boy responded. Vale was more confused than ever.
"I have no idea what that is. What city am I in?" The boy thought about it for a moment before he looked back up to Vale.
"Sector 1 is a bunch of states. We're in, what used to be, New York City." Vale stumbled back a bit at the information. No, that couldn't be right. This had to be a joke. He stooped down so he could be at the boy's level.
"Are you lying to me?" The boy shook his head.
"Then answer another question. What happened?" The boy pressed his lips together and looked around for a moment. When he brought his attention back to Vale he stayed silent.
"I won't let you leave if you won't tell me." He looked conflicted before he finally answered.
"It wasn't one thing. It was a combination of things. Environmental issues and war caused all this. There was civil instability within the country for a while. Then enemy nations attacked, using it as their chance to destroy us. All the environmental damage happened before the war though. People just didn't care I suppose." Vale couldn't believe his ears. He was so young, yet he knew all this.
"How do you know so much about all of this?" The boy shrugged.
"Everyone knows this." Vale took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. It wasn't working.
"What's your name? I'm Vale." He looked uncomfortable, but offered up his name nonetheless.
"Colin, where is everybody who lived?" Colin panicked."I can't tell you. I'm sorry! I have to go!" With that he took off with Vale chasing after him. In Vale's mind he wasn't that smart. Vale would just follow him towards any type of civilization. He had to admit the boy was fast. Maybe the people left could help him get back home.