|Posted by Teo on May 24, 2013 at 2:05 AM|
“What do you see?” Emily whispered. There wasn't much- the road had been blocked by thousand of pieces of furniture. We could hear the fire and just barely see the top of the flames. The desks and chairs that hadn't been used for the wall were now burning in the center of the street. The men on the other side had found every bar in town and stripped them of their contents. I could see flashes of leather jackets and big, bearded men holding bloody machetes. Their bikes shook the ground, the sound exploded out half a mile in every direction. But they weren't afraid of walkers coming, not because they couldn't get through, but because there were almost no walkers to speak of. Emily and I had seen bits and pieces- fingers, feet, intestines- all of which had been scattered all across the forest and roads leading to town. A clever way to mask any smell from town but it must have taken a long time and a lot of indifference. Oliver hadn't returned from his recon of this place, we waited hours but finally had to set out and look for him. We feared the worst but as we got closer, any hope of seeing him alive or seeing him at all began to fade.
“We should just go to your grandparents farm, these people aren't going to help us, if he's here... there's nothing we can do, not in the state we're in right now. Plus, Oliver might already be there, maybe he got lost and just went ahead, he knew that's where we were going anyway.”
Emily was scared, I was too. This was like a town full of Spencers. We could hear their hooting and hollering from deep in the woods. And other things too. Dogs were being beaten, women were screaming bloody murder from places we couldn't see, to people who couldn't help them. My eyes went in and out of focus, for a moment I felt like I was on a rickety ship in dangerous waters. I was too dizzy to stand.
“The farm's a day's walk. If we go now we'll lose our strength in the woods, we won't make it.” I told her. Sugar coating it wouldn't do anyone any good. I took her hands- they were ice cold. We were the closer to death now than we had ever been, we needed to eat, and since we left the riverside water was becoming more and more scarce. Our last drink had been about twenty six hours ago, we couldn't risk moving out of here without a drink and something to eat. I wasn't looking for a feast, but I wasn't going to let Emily waste away when we were this close. As I was trying to figure a way inside I heard a whimper, sharp and high, too high for a human. The dog limped slow and quiet toward us from the street. His bones plainly visible beneath shedding fur.
“Mother-fuckers!” Emily almost yelled. I shushed her- this wasn't the time. If we could figure out how to get in and out with food and water we could bring the dog with us and all the abuse he's suffered would be a thing of the past, but first- we had to be vigilant, and that included being quiet as can be. The dog walked closer to the wall whimpering louder and louder.
“Shh...” Emily pleaded through the broken furniture, “...be still now Menace.”
“Yes, that's his name now.”
“I guess asking not to get too attached is out of the question.”
“Why wouldn't I be attached to my own dog?”
The bikers who took over this town were smart enough to know walkers couldn't climb trees but too hubris to think no one else would dare. Under any other circumstances they'd be right, but desperate is desperate. When I finally got up there it took all my focus to not fall off. Now I could see it all, The fire, the drunk men throwing rocks at teenage girls tied to telephone poles, the end of humanity as I knew it. I searched for any sign of Oliver but found nothing, I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. In my mind I had already begun to plan my return. I wanted to set his place on fire like I did Ryan's house. I wasn't sure if that would ever happen, I wasn't sure what would be the fate of those tied up girls, but I had to tell myself something to get me through this part.
I landed on soft grass, Menace wobbled over to me like he knew I wasn't like the rest of them. Most abused dogs fear people so much they twitch when you move toward them. This pup was so desperate to be cared for that fear was no longer a part of him. Emily climbed the tree after me, I told her to wait there and watch in case any of them were came close, we came up with a whistle that sounded enough like the wind blowing through trees that we were pretty sure they wouldn't be able to tell is was a warning system.
“Here-” She said and dropped her knife down, it landed blade-in-dirt a few feet away. “...take care of Black Betty, no scratches.”
“You named your knife too?”
“The knife named it self.”
I ripped it from the ground and stuck it in my pocket, I gave Menace a nice pet behind the ears and moved out, he followed close as I went ahead sticking to the shadows. I found a playground to my right, I hid behind the swings to see what I could see of the layout ahead. I had to figure out where they were keeping their food. Then, I heard running water behind me- followed by a zipper.
I froze. It was too dark to see anything- and I was hoping that was also the case with whoever was behind me. I could hear him eating something, something crunchy- as he stepped out I saw it was an apple, but I guess he was full because he threw it to the ground ahead, Menace jumped at the opportunity, bee-lining it straight to the apple. The man bent down, broke the apple apart and fed it to him.
“Here you go fella.” he said petting the dog, then, his eyes moved past Menace to my boots- my legs, to me.
His eyes and mouth shot open-
“Hey!” He screamed from the top of his lungs- I jumped on top of him and put my hands over his mouth.
“Shh- please I just want some food-”
But he took the silver .44 Magnum from his belt and tried to aim at my head. The rock throwing drunks turned around, they shushed each other and listened. I tried to pull the gun away from him but he wasn't giving it up- then: he fired. The sound was as deafening as an explosion, he tried again with all his might to push the gun up towards me- I was getting dizzy, I couldn't fight him. I reached in my pocket took the knife out but he saw it and in an instant knocked it out of my hands. His pals had all taken cover behind various things in the street. The burly man knocked me off of him and stood as fast as he could- “Here! I got him!” He said and his friends all climbed from the hiding spots. “You came into the wron-” Suddenly he was gasping- drowning in his own blood. Emily stood behind him as he fell away, she had slit his throat so quietly it took me a moment to realize what had happened. She slipped Black Betty into her belt and helped me up.
“Run.” She said- just moments after we left the playground the man's friends got there and saw what had happened. Bullets exploded around us- Emily jumped to the low tree branch and lowered her hand to me.
“I can't” I wheezed- my vision beginning to darken.
“GRAB MY HAND!” She shouted over the bullets and somehow I did. We fell to the other side of the wall and ran into the woods. “We'll be back for you Menace!” Emily yelled and she wrapped her arms around me for support.
“Come back here you thieving bitch!” The men hollered behind us. As ran through the black, the ground beneath me became like liquid ink, I had no energy left. “Come on, keep running, we can't stop, they're still behind us.” she said in gasps- and they were, I could hear them moving the furniture aside, they had some sort of door mechanism we hadn't seen. I heard the dog barking- the men hollering, gunshot smashing the trees next to us. “Come on, you can do it baby.”
But I couldn't. There was nothing left to keep me going, the jump to climb the tree was my last ounce of strength. She tried to carry me but I collapsed right there in the cold dark woods with those men hot on our heels.