Free-to-Read Short Story #3
Author’s Note: Not sure why Word Press doesn’t auto-indent the paragraphs when I copied the doc here, but I’m too lazy to go through the whole “short” story and indent everything. I’m sure you’ll be fine.
“Fucking run!” the woman ordered to the young girl.
“I fucking am!” the girl replied, clearly exhausted.
Their ravenous pursuers were close behind with a shambling, jerking run. They reeked of body odor and infection. The woman and the girl tried their best keep from gagging. If they lost pace they’d be felled upon in seconds and then it would all be over.
It would have all been for nothing.
The woman had to keep one hand on her rifle to steady it and her other hand firmly clasped to the girl’s. The rooftops below their feet were aged and uncared for and, much like the rest of the world, had begun to crumble. They jumped from rooftop to rooftop hoping to outrun the horde at their heels with dexterity, but the bastards were a persistent bunch. They likely hadn’t seen fresh meat in quite awhile.
The woman kept her thoughts clear and wits keen as she sidestepped a collapsed section of the roof.
“We’re almost there!” she affirmed, hoping it would get the girl to push a little harder, “The bridge is just up ahead.”
The begotten masses behind them howled and growled, spit and gurgled, cackled and screamed. They ached for release.
Their sounds never failed to terrify the woman, because she knew all too well what it could lead to.
“Oh shit,” the woman panted, “Big jump ahead, you ready?”
“Do I have a choice?” the girl heaved.
The woman yanked her forward and let go of her hand, knowing they couldn’t make the jump to the next house tangled. With a yell of determination they lept over the gap and came crashing down on the roof, only to have it crumble beneath their feet and send them crashing down into the house below, through insulation and drywall.
Coughing the dust away and trying to catch their breath the woman had the presence of mind to unsling her rifle and aim in through the opening they’d just made.
“You alright?” she asked the girl.
“I-I think so,” she replied, checking herself over.
Numerous shouts and thumps could be heard as their mindless pursuers couldn’t seem to make the jump. They listened as the maddening mass crashed into the side of the house and fell to the ground below.
The girl giggled softly.
“What’s funny?” the woman asked.
“I don’t know,” the girl replied, “Just imagining a bunch of naked people hitting a house and breaking their legs on the ground below.”
“Kinda fucked up, kid,” the woman replied, suppressing the faintest of smirks.
A smirk which faded as soon as one of the bastards made the jump and peered down the hole in the roof at her.
She fired her rifle, sending a bullet right though the gaping maw of the near naked beast then said, “Okay, time to run again!”
“Oh, man,” the girl lamented as they headed for the stairs.
The woman and the girl crashed through the already busted screen door of the house and into the streets. Some of their pursuers, many with broken legs and backs crawled desperately after them from the side of the house where they’d fallen. Others seemed smart enough to find alternative ways to ground level and gave chase once again.
The cacophony of bobbing erections, bouncing testicles, and flopping breasts all made for a most dreadful of symphonies to flee from; mixed in with their slathering spews of excitement at fresh prey.
The street before them seemed clear and she knew the Capilano Suspension Bridge was just up ahead. With adrenaline pumping hard they sprinted as fast as they could through the once quaint North Vancouver suburb; the crazed mass once again on their heels.
“I thought you said we were almost there!” the girl complained through tired breaths.
“We are! See!” the woman point to the sign.
The suspension bridge was just a few feet wide and nearly five-hundred feet long but it still seemed sturdy enough. It wobbled and groaned against the strain as they neared the end and more of their pursuers piled onto the bridge.
The woman snatched up her last grenade from her belt, pulled the pin, released the lever, counted then hurled it into the crowd on the bridge. A second later it exploded sending body parts and gore through the cool afternoon air. The suspension bridge snapped in two just as she and the girl made it to the other side. Dozens, if not a hundred, of the horny and brain dead bastards went plummeting into the river below.
The woman sighed, catching her breath. The girl did the same, but she had a hell of a problem keeping her mouth shut.
“Motherfuckers,” the girl exclaimed, “What the hell is wrong with these people?”
“You really don’t know?” the woman asked, hunched over, hands on her knees.
The girl shook her head.
The woman rolled her eyes in annoyance and stood up straight, “C’mon, let’s get into the hills and make camp.”
The woman stoked the fire while the girl tried to make herself comfortable in her sleeping bag, using her backpack as a pillow.
“How old are you?” the woman asked the girl.
“Fourteen,” the girl replied, “Although, I’m starting to question a lot of things I’ve been told lately.”
“Fourteen looks about right, give or take,” the woman told her, “So you were born just after it all happened.”
“What the fuck happened?”
“You know,” the woman raised an eyebrow, “For a girl who grew up in a convent on an isolated mountain you have quite the mouth on you.”
The girl began picking away at the dirt under her fingernails with a small pocket knife, “They had movies. I’d sneak into the only room with a TV at night sometimes and watch them.”
The woman was genuinely intrigued, she hadn’t really seen a movie since the whole world ended, “Oh, like what?”
“The Godfather one, two, and three,” the girl reminisced, “they were awesome. Uh, there were a bunch of old movies. Black and whites. Mostly god stuff. But there were some others too; like Deer Hunter and Saving Private Ryan.”
“My god,” the woman chuckled, feeling like she hadn’t done such a thing in a long time, “awfully violent movies for a bunch of nuns.”
“I think the place was also what used to be called a ‘school?’” the girl said, “Mother Superior once told me they used to teach young people there, showed the future missionaries how horrible the world could be or something.”
The woman somberly looked down at her boots, covered in mud and some dried blood.
“Was the world really like that?” the girl asked.
“All that and worse,” she told her.
“Worse than now?”
The woman paused to think about her answer.
“I don’t know actually,” she said honestly, “World is a lot quieter now. No more debt and bills and slimy politics. No more wars for selfish reasons. No longer obligated to look pretty or shave my legs.”
The woman found herself enjoying laughter again.
“But?” the girl was able to pick up on the woman’s line of thought.
“But there is little peace, little rest,” she relayed, “always surviving. Everyone I’ve ever known…or loved is gone. Seems like we’re all just waiting to die. Humans, I mean.”
There was a long silence between them.
The girl put away her folding pocket knife and sat up in her sleeping bag, “How old are you?”
“Never polite to ask a woman her age?” the woman responded with a smirk, “Old enough.”
“C’mon,” the girl protested, “I told you my age.”
“You’re young,” the woman replied, “It’s different.”
“You come from a weird place,” the girl hugged her knees, “What happened? What are those naked people? Were they around before?”
“The nuns told you nothing?”
“They said that god had judged the world and deemed man unfit. So He destroyed it.”
“I’m sure god, if there ever was one,” the woman scoffed, “had nothing to do with it.”
“So what then?”
The woman took a deep breath and sighed, “The SHADEs virus happened.”
“Sexually Hyper-Active Deficiency Epidemic,” the woman informed, “A sexually transmitted disease…you do know what sex is, don’t you?”
“A sin?” the girl giggled.
The woman laughed, “Might as well be now.”
“So what does this SHADEs-thing do?”
“It attacks the nervous system,” the woman said, “basically erasing all of a person’s memories and rationality, except the need to breed; which is heightened. And fucking spreads the disease. It acts quickly too, near immediate. It had already taken over before we even knew what we were dealing with. Men were carriers…once they raped though…it could spread to anybody.”
“What the fuck?” the girl was disgusted.
“That is an appropriate response,” the woman pursed her lips.
“So all those crazy people that were chasing us…”
“They were going to rape us, yes, it is how the disease propagates.”
“You use a lot of big words sometimes,” the girl noted.
“Wasn’t always a dirty nomad,” the woman said.
“So what happened to everybody,” the girl skirted the obvious question about the woman’s past, “Mother Superior told me there used to be seven billion people on Earth.”
“Used to be,” the woman affirmed, “Not sure how many now.”
The woman ran her hand through her hair and sighed in sadness, “SHADEs is too violent a strain. It kills the elderly and…the young. The infected are driven to screw anything that moves; no matter the age, gender, or even species.”
“Animals seem unaffected by it though,” the woman said.
“Well, that’s comforting,” the girl remarked, “but if all they do is screw, then how are they still alive?”
“They eat…when they get hungry enough,” the woman said, “That’s why most look skeletal. They subsist. But they’re still human. Cold and heat affect them. Which is why I am heading to Alaska.”
“I never really said it,” the girl looked the woman in the eyes, “but thank you for letting me tag along.”
The woman slowly nodded and looked back down at her boots, a safe view devoid of too much connection.
“Couldn’t just leave you there,” the woman told her.
“So after all this time,” the girl continued her interrogation, “how are there still so many?”
“There aren’t,” the woman informed, “Their numbers are decreasing, but humanity is too far gone to rebound any time soon. They can’t breed amongst themselves. SHADEs makes them sterile. Ejaculate just carries the disease and nothing more. They breed by rape. Stay as far away from them as possible, long enough, and they’ll all die out sooner or later.”
“So cold ass Alaska is the plan, then?”
“For me, little lady,” the woman said, “You can hop off this journey whenever you like.”
“Think I’ll stick around if that’s alright.”
“Sure, better start pulling your weight, though.”
The woman and the girl were trekking across the crest of a hill which overlooked a small town. The woman was doing reconnaissance, debating whether or not to enter the town for supplies they desperately needed.
“I’m hungry,” the girl noted, not really complaining.
“Me too,” the woman said, “Which is why we are watching this town. Looking for activity, seeing if it is safe-ish.”
A terrified scream woke up the town just as the sun rose above the weed-riddled brick buildings.
The woman dropped to the ground behind a tree, yanking the girl down with her, “Be quiet and stay still.”
From their vantage point they didn’t need binoculars to see what was unfolding; a scene all too familiar to the woman.
The herald of the wake up call was a dirty and bearded man. He was running though the small, two lane streets, weaving in and out of cars and other debris. He was screaming for help. Right behind him were a dozen or so of the infected. Most of them were completely naked while others had tatters of clothing hanging from them in shreds. Each had sores, open wounds and other types of infection marring their bodies; some were signs of other sexually-transmitted diseases in advanced stages. Some were cancerous tumors.
“Are we gonna help him?” the girl whispered, concerned.
“No,” the woman said with finality.
The girl looked at the woman with shock and disbelief, “But you helped me.”
“That was different.”
“This is not up for discussion,” the woman’s whisper was harsh.
The girl pursed her lips, relenting to the woman and forced to simply stare at the macabre scene.
The infected fell on the man with ravenous lust. He screamed louder as they tore away at his clothes. In seconds his naked body was exposed. They surged upon him with unbridled hyper-sexuality; each one trying to find a place to stick their erections or grind their wet orifices. One of the few women in the group of infected silenced the man’s howls by suffocating his face between her thighs. The other woman so overcome with desperation writhed against the unfortunate man’s flailing extremities, pinning him down hopelessly. The infected male who’d found his release inside the man’s rectum fell away in a twitchy sporadic respite, yet his erection remained firm; and another quickly took his place.
On the hill the girl looked away in revulsion, vomiting the mix of nuts and berries she’d eaten for breakfast barely an hour prior.
“This is the world now, kid,” the woman informed her, “best get used to it.”
A few minutes later the sweaty, undulating mass of sore-riddled infected flopped off the bearded man like bugs after getting too close to a zapper. The bearded man, drenched and filled with all manner of bodily fluids ached and groaned until he lied still for only an instant. He then shot up like a bullet, rabid eyes darting all around, nose sniffing the foul morning air. He stumbled around in place grunting and scoffing. He tore at his clothes until not much remained save for a tiny erection protruding from the slit in his stained, half-torn boxers. The rest of the infected soon recovered and joined their new member as they once again took to wandering the deserted streets.
“Well, this place is shit,” the woman sighed, “C’mon, let’s get outta here.”
As luck would have it they stumbled upon a small, once family-owned sporting goods store on the outskirts of the town. They had taken great caution infiltrating the backwoods-accented establishment. There weren’t any infected, but there wasn’t much in the way of supplies either.
The girl’s stomach grumbled, “I’d kill for some of Sister Florence’s stew right about now. And that stuff tasted terrible.”
“I think you might have to,” the woman said from across the room.
“Huh?” the girl replied, only half paying attention as she was playing lookout.
“Look,” the woman said.
The girl turned to find the woman triumphantly holding up a compound bow and five arrows with broadheads.
“Screws need a little tightening, but we can fix that,” she said, “If you wanna stick around you’ll need to learn how to hunt.”
“Yay,” the girl said unenthusiastically.
The sun was setting and neither had had very much to eat save for their berries and nuts. They retreated once more into the hills and found a nice clearing with a small field of tall, hip height, grass. At one corner of the field they climbed a tree, weary and sluggish, to stake out their hunting spot.
“How long we gotta-” the girl started.
“Shhhh,” the woman interrupted her sharply.
The girl returned her gaze back to the whispering field as a light breeze stirred the brush. The girl felt herself dozing off.
The woman rapped her on the thigh, waking her, then pointed. Out in the field, some twenty yards away a small group of whitetail deer cautiously crept into view. Three of them; two does and a buck barely sprouting its antlers.
“You can make the shot,” the woman whispered to the girl, “ready the bow and nock the arrow like I showed you.”
“Okay,” the girl whispered, doing as taught.
“Wait for them to pause,” the woman instructed, “pick your target, exhale and release, aiming for the spot just behind the shoulder blade.”
The girl had never held a weapon before and certainly hadn’t killed a living creature, save for a few goldfish she had forgotten to feed when she was younger. But she was desperately hungry and the thought of actual meat to munch on made her anxious. The bow string was hard to hold back, let alone keep the arrow steady. She’d started to sweat, and when she felt she could take no more she took her chance of a shot at the lead doe.
And the arrow missed, gliding right over its hind quarters. All three deer raised their tails in alarm, necks ridged and ready to prance.
“Shit,” the woman whispered, her rifle already steadied on her knee.
The woman took her shot.
The two does ran, but the buck kicked the air before meandering in place and dropping down, dead.
“Sorry,” the girl said.
“It’s alright,” the woman told her, “at least you were close. And at least you didn’t shoot yourself…or me.”
They shared a half-hearted smile.
“Should we go get it?” the girl asked, shouldering her bow.
“No,” the woman said, “Always wait after a kill. Make sure it bleeds out and dies. If we went down now its adrenaline might kick in and it’ll run off. And we don’t have the daylight to be tracking a deer through the forest.”
The girl gagged more than once while the woman taught her how to gut their deer. With both their hands bloody and full of gore they each had a leg and dragged the kill far enough away to where the woman was comfortable enough to set up camp.
They quickly made a fire as it grew dark and hung the carcass up in a nearby tree. The woman detailed to the girl each step of the way with skinning the once majestic animal to cutting out edible sections of meant.
“We’ll need to cook as much as possible,” the woman said, “we have no way of preserving it and we need it to last a few days. Take the hide near the fire and let it dry. Might come in handy.”
“How did you learn all this?” the girl asked as she did what she was told.
The woman didn’t reply immediately.
So the girl asked again.
“Someone I was once very close to,” the woman said, not wanting to get into the matter.
“Like a boyfriend?”
After a beat, “Like a friend.”
The girl remained quiet taking the hint that the woman wasn’t in the mood for talking about it, concentrated as she was with her task.
“Take this meat and skewer it on the stick over the fire,” the woman ordered.
After cutting out as much meat as she could they both had taken to sitting by the fire watching it cook with salivating mouths and glossy eyes.
After eating their fill and packing the rest away in some trash bags the woman had in her backpack they readied their sleeping bags for the night. The woman took to whittling away at the eight-inch long antler spikes she had hacked off the buck.
“What are you doing?” the girl asked.
“You sure ask a lot of questions,” the woman replied, continuing her task.
“I was raised in a convent, what do you expect?”
The woman shot her a sly smirk, then tossed the girl both spikes.
“Here,” the woman said, “can never have too many sharp objects.”
“But I already have a knife,” the girl noted.
“Knives can chip, dull, and corrode. Always good to have back ups.
After examining the spikes for a bit the girl relented, “Thanks.”
“Now let’s get some sleep.”
The woman awoke to the girl screaming.
She threw aside her sleeping bag and stood, rifle at the ready as she always slept with it by her side; like the comfort of a stuffed animal.
“Put it down, please,” said the man with the Long Hair as he held the girl by the back of her neck in front of him, “No one needs to get needlessly hurt now, please, put down the rifle.”
The woman begrudgingly did as she was told, her face of stone.
Long Hair made a slight head gesture to the two fellows behind him and they silently followed unspoken orders. The Bald one picked up the woman’s rifle and checked it over like he knew what he was doing. He didn’t. The one with the cowboy Hat pulled her hands behind her back and proceeded to tie them together with some fraying and abrasive synthetic rope. It hurt her flesh, only serving to make her more irritated. She kept her gaze fixated on Long Hair and the small blade he had at the girl’s throat. She felt Hat gently brush her behind with the backs of his fingers when he was done tying her up.
The woman had been in this place before. She knew it as a sad reality of this world all too well. She knew this scenario had only a few ways of ending. Ways she had methods of dealing with. But the girl knew nothing of this. She was, for most intents and purposes, innocent. And the woman’s heart beat faster for her.
“Take our supplies,” the woman offered, knowing it was an empty proposition, “Let us be.”
Bald and Hat chuckled.
“Ma’am,” Long Hair said, “We mean you no harm. But you have to understand that it has been quite a long time since we’ve even seen a woman. One that was normal anyway.”
“Kid’s even rarer,” Bald said, swishing his pursed lips from side to side.
“We are not violent men,” Long Hair politely insisted, “Well, not much more than one has to be in this world.”
“Just humans being human,” the woman said.
“That’s right,” Long Hair replied, “See? You understand.”
“What ever happened to asking like a gentleman?” the woman tried, “Let the girl go. Just me.”
Long Hair sighed, “See all that business just takes too long. And young or not, girl’s gotta learn reality sometime. You have my word that after we’re done we’ll just move along. You can even keep your supplies.”
“I kinda like her gun,” Bald said as he stroked the stock.
“What did I just say?” Long Hair looked at him with building irritation.
“Yessir,” Bald said as he placed the gun against a tree behind him.
The girl’s eyes were wide and frightened and they stared at the woman’s which gave no response. But she saw the woman’s jaw muscles tighten and that her hands seem to be busy behind her.
Long Hair leaned down next to the girl’s right ear, “You’re gonna go into the woods with my friend here, okay? Don’t try anything stupid and no one gets hurt.”
The stench of the man’s hair roiled her stomach.
The girl’s lip quivered, “Okay.”
When Long Hair removed his blade from the girl she dropped to her knees and started to cry.
The woman’s breaths heaved through her nose. The knots behind her drew blood as she shuffled her wrists, but they were loosening. The woman noticed the girl grip something underneath the hem of her sleeping bag and carefully tuck it up the long sleeve of her shirt.
The woman had to fight away a smirk. She knew what the girl was up to.
Bald picked up the girl, offering sickeningly comforting words as he helped her to her feet and began to lead her away from camp.
“This won’t last long,” Long Hair told the woman as he approached her.
“It usually doesn’t,” the woman said sternly.
Hat laughed, “Shit, she sounds like my late wife, may she fuck in peace.”
Long Hair unzipped the woman’s jacket, exposing the tank top she wore underneath. Her breasts heaved.
“Mymymy,” Long Hair whispered, “Too long.”
As he touched her breasts she felt a knot give way in her restraints.
When Long Hair had his fill of her chest he went about undoing her jeans. The button then the zipper.
He stuck his nose against the front of her underpants and inhaled deeply. He cooed like an ailing babe.
The blood-curdling scream of their bald friend echoed through the woods and both Hat and Long Hair shot confused glances in the direction he had gone.
“Go check on him,” Long Hair ordered, “Don’t want another accident like last time.”
“Yes, boss,” Hat said, trudging off.
“Now where were we?” Long Hair asked to no one.
“I was just about to kill you,” the woman told him.
“What?” Long Hair raised an eyebrow.
The woman, hands unbound, took her scathing restraints and wrapped them around Long Hair’s throat, pulling tighter than she had ever thought she could. His screams couldn’t make it past his broken windpipe.
Once his body went limp she tied the rope around his neck in a nice neat bow, like a gift. She ran to her rifle and swooped it up as she went after the girl. She came upon Hat first and shouted at him. Hat turned only to be greeted by a bullet directly between his eyes. The woman continued her stride.
She found the girl just as she had expected to find her; hands covered in the blood of the bald man. The girl was kneeling on the dead leaves of the forest floor. Before her was the dead body of the bald man, blood pooling around his crotch, soaking into his pants, and oozing onto the orange and brown leaves. In the girl’s hand was the buck’s spike, now crimson from her first kill.
The girl simply stared, emotionless, at the reddening foliage.
The woman approached the girl, knelt beside her and, placing a hand on her shoulder, said, “Hey. Are you alright?”
The girl turned to her, tears streaking down her cheeks, and said nothing. Instead she lunged forward and hugged the woman. She was resistant to hug her back, but only for a moment before returning the gesture.
“Shhshsh,” the woman whispered, “It’s alright now.” The woman looked off into the forest, forever wary of her surroundings, but trying to digest the moment. It had been a long time since she had held someone like this; a time in her life she had forgotten or, rather, tried not to think about. Those memories were too sweet for this world.