I took a silent breath as the light specks of dust landed on my cheeks. A bead of sweat rolled down my forehead, slowly and steadily. I had crumpled my body into a small ball, hiding behind the remains of an oak tree in the middle of the former forest. Standing here now, more than ever, I could see all the changes, little and big, that had been done to this forest because of the war. The blood-red ladybugs and minty-green caterpillars that used to crawl on the tree branches that let spots of sunshine through were now all gone. Their skeletons and pictures were the only proof of them ever existing. A quick but booming crunch from the distance brought me back to reality. My guns were loaded, and I was ready to run. On a count of 3, Zinu and I would run towards the huge boulder lying in between us both. From there we would open fire and shoot at the machines that had taken our childhoods and futures away from us. 3, 2, 1-
I ran faster than I had ever thought possible, fear fueling my legs. My knees skidded the ground as I came to a halt behind the lengths of the rock figure that would shield my body from the horrors beyond. I could hear gunshots firing all around me, and I suddenly realized that I couldn’t see Zinu. Oh no, did she not make it? How was I to finish this without her?
“Are you ready to run again?” I heard over the loud bangs filling the atmosphere. Zinu was alive and more annoying than ever.
I threw her a sturdy piece of bark lying nearby and nodded to confirm my readiness.
Then we ran.
It felt nice. Of course, the fact that we were surrounded by our enemies who were once our allies, about to face our deaths wasn’t nice.
The rush of adrenaline and the sharp breeze brushing against my olive nose were nice. It was a nice change, to not be mad at the world, even for just a second.
I had been so used to hiding, that I had forgotten what it felt like to be seen. It felt dangerous.
The war between the Muslims and the rest of the world had struck out when I was only 10. People all around the world had feared Muslims for decades, and in 2075 they decided to do something about it.
It started out as stares and whispers, nothing big. Being a Muslim girl, everyone at home expected me to be a perfectly mannered girl with a 5.0 GPA. Everyone outside of my house expected me to be a terrorist.
Then came the name-calling and the constant watch from the teachers in fear that I would hurt the other students. Of course I wanted to quit school, I was a 10-year-old girl living in America labelled as a terrorist in all my classes. However, I knew how important it was for my family that I went to a good university. So, I bore through all my classes and tried to ignore everyone.
I was in 5th grade when the first batch of Muslims in America were taken out of their homes and thrown into a capsule that would reach the bottom of the ocean, drowning everyone in it. From then on, it was mayhem. Everyone I knew lived in fear. Some are in fear of innocent deaths, others in fear of people like me. At some point, even my close friends stopped talking to me and convinced me that I was a terrorist too.
In 6th grade, the only Muslims left in America were the ones in hiding. Other countries had come through with this plan as well. Basically, if you were Muslim you were either living in the Middle East or hiding elsewhere. However, no matter where you were, it was obvious you were unwanted. Because of overpopulation in the Middle East, and underpopulation everywhere else, people began dying. The Muslims in the Middle East began turning on each other, and so did the people of every other country.
My parents died when I was in 7th grade after being stabbed on the streets because of their religion, leaving just me and my sister.
The years blurred by and I’m not sure how Zinu and I survived. Yet here we were, running from the people we once considered friends and now considered monsters.
It's funny because they called this war “World War III”, but really the war was happening within each country.
I snapped my attention back to my surroundings. We were now running in what used to be the “Mall of America”, visited by over 40 million people. Where lights used to hang, holes now stood. It was ruined, like most of the world. I could hear the echoes of the footsteps of the men behind us, trying to aim their rifles just right. The first time I saw a Muslim’s head on the wall was when I was in 6th grade. I went to my friend Sara’s house one day, and her dad “had caught a rare species of Muslims”. He spoke as if Muslims were inhuman. I learned quickly after that that no matter what you said to people, some would always believe what they were wrongfully told.
I heard gunshots whistling through the air, then a loud thump. I glanced towards Zinu, and realized that the men had stopped chasing us. Chasing me. I turned around, and from a distance, saw the body that once belonged to my sister lying on the floor, men gathered all around it. She was their catch for the day.
I’m not quite sure what happened after that. All I remember is the sound of sirens overhead and the short screech of the men, and maybe even myself before a nuke landed on us all. I assume everyone died at some point, all because of distrust in an innocent religion.