The End: Story Three
White Wedding
By: David K. Montoya

I had been in Haven for a short time, and my first formal event was the wedding of my son Michael and his first love, Fran. I knew there was a connection between them when they first met at the Farm, but I had no idea that it would lead to marriage. Yet, I understood that finding a partner in the time we lived was not a common thing like it was fifteen years ago.

As for myself, I had begun to become accustomed to my life in Haven. It had been so long since I had lived in a "civilized" world, for almost half my life had been about the survival of my children and me. But now, I had a job, so I was expected to fall into a routine of having such. Even though I am constantly late, no one says anything. After all, it is my blood the scientists draw in hopes they would find the cure to the sickness. But the day was not about me and my happenings. It was Mike and Fran's special day.

The wedding was at nine (that was another thing I had to get used to again, was the use of time). Michael picked me up around seven. He and I were to pick up our tuxes and make it to the chapel in an hour. It felt strange to go back into the city, and the lab was on its outskirts, so I had not needed to veer into the "downtown" area.

It reminded me of downtown Los Angeles, but "much" cleaner and less crowded. I asked my son what the population of Haven was, he replied that there were only three thousand people that lived in Haven, but there were ten thousand that resided in the safe zone.

We arrived at the store around seven-twenty. The women inside had everything ready for us. I insisted to my son that I would cover the cost. I quickly paid and was soon back on the road. As we sped through the city, I noticed one thing that was missing in Haven. So, I asked Mike about the whereabouts of the traffic police. He let out a laugh and told me that this city was far too advanced for ticket givers. Michael said that everything was running with computers, with the vehicles we drove. Once we slid our identification cards through to start them, a wireless signal was sent out. The computer that receives the signal monitors the car's activity; the system automatically sends out a ticket if it is speeding. If the driver is given three in a specific time frame, the system will deactivate that part of the ID card, so they cannot use the vehicle any further.

He also explained that if the driver is going at speeds that the computer deems too dangerous, it will cut the motor. The person driving was allowed to start the car once it had come to a stop, but the computer system put a "speed-lock" on the vehicle, only allowing it to go thirty-five miles an hour, for twenty-four hours.

As we headed up to the chapel, Michael hesitatingly asked me if I would be all right with his mother being at the wedding. I told him that I would expect nothing less of Helen and that I would be angry if she did not show up. After all, he was her son as much as he was mine.

His last question reminded me that I had something special for him. I reached into my pants pocket and told Michael to hold out his hand. I placed what I had in my pocket in his hand, then closed it. Mike looked down into his hand to see what he held; what he saw were two gold rings. I explained that they belonged to his mother and me, that his mom never wore her ring to bed, and the day the men came to get her, it was sitting on the dresser and that I have had them ever since.

Michael smiled as he grasped the rings tightly in his hand. I noticed tears begin to run down his face. After a few moments of silence, he wiped away the tears and apologized for the crying; he explained that he grew up believing that Helen was dead all his life. But now - he knew the truth, and the first time in fifteen years, my son had his parents back. I knew there was a "but" coming though, and I was right. "but'" he said, before a brief pause. My son explained there was some resentment toward her on his behalf; after all, she did leave him and his sister for another man, that I raised them the best I could for all those years. But now, all of a sudden, his mother has returned to his life, wanting to pick up where she left off. Mike said that he was truly happy to have her back, but at the same time, he was angry at her for everything that she had done.

I told Michael to let it go. If he held on to his anger and resentment, it would only eat him up inside, that today was made for tears of joy, not tears of pain and confusion. Michael smiled once again and agreed with me, by that time, he turned off the main highway and onto a small dirt road that divided a field of freshly bloomed poppies, that ran the small hill where a church rested.

#

Once we reached the top of the hill where the church was, there were several black SUVs, and I told my son that his mother must have already arrived. Michael found a parking space close to the back entrance; we both got out and quickly entered the building.

Mike and I were greeted by my sister, Rose, as we walked inside. I went up to her and hugged her. She said that we would have to catch up after the wedding, but for the moment, my son and I needed to get ready, the wedding would start in forty-five minutes.

Rose led us down a narrow hallway, and some doors ran along with it. My sister stopped, pointed to a door to her left, and instructed Michael to go in. Everything he would need was already inside. Before he went in, my son turned to me with a nervous look. I gave him a pat on the side of his face and told him everything would be fine and that I would see him at the altar. Before I could say anything else, Rose grabbed me by the arm and pulled me farther down the hallway. She told me that we ran out of time and needed to get going. A few more doors down, we came to another stop. My sister told me the same thing as Michael: everything I needed was inside.

As I turned to go inside, Rose stopped me by calling my name. I paused for a moment, then turned to face my sister. She stood there smiling and told me she was happy to see that I was alright, that she never gave up hope. She gave me another hug and told me to get ready, and she'd see me out front.

When I walked into the room, I was surprised to find that the room was much larger than I expected. It was set up like a dressing room, and there was a large mirror aligned with light to my far left that sat in front of a table and a small stool. To my left was a tiny bathroom and directly in front of me was a closet to hang my clothes.

I placed the tux and headed into the bathroom, and I turned the shower on to as hot as I could stand it and then got undressed. As I took off my shirt, I noticed scars left from the gunshots I received back at the border for the first time. I stood there for a few moments and examined them; there was a total of seven. When I got to my shoulder, I saw the scar when I got bit by an Unlucky in Airepseh. That too was healed entirely; the last time I saw it, the wound was in a fresh state of health but not completely healed. My thoughts raced over the journey to Haven, how in a short time, it was filled with so much pain and sorrow.

I stood there for a few moments and stared into the mirror until it became fogged up from the steam of the shower. Then, it finally brought me out of my daze, and I realized I was running out of time to shower and get ready.

#

Sometime later, there was a soft knock at the door. I walked over and opened it. When I saw who was on the other side, my stomach twisted into a tight knot. It was Renee. She was dressed in a gray form-fitting dress, with her hair curled into large locks. It had been so long since I saw her, she gave me a soft smile and asked me if I was ready.

I followed Renee out of the door and down the hallway; though I tried not to, I couldn't help watching her hips shift back and forth as she walked ahead of me. I tried to change my thoughts from what was in front of me, but my mind kept slipping back to it.

I became embarrassed when she looked over her shoulder to tell me that she had missed me and often thought about my condition. I felt the room's heat go up about fifty degrees. She gave me another soft smile and waited for me to reply. Finally, I told her that it was great to see her. I felt stupid; was that all I could say to her?

We came to a large double door, which was already open. I saw that it led into the chapel. Renee showed me where I stood upfront in the best man's spot. I followed her as she walked away. When she sat down next to Arturo, I felt an instant bitterness rush through me.

But the bitterness quickly disappeared when I heard the voice of my son. I turned my attention to him, and I still could not believe my boy was getting married. As he walked up to me, I asked him if he was ready, he shook his head nervously to my question. I gave him a solid smile to let him know everything would be fine.

Michael asked me if I had seen his mother; before I answered, I looked around and found her in the front row surrounded by agents. I pointed in her direction, she waved to Michael and me, but only my son returned a wave. Everyone took their places when the music began to play. Seconds later, Francine walked in. she wore a traditional white dress with a lace veil. I saw the nervousness in her face as she walked down the aisle and turned to Mike, who had the same worried expression.

The two took their place in front of the pastor, and he began. The two exchanged their vows that they had written for each other. I wondered if that was my son's idea. He always was the writer. I watched the two as they spoke. I saw the love that they had for each other and knew at that moment that their love would last forever.

I noticed that Mike had decided to use my wedding ring and not his mother's even though I could tell the one he got for Fran was much nicer. Finally, everyone came to their feet in ovation as the pastor announced them, husband, and wife. They came to me, and the three of us embraced. I told my son how much I loved him and couldn't be more proud than right now.

They turned to the guests and slowly walked back up the aisle until they were out the door. I remained up at the front of the chapel and watched Helen exit with her agents and noticed Renee and Arturo follow behind them. I stood there for a moment, mindful of everyone leaving. Once everyone was gone, Rose came up to me and asked if I was going to the reception. I laughed and told her only if she was willing to give me a ride there.

#

A short time later, Rose and I arrived at the reception hall. Everyone from the wedding was there. There were fifteen to twenty tables spread evenly throughout the room, with Michaels and Fran's table placed in the front. I couldn't help but smile at the two; they both appeared so happy. It reminded me of when I was his age, so young and ready to take on the world at the drop of a hat.

I walked around and greeted people, introducing myself as Michaels's father, the last table I went to was Helen's. she sat alone, but several guards stood behind her, ready to jump into action at a moment's notice. As I walked to her, she gave me a patronizing smile and asked if I enjoyed myself. All I could do was nod to her question. Finally, I told her that I wanted to personally thank her for giving our son a beautiful wedding and reception.

Helen crossed her arms as she sat back in her chair. She told me that her decision to leave me with the kids did not mean that she did not love them. I paused for a moment before I asked her exactly why did she leave me to take care for our children. Helen told me to take a seat, which I did, the woman I once knew as my wife leaned forward and placed her folded hands in front of her and asked me if I really wanted to get into that particular subject there at our son's wedding. Again' I responded to her question with a slight nod. I told her what better time to have my questions answered than here and now. Helen told me that she wanted a little excitement in her life, and there was none to be found while she remained married to me. That I was a simple nine-to-fiver which was why she decided to go back to work after Maria was born, she was bored with me and our marriage.

As for the children, she explained that I would have been the better parent between the two of us and that she was pregnant with "her" third child. I sat there for a moment in complete bewilderment; finally, I asked her if we had a third child. Helen quickly corrected me and said that "she" had a third child. It was not mine, and he belonged to the former husband that his name was Logan.

I asked Michael if knew he had a younger brother, Helen told me that she was afraid to tell our oldest son, but she had told her other son about his two siblings. She explained that after the boy's father died, she sent him to a private school in New York. So, the child had not seen his father for some time now.

I asked about the school in New York that I never knew there was a settlement up that way. Helen explained that it was up toward the Canadian border. It was one of the only locations in the United States with an Unlucky population of zero because the cold weather out there was so extreme that the monsters quickly died. Survivors constructed a city much like Haven, but it was not government-controlled. Instead, the city was ran entirely by its citizens, and she felt that Gamora (which was the city's name) would be the safest place for her son.

There was a brief moment of silence before Helen asked me if I had any more questions for her. I told her no and thanked her once more for covering the cost of everything. This time Helen was the one who nodded as a reply to a question. I walked away from her and headed for the door, and I did not know why I continued to speak with that woman. Every time she spoke, it tore my soul apart. I crossed the room and decided that I needed some fresh air.

As I stepped outside, I was unpleasantly shocked at what I found. It was Arturo and Renee, and it appeared that the two were arguing about something. I did not want to get involved, so I turned around to head back inside. But before I could make it back inside, I was stopped by an all too familiar sound of flesh hitting flesh.

I looked over my shoulder to confirm what I heard. What I saw was Arturo standing over Renee, who was on the ground holding her face. At that point, he was screaming at her in something other than English, so I could not understand what he said to her. But what I understood perfectly was when he struck her in the face.

Without thought, I charged toward Arturo, and I rammed my shoulder into his stomach, which caused him to double over. I shoved my knee into his face, and his nose erupted with blood. Arturo caught me with a right to the jaw, which knocked me off my feet. He grabbed my jacket and slammed me into the wall. As I slid down, he repeated the slug into my face. When I reached the ground, Arturo grabbed up a large two-by-four and began to hit me across the back with it. The pain ran along my body, but I continued to try to get to my feet. With each attempt, though, I was knocked back down with the board. Finally, I got over to my back, just in time to see Arturo with the board swinging it down in my direction. Before it reached me, I kicked out forward and connected with the piece of wood, which caused it to fling backward and strike Arturo in the face. I got back to my feet as he hit the ground. I ran over to him and repeatedly kicked him in the face until it was masked with a layer of blood.

I stood there for a moment to catch my breath. Eventually, I walked and picked up the two-by-four, a few feet away. Then, I walked back over to Arturo and began my own attack on his body with the board until the board snapped in half. Then, I continued to whale away with the broken piece of wood. Though my mind told my body to stop, I continued my assault. I had so much anger that it turned into blood lust. I wanted Arturo "dead."

To my surprise, Arturo caught my right foot and tried to pull me to the ground, but I caught my balance and began to kick him in the face with my other foot. Each shot was a blow to the head. Nevertheless, I continued even to the point where he started screaming and crying.

I eventually stopped when I looked down and saw one of Arturo's teeth stuck in the sole of my shoe. I bent over to remove the fragment from my shoe and noticed the bloody and swollen Arturo. For a moment, I was not certain that he was still alive. So, I looked down a little closer to examine him. From what I could tell, he was indeed dead. So, I went to confirm this by checking his pulse. But before I could, Arturo let out a gasping sound and began to breathe regularly.

I stood him straight up and made my way back to Renee. She was still on the ground as I came up to her to ask if she was alright. She looked up at me, and I noticed Arturo bloodied her lip, which made me want to go back over to him and start kicking him in the head again. Renee slowly nodded to my question.

I carefully helped her back to her feet, and she stood before me a few moments before she smiled and wiped the blood from my mouth. As she was doing so, she asked me if I was her "superhero." I chuckled at the notion before I asked her why.

Renee explained that I always appear when she needed to be rescued, from the pack of Unlucky’s back in Airepseh to now. I smiled and said that it was just good timing. She smirked and thanked me.

We headed back inside the reception. As we did, Renee looked down at the bloody Arturo as she passed by and asked me if he was still alive. I stopped at the door and opened it for her. As she passed, I answered her question and told her, "for now."

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