The End: Story One
By: David K. Montoya
It had been an interesting twentyfour hours for me and I could only imagine what the next day would bring. As we traveled up the old freeway, we stopped off at a small ghost town that was once called Baker. By the time we arrived, dawn was just breaking and I thought it would be a good time to get out and stretch our legs.
I pulled off into an empty lot where an old general store used to standit seemed to be a good place. After all, it was in the open and if we were to be attacked by anything, we should be able to see it coming.
I left the rest of the group for a while, since I needed to go for a walk and clear my mind. Once I got out of everyone's view I pulled back my shirt to examine the wound on my neck. The Unlucky that bit me back in Airepseh got me pretty goodit broke the skin and went in pretty deep at that. Which made me wonder about one serious issue: was I now infected with the mutated Sickness that Richard had talked about?
A cold chill ran down my spine at that thought. I began to wonder; would I be able to complete our journey or would I have to be put down before we even got to Haven? I do not know what the future holds for me. But for now, I will keep this to myself. If Richard were to catch wind of my misfortune, he would want to kill me where I stood.
I know I will have to tell someone soon enough. I should probably tell my oldest child Michael, but I do not have the heart. Maybe Rose. Hopefully she would be able to handle the news of my possible demise. Well, at least better then anyone else in the group.
But I have to think positively, for after all, I do not even know if I am infected or not. Then again, how often does one hear of someone being bitten by an Unlucky and not becoming contaminated? Well, there was that old man that lived in Appleton. He claimed that one of the Unlucky survivors bit him and he never became ill, but that old man was full of crap most of the time. So, how could anyone know if he was telling the truth or not?
I guess we will all have to wait and find out, you know?
After I cleaned my wound with the supplies I had taken from the SUV, I made my way back to the group. When I stepped back into the open, I found that everyone was inside the vehicle fast asleep, except for Renee.
She was standing outside wrapped in a sleeping bag , her exhaustion evident by just looking at her face. Under different circumstances, one would be able to see that she was a very attractive woman. With all that had happened to her in the last few days, however, her appearance had become somewhat less than flattering. As she stood there, I could not help but wonder why she was outside alone, while everyone else slept. I asked her if she had been left to stand watch. She said 'No', that originally Richard said he was going to keep an eye on everyone, but then walked off in the another direction, after I was out of sight.
I told her that she could go lie down. I was back and would stand watch over things and we would be on our way when Richard returned from his little walk. She declined and said that she would stick around to keep me company, if nothing else.
She asked how long it had been since I had any sleep. It took me a moment to recall exactly how long it had been. Then I remembered that it was the night before yesterday. So, it had been some time since I slept I went on to explain that I was one of those types of people that could (and most often did) run fairly well without a lot of sleep.
As Renee and I chatted, I noticed something moving in the stretch of brush that was across the parking lot from us. Not knowing if that movement might mean Richard was in danger, I grabbed my revolver and went looking for him, telling Renee to get back inside the SUV and lock the doors.
As I reached the edge of the parking lot, I called out for my younger brother, but did not receive any reply. Moving rapidly through the thin brush, I tripped over something and fell to the ground.
When I hit the ground the gun fell out of my hand and landed a few inches in front of me. Realizing what had happened, I picked the revolver up as quickly as I could. Then I heard something behind me. Not knowing if it was an Unlucky or not, I slowly turned to see what it was. As I made the complete turn, I raised my pistol to fire, but was surprised to find myself aiming at Richard's head.
Then it all became clear to me. Richard had slipped away from the campsite to indulge in what was known as the 'Last Drug of Man' or LDM, as it is also called. They were a small mushroom type of plant, about the size of a Brussels sprout. They are typically grown wherever it's dark and moist and just one bite is equal to several hits of LSD.
I heard that Richard had gotten caught up in using the LDM in the early years after his wife and child died from the sickness. He used it as an escape from his heartache, but I had long since thought that he had stopped using the drugobviously, I was wrong.
He was quick to explain that it was a way to help him deal with all the death and carnage he had witnessed, but I could not understand his decision because of the secluded life I led after my wife's mishap. He went on to claim that it took away the pain from inside and that without it he would be no better then the Unluckys.
As I continued to hold the barrel of my revolver to his forehead, I could see in his eyes that he truly meant what he was saying. I wondered for a moment if he was really living a worthwhile life. I felt myself gripping the butt of the gun tighter and the edge of the trigger pressed up against my finger. I had to decidedid my brother deserve to live and would I be man enough to pull the trigger if I decided that he did not? Finally, I jerked the gun away from his head. I figured, what the hell, he might be of some use to the group if I kept him alive.
With undisguised contempt, I told him to take his bite and come on.
Once we got back to the SUV, I was surprised to find that everyone was awake and out of the vehicle. I asked what was going on and Renee explained that she got everyone out because she had smelled gas. After looking around the car, she discovered that there was indeed gas leaking somewhere underneath.
I got under the SUV and located the leak. It was in a hose that ran from the gas tank to the motor and a small sliver of wood had penetrated the rubber, allowing the fuel to escape. It could have been when we made our way through the wooden barricade as we broke into Airepseh, or it could have happened when we ran through the gate back at Richard's place. Whenever happened, it was a good thing the piece of wood remained inside the hose or the leak would have been worse .
What worried me was just how much gasoline we had lost. There was a good sized puddle where it all collected on the ground. I was hoping the amount that was lost would not affect the outcome of our expedition. Especially as we make our way through Corpseland.
I left the splinter inside the hose, but broke off the piece that protruded outside and wrapped the hose with a thin piece of cloth. Then I cut the top and bottom off of an aluminum can (which are laying around all over the place) and wrapped the metal around the hose, finally tying it in place with an old shoestring.
So, once again we were ready to be on our way. The next stop should be a town right before we get to Corpseland, one of the biggest and most expensive ghost towns in the world. "Las Vegas."