I sat by the window of the cabin, the one we stayed in when the public transportation brought us up towards Vermont, while I waited for Atlanta to come home from a nearby corner store. The stores in Vermont had everything we needed for just a couple weeks or so, with even those little maple sugar candies as a treat for me, since it was all I had to remember of my childhood...being at least a tad innocent in my youth. We only needed so much food and supplies, already with four bottles of antidote if I remember correctly; two for each of us. No doubt our home in the maple state would soon be destroyed like the rest. I would spend these few hours when I was alone listening to lost cricket chirping to those he heard outside in our little overgrown garden, and when I grew tired of that, I would resort to watching the rain droplets slip down the glass window and off the edge of the windowsill. When Atlanta was home, she'd bring me my candies, as well as maybe four brown bags filled with milk, some cereal, and different other types of meat or fruit that would serve as our meal until we'd both wake one morning to the sound of distorted voices or soft footsteps and smiling white masks. I was about three or four in that cabin; it surprises me that I can even remember what happened that far back, although I guess I've always had good memory. I can't think again of how the cabin was taken from us, why we had to move again, but I'm sure I hated to go from it. That was the best home I've ever had in my life. It was so different from all the crummy city apartments and rented suburb shacks, with its warm fireplace and soft cushioned beds. The way the flame flickered off the log walls at night, and danced along my face as I stared, mesmerized, with a cup of hot cocoa still sitting on the floor in front of my feet. Everything about that place was amazing. It almost seemed, for the short while that my mother and I could stay there, that everything had calmed down and maybe we could really be a family.
Atlanta and I were always together, but I don't mean that like it may sound. We were very close, yes, but my mom hated to risk leaving me alone where we were staying, and she rarely ever let me even walk just down the block to catch the ice cream truck or just go get myself a soda. After a while she would let me, slowly starting to give me some freedom of my own once I was around seven or so. I guess she figured, with the way I could jump on a proxy's back and slice through his throat, I'd be fine for a couple minutes. Once, when I was ten, a man grabbed me by the arm while I was walking down a side road by myself. This guy wasn't a proxy...he was actually pretty weak, to tell the truth. Very easy to take down. And god, the look on his face was so priceless; a little ten-year-old tackling him to the ground and pulling a knife to his throat must have been pretty shocking for the pedo. He even tried putting a gun to my head once he'd finally managed to knock me off and pick his fat ass up. Too bad for him that I already had mine out. Hah! That's when he decided maybe I wasn't the little girl to pick a fight with. Of course, that was after my mother was slaughtered, so she couldn't have seen it, but I know if she did, she wouldn't ever doubt that I could protect myself long enough to buy myself some candy.
I was only nine when Atlanta died. After that, I had to take care of myself. I had to find my own home, my own food, my own money. My own means of survival. That last part was never too hard for me, as one might find that proxies are pretty weak once they've been disarmed. Even the heavy ones don't really stand a great chance against an agile, killer child, still in her prime. With my mom gone, I never really thought to go find anyone. That's not how I was raised. It was always me and her, on the move, every week getting into another life threatening situation that we always managed to escape. One time we even had to escape a burning building together. I was eight that time, fully armed with two pistols and an old sword strapped to my back, and Atlanta carrying her rifle and a smoke bomb in the ripped handbag she always had nearby. It wasn't night, perhaps just getting there, slightly dark outside; I could see the bright moon from the stained windows inside the large rental cabin - of course, by now it would seem fairly small to me. We took everything we could - sheets, pillows stuffed into garbage bags, the small amount of food inside a white fridge. It all went down pretty well until I happened to stop in the living room long enough to hear some faint shuffling noises that seemed to come from the chimney. Proxies, I thought for sure. Pretty soon I heard my mom's voice, a muffled cry from upstairs, and I ran up to protect her. We bumped into each other on the staircase, as she shoved me down the steps and towards the door, still with bags of stolen goods slung over our shoulders. Then she went forward, stumbling down the endless hallways to the door that led to the cabin's front lawn, and I managed a glance back to find bright flames licking the sides of the staircase, coming closer and closer to us. Atlanta screamed; the door was blocked by a wall of fire, and every window just led to another grinning proxy face. My mother seemed to believe this was our end, for she grabbed me tightly and told me just how much she loved me, and how she never would regret the day she had me. I failed to mention who my father is, or was...who knows? I've never met him in my life, he wasn't even there when I was born. Of course, when a girl is raped, the "father" of her child is never there, is he?
Still, my mom kept me close, and taught me how to survive in a forsaken world like this. She didn't expect me, and at first I'm sure she wasn't really too pleased I was inside her womb, but she accepted me nevertheless, and raised me as her daughter. She named me Katrina, like her own mother - Katt for short. And now, inside this burning cabin, she was showing me how much she really loved me. Despite who my father was, what we were fighting, what I grew up with, and how I looked so much like him. That was the first time I cried for her, aside from when I was a baby. I never cried before because I thought it showed weakness. I thought, since I was born a fighter against these filthy monsters, that if I cried I might disgrace my existence in this world. But now, just as I got an idea, my eyes were too filled with buttery tears to see my mother's face, my voice too overwhelmed to tell her my escape plan. She caught on fast, though. Soon we were outside again, having escaped through the attic, using only a baseball bat and our wit, with a few burns on our arms and chests. After that, we celebrated by bashing in the skulls of the arsonists and going out to diner, firetrucks racing past the windows outside our booth to put out the fire we so narrowly escaped a few minutes ago. No one knew we were inside that house. Atlanta and I even laughed as we watched the news anchor from a hotel T.V. set stand in front of the pile of ashes that once was the house, both of us saying how funny the residents' faces must have looked when they found out what happened to their vacation home.
After Atlanta was gone, I never grew close to anyone else. The only other people I ever really spoke to were those my mother assisted when I was younger. Sometimes, when we "settled" in a new temporary home, she'd take me with her to visit small groups of people, terrified looking people with cuts and bruises and tear stains down their scarred cheeks. They let me sit on their couches, watch their T.V. sometimes, and even give me snacks while Atlanta went in another room and talked to them. Some days she would go into their basement and try to cure a captured proxy or Hollowed, and other days she would go with me and bring all our things. We might stay there for three days, sometimes a whole week. Within that time, she'd always be discussing things with them, trying to help them through words. I noticed something, though, after my mom stopped visiting people - when He started appearing outside our doorstep. I noticed then that every time we were with these scared people, that proxies never attacked us. Some nights I might find a mask on the tiled floors in the kitchen, or hear whispering outside the bathroom window, but no one other than those who lived with us for those short periods ever came inside, and no one ever tried to hurt us there. That's why I liked it, aside from being treated well, with candy and ice cream being given to me every evening.
That reminds me of today. I was just in a store today, when I noticed a strange looking man in his forties staring me down across the grains aisle, his hair greased back and his eyes a pale blue color. I thought I recognized him, but nothing seemed to pop out enough for me to actually think up a name or title for this guy. He followed me for a while outside, just to the bus stop, before I told him to step off and stop being a freaking pedophile. He left me alone after that, until 7:30 came and I noticed someone outside my lonely three-story apartment building with their head tilted up as if they might be looking right at the spot where I stood on my balcony. That creeped me out just a bit, so I went back inside and shut the curtains so I could have a bit of privacy while I got changed into my PJs and climbed silently down the steps of my staircase to peer outside the small window on the main door that led outside. That's when I finally got a glimpse of this guy, mask and all, who didn't seem to notice me, but dropped a note in my mailbox. I saw before it dropped inside to the blackness of the box that the paper was stained with drops of blood. I finally realized who this proxy was. I'd seen him years ago when I was with my mother at another Runner's house. That man was there, he was one of the ones Atlanta was helping when I was only a little girl. He must have finally got what was chasing him. So it's no use running then, is it? No use running in a game of hide and seek.