But once, when she was thirteen, she'd been forgotten. Left behind. A teenager could remember the way on their own, even when they were in a strange section of town. The ways to the shelters were clearly marked.
Just like today. Except it was four years later, and she wasn't down int he shelters with the others. Just like that time, she was topside. Unlike that day, today she was walking down the middle of the street, boldly. Like she owned the place.
She snorted at the thought. "No one would want this place," Annabeth muttered.
In the distance, there was a loud sound that wasn't quite a sound. So deep it throbbed in her bones more than bounced in her ears. A steady thumping that she didn't remember hearing before. Of course, the shelters were so loud you could barely hear yourself think anyway.
She stopped in an intersection, a bookstore on one side, the long-broken glass boarded up. Her fingers itched to pry the boards away and see if anything had been left from Before. In the After, books were a luxury few cared about.
The thumping was getting more intense, shaking through the soles of her heavy boots. Bringing the hairs on her arms to attention.
She looked up, and a great shadow covered the sun, but she couldn't tell what it was. Clouds boiled around it.
Tearing her gaze away, she heard voices. Words she didn't understand. On the sidewalk to her left, a teddy bear sat, discarded. She picked it up, clutching the worm material to her chest. The smell of peanut butter wafted from it and filled her nose.
She looked up again, and everything went dark.
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