Rainn had one thing on her mind: survival. She tried to hide herself as best as she could from anyone or anything, which was difficult because the world was almost destroyed. Her fingers trembled furiously. The blue streak in her hair didn’t seem to be as bright as it was a week ago.

Even though she was eleven, Rainn knew everything that had happened. The thought of it haunted her. The population was severely low- too low. Most of the humans on Earth were dead. Rainn fingered the locket around her neck- the last gift her mother had given her before she disappeared. Rainn could almost hear her mother’s soothing voice as if she was sitting right next to Rainn. It’s only a business trip, she had said reassuringly. I’ll be back in two weeks. 

She never came back.

Rainn felt hot rivers of tears streaming down her cheeks. The last time she saw Mom was six years ago, in the year 2020, when Rainn was five. Everyone believed Rainn’s mother had gotten the illness and refused to be hospitalized. Rainn wouldn’t speak to anyone that said that. She had been hoping for six long years that she would come back. Every night, Rainn would lie on her bed and stare at the glow-in-the-dark stickers on her ceiling. And she would pray. Sometimes she’d cry herself to sleep. But God never answered her pleads.

After that, Rainn had her dad and her older sister, Lia. Her dad was never the same after Mom left. He barely talked. He would lock himself up in his room for hours. He drank. And he changed.

And Rainn grew fearful.

After he died, Lia had to leave for college.

“I’ll pray for you every night,” Lia had promised. “I swear.”

And she was gone.

Lia had to be alive. At least Rainn hoped so. Rainn had been searching for her, slowly moving west to where California should be. She had to find her.

Rainn tripped on something large and hard.

A board.


Rainn looked up.

A huge, abandoned brick building.

She ran.


It seemed as if Rainn had been searching for days, even months, turning every brick and stone over, and exploring every inch of the campus. Dead bodies littered the floor, but Rainn recognized no one. She was examining a pile of rocks in a corner on a room when something seemed to fly out of the dust.

It was a heart-shaped locket.

On the back, it read,


Rocks and debris seemed to teleport themselves to the other side of the room as Rainn frantically cleared the corner of the room and clutched Lia’s locket in her hand. The locket was ice-cold.

Then before she knew it, Rainn was lying down in a puddle of a mixture of tears and blood. Rainn’s white T-shirt was getting stained, but she didn’t care. The wet paper started to tear, but the words written on it with Lia’s delicate, loopy handwriting were clear.

You go and save the world for me, Rainn.

And the sky seemed to grow darker, if that was even possible.


  1. Woah…. This is dark and fascinating. I’d love to see this become a real story. Joanna, your writing voice is admirable. You’re gonna go places with your writing, I can tell.

  2. Joanna, I’ve known you since before kindergarten and I always knew you wanted to be an author, but I never knew that you were capable of this!

  3. I love this. It’s so sad, yet short and it’s really good. I love how you added Rainn’s backstory. It’s really good!

  4. Joanna, I strongly agree with the critics above. And, like Ava said, this sounds like the beginning of a novel! Your description resonates with the reader. It is vivid and intense. When should we expect the your first dystopian novel?


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