The End: Story Two
In the Heartland

By: David K. Montoya

I was covered in my son's blood. Even though I continued to apply pressure to his gun–shot wound, the damned thing refused to stop bleeding. I had one of the girls bring me another fresh towel—it was the fifth one since he had been shot. I tried to talk to him, but he stopped replying to me shortly after we headed off to a farm. Renee wanted to take over holding pressure on Michael's bloody wound, but I refused. If my boy was going to leave this God–forsaken world, I was going to be there by his side.

I yelled over to the man who called himself Vince, asking how much longer it was going to take and he said it was only six miles away. Without looking back at me he told me to have patience, that we would be there soon enough.

I was about to go for my hand axe when Rose stopped me and explained that hacking everyone up was not going to help Michael, which I agreed with and forced myself to settle down. It was fortunate that it only took a few minutes to reach the farm—or compound, for a better choice of a word—or I swore everyone not related to us would have ended up dead!

We finally arrived at the entrance where there was an enormous cast–iron gate with an armed guard on each side. They heaved the bars open after Vince honked the horn a couple of times. I looked back down at my son; my stomach turned as he appeared to be even more pale and felt colder. I held him in my arms like I once did when he was a sick little boy. I pleaded with God to spare my son's life; to take mine instead as an exchange. I would have gladly met my own mortality so that Michael may live.

I looked up when the bus came to a stop. We were in front of a huge nineteenth century house. Vince opened the doors to allow three others to board the bus. The first man was an older guy, very studious in appearance. The next was a younger woman, possibly in her early twenties and was very scholarly as well. The last one was a well–built man who looked to be Indian or possibly Hispanic, perhaps in his late thirties or early forties.

Vince explained to the older man what had happened. He turned and looked over toward Mike and I. At first he appeared angry, but that look quickly changed to concern. He walked over to us and knelt down to examine my son's wound and as he did so introduced himself as Doctor Peter Vaughan, Senior. He said that he was the owner of the farm and from the way things looked we arrived not a moment too soon. I asked him if he could help Michael. Doctor Vaughan assessed a bit further telling me that he could, but that we needed to get Mike inside quickly. The Doctor called for Vince and the well–built guy to take my son into the house.

The men picked Michael up and carried him out of the bus. I followed them all the way to the front door of the house before the young woman tried to stop me, telling me it would be better to wait outside. She said that she and her father would take good care of him. I was going to insist that they allow me inside but Rose came up and advised me not to fight with them so they could get in there to help Michael. I told the young woman to go on and help my son. She turned away from me and ran into the house. The door was cracked open, so I watched her go up the stairs to the second floor before I could bring myself to turn away.

#

I was sitting on the front steps with the two girls, waiting and praying. As I sat there I reflected on the last week, where we had been and everyone who died. I didn't think I could bear to bury both my children back to back. I pulled out the revolver. There was one bullet left inside the gun. I tucked it back away, knowing that if anything were to happen to my boy, I had the one–way ticket to join him and Maria.

I looked up and noticed that both the girls' eyes were fixed on me. They only stared, not saying a word—well, not at first. Finally, Rose asked if I planned to do something stupid with the weapon. I answered honestly; I told them it was a little insurance if anything were to happen.

Some time passed before the three men from the hunting group came up to us. They offered some fresh fruit andI was happy to accept it. I could not remember how long it had been since I actually ate something. The tall skinny one was first to introduce himself as Lennie. The second one to speak was the short and heavyset guy named Alvin. The last one said he was Daniel, just a nerdy kid, no more than twenty or so. They were farm hands there on the farm.

Linnie explained that there were others who lived here as well and we would no doubt meet them later as they were more than likely tending to the garden. Then there was Doctor Vaughan's son, Peter Junior, who spent most of his day hiding out at the family pond.

#

Several hours had passed since they took my son into the house. Finally, when I thought I couldn't wait any longer, Dr. Vaughan came out to give me the results. My stomach knotted at the sight of how much blood was on his scrubs. He walked up and sat down next to me and looked me dead in the eyes. He said that Michael was very lucky and everything went text book perfect. A feeling of relief overcame me and as much as I tried to hold back my tears, they flowed down my face. I told him that I was in debt to him for saving my boy's life. The doctor chuckled, then said that he was only doing his job and if I wanted to go see Mike he would show me his room. As we both got to our feet, the girls and the farm hands ran up. I told them that Michael was all right and they would have to follow me if they wanted to see him; that the good doctor was going to show me the way.

We all walked into the house. It was enormous! The doctor explained that the house was built in the early 1900's and that most of the building was still original. We walked across the living room and went up a large staircase that led to the second story. Once upstairs we traveled down a wide, but fairly short hallway. When he came to the third room, the doctor stopped and turned to us stressing the importance of my son resting, so to be very quiet. As I entered I saw Michael on a bed and I thought he was unconscious, but his eyes opened when I walked up next to him. He gave me a tired smile then closed his eyes again. I told my boy that everything was all right and to rest, I was going to be right here if he needed me.

#

Some time passed and it was nightfall; I remained with Michael for most of the day. When I went downstairs I was met with the smell of fresh rain and wet wood. Everyone was gathered in the living room chatting with each other. Dr. Vaughan met me at the bottom of the stairs. He led me to where everyone was sitting. The doctor wanted to introduce everyone to me. Across the room was his son Peter Junior or PJ for short. He was reclined back in a chair reading a book and drinking from a wine jug. On the sofa was Vince, who was going through a stack of paper attached to a clipboard, which I found out later was his "to–do" list for the following day on the farm. Daniel, Linnie, and Alvin were seated on a couch across from the sofa. They were drinking what looked like beer. Dr. Vaughan explained that they had a brewery in the back. Vaughan said that he was missing one of his men, Arturo, who I found out was the well–built guy who had carried my son into the house. As the introductions were being made two people walked in the front door soaking wet and the doctor introduced them as his two strays. The boy was Jeremy, who was rescued from a nearby farm. His brother had contracted the 'sickness' and late one night he transformed into an Unlucky and slaughtered the family while they slept. Jeremy had been out with his friends and when he came home the boy found his family dead and his brother a monster. He took off down the road screaming for help as his brother chased behind. Arturo happened to come by, killed the beast, and brought the kid to the farm. Jeremy told them the story once, then never spoke of it again.

The girl was Nancy. She wandered onto the farm one day, but never told anyone where she was from or how she ended up there. Vaughan said he originally planned to turn her away, but Jeremy talked him into letting her stay.

After that I followed the doctor across the room to a door that was almost right next to the staircase. He asked if I was hungry, that one of the hands had made barbecued ribs for dinner. How could I say no to that? As we passed through the doorway, I found myself in a kitchen and it was not the only thing that I found. At the far end of the kitchen was the well–built guy Arturo and Rene. They were only talking but appeared to be getting friendly with each other. They looked like two kids who got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Instantly I felt a swirl of emotions, but what could I say or do?

I fixed up a rack of ribs for myself and decided to dine alone outside. I sat on a bench–swing. The rain was still coming down along with a slight breeze, which made it relaxing while I ate. The food itself was beyond wonderful. I hadn't eaten ribs since my wife made them at least fifteen years ago.

My mind wandered as I thought about her and the way things were when we were together. I flashed back to that dream I had the other day with everyone in it. That was odd; maybe it was my subconscious telling me that I'm tired of being alone.

When I went back inside I discovered that everyone had gone to bed. I didn't realize that I had been outside for so long. I walked over to the sofa; it was covered in a South West design and the cushions appeared to be flat from several years worth of use. I stretched out across the sofa and to my surprise found it to be quite comfortable. I stayed there for some time, watching as a clock's metal pendulum swung back and forth. I was almost asleep when the sound of my sister's voice brought me awake. She was sitting across from me. She told me that we needed to talk. I could tell that it was something serious by the look on her face.

I sat up and asked what was wrong. Rose said that nothing was wrong; she wanted to know what my plans were about going to Haven. I told her that as soon as Michael was back to full health we would be back on the road. By bus I figured we were less than a half day's drive away. She sighed and said that she had already spoken with Renee. They both agreed that we should abandon the idea of Haven and stay on the farm. That it had everything we needed to survive. If I decided to leave the compound I would be doing it without them. I told her that I would talk it over with Michael when he was in better health and if he wanted to stay as well we would. But if he wanted to head to Haven then we would make the journey without them. She looked at me without saying a word for some time. Finally she asked why I wanted to continue on.

I stood up from the sofa and began to pace. I stopped and explained that everyone's death would not be in vain. The ones who died on the journey to Haven all died so we would find a new life there. If we were to stay at the farm, they would have died for a lost cause.

Rose's rebuttal was that she had found her Haven in the last week she personally—not counting anyone else—had come close to dying more times then she could count and did not want to put her life on the line anymore. Before I could say anything Rose got up and walked away, headed for the staircase.

#

I walked into Mike's room to find him fast asleep. He looked peaceful. I flashed back to when he was a little boy with me doing everything in my power to protect him from any harm. Now, he lay before me seriously wounded and it was my fault. It was my idea to drag my family from California to find Haven, which had cost the lives of most of my family. Then I thought about what Rose had said to me about staying at the farm. I understood at that moment what she was trying to tell me and realized I had no desire to further endanger my family. I found that I was perhaps willing to call the compound our new home.

To be continued…

-

Let The Contributor Know What You Think!

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...