The challenges of survival weed out the weak from the strong.
|[Introduction] Who did it? The russians? the Chinese? What exactly was it, some kind of nuke or a new kind of super weapon? None of these questions have easy answers, but most of the time they take a back seat to survival. Bands of thugs terrify refugees just trying to survive, new and deadly creatures roam the desolate landscape, and law and order are nowhere to be found.|
| Days upon days had passed since the last rainfall, or had it been months? Time eventually leads to madness and madness eventually leads to death, so i gave up on both. "If you want to survive the wastelands you have to keep your wits about you and your senses keen." My Father would always tell me this. So i became a hunter, a scavanger of goods, trust was a fools game and love was my enemy, i had myself to depend on and no one else. I learned that the hardway, but eventually that was the way i preferred it. Ever since the great flash, things have changed. i vaguely remember a world before this one, we had a yard full of lucious grass, i remember laughter. I remember chasing our dog max with my brother, i was only 5 then, he was a few years older than me, things were simple then, almost heavenly. I was so young then, and as i grow older my memories become moreand more faded, this dark world that surrounds me corrodes at my very soul. Yet they're all i have, they're all that make me human. I pity those born after the flash, those ignorance to the blissful life once known to this world, or perhaps it's they who should be pitting me. I often wonder if its what keeps me alive or if i would be better off dead. I raised myself to a kneel enough to peer over the ruins of an old church, the fire grew dim, they would be asleep soon. Besides the stars that night their fire's light stoodout admist the empty darkness. I slid back down with my back against the old chevelle ,it must of been a beauty in it's day, now nothing more than a old pile of rust. The air was cool that night, a nice refreshment to the blistering heat just hours earlier. I counted my bullets and checked my clips i would have to be fast on this one, i had no time to hesitate, i needed water and food or i would be dead by next nightfall. My bullets for their water seems like a fair trade right? It seemed like an eternity though only a few seconds crossing the the distance between me and the encampment, thoughts racing like a mad man "were they asleep? did they have guns?was i the prey to their trap?was there a scope on my head? did i count them all? was i too slow? was i too loud? did they know i was there the whole time? was this the end? is this how im going to die? did they even have water?were they just waiting to put an end to my miserable life with a single shot to my insignificant brain?". I don't know why but i always fancied the sound of .44 magnum, like a crack of lightning and a reassuring thunder, five shots went off. Four were mine. Luckily the bastard couldn't hit a target two feet in front of him if his life depended on it. This particular night, his life depended on it. It was a 50/50 chance, call it luck, call it fate, destiny, skill, it hardly matters. I was still alive, for now, though it meant the death of 4 unlucky strangers. Though that was the game we all played, the risk we took everyday of our lives,kill or be killed. I always figured groups attracted too much attention, plus fights and leadership would always sabotage the endevour. I liked being alone it made me my own boss, and if things went bad i had myself to blame and no one else. Two of the sackclothes had nothing of true value just a broken watch, a lighter outa butane, and a half deck of playing cards. I found a nearly full canteen and scavaged a fair amount of ammo to a new sawed-off shotty, a rusted colt, practically trash but the ammo i could trade. As i rested my back against the church wall, i felt this dark come over me like a sixth sense creeping up my spine, it was then that i looked at the face of the corpse not but a few feet to my right. I didn't know if i was just losing my mind, if this just another reality trip between my past and present, these haunting memories at their games again. No it couldn't be.. can't be.. she was...was it her? No she had to be dead i saw them take her.. but what if?.. My mother's grim face was staring at me, peering into my soul, eyes peircing my very being. It could of been anyone that night, but karma has a funny way of sneaking up on you.|
It was faint. Her precious voice fought its way until it enduringly blared within my head. A light cut across the darkness to reveal her. The bright blue eyes that once gazed upon me were now unlit with concern. "Please Lynn, would you mind stepping out side?" She managed to brake a slight smile across her lips but all of it was just too fake. The man stood there like some king. Acting as though we should let him within our oasis to kiss his feet and stuff him with food until he's so fat he cant even creep over my mother in bed. I wanted to resist the temptation of obeying my mother but knew that it wasn't a choice. "Please," she repeated. I then realized the she too was desperate to rid of this man. I nodded and turned to open the door. My steps seemed as though they were banging against the floor as I approached it. They weren't going to peep a sound until i was out for good. My hand reached but it was hesitant. I brushed it off and forced myself out into the sunlight.
|I was awoken by a ray of sunlight shining directly into my eyes. I sheilded them with my hand while they adjusted to the brightness. The sun was just barely peeking over the horizen, but i knew it was already too late. After I made one last sweep of the camp, i set out, continueing my journey west.|
Word was that border colonies had been set up along the west coast. The military had gathered there under the order of General Fisher, trying to recreate some sense of order. At least that was how the stories went. Since i didn't have anywhere else to go, i thought maybe that was my best chance. There was a lot of wasteland between here and there though.
The day dragged on and the sun didn't apear to be moving at all. I sipped at my liquid wealth, trying to make it last as long as possible. Every so often the canteen would bring a flash from last night. Did he fire one shot or two? What did he call the girl, Kaylee? She was young, i remembered that. In her teens, definately. A sudden wave of guilt washed over me, causing me to stop dead.
I dropped the canteen, and before realizing what i had done, i had lost half its contents.
"Fuck!" i scopped it up quickly, replacing the cap. the water disapeared quickly, the ground sucking it in to quench it's own ravenous thirst. "God damn it!" i cursed again, kicking the ground. I heard my voice echo across the hills, as if my own voice was screaming at me. i couldn't help but sit down, setting the canteen on the ground. What a stupid emotion, Guilt. it had almost gotten me killed. They knew the risks of traveling in such a large group. They gambled with their lives and lost. I won. Why did i feel bad about this one?
|I sucked it up and started heading west. The roads of Colorado Springs, Colorado used to be filled with men and women rushing here and there. Now, the city is reduced to rubble. As i look around, i saw kids breaking windows, robbing old men, and Fort Carson was reduced to nothingness. I heard the screaming of the injured and the malnurished. The dishelved look on people's faces made my hairs stand on end. I ran through the city's alleyways trying to keep out of sight. I was quickly running out of city and fastly approaching a great open field.|
"God damnit", I yelled, as there was nothing for miles. There was not a single tree, shrub, or even a slope to hide behind. I sipped my canteen and readied for a full on sprint. Luckily, I had been a track runner in Middle School. I sprinted for what seemed like 500 meters, when a large unforseen slope was quickly approaching. I sped up, lowered my body, and sled to the bottom. My legs felt as though a knife had been viciously driven into them. Though the pain was great, i knew i must continue on.
|I ran for hours, putting as much distance between myself and the city as i could. Cities atracted people, and people attracted filth. Both of the human variety and otherwise. As twilight began to fall i slowed my pace, but still out of breath. a sheen of sweat had formed between me and my clothes, making them adhere to my skin. Yea, middle school track. whoo.|
There was a gnarled tree in sight, and i decided it was as good a place as any to stay. it was leaveless, the bark blackened and scarred. It's limbs reached towards the sky, as if asking why such a fate befell it.
Throwing my bag agaisnt the base of the tree, I sat next to it, putting my head back and closing my eyes. The air was getting cool again, and soon it would be freezing. Maybe a fire wasn't such a bad idea.
Getting it started was the hard part, but once the kindling took to the flame I was able to build it up easily. Not huge, but big enough to keep me warm and remind the animals to leave me alone. Ghastly things as large as dogs, but with the long tails and scaley skin of a lizard. They were smelled before they were seen, and with the stillness of the air i wasn't smelling anything.
There was still a bit of water in the canteen, but I decided to save it for tomorrow. There was enough juice in the orange i had to keep me for the night. I pulled the Sparkstown police jacked tightly around me, snuggling into it. It was warm, but even if it wasn't i couldn't bring myself to get rid of it. It was the last thing i had of my father, who died shortly after the Flash. It had lost his scent long ago, but could still imagine it.
I had just about fallen asleep when something in the corner of my eye caught my attention. i reached for the revolver in my pack but a hand had already clamped down tightly on my throat, making my body lock up. A deep voice from somewhere behind my head spoke.
"you're going to drop that gun, and i'm going to let you go. Then, you'll sit up all quiet like. understand?" He gave a quick squeeze, making sure I understood. I nodded, letting go of the gun. someone else snatched the bag and yanked it away. Muted voices argued nearby, as they dumped it on the ground, searching through it's contents.
He let go as promised, and i sucked in air, coughing. He stepped infront of me, and I quickly looked up to examine him.
He was huge, thickly muscled and heavy set. His skin was dark, so much so it was hard for me to tell where he ended and the night began. His eyes, however, were a bright green, the whites pristine. He grinned, showing his teeth, sorrounded by a thick beard. Stains of various colors dotted his wife-beater, which i guessed was white at some time. The only other distinguishing feature of him was a fire axe he had casually slung over his shoulder, the sharp edge gleaming in the light from the fire. The handle and head was crusted in something red colored. I didn't want to think about it.
His voice brought me back to reality, as he motioned to the jacket she was wearing. "That's a nice jacket. Where would someone like you get something like that?"
I didn't want to tell him anything. "i found it."
He squatted down to her eye level, his grin disapearing. "Don't be cross with me, Girl, it was a question."
I replied with a glare, trying to muster all the anger I could. Hopefully it would be enough to hide my fear. He sighed, standing and yelling at his companions.
"Take everything. Let me see that colt." they tossed it to him. he took the clip and stripped the bullets, save for one. He cocked it and aimed it at my head. "Give me the jacket." Desperately i wanted to defy him, to die in this jacket with my head held high, but my self preservation instincts took over. I took it off and threw it at him as hard as i could. He dropped the colt at my feet, leaving the one bullet in it. "If you know what's good for you, you wont use that until we're gone."
He yelled at his companions and turned to leave. They followed, not wanting to be left here with me. With that, they were gone as fast as they arrived, heading west. I looked down at the colt. one bullet. It was as if I'd been put in exile, even though I was the one being wronged.
I had to get my stuff back. Their footprints were still in the sand, which wouldn't make it too hard to follow them. I picked up the colt, and started to follow.
|I assumed it had atleast been about an hour, for the shadows of every object were stretching out longer and longer. The moon was soon to set and allow the sun to rise with pride. |
My body was in the process of shutting down. I was thirsty and extremely fatigued. I wanted to fall down into the dirt and sleep for eternity but clearly it was an option. But with each cool breeze of the wind that passed by it wrapped around me softly, dazing me and just telling me to rest. Rest. Yes rest. Lay down, lay down.
I halted and stood there, allowing the heavy air to sway me back and forth. My vision was playing tricks on me for a minute there. It looked as though everything was moving further and further away from me within seconds. I kept telling my self "do it. Its possible" over and over just like my father used to. He was always the one to guide me. My mother too but theyre not here anymore. Not here to grab my arm when i slip or to hold me when i cry.
My heart dropped when i realized that. No one is here for me. No one is going to save me. I am non existent and helpless.
My hands reached up to my face and clamped it. A flood overpowered my eyes and slid down my face. How could i have been so dumb? i shouldve kept going and been more alert. i guess i couldve done so much more but its the past. Whatever, lesson learned. I cant do this.
I slowly brang my body down to the ground and supported my head with my arm. It was a immense relief to have something besides my muscles supporting my neck. Just five minutes i told myself.
I opened my eyes but i couldnt see anything. He grabbed both of my arms and pulled me up with my back facing him. His hand clutched my mouth while the other hand held a gun. It dug into me right under my jaw line. I let out a little squeal but he only held me tighter.
"Shhh, i promise im not going to harm you,"he whispered in my ear. "Just please dont fight back." i could feel his hand behind my back, forcing both of my wrists together and tying them in a somewhat comfortable position. Then randomly his arms slid down my legs and swooped me up. i squirmed around but he was actually very strong and eventhough he was basically kid napping me i felt safe as he held me.
He lay me down on a bed and gently took off the cloth he tied around my eyes.
|Everything was still a bit hazy as my eyes adjusted to the sudden light. It was daytime, and the sun was already high in the sky. How long was I out? I tried to sit up but did so too fast, making me nauseous. I leaned over the edge of the cot expecting to throw up, but it never came. A voice made me look up, instantly regretting almost loosing my lunch.|
"Take it easy, you're dehydrated," he sounded familier, but i had never seen him before. He offered me a bottle of water, and I didn't hesitate in taking it. I took a moment to study him as i drank. He had black hair that was short and trimmed. His skin was deeply tanned from long exposure, and his eyes were a light brown color. He was young, but still older than me. then agian, that wasn't saying much. He dressed in layers much like everyone else, wearing whatever they could find.
"What's your name?" he pulled a chair over and took a seat across from me. It took me a moment to realize he was speaking to me, and i looked at the ground before answering.
"Lynn. My name's Lynn," I set the bottle on the bed, having drained it already.
"You can call Don," he extended his gloved hand. I looked at it for a minute before shaking it. "What are you doing out here on your own?"
I was just about to give him some bullshit answer before i realized what he was doing. He was treating me like a little kid. My face burned as i looked at the ground, trying to hide it.
"I'm not a little kid," he had a look of confusion when i glanced up, so i continued. "I've killed people."
The silence that fell over us was deafening. Why did i say that? I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them, looking at the ground. It was another few minutes before he finally stood up and crossed the room. When he came back, he was holding out a bowl. In it there was some fruit, mostly unrippened and a little bruised. But even after my outburst he still offered it with a faint smile that i found hard to refuse.
After I took one of the oranges he set the bowl on the floor and sat again. Another few minutes passed in silence.
"I need to get my stuff back," i blurted out, trying anything to break the stillness in the room. He sat back in the chair, relaxing slightly.
"Do you know who those men were?"
I shook my head, and he continued.
"That was Vince and his crew. They hole up in the old brewery about a mile out of the city. There's usually five or six of them." He paused and noticed my confused look before continuing. "He has a very short temper," as if that explained everything. When he saw this still didn't discourage me, he sighed.
"We'll see what we can do tonight," he stood, "For right now though, you should get some rest. Let me see that bottle, i'll fill it up." He held his hand out and I handed it to him, folding my legs underneith me. By the time he had come back, i was laying on the cot again, fast asleep.
When i awoke again, it was starting to get dark out again. I sat up slowly this time, rubbing my eyes. Just now did I take the time to look at my surroundings. The walls were bare brick, paint still clinging to some of them. The ceiling had caved in at the far end of the room, with rubble all over the floor. There was a table nearby, covered in varius peices of metal and springs and other things i couldn't make any sense of. Half a dozen cloth sacks and backpacks were stuck under the table, some of them with dark redish stains.
The room was lit by a single lantern by the doorway. Sitting in a chair by the doorway was Don, holding some sort of rifle up in the light. He had taken off his jacket was now wearing a dark green t-shirt. It clung to him in such a way it showed off his muscles, and i couldn't help but notice. His voice cut through my thoughts, and for a moment i couldn't understand him. He saw the dumb look on my face and repeated himself.
"you're going to need something warmer then that. My jacket's on that chair there," he pointed but didn't look up. I saw what he ment and grabbed it. I hadn't realized that all i waswearing was a tank top, and it was actualy starting to get cold. I draped the jacket over my shoulders, pulling it tight around me. The scent caught me off guard, and i inhaled it deeper, not completely hating it.
I walked over to stand behind him, watching as he cleaned the rifle. He stood it up against the doorframe next to him and looked back at me. "Are you ready?"
At first i didn't know what he ment, but then it hit me. I nodded slowly. "Yea, i'm ready." he stood, walking over to the table. He came back and took my hand, putting a handgun in it and wrapping my fingers around it. "You know how to shoot, right?"
"Of course i do," I pulled my hands from his. They were rough, but warm. I was starting to get too comfortable. "Let's just go."
|We were heading towards the old brewery to get my stuff, plus some interest. Don seemed like a nice man, maybe i could stay for a bit longer? No, i can't break my 1 rule, stay alone, stay alive.|
"A bit quiet aren't you?" Don whispered, "Suit yourself. Me? I'm the talkative type."
"Oh great!" I thought, "Now he thinks im weird". The est of the way, we were both quiet, as we ran from alley to alley, abandoned store to abandoned store. It was about a 10 block run to the brewery and it was luckily still the dead of night. We were approaching the dilapitated building with the utmost covertness.
Don made a hand signal with two of his fingers to indicate that he wanted me to run to the side of the door. As I did, he stood on the other side. Right as we were about to rush in, a man walked out of the door.
"Well hello Don" said a man that looked like he could be Don's brother, "and hello to you Lynn. We've been expecting you!"
We both jumped as the man was joined by about five others.
"Surprised are we?" asked the man i supposed was Vince, "Whats the matter Don? Thought you could sneak up on your old friend Vince?" questioned Vince, "Take'm away and throw away the key!"
I was perplexed about how we could have been seen. I quickly surveyed our new enclosure as Don was simply slumped in the corner.
"It's no use kid, the only way out is past those gaurds over there." Don pointed at the gaurds with two P90's.
"Well, we can't just stay here, we need to get out! Come on Don, don't surrender, we just need to keep trying." I yelled, trying to fill Don with encouragement
"Alright Lynn, you've got my attention, so ... what is the plan, 'cause obviously your the one with the smarts around here."
|When he said that, a cloud of embarassment came over me. Essentially, he blatantly refered to me as a smart ass which pissed me off. i wanted to jump on him and repeatedly punch him but i didnt. I slid my bangs out of my face, positioning them behind my ear and strutted across the room to him.|
i knelt down and put my hand on his knee. A thin layer of sweat coated his face and consumed all his emotions, not letting me understand anything he was currently feeling. "I need your help too Don," I softly began, "I cant take all these guys on my own."
For a moment he still refused to look up at me, but finally he did and released a smile. I felt happiness rise in my heart. Something about his smile gave me hope and resolution not give up on anything. Not even him... not myself.
"Here, sit down," he said putting his hand down next to him. I settled down there and leaned against the wall.
"Wait," he said, "Dont get too comfortable." He pointed up at the roof. There was a hole, probably big enough for me to fit through but not him. I forced my body to communicate with me and get up. I stepped directly under the hole and cocked my neck to look up at it. Before I could realize what Don was doing he picked me up like a sack of feathers and lifted me through the hole. I was blown away at how damn strong he was! When i was fully recovered I looked back down at him, both of us smiling at eachother. "Okay my turn," he mentioned. Oh yeah... I backed up on my knees, allowing him enough room to fit in here with me. Some how, some way he was able to fit it large body through the hole like nothing.
"After you," i said. He turned around and started to crawl towards the window with the fan in it
|Beneath us the floor errupted into gunfire, the air becomeing filled with the sound of bullets whizzing just past my ears. I stopped where i was, covering my face and ears with my hands as the roar of the sub machineguns grew louder. Don reached back and grabbed my wrist, yanking me out of the gunfire and past him. He turned to me and put a finger to his lips, Motioning for me to keep quiet.|
A voice was yelling for them to stop shooting, but they didn't stop. not until one of them was forcibly seperated from his weapon. After a moment more of yelling, they quieted and a single voice spoke.
"Darling, why don't you just come down here, we only want to talk." Vince spoke in his deep voice that echoed throughout the entire building. When that failed to provide results, he spoke again, agitation creeping into his voice. "Your daddy was in a bad way with some worse people, and these folks just want to straighten it out."
The mention of my father stopped me dead. How did these people know my father? What did they mean he was in a bad way? I wanted the answers, but those men with the guns appeared more than happy to kill me as soon as answer my questions. Don cursed and i looked over at him.
"I knew those guys looked familier," he looked at me, "We need to go. Those guys are big time, ten times bigger than Vince." He grabbed my hand and we took off towards the window. A different voice froze us in place, followed by the metallic click of a clip sliding into place. When i looked over, the two men had come up the stairs and were aiming their weapons at us. We froze, slowly raising out hands. Vince stoped between them, resting a meaty hand on each of their shoulders.
"Come over here, girl, and i personally promise no harm will come to you." He grinned, but they shied away from him slightly. The black eye under the right one's eye testified to their mutual distrust of Vince. They both wore similer clothes, a bullet proof vest over top their shirts. Clearly they did not belong here with Vince. He took a step closer, past them. He addressed Don, seeing that he couldn't get me to come to him willingly. "Donovan, we're both reasonable men. There's a considerable reward for this girl. I'm sure a man such as yourself could see the benefits of just handing her over now." After a small pause, he continued "Besides, Do you really want to babysit her?"
Dons hands clamped tightly on my shoulders, and for a moment i was terrified he was actualy going to turn me over to these men. Then, he lifted he off my feet, and the next few moments were a blur. I heard the men shout and open fire, bullets sparking all around us. Then we crashed through a window, falling through the air. I clutched onto Don for dear life, hoping he hadn't just thrown us off a cliff.
We landed hard on his back, dust flying up all around us. I didn't open my eyes until he patted me on the back, silently telling me to get off him. My heart was still pounding as i stood, looking down at him. My breath came in gasps as i tried to come to terms with what had just happened. What if he had boken his back? If he was hurt, what if i couldn't help him? Should i just leave him here?
"Don, wake up." i knelt down, so that he might hear me better. I didn't get a response right away, so i patted him on the cheek lightly. "Don, come on, we have to go." Another few moments passed before finally he coughed a few times, and opened his eyes to look at me. He sat up, looking up at the window, then back at me, still trying to clear his lungs.
"Are you alright?" he stood, keeping an eye on the window. I don't know what came over me, but i found the sudden need to hug him. He was caught off guard, nearly falling agian, but recovered quickly. "Well, you're fine it seems." He pryed me off him, grabbing my hand instead. "We have to go, now." He started running, pulling me along with him.
|Our feet pounded the earth as bullets danced around us. Don's hand never once eased its firm grasp, a reassuring sign that we would survive these pychotic men's game. As we jutted around a corner and started sprinting endlessly, down the alley, I could hear the men chasing behind us, cursing and yelling to one another. The gunfire soon faded, though i didn't dare look behind us and neither did Don, though the silence was short lived. |
Glass shattered against the brick wall to our left, splattering burning liquid on Don and the alley was instantly bright with fire. "Don!" I screamed. His left side was consumed and crawled with flames. I quickly began to rip off his jacket while beating on the flames, before i could, a thump grabbed both of our attention. A grenade flew over our heads, landing just feet in front off us. I felt his grasp let go as he dashed forward, grabbing it and letting out a groan when he threw it back. His hand seized my arm again, as we continued sprinting down the alley. I heard the men yell, and several let out a terrifying scream as the explosion went off.
We cut corner after corner, zig-zagging through the hellish ruins. i felt like a mouse wandering through a maze with no escape. Though Don seemed to know where we were heading, or was he as lost as i was? As we headed down another alley Don kicked open an old wooden door shattering it to pieces.
We both dove inside, I hit the wall sliding down while catching my breath when i noticed the smoke still rising from Don's left side. "Don, let me see how ba-"Dons hand quickly covered my mouth, as he motioned me to keep quiet. We sat there silent and motionless for what was a lifetime, patiently waiting, occasionally Don would peer out the dusty window.
I could hear the men coming closer, still cursing at eachother, firing blindly into each building they passed. Vince's angry voice could be heard, closely behind, screaming at his minions "I don't care if it takes all night! We will find them!"
Several pairs of feet were running by nearer to our building. Don and I crashed to the floor, as a volley of bullets pierced through the walls spraying inches above our heads. Surrounded and out numbered, a dark fear began crawling over me, i felt my heart drop, falling endlessly into blackness consuming and taring at me from within. "Hey, we're gonna get out of this, okay?" Dons voiced brought me back, i looked into his eyes and even now i saw a strange reassuring light.
As the evening dragged into the night, Don finally allowed me to tend to his arm. He leaned forward and as i pulled his charred jacket off. He groaned. His arm was wrose than i thought. I looked at him, "Don?" He glanced down at his arm and back up at me,"It's bad, I don't think there's anything I can do." I turned away trying to hide the fact that I might cry. My heart had too much feelings for him. It was not an option for me to lose him.
I studied our surroundings. "We're in a kitchen," i said getting up,"I'll be right back."
My hand pushed the door open, taking me into a hallway with more doors that led to what looked like rows of bedrooms. I entered one of the rooms noticing the bathroom to my right. When I glanced within the bathroom i was stunned at how clean it was. A pile of clothes rested near the bath making it seem as though someone actually bathed in it.
I turned around back into the hallway and made my way towards another room. A bed and dresser matched everything within in it. The carpet soft and green along with white drapes on the boarded up windows. My fingers ran along the smooth surface of the dresser as I admired the room.
Then I noticed that the brown blanket on the bed looked as if it was covering something. Like a person. "Hello?" I whispered. It still didnt move. "Maybe its just a dead body," I thought to myself. I got closer and peered over it to see a woman's head.
I barely touched her when out of no where the "dead" body sprang up grabbing my neck. She drove me hard against the wall holding a knife against my cheek. "Get out!" she screamed,"Get out now!"
"I- I didn't mean to-" The knife carved into my cheek as she drew back. "You shouldn't be here," she said in a solemn voice.
Without hesitation I charged at her, kicking the side of her calve. She clutched the bed, dropping the knife as she stumbled. I immediatley swooped it up and grabbed ahold of her, forcing her down with the blade. "I dont want to kill you!" I paused, looking into the now frightened eyes staring back at me."So I am going to hand this knife back to you and we are going to have a civil converstaion, okay?" She nodded, as if she even had a choice.
I held my breath as the knife was returning to her.
|All the yelling brought Don to the doorway, clutching his burned arm. "What's going on-" he cut himself off when he saw her, taking a moment to size her up before relaxing slightly. she readied the knife for a moment, clearly startled by Don. once she saw that i wasn't, however, she lowered it, replacing it in the sheath at her hip. She crossed her arms, looking between us.|
"Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?" She fixed me with a cold stare, sending a shiver down my spine. Don answered before i could think of what to say.
"Me and my little sister were just heading west, and ducked into your kitchen for the night." My face burned slightly, and i tried to hide it. His Little sister! Asshole. He motioned for me to follow him out, but she had already crossed the room and was peeling Don's hand off his shoulder. He was caught off guard, and didn't resist.
"How exactly did you light yourself on fire?" without giving him time to respond, she put her hands on his chest and pushed him out of the room, steering him into the bathrrom next door. I followed them, slightly confused at this person who a minute ago wanted to slit my throat. She seated him next to the tub, then turned and left the room, leaving us both bewildered.
I sat on the counter next to the sink, and gave Don a glare. He picked it up a moment later looking confused.
"What?" he whispered.
"Your little sister?" i crossed my arms, continueing to look angry. He started to respond but then he stopped, as the girl walked in with a shirt draped over her arm, and a bucket of water. she stopped and procceded to take off Don's shirt. I was about to object but he gave me a look that said 'Sit there and be quiet.'
She worked in silence for a long time, first scrubbing his arm and then wrapping it in strips ripped from the shirt. He winced everytime she tightened the bandages, but still didn't make a sound. Something about that i found irresistable. That and the sight of him shirtless, minus his burnt flesh. Eventualy i couldn't take the silence anymore, standing up off the counter.
"We've told you who we are, now who are you?" I crossed my arms again, not completly comfortable with the attention she was giving Don. She didn't look up from her work.
"My name's Claire," she answered curtly, not appearing to want a conversation. Several more moments dragged on before she tightened the bandage one last time, bringing a groan from Don. Otherwise, he had been completly silent during the entire operation, studying her.
She had blonde hair that fell just past her shoulders, bright blue eyes that constantly scanned her sorroundings. She didn't appear to trust either of us, but here she was bandaging Don's arm. Her skin was tanned, the norm for the times now.
Don flexed his arm slightly, testing the strength of the bandage. He stood afterwords, turning to her. "Thanks for the help. We'll be leaving now." He turned to me, but she cut him off before he could say anything.
"Listen, you're not fooling me. I don't know who you're running from, but moving during the day is not a good idea." she paused perhaps just now thinking about what she was saying, but pressed on anyways. "you can stay here today. Just today." she looked us both in the eye, to get her point across. Then she looked at Don. "There's some guys clothes in the third bedroom down the hall."
They stood there a moment longer looking at eachother, before he left the room, leaving me alone with her.
|She crossed her arms and looked me over, as if sizing me up. I suddenly felt self conscious.|
"What's your name?" she finally asked, crossing her arms. The Ice Maiden act was starting to unnerve me, which actualy pissed me off more.
"Lynn." i crossed my arms as well, returning her glare. This was clearly someone i was going to be glad to leave behind. Only then did i realize she was still looking at me as if waiting for me to continue. What did she want, a last name? I scrambled for something to tell her, not wanting to have it sound like i made it up on the spot. "Smith. Lynn Smith." I smiled at my cleverness inwardly, not wanting to ruin the act.
She motioned towards the hallway, and i understood after a moment and responded. "His name's Don." She didn't seem at all interested in further conversation, leaving the room just as Don returned. "I'll go make up some beds," she said over her shoulder. Don thanked her and looked at me, seeming slightly confused.
"Was it just me or was i the only one expecting to see Fur flying when i came back?" he grinned, watching me try to figure out what he meant. It became obvios very fast and i fixed him with an angry look, shoving him aside as I left the bathroom. He chuckled behind me as he followed.
We found Claire just down the hall, throwing blankets over two beds. "Sorry, no pillows." she looked at us as we entered. Don started to thank her, but she cut him off. "I need to talk to you. In the kitchen." Then she left again, not looking at me. I was about to shout after her, but Don put a hand on my shoulder.
"it's been a long night, why don't you close the curtains and get in bed. i'll be back shortly." he could see the anger starting to build up, and was trying to play peacekeeper. Some part of me kept saying that he was right, and to just let it go. Even more of me wanted to scream down the hallway, and call her all sorts of nasty things. Don's imploring look, however, turned the tables towards the more reasonable optian, as I sighed and walked over to close the curtains of the only window.
I watched him go, then turned to look around the room. Along one wall was half a dozen beds, each with small chests at the end. The walls were painted a light blue, with paterns of trains and cars etched near the ceiling. Two large wardrobes stood against one wall, one on either side of the door, covered in more dust. What kind of place was this? Kneeling down, i slowly opened one of the lockers, peering inside at it's contents. There was a stuffed animal, a bear from the looks of it, and some other small wooden toys. Cheap looking ones.
I checked the room across the hall, and it was set up much in the same way, except the walls were pink, and flowers were carved into the top of the wall. Maybe it was an orphanarium before. Returning to the room, i walked over to one of the beds, looking at the thin blanket she had given us. Bitch.
Underneath the covers was only slightly warmer than in the room. I could tell already i wasn't going to get much sleep. even so, I must have already been asleep when Don came back, because he woke me getting into his bed.
My teeth started to chatter. it must have been a few hours later, because it was dark again. I could see my breath turn to mist infront of my face. Some light came in through the curtains, and i sat up to tried and look over at don. It lay on him in such a way that his hair looked lighter, but unkempt and spiked wildly. His face was only half illuminated, but i could see his eyes were closed, and his regular breaths told me he was asleep. I could have watched him there all night, if not for the biting cold.
Finally building up enough resolve, i stood and gathered my blanket. Tip-toeing over to him i almost tripped over his boots, but caught myself in time. First i draped the blanket over him, then carefully wiggled myself onto the bed. Now came the chalenging bit, as i draped his arm over myself without waking him. His scent was strong, and i let it wash over me. it made me feel, i don't know. Safe.
|"You can open them now," he gently whispered in my ear. My eyes slowly cracked open, suddenly i was aphixiated in waves of neon colors bursting out of the moon light scene. An oasis of tropical plants surrounded us, dragon flies danced effortlessly through the air, koi fish chased each other in eternal circles, every living thing was glowing with rays of energy. I could see vines in the leafs pulsing with my own heart beat, illuminating the entire oasis. I gazed up into the clear night skies, spekkled with tiny lights, all peering down at us as if they wanted to see the beautiful spectacle below. |
Then in an exhilaring rush all the built up stress and anger bursted out of my heart, dispersing in a flash into the array of mystical plants. As my eyes fell downward, now entranced by the glimmering glow of the oasis skipping across the water, the pond's mesmorizing theatrics entrapped me in the whole scene's allurement.
The air was chilled and crisp, refreshing my soul's energy with every breath. Don's hand glided across my lower back gently, then firmly embracing me, he pulled me closer locking our lips together. My heart stopped, as I soaked in the moment. "Do you love me?" he said in a hushed tone. I rested my head on his chest and grinned. "Yes, I do love you Don."
I reopened my eyes horrified at what had now become of the beautiful oasis. Flames drapped across the wilderness, not really burning but consuming viciously at everything it could grasp. The night sky fled and now the blistering sun hovered what seemed like just inches above my head. Consumed in an inferno of hell i clentched my eyes shut and covered my mouth from breathing, as i felt the firey poison filling my lungs.
Then in a gigantic gush of burning air, the flames dispersed leaving the scent of death stinging in my nostrils. Peeking my eyes open, once more, dark blanket of ash covered the now vast plains, stretching beyond the horizons. The skys were now devoured by dark clouds, ash began to descend like snow, across the wasteland. I turned to where Don was once standing to see nothing but more boundless lands of dark gray.
"RUN! Get out of here!!" I was started as i heard Don's voice screaming behind me.
Petrified i managed to tilt my head around, followed by my stiff body. Don was on his knees, held down by a dark figure standing behind him. His eye met mine, and for the first time i saw something far greater than fear peering back at me. The dark figure pulled a jagged knife from within his cloak. Terror engulfed my body, we both knew what was about to happen though neither of us could say a single word. Crimson began gushing out his jugular and i saw his eyes rolling to the back of his skull. I finally opened my mouth screaming his name, though no sound was heard.
"Is she fucking crazy? Great, lets just let the whole world know where we are."
"I don't know, okay?!? Lets just give her a moment"
I lifted myself up from the bed, Don was sitting across from me with a confused, yet concerned look.
He glanced back toward Claire, then back at me. "Are, you gonna be okay?" he asked me in a stern voice.
"Yeah because screaming like a lunatic is being, okay" Claire detested from across the room.
"I dont- wait what's going on?" before i could continue Claire finally crossed the room and stood at the end of the bed."You wouldn't stop screaming, crazy bitch wouldn't shut the fuck up. I'm was telling you last night Don, i knew there was some off with her."
"Everything is going to be fine, everyone just calm down." Don spoke as he stood and walked to the boarded window, peering out through the slits of sunlight.
"Yeah everything WILL be fine, once you and your crazy sister get the hell out of my place!" Claire snapped back, slowly raising her voice.
|I couldn't hold it in any longer.|
"Will you just shut up!' flinging the covers off of me, i stood. Both she and Don looked surprised, but she rebounded before he did.
"Who do you think you are? Watch your tone, Girl." she seemed to take pleasure in calling me a girl, as if that instantly made me less.
"We didn't ask to stay here, you crazy bitch!"
"Who are you calling Crazy, little miss screams like a lunatic in her sleep!" we were standing toe to toe now, and i wanted to just grab that pretty little pony tail and pull her off her high horse. Don stepped between us, and now he was yelling.
"Enough, Everyone!" the look on his face was of disapointment, and seeing it made me feel slightly bad. But i knew if i didn't say anything i would feel worse. He turned to Claire. "thank you for your hospitality." He turned back around and grabbed me by the arm. Not hard, but enough to pull me along. We left through the kitchen, with Claire following close behind. she slammed the door as soon as we left, and Don didn't even look back.
We walked for a few blocks before finally he stoped, and looked down at me. i didn't want to look him in the eye, so instead i looked at the ground. His hand came underneath my chin, lifting it up to look at him. then he brushed the hair out of my face.
"Are you alright?" his anger was gone now, all of it disapearing as we put more distance between us and claire. He smiled gently, which made me smile.
"Are you sure?" he insisted, not breaking eye contact. I responded by suddenly hugging him tightly, burrying my face in his chest. Caught off guard, he didn't know how to respond, except by slowly hugging me back. He patted my back a little, which made me feel better. "We're all alright..." it was more of a whisper, but nevertheless he said it, glancing around him. it was going to be light soon, and a quick exit of the city would be a good idea.
|"So…" he hesitated, "Do you… have any family?" |
I turned my head and studied the sun as the lifeless clouds began to surround it; obscuring the light. A green haze smothered the city leaving it quiet and depressed. My heart dropped in an instant as the thought of my father spilled into my mind. The memories we had were never to be forgotten but frankly I wanted them to stay in my head.
I couldn’t let Don see my face so I allowed my hair to slip into my face. I remained there thinking for a moment. Thank god Don was a patient person.
We had gotten to Don’s little hide out within three hours after the cat fight between me and Claire. A lot of weight had been taken away from my shoulders when we left. But something told me that was not going to be the last time we would see Claire.
“If you don’t want to tell me feel free to let me know Lynn,” Don said. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”He scooted himself closer to me and reached to hold my hand but I pulled away.
He let out a sigh and began to get up. “No Don.” He stopped. “Please don’t go away.”
I felt stupid but it was the only thing that came to my mind. When Don is with me I feel safe and comfortable. Especially right now all I wanted was Don to hold me tight. I knew I was slowly dying inside and Don is the first person I’ve encountered for the past 3 years that will sit down and listen to me.
I took my chance.
“I was the only child in my family,” I began, “But sometimes I wish I wasn’t.” I paused, allowing Don to get himself situated by me again. “My dad wasted every dime he had buying me stupid toys and clothes every week. He could’ve been buying things that would actually benefit the family, but instead he ignored my mom and concentrated on only his work and me. I remember my room was filled with furniture. Stuffed animals, toys and rewards that I had earned from school covered every surface. I hated the way I was. Always wanting more materialistic items to satisfy myself, yet my mom was the one that could use the spoiling my dad gave,” I paused and look over at Don, his eyes fixed on me.
A little embarrassed I looked down at the ground. “At the time I didn’t know that I was a brat. Thanks to the flash I learned that you don’t need those type of things to truly make yourself happy. I guess I was forced because it’s not like my dad could’ve gone out and bought me stuff.” I smiled slightly.
“Your dad must have loved you a lot,” Don breathed.
My smile grew larger,“Oh he did.” Don’s arm wrapped around me and tightened to pull me slightly closer to him. I relaxed my head on his shoulder and shut my eyes.
My heart dropped again when I thought about my dad’s death. I didn’t want to tell Don at all and ruin our tiny, little moment. I decided to stop there but then he asked me where they were.
Tears immediately rushed in my eyes as I dug my face in his shoulder.
“No Lynn I’m sorry…” he held me close to him. Not letting go.
I forced the tears to stop. “Stop being such a wimp all the time,” I thought to myself. I recovered fast and tilted my head up to gaze at him. Tag:
Without thinking I kissed him.
|Clearly i had caught him off guard, as he did nothing at first. But then he started to warm up, kissing me back and slowly moving his hand up to the base of my neck. Further taking advantage of my initiative i pushed him over on the cot, getting on top of him. This should have taken more effort than it did, him being to much bigger than me, but he didn't resist. Using one hand i brushed my hair out of our faces, then ran my fingers through his own hair. It was thick and knotted, but at that moment i didn't care. Everything was perfect.|
Then suddenly he rolled over so he was on top, but he was holding himself up and away form me with a hand on either side of my head. He was looking at me funny, and i realized i did something wrong. I looked away from him, off to the right, as he got up of the cot silently. The entire atmosphere had suddenly changed, the air becoming thick and stuffy. I fucked up.
Quietly he crossed the room and started rumaging through his things again. I kept laying there, staring at the wall. Stupid stupid stupid! i wanted to bash my head on the wall. Absently i notice the air was getting colder, and crossed my arms to try and warm myselff up. Out of the corner of my eye i saw that Don had come back, and was holding something out to me. When i looked, i saw it was a jacket. Dark blue and heavy. Without making eye contact i took it and draped it over my shoulder, mumbling "Thanks." He nodded, and went back to the other side of the room.
Only when he was gone i looked at the jacket in detail. A worn and fadded insignia was on the chest pocket. It took a few minutes of staring at before i finally recognized it.
"You were in the Air Force?" i blurted out, looking at him. He straightened up and nodded, but didn't look at me. "What rank were you?" i continued, hopeing i would make him forget about only a few moments ago.
"i was a Lieutenant." Now that he was facing me, his hands flashed behind his back momentarily, and pulled his shirt down before he picked up a smaller backpack he had been packing. "I had over a thousand hours flight time." He smiled slightly, stopping next to me. the suprise must have shown on my face as he laughed. "It's not really as much as it seems." He sat on the cot next to me, but made sure there was some distance between us. then we fell into another silence, neither one of us being able to think of something to say.
"there's still a few hours before dark, we should get moving. Another night in this city would be a bad idea." He stood up, cracking another smile. "Come on, i'll race you."
|"I'll race you." Meaning get out of the city as fast as you possibly could. |
As soon as he opened the door we both shot through. Not looking around, we sprinted through the vacant streets to our unknown destination until Don lunged his arm out towards me. I skipped a little bit, trying to recover from almost tripping and reverted my attention to Don.
The sun was just beginning to set. The buildings cast long, dark shadows across the orange tinted street. It looked like a warm sunset but the air was gradually lowering in temperature.
He hushed my heavy breathing and pointed towards a car. As my head cleared up, my ears could actually respond and I heard that the car was running. Someone sat in the driver seat not moving.
Don, holding a pistol, crept closer to the window and peered in. My breath continued to appear in front of me. I tightened the jacket around me, trying to get a little warmer.
I stood about 10 feet away from the car, keeping my distance.
"Miss?" Don glanced at me.hen back down at the woman. "Miss." His hand crept through the window to touch her shoulder. I began to make my way closer to Don as he lightly shook her.
The moment I had her in my view, her eyes flashed open. I noticed she was an older individual, maybe in her early fifties. Fear was written all over her face hiding away it's true beauty. Don lifted his hand from her shoulder and reached further into the car, attempting to remove the keys.
"What are you doing!?" Her voice pierced and echoed through the street startling me. She leaned foward but was forced back by Don slamming her against the seat. His other hand cupped her mouth. She continued to squeal and struggle out of Don's hold. "Shhh! Be quiet!" Don said. But she wouldn't.
My heart sped up. Don looked over at me again and gave me a look. We both knew that her screaming would cause unwanted attention.
I held my breath, turned around and shut my eyes.
He took my hand and supported me as I got into the passenger seat of the car. The door slammed as he walked around the front of the car to the other side. When he opened his door the light turned on, revealing my reflection on the side mirrors of the car. I was slightly horrified at my features.
Black hair went past my shoulders, completely knotted and layered with dirt. My face was smothered with dirt too, leaving green eyes the only thing standing out. Then all of it dissapeared when the door shut, turning out the light.
I yawned as I relaxed my head against the seat. Don turned the keys, starting the car again. I felt his eyes on me but I didn't bother to face him. The night quickly swallowed me into sleep.
|Rays of light struck me in the face and found their way into my eyes. I shifted at first, trying to cover them, but decided it was useless and the position was uncomfortable as it was. Slowly I sat up and rubbed my eyes, then tried to discern my surroundings.|
I was still in the car, only my seat had been reclined. A thin but warm blanket was thrown over me. Looking over into the drivers seat, i saw that Don wasn't there. He wasn't in the backseat either. With fear creeping into my heart, I threw the blanket off me and opened the door, stepping out.
The car was parked behind a large billboard, most of it fallen down and dilapidated. What remained was scoured clean of color by sand blowing in the wind. Looking around, i couldn't see Don anywhere. Panic rose higher in my throat, and i was close to tears. This is what happened when you didn't go it alone. You find someone to travel with, and like it or not you start to get used to them. You start to take their presence for granted. Then the moment they're gone, you don't know what to do. Sitting down against the car i hugged my knees to my chest, trying to hold back the tears.
"What are you doing?" His voice made me jump. Looking around I tried to figure out where he was. When i looked directly above me, he was looking down at me, laying on his stomach on the roof of the car. Imedietely i stood up so i could see him better, barely avoiding smashing his teeth with the top of my head. He started to say something, but before he got it out i smacked him across the face, Hard.
I stood there, fuming, daring him to say something to try and explain himself. He just hopped off the car, rubbing his cheek. I hadn't noticed it before, but he was shirtless. His muscles stood out against his skin, hard and strong. For just a minute i lost my train of thought.
"Are you okay?" He lowered his hand but spoke softly, as if fearing another outburst. I barely caught the end of the question, and was instantly furious again..
"What were you doing up there?"
"I was waiting for you to wake up." He intended to end the statement there, but it didn't take him long to realize that was a satisfactory answer. "The sun's warm. and those seats are uncomfortable."
"You scared me. I thought..." My voice started trailing off. He stared for quite some time, before putting a hand gently on my shoulder
"Lynn?" he gave me a little shake to try and pull me out of my stupor. Suddenly i reached a hand out, point to his chest.
"What's that?" it was an ugly-colored scar, the shape of an asterisk and sat just above and to the left of his right nipple. Caught off guard by the sudden change in direction, he looked down to see what i was pointing at.
"Oh, That." He lowered his hand from my shoulder. After another moment, he walked over to the car, and grabbed his shirt off the roof. Then he put it on and opened the back seat, grabbing the blanket and folding it. After grabbing the backpack, he stuffed the blanket into it. "Car broke down."
I wanted to press about the scar on his chest, but he had me distracted. "What do you mean it broke down?"
"The engine seized, and i can't get it to start again. we're going to have to continue on foot."
"We can't be walking during the day."
"I know. we're going to relax here in the shade until it starts to get dark, then we're going to start walking." He turned and headed towards the shade of the billboard, setting the bag down against it and taking a seat next to that. Shortly i followed, sitting next to him but not too close. "And now we wait." He took a sip from a canteen that he had dug out of the backpack, then handed it to me. I took it from him and sipped at it, before handing it back.
"So now we wait." i repeated, settling into a comfortable position.
|It took only moments to realize i was bored. All around us it was the same scene: desolate landscape that rolled over small sand dunes.and depressions. Given a few years, this place would be a full blown desert. A desert in Colorado! It was absurd.|
Looking over to my left i saw Don was fighting sleep, his head dipping off to the left for moments at a time before he quickly snapped back awake. Periodically he took a sip from the canteen, not because he was thirsty but because it breathed some awareness into him.
"You alright?" his voice broke my concentration. I must have been staring at him for awhile, because he gave me a look. "Lynn?"
"yea- yea im fine." Flustered, I looked away to try and hide my embarassment. It took a few minutes to recover, but when I glanced back he was still struggling to sit up right. "You havent slept at all, have you?"
He didn't look over imediatly, but when he did I noticed the little red lines that snaked their way across his eyes. "I'm fine." he answered, returning his attention to the open wastes infront of him.
"You really should sleep, while you can." I sat up slightly, trying to use an authoritive tone. It didn't appear to work though, as he shook his head.
"I'll be fine."
"You need to sleep."
"The last time you slept was at Claire's." I tried to keep the venom out of my tone, but it was hard.
"I'm fine." he answered again. By now it was a monotonous response.
"You're going to slow us down."
"No i won't."
"Don!" I didn't yell, but it was loud enough to make him jump. This time he looked at me. Then, he slowly reached behind him and produced a small parcel wrapped in a red bandana. It was weighty as he placed it in my hands.
"Just in case." He looked me in the eye one last time, before leaning over and resting his head on the backpack. It took only moments for his breathing to slow and level out.
I knew what it was, but still unwrapped it carefuly anyways. The glare from the finish shone directly in my eyes, forcing me to angle it differently. My hands started to shake. It was so... Familier.
|Now you take this and keep it close to you at all times," she paused and looked at me straight, "No matter what. I'm not kidding Lynn." I kept glowing with a smile as she handed me the gun. The thought of my first gun burst in my heart, thrilling me as I slowly reached towards my gift but my eyes widened as it was drawn away from me in an instant. I blinked, looking at my mother holding the gun to her chest with a smile hidden among her lips. “You haven’t even shot a gun, “she mumbled slightly, arching her eyebrows. |
I sprang up, standing over her and tried to grab it once again. “Give it! I have shot a gun! I promise!” She turned her back towards me, holding the gun up in the air away from me to assure neither of us were in its killing range. We struggled for a moment; me trying to tickle her so it would cause her to release my gift and her trying to somehow sink into the couch away from me.
“Mom, come on!”
She giggled and kicked me away, getting up from the couch and running into the other room. My eyes rolled at her childish ways, but I still laughed to myself. Stepping over a pile of clothes, I made my way through the hallway and into the kitchen where I expected to find my mother.
Despite the peeling wallpaper and collapsing roof, I enjoyed our new home. My mother and I tried our best to clean it up starting with sweeping the floors, exposing the wood and wiping everything down. We were able to save most of the breaking furniture, including three beds that probably used to belong to a well-kept family and use them for ourselves.
I strolled into the kitchen and immediately got nagged at to go away. I wasn’t expecting a guest. “Lynn please go outside for a moment would you?” A thought of picking a fight came in but quickly went away. I needed to obey my mother.
As I stepped outside, into the hot sun, I could hear the man and my mom begin to speak again. I didn’t’ bother to listen. The clouds distracted me as they wrapped around the sun, blocking out it’s beautiful light. To the West could see thunderheads building up over the mountains. The breeze was getting stronger as I waited for my mother to call me back in.
Walking over to the fence, my feet kicked up dirt making my shoes even dirtier. They were dirty anyways so it didn’t matter. At least you couldn’t see the brand name anymore.
Just as I was about to lean on the fence I heard her scream.
I froze, along with my heart.
I flew inside like nothing, in time to see the door leading into my mom’s room close.
Within the kitchen I found my gift. After grabbing it I went to the room and quickly opened the door to see the man over my mom.
The sun still continued shine happily in the room upon us. The last thing I saw was the man twisting around to face me. I tried my best to aim for the first and stupidly, smashed my eyes closed. I pulled the trigger.
The sound blared through my ears, continuing to echo through the house. It was unbearable. My ears were confused and shocked at the blatant sound. I groaned and swung my arms up to clasp them as I fell back against the wall. The echo faded back to the calm quietness of my home. I didn’t dare open my eyes. The darkness felt as a better result than what I would see when I opened them.
The breathing haunted me. It wasn’t my mother’s soft breathing but the heavy breaths of the man who was supposed to be killed. I didn’t think but my eyes opened out of curiosity.
There they were. Still the man remained on top of her, alive. My mother lay there, eyes gently closed with her arm dangling just off the bed. Her body appeared delicate and limp. Before I even opened my eyes, I knew what I had done. Blood seeped out where the bullet had hit her :right below her jaw. “Mom!” I screamed and stepped forward a little as I felt the pain of my heart dying that moment.
My eyes darted at the man with pure anger and disgust. The pistol remained in my hand, tightly grasped. “Fuck you!” I screamed at the man louder. When he stood up I lost. I didn’t want to try.
I dropped the pistol and ran out of the door. When I reached the door that led outside I sprinted and didn’t stop, didn’t think or care. I just ran.
|"Lynn, wake up." the voice sounded familier, but at the same time it was a stranger. He shook me lightly, a hand on each shoulder. I didn't want to open my eyes yet. Just a few more minutes. I wasn't ready to be awake.|
"Lynn, hey, wake up." His voice was soft, but at the same time urgent.
When i opened my eyes, my attention was immediatly drawn to the setting sun. It was just barely peeking over the mountains in the distance, casting a pinkish glow on the few clouds that littered the sky. Rays of light glistened off the small white caps on some of the taller peaks, making them light up. Infront of that was Don, who was kneeling over me, a slight smile appeared on his lips once he noticed my eyes were open.
"You fell asleep again." He let go of my shoulders, standing and looking at the mountains. Just then i noticed his profile looked great, standing infront of the mountains, shadows playing with his features.
"Shut up." I sat up, rubbing my eyes lightly. As i did this, his jacket fell into my lap. It had been drapped over me. I held it up tp him." You can have your jacket back."
He waved it off, reaching down to pick up his small backpack. "You keep it. it get's cold at night." I was about to object, but then a chill ran down my spine and i pulled it tighter around me. His loss.
Standing up i started to follow him, trying to match his long stride. Within moments the dark shape of the car was gone. Silence enveloped us, and the only light came from the stars. The moon was nowhere to be seen.
"So. what did you fly?" I said, trying to pick up some conversation. The silence was beginning to get to me.
"Mostly fighter jets. Helicopters sometimes." As far as i could tell, he didn't look back. but he did slow down, which was good. He was going to leave me behind if he kept the pace from before.
"Where you ever in a, ah." i trailed off, trying to think of the term. Dammit, now i'm going to look stupid. He watched me as i tried to think of it. "Cat fight?" i said finally, not completely sure. He laughed slightly, and i saw his teeth flash.
"Yea, that." I could feel my face burning, but I didn't think he saw it. I hoped not.
"Once." Was all he said, then he went quiet. I interpreted it as something he didn't want to talk about it.
Suddenly his arm shot out, catching me just below the neck. "Do you see that?" He pointed. At first, i didn't see anything.
"Where?" i looked back at him, then where he was pointing. After a few mometns he was clearly getting frustrated, but instead of yelling, he stood behind me and lifted my arm up to point. He felt warm, and for a moment i wasn't even paying attention.
"Right there." I looked, and saw a thin wisp of smoke rising into the night sky.
"Yea, i see it." i looked back at him. "It looks like its coming from over that rise." For a minute i was completely distracted by his silhouette. His features were sharp, with a straight, angular nose and slightly pointed chin. At this moment, his eyes were sharp as daggers, staring off into the distance. Calculating.
Reluctantly, i wiggled out of his grip, and stood infront of him. "We could definately make it before sunrise." his attention refocused on me. I cracked a crooked grin. "i'll race you."
He grinned back, and at that moment i turned around and took off towards the depression, sliding down one side and running up the other.
|Panting, and sticky with sweat, i had to stop to catch my breath.Resting my palms on my knees, Don sprinted past me and stopping a few yards ahead of me. He was grinning, but it wasn't hard to tell that his breathing was slightly labored.|
"Shut up." I stood straight and looked past him. Over the rise the steeped roof of a building was just peeking over. In the sky, the sun had dipped below the horizon, bathing everything in a faint twilight glow. Already a cool breeze had swept in. I shivered. "Lets go." I started walking towards the town, ducking into the jacket as much as i could. Don followed.
As expected, the town was abandoned.
"I don't think this place was ever inhabited." Don walked over to a railing and put his hand upon it. With little coercion it was torn from its place, the wood dry and brittle. Lining the streets were buildings of the same style.
"Its like one of those old-timey Ghost towns." I took a few steps forward, scanning the area.
"Lynn, be careful. who knows whats laying around." Dons hand drifted to his waistband where I knew he kept his gun. His eyes darted from one building to another.
"Will you relax? Look at this place. Its totally empty." I turned on my heels to face him. Reluctantly he dropped his hand to his side, but continued to examine each building, as if expecting them to explode any minute.
Presently, I turned around and began walking towards the closest building. It took him a minute, but Don followed eventually. "Lynn, hold on." Don brushed past me, drawing up to the door and slowly pushing it open. I barely noticed the glint of his hand gun before he slipped into the dark noiselessly, leaving me on the ancient and decrepit porch. A few minutes passed before a sharp whistle blew through the night. I stepped inside, and was greeted by the stale smell of decay.
"We can stay here for the night. Tomorrow i'll check the rest of the buildings." Don's eyes shone brightly despite the dim. "Help me start a fire."
With a warm fire crackling in the stone fireplace and the relative safety of semi-solid walls, it didn't take long for me to feel drowsy.
"Get some sleep. I'll keep the fire going." Don rested a hand on my shoulder. I don't remember answering him. Some time must have passed, because the next time I opened my eyes, the fire had died down to just burning embers. Beside me, he shifted his weight, and got to his feet.
"What's the matter?" I mumbled, without opening my eyes.
"Go back to sleep. I'll be right back." I saw his gun flash as he drew it form his waist band, before he moved through the doorway, and out of my sight. Again I closed my eyes and must have drifted off. He still was not back the next time I awoke. Lifting myself off the ground, I pulled the jacked tighter around my shoulders.
"Don?" it came out as just above a whisper. No response. Dreamily, I wandered through the door and down the hall. Moon light spilled through the boarded windows, illuminating my path just enough for me to see where i was going. "Don?" peering into a room, I squinted but still couldn't see anything. There was another door along the hall that yielded still no results, before i was confronted by stairs. As quiet as i could i crept upstairs, each step fighting me.
There was another hall at the top, but all the doors were closed, save for one at the end. Slowly i walked towards it, stopping in the door way to look into the room. "Don?" movement at the other end of the room caught my eye, and it took a few moments for my sleeping brain to realize it was Don. He made a motion with his hand, of putting one hand to his lips. But it was completely lost on me. i was too preoccupied with the foul odor assaulting my nostrils. My hand flew to my face and i exclaimed "My god, what is that smell?"
Just as i said that there came a low growling sound, then an ear splitting roar. Don yelled something, but before he got half of it out, something collided into my stomach, taking my breath away. I was sent flying through the air, limp like a rag doll, until i smashed through the door across the hall and landed hard on the widely spaced floor boards. The roar came again, and it sounded like it was coming for me. I tried to get up but my limbs would not cooperate and instead i lay on the floor, my right arm twisted at an odd angle, head lifted enough to see the creature as it stepped into the door way.
Its figure filled the frame entirely and i could not see past it. The stench of rotting flesh was over bearing, and it appeared to be coming from the creature. Fur stood straight over most of it's body, but matted down with blood on it's arms and around its mouth. The only detail of its face i could see was its Sapphire blue eyes, shinning as if they had their own light behind them.
Gunshots tore through the night, along with the dull thud of them finding their mark. The beast roared again, and charged away from me and back into the other room. More gunshots, and there was a massive crash that shook the building. Again i tried to stand, but my body failed me. All it wanted to do as lay there, and slip in and out of conciseness, until everything went dark.
|I vaguely remember seeing a man in a white coat carrying me into a room with the brightest light id ever seen. It smelt fresh and the air was cool enough to keep me from getting warm, yet warm enough to keep me from getting cold. Perfect. I heard voices. One from a man and one from a woman. They sounded serious but kept a calm attitude. They got along.|
My vision kept going black but each time it brightened I only saw oasis around me and everything was perfect. The room had new equipment in it and the walls were painted white, without a single bust or scratch on it. I couldn't bare to look up because of the light that was placed directly above me. It gave me a headache and all I wanted to do was flip over but I couldn't. My body felt as though every bone and ligament was broken, that oozed aching poison in my blood and kept eating away at my muscles.
I started to weep. Every sad hiccup made a hammer smack each bone going downwards in my spine that left each poor bone to shatter. it made me weep even more.
Then all the darkness swallowed my pain.
It was him.
"We dont know." Pause. "Getting better...." "Couple of days."
"She's getting better."
A woman's voice.
I opened my eyes wide this time again. The light didnt hurt, but it still blinded me.
I sat up to see my legs pale and clean. I didnt have anything but a soft, white blanket draped over me. I pulled it up over my chest and looked infront of me to see a door . I looked past the door, into the window on it to see a hallway. Like the room I was in, it was lit up and clean. I just sat there staring down that hallway, not even moving. It was so hypnotizing. Each side of it was perfectly symmetrical to the other.
A large dark figure suddenly appeared in the window. I coulldnt see his face, nor did it seem that he had any color to him whatsoever than just black.
He opened the door and walked towards me. I didnt say a word, and he didnt either but just stood there at the end of my bed.
He looked over his shoulder and back at me. violently he grabbed both of my ankles and spread my legs apart. I began to squirm but his strength was so great i couldnt even move my legs. I was screaming and my hands clutched the blanket that hid me.
His head was tilted down as though he was looking at the space on my bed that my legs had revealed. His hands tightened around my ankles and he quickly pulled my closer to him at the end of the bed. I let go of my shield and began punching him. The first punch I swang, I realized that I couldnt punch him. Nothing was there to punch but I could still feel him and see him.
his head tilted up and was inline with mine. All his face was black but I could still make out where is eyes were. His hand grabbed my neck. pushing me hard down onto the bed and not allowing me to scream. He held me there and started to reach down towards his leg. I squeezed my eyes together but opened them again to see a knife in his right hand.
He swung the knife down and stabbed me in the chest.
I only called Don's name. I repeatedly screamed it so many times it felt like thousands. I kept crying and screaming until I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. My head turned quickly to my left to see a woman with long light brown hair and hazel eyes looking at me. She smiled and gave me a tight squeeze of reassurance.
My breathing was still heavy and quick. My body didnt hurt but it was numb. Tearing dripped down my face as I still stared deep in her eyes. Neither of us would break the stare down. "You're ok," she said.
I finally broke the stare down and looked to my right. The man in the white coat stood there looking down at me with his hands clasped behind his back. He nodded and walked over to a cabinet and opened it. He pulled 2 waters bottles out and a can. He turned back and walked towards me holding the gold. "Do you think you need help?" He lifted up the can.
I shook my head and reached up to grab the water. I twisted the cap off and dumped the water into my mouth. It rushed down my throat. It was warm but pure. It didnt have any dirt in it and it didnt have a color. When I finished both bottles he handed me the can, opened and also a silver fork that looked like it couldve been an antique.
I inhaled the fruit that was in the can within seconds.
"Where am I?" I demanded. "Where's Don."
The man walked over to a bin and threw away the bottles and can. "You're in a safe place, away from the hellish world."
Before he could say anything else I demanded to know where Don was.
"I'm assuming you're asking for the man we found you with?" He looked at me and I stared blankly back at him.
He squatted down and pulled a chest out from underneath the bed. "Here's all the stuff that was on you when we found you. Get dressed. I'll be waiting outside the door."
Once he left I swung my legs off the bed and stood up. It felt strange to stand but I adapted to it.
When I looked in the chest I found the clothes i had been wearing. They were all washed and I was surprised to see that the shirt I had been wearing was a dark green and that my jeans weren't black anymore. Dons jacket was folded neatly at the bottom of all my things.
I slowly slid the jeans on and pulled my shirt over. I grabbed Don's jacket and put that on too. I put the rest of my things in the bag and as I placed each item in i tried hard to remember exactly what i had. but once I was done I was sure that nothing was missing. Maybe I can trust these people.
|Outside, the sun was just beginning to set behind the mountains, creating a deep purplish haze in the sky. People were milling this way and that, many moving with great haste. The woman put an arm around my shoulder, guiding me through the traffic.|
"Where is everyone rushing to?"
"Seven o clock mass, I guess." she stopped, holding me back while a large covered truck drove passed us. The dust it kicked up made me have to cover my face, coughing. She did not seem affected. "You're welcome to join, if you want."
"I want to see Don." I noticed a slight edge to my voice, and tried to force myself to relax. Threatening them would do no good, I thought to myself. Suddenly, thunder boomed but there was no lightning. It clapped once more before I realized it wasn't thunder. "What is that?"
The woman only smiled, turning me around a corner. Ahead the land began to rise gently, leading up to a small wooden platform. standing on it were two men. One wore grey digital army fatigues. His blonde hair was close cropped and kept trim, and helped identified him, along with his ram-rod posture, as a low ranking serviceman. The other wore a green suit, each shoulder adorned with a silver eagle. They were both looking away from us. The thunder sounded like it was coming form ahead of me, but neither of the men were holding guns.
It took a moment for me to realize she was no longer following me. When i look back though, she was gone. A moment of panic gripped me. I didn't know whether i was supposed to go up to the men, or wait at the bottom. Seconds turned to minutes and just stood there like an idiot. Finally, I slowly started to climb the hill, trying to make my presents known so they wouldn't shoot me or something.
The thunder boomed again just as I crested. The man with the eagles chuckled, folding his hands behind his back.
"You missed again."
"Shut up Ben." Don responded, from his position laying on the small deck. My heart swelled with he sound of his voice, but dropped again when I saw the rifle he was cradling. its barrel was half again as long as him. None of them had noticed me, so i just watched don reload the rifle.
I had time to study him before he fired again. He wore a dark grey shirt, tucked into the digital fatigues that were in turn tucked into the light tan boots. Standard issue. He wore them comfortably. I liked it.
The gun boomed again, and this close it hurt my ears. I covered them, just as the round hit the target at the far end of the range. It blossomed into a fine mist of fruit and shattered green rind. A watermelon, of course.
"About time. Shit, i thought you had gotten rusty." As Don stood, shouldering the rifle the man extended his hand. Don shook it, grinning.
"You forget, i'm not as old as you." He held the rifle out a bit, examining it. "Damn fine piece of equipment you have here."
"It is, and you're damn lucky my men are better shot then you. Otherwise, it would have been your head that popped like an over ripened cherry instead of the Monstros." He clapped his hand on Dons back. The private stepped forward to relieve Don of the weapon, and began disassembling it.
"Looked like a fuckin' gorilla to me-" he stopped mid sentence once he saw me. I must have been smiling like crazy, because he ran over and hugged me, lifting me off the ground. I giggled and hugged him back, so lost in the moment I didn't even hear the private be dismissed. Once he let me down, Don held my face in his hands for a moment, grinning.
"I thought you were never going to wake up."
I shrugged my shoulders, not really knowing what to say. Then he turned, and put an arm around my shoulder.
"This is Colonel Arnold. We served together a long time back." The colonel smiled politely, and offered his hand. I shook it.
"You took quite a nasty bump. are you feeling alright?" I nodded, and he turned away, started walking down the hill. "Good. I'm glad Francine was able to help. Welcome to Lakewood, and the remains of Fort Carson." He glanced back as us. "We moved here after the flash, fearing the fort might be too big of a target."
Don and I had started to follow, his arm still around me. I had never moved away form him, so he kept the gap small.
"I'm assuming you're both tired." He didn't wait for an answer before continuing. "You can take my cabin for the night. I'm needed elsewhere tonight."
They stopped outside a small cabin, and the colonel began going through a ring of keys. The cabin was one of a dozen or so in a line. This must have been part of a resort before, as each one was built in exactly the same way. I remember coming up here once, before. We stayed closer to the lake, and camped out. Finally, he had separated the correct key, sliding it into the lock and opening the door.
"I expect everything in perfect order in the morning." Don and I stepped inside, but the colonel stayed on the porch. Don turned and snapped him a crisp salute. The colonel returned it. Then, his features softened, and he grinned. Don shook his hand.
"Thank you, Ben."
He only nodded. "Remember; perfect order. You break it, you buy it." Then he turned, and Don closed the door behind him.
"Well. I don't know about you, but I need a shower." Don grinned at me, then began heading for the back of the cabin.
“Yes, a shower,” he said cheerfully. He continued through the room and down a hallway. I felt an uncomfortable, yet good feeling in my stomach as I gazed at him reaching towards his belt buckle to un-clip it and whip off his belt. It flung onto the bed in the room at the end of the hallway that was brightly lit by a lamp. I realized that I had been holding my breath, and let it out with a little huff to breathe in back deeply.
The hallway was short and I suddenly had an urge to clean myself, but also to see Don. I heard the water running in the shower already and the door leading to the bathroom was left open. Don cleared his throat and it echoed from the bathroom leaving me dying just to see him again.
I was standing just around the wall thinking to close the door for him when he called my name.
“Did you want to take a shower too before bed?”
I was standing in the doorway of the bathroom staring at the front side of Don when I replied ,”Yeah,” again but this time more quite. He smiled slightly as he stood there with the water hitting his chest and running down his body.
Without even thinking immediately took my shirt off up over my head and reached behind to my back to unclip my bra. I fiddled with the button on my jeans, unzipped them and slid them down along with my underwear…the whole time Don watching me. I didn’t quite know what I was thinking, but all I wanted was to just be close with Don, and feel his warmth again.
He helped me open the clear, glass door that lead into the hot shower and held my hand to ensure I wouldn’t slip. I closed the door behind me and faced him. The water made me flinch slightly but I relaxed as the warmth soothed my back.
Don and I didn’t break our eye contact as he gently lifted my arm to rub it with soap. He glided the soap down to my belly then to my other arm. When he reached my chest he flashed a smile and continued to my breasts, concentrating on my erect nipples. It was a moment where everything was blissful and my mind was completely at peace. The entire shower was so steamy it was as though I could only see Don. I reached up and touched his face for him to touch mine back and lean into a kiss.
We kissed hard. His other hand quickly flew down my side to my hip and aggressively grasped my hip to pull my wet body against his. Our breathing got heavy and I felt an intense sensation when I felt he was aroused. His hands wouldn’t stop sliding along my body from my sides, to my waist, and to my bum that sometimes he would give a little squeeze. He did it numerous times but this time when he reached my bum, he lifted me up and opened the shower door. I wrapped my legs around him and moved my arms around his neck.
Don was quick to get to the bedroom and set me on the bed. He climbed over me, still kissing me, and thrust himself in me. I moaned incredibly loud, almost scared someone heard me, but quickly forgot about it. Everything was so sudden, and so good. Each time he thrust, stress from all my muscles and mind left my body, only to leave a tingling, warm feeling.
I noticed Don’s breathing got heavier and he squeezed my hand hard, then began thrusting faster. The sensation was almost unbearable and I couldn’t help but let every moan out. Our breathing continued escalating rapidly, and Don kept going deeper and deeper and faster and faster inside of me until I felt him climax.
We smiled at each other and he leaned down to give me a few kisses. He got up and went back into the bathroom, coming back seconds later with an arm full of towels.
“The shower was still on,” he laughed.
“Oh!” I giggled stupidly and accepted the towel.
Not until now did I notice, we soaked the entire bed from being in the shower, but also noticed we had made a little mess of our own.
“Here let’s go clean ourselves up real quick,” Don said, leading me back into the shower.
We came out wrapped up in our towels. Don walked into the room ahead of me gathering up all the blankets, and went outside.
I searched in the closet and cabinets in the room, hoping to find an extra set of sheets. Finding two throw blankets I spread one over the mattress and left the other for us to keep warm. Don came back in and offered to take my wet towel.
“Those blankets better dry before tomorrow morning.” I looked at him and just couldn’t stop smiling. We both felt like idiots.
I handed the towel to him and dove into the bed under the covers. He got in with me after hanging up the towels and we cuddled and kissed forever, until we both fell asleep.
|I awoke to the sound of birds chirping just outside the window. Opening my eyes, I saw the room filled with sunlight. Outside it was as pretty as a picture. For a moment, I forgot where I was. I thought I was back home, Before. Any minute I expected my mother to come in, shaking me gently to rouse me from bed. Then call me a bum and kiss my forehead. None of that happened. But I still felt happy. Remembering the night before, I could feel myself smiling wide.|
He wasn't in bed next to me. But I could hear him talking, somewhere in the front of the cabin. Probably the kitchen. I threw the blankets off of me,and stood. My clothes were folded and laying on a small table near the end of the bed. Putting them on, I realized how long its been since I got new ones.
Once I was in the hallway, I could hear another voice. Another man, talking to Don. I stopped just outside the kitchen, hesitant to enter.
"I don't know Ben." Don was saying. They were both sitting at the small table. Something was sizzling on the stove.
"What else are you going to do, keep wandering around?" It was Colonel Arnold
"We had heard General Fisher was marshaling the army in San Francisco."
The colonel snorted. "What do you think he's going to do, Don? He wont give you an option. Besides, we both know how he got his commission."
"I dunno." Don responded. For the first time since I had met him, he didn't sound confident. There was a long silence, broken intermittently by the sounds of crackling and popping. I could smell bacon. I heard someone stand, and there was a soft thud.
"Promise me you will think about it" But Don didn't reply. Quietly, he turned and left, closing the door with an audible click. Don was so focused on what he was looking at, he didn't even notice me walk up behind him. In his hands was a slightly faded jacket, the same green fatigues as his pants. He was staring at the patch on the sleeve, a Golden oak leaf.
"What's going on?" I laid a hand on his shoulder. He didn't even jump, making me think twice about whether or not he heard me. Gripping my hand firmly, he pulled he down, leaning back to kiss me. He motioned for me to take the seat that the colonel had vacated. I sat, but he did not let go of my hand. Instead, he looked me in the eyes.
A long minute of silence passed as he gathered his thought, before finally he spoke.
"Ben-" he stopped, and corrected himself. "The colonel has offered to reinstate me, and promote me to Major." He licked his lips, trying to chose his words carefully. "I told him I would think about it."
At first, I didn't quite understand what the problem was. It wasn't until a minute later I realized what he meant. He was asking for my permission. He wanted to make sure it was okay with me! My face turned red, and I had to look away, trying to gather myself. Honestly, the idea of being stuck here scared me. I hadn't stayed in one place for more than a few days since, well, my mother died. I didn't know what to say. But I couldn't keep Don from doing this. It was obvious he wanted to. I looked back at him, taking his hands.
"If that's what you want to do." I began. "then do it."
"And you...?" he was still looking me in the eye, watching.
"I'll stay." I smiled. A huge grin spread across Don's face, as he stood and pulled me up. In the next instant, he pulled me close, kissing me. His arms were wrapped around me tightly, and I could do nothing but giggle. I had decided I liked this.
Suddenly he let go, racing to the stove.
"Shit." he grabbed the pan, but burned his hand. Then he tried again, this time with a towel and pulled it off he flame.
"What are you making?" I walked over and looked over his shoulder. Whatever was in the pan was a darker shade of brown. I could see bits of bacon, and what looked like cheese.
"I was trying to make Hash, but it's a little overdone." he sighed, shaking the pan. It wasn't all burnt.
"It looks good." I smiled, leaning in to kiss him again. He smiled back.
"Get some plates, out of that cabinet." He pointed.
Whatever it was, it was delicious. we both devoured it in minutes. After that, don had to make another pan of it, this time though he didn't burn it. It had been such a long time since I had anything that resembled civilized food. In the refrigerator there was also orange juice, apples and pears. We drank almost the entire pitcher, and almost all of the fruit. After, I cleaned up since Don cooked. when i had finished, Don had changed back into the fatigues and boots from yesterday, tucking his pant legs. Then he threw the jacket around his shoulders, taking a minute to stare at the emblem.
"You know. I think I like a man in uniform." I smiled, leaning back on the counter. He grinned back, walking over to stand close, wrapping his arms around my waist.
"Well, i think i might have you start saluting me." He leaned down, gently kissing my neck. I giggled.
"Aren't you going to tell him?"
He pulled away, frowning slightly. "Yea. I guess." Then he kissed me on the lips again, a long, lingering kiss. Then he pulled away.
"I'll come with you. If we're going to stay, I want to help too."
|Outside, the sun shone brightly. I shielded my eyes with my hand until they adjusted. People were busily marching around, each walking with a purpose. Moments later, I noticed we were doing the same. I had only been on a military base once. I remember my father bringing us to Fort Carlson. Some kind of parade, I'm not sure. The feeling in the air was not the same.|
We found the command tent rather quickly. Two soldiers stood guard at the entrance. They straightened up and offered Don a crisp salute, which he returned. They held the flaps open while we stepped inside the cool dark. The Colonel was standing with a few other men in similar officer garb. Seeing Don, he grinned and folded his hands behind his back.
Don stepped forward, bringing his hand up in a salute. "Major Capello reporting for duty."
The Colonel chuckled, and returned the salute. He then came around the table and shook Dons hand. "You've made the right choice, Don."
He took a small step to the side, and motioned towards me.
"Lynn will also be staying, and she would like to make herself useful in any way possible."
For just a second, a look flashed across the Colonel's face. Uncertainty, maybe? I don't know, because it was gone before I could even recognize it. He shook my hand, with a tight smile.
"What kind of skills do you have?"
I panicked, suddenly realizing there was nothing I could say. Before the flash i was just a kid, and since then all I've done was just barely manage to survive.
"Well i'm sure we can find something. Welcome aboard young lady. We're glad to have you."
"Before I forget sir, here's your key." Don held out the cabin key. Arnold shifted his attention away from me, and I breathed a sigh of relief on the inside. There was something about this man, maybe just his intensity, that made me uncomfortable.
"You keep it, and a gift. You're the family man now." He winked, and glanced at me. I could tell it made don a little embarrassed, but he said nothing. I turned my face to try and hide my own blush.
|Before I knew it he was gone. Don had suddenly left. Apparantly with a group in an expedition to find supplies. I hadn't even know he was gone until I returned to our shack and his gun was gone. |
Raging past the clutter of everyone in town I found the colonel. He was standing tall, proud and cocky. "I assure you, this task will benefit our town so much, babies will be born healthy, men will be buzzed and the nightmares wil vanish from the children's heads." The colonel showed certainty, but somewhere in me I knew it wasn't right. I was worried about Don. I couldn't even imagine the agony Id feel if he didn't return with the group. I help my apron up that was filled with corn and walked though the crowd. Faces were shaded with sadness, anticipating death. I thought that when we got here Id feel better with survivors. I thought id feel safe and as though id completed my personal mission to safety. But I didn't feel safe. Not without Don. And one night, as the moon lit up the whole wasteland, it hit me, that I had to leave. That this place wasn't right, it was a lie. And that if I didn't find Don, my soul would slowly die. Faster than I physically would. Pulling over a ratty Tshirt, and grapping my knife and pistol, I shoved it in my pack along with water and pain killers. It had been too long since Don had left. And either I was going to find him or slowly wander into my lonely hell were id collapse in the dust and die.