Thursday, July 31, 2014

Part 24

I left my pack behind the store register area.  I didn't leave my bat or break in tools however.

Jace glanced at me and said, "You won't need those."

I shook my head.  "Don't tell me what I'll need and what I won't."

"Fine.  Just don't scare or hurt the kids with that stuff."  I rolled my eyes, borrowed a baseball cap from the rack of tourist junk near some t-shirts with the village's name on them, and then followed him into the dark and very wet night.  I had a feeling that scaring Sammy and her brother wasn't going to be the problem; hurting them either.  I was pretty sure I needed to be more worried about being on that end of the stick.

As soon as we got off the porch the rain started running down the back of my neck making me shiver.  I turned my coat collar up but that didn't help much because it kept rolling back down.  Eventually I got used to the sudden temperature drop as I did my best to keep up with Jace who seemed to fail to comprehend that his legs were about a foot longer than mine and therfore could cover a lot more ground in a single step.

I finally wound up chucking a wet branch at him and he turned around sharply.  "Slow down or I'm turning back," I sniped at him.

Turns out he really hadn't thought about it and surprised me by saying, "Sorry."  Then he looked at me for what seemed like the first time.  "Are you sure you're fifteen?  You're awfully short."

Ready to chuck another branch at him I spit out, "Height challenged.  And none of your business."

He bent over and said, "Short.  And ... and not a problem.  I was just asking."

I blinked.  "Oh.  Well, I was ... was born early.  The docs said it stunted my growth."

"Didn't stunt your mouth any," Jace said, standing back up.

"You aren't the first one to make that observation Sherlock.  So how much further do I have to jog?"

He turned and looked back down the street in the direction he'd been leading us.  "Not too much farther.  But the house sits back a ways.  They won't hear us coming through this rain but just in case I'll take us around the back way.  If you'll stand by the back door I'll try and flush them through the front."

Thirty minutes later we were standing in the bushes beside a little bungalow house.  It had one story and a detached garage that was almost bigger than it was.  The place was even smaller than my house had been so I was guessing it was only a one or two bedroom place.  Jace leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Go ahead and go up on the porch.  I'm going to work my way around the front.  When they run out just stop them ... don't hurt them."  The warning was well taken and we did as planned.

But when I got up on the porch I could sense that no one was home.  But something about the detached garage was giving me the heebies.  Sherry taught me to listen to my instincts in the city.  I left the porch and inched my way over to the other structure.  It had shutters on the outside covering the windows but they were loose.  Everytime they flapped in the wind I noticed a little bit of light showing.  I grabbed one of the shutters and opened it but left the other ones to keep up the banging so whoever was inside wouldn't notice.

I used my finger and cleaned off small square in one of the glass panes and froze when what I saw started making sense.  Ha!  Making sense, that's a good one.

Sammy was fussing quietly at John-John who was holding his hand, in obvious pain.  "How many times have I told you not to do that?  Now look at what you did!"

"Gotta owie Sammy.  Baby bit me."

"Duh.  Shut up.  I gotta figure this out.  You can stay here with Momma and Baby.  I'll have to tell Jace something but maybe now we won't have to hide anymore 'cause he'll have to understand."

I was backing away from the building when something big came up behind me.  Before I could scream or fight there was a hand over my mouth and I was locked tight by a strong arm.  I was still gonna fight but then I heard "shhhhh" in my ear.

I was still considering fighting when I felt Jace go rigid in shock.  If he hadn't been holding onto me I'm pretty sure his knees would have give out.  As it was I had to elbow him because he was cutting my air off.  He stumbled back a couple of feet then fetched up against a tree.  The look on his face was pure horror.  I knew then that I'd really seen what I had thought I had seen.

Jace started shaking but then stiffened when Sammy gave a gasp of pain.  "Why did you do that you stupid, stupid Baby?!"

We both looked back into the window and Sammy was hoping around holding her calf which even in the dark we could tell was bloody.  Something skittered out of the dark and she kicked out at it sending it into a pile of blankets in the corner where something ... someone ... was tied.

"Momma, I told you last time you had to make Baby behave.  Now he is in sooooo much trouble."

I felt my dinner wanting to exit at both ends.  Jace's shaking had stopped and he brushed past me with real purpose.  Fool me followed him.  There was just something so wrong about what was happening that it had to be stopped.

Jace yanked open the wooden garage door and started shooting as soon as it was out of his way.  The chained up skeletal puss brain was dead in two shots, one brain and the other blew her chest open.  Jace then started shooting at something that had run into the other corner that I couldn't bring myself to look at.  I turned just in time to see Sammy's face change.  She must have gotten a pretty good dose in her bite because she went to the dark side just about as fast as I've ever seen anyone turn.

Her trajectory made it easy and one swing was all it took to crack her skull.  She was way too new to heal fast enough to survive.  I kept John-John at bay until Jace secured him with some bike chains that had been hanging from the wall beside a couple of old bikes.

The little boy had indeed been bitten and Jace looked like he wan't to collapse in on himself.  I didn't blame him, I was going there myself.  Then John-John piped in his little sing song voice, "You are in soooo much trouble.  Wait until Daddy comes home.  He's gonna whup you good."

"He's not coming home," I choked out.

"Oh yes he is.  Sammy says so.  People said Mommy wasn't coming home but she did.  We took care of her ... and Baby too when he came.  We fed them and everything.  You're just mean.  Daddy is going to whup you too."

Jace was starting to rock and I didn't know what to do.  The change was starting to show in John-John's face ... it kept twitching and stuff like it does when the infection moves from the blood to the brain.  I was raising my bat to put the poor kid out of his misery when a hole appeared in his forehead and he slumped dead in his chains.

I turned to look at Jace who was there on his knees with the rifle still aimed.  Then his hands must have gone numb and I caught it before it hit the ground.  Looking into his eyes I realized no one was home in Jace-land.  I guess I stood there fifteen minutes waiting for something.  I don't know what but if there had been other puss brains in the area I would have been chomped and not cared a single bit.

Then I slung the rifle over one shoulder and slung Jace's arm over the other shoulder.  I stood up and had to drag Jace up with me.  Slowly he started putting one foot in front of the other and was aware enough that he kept me from making a wrong turn trying to get back to the store.  We got in and he just sort of puddled in front of the stove.  I was shivering and went looking for towels or something to dry off with.  Found what I needed in a closet under the stairs.  I came back carrying a load and Jace was feeding wood into the stove.

He looked at me but neither one of us could stay a word.  He took the towel I handed him but it was like he forgot how to use it.  I told myself that if Lee found himself in the same situation that I prayed someone would help him so I just did what had to be done.  I got Jace out of his wet clothes and wrapped in a bed spread.  Then I brought a pillow out of the same closet and made a place for him to lay his head.  He looked at me just once and then let me push him over.

I don't know how long he laid there with his eyes open but it was for a long time.  I went and changed in another room but was shivering really hard before I could get back in front of the heat from the stove.  I made sure all the doors were locked and then just sat until I took out this notebook and stated to write.  And now it is all out on paper but I'm not feeling any better about it.  I don't think I ever will.

I'm going to lay down too now that Jace's eyes have closed.  I ... I checked to make sure that he hadn't been bitten when I took off his wet clothes.  I don't think he noticed.  I don't think he even cared.  I tried not to notice more than I had to.  It isn't like it was with Cochran who wanted to show off what he had.  Jace was just a lump and it is wrong to go all googly eyed over someone when they aren't trying to make you that way.  I wouldn't want anyone doing that to me.

I don't know what to do.  But I'm going to have to figure it out.  In the morning.  After I get some sleep.  After the nightmares come and go.  I just hope these don't have sound and color like some of the other ones do.  I don't ever want to hear her scream or his little boy voice saying such crazy things ever, ever again.

1 comment:

  1. Just "found" this story, and as with your Mom's Journal, loving in. I especially appreciate the infected NOT being undead zombies.