Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Part 121


Those two groups of puss brains were the only ones that came through that area of the camp.  That isn't to say that single ones didn't come through.  Chris and I covered each other while we took turns doing what we had to do to keep them from escaping off into the woods and terrorizing and chomping on other people or from destroying supplies either from eating them or contaminating them.

After climbing the tree for the leventy-dozenth time Chris said, "This job sucks bigfoot's dirty drawers."

"Christopher Randall Peterson, what would Mother say?!"

I knew that tone and tried to stay out of it.  Chris didn't appreciate being reprimanded.  "Oh shut up Dorrie.  Mom isn't here.  And neither is Robbie.  There's just you, me, and Dad and he isn't around much anymore either."

Dorrie teared up and said, "That's not nice Chris.  Dad doesn't like to be gone so much but he needs to run supplies to in-country posts."

"Wrong.  He can't stand to be around either one of us too much or he starts thinking about Mom and then he starts drinking.  I can live with it if he'd just be honest about it.  He isn't the only one that looks at us and sees Mom.  I look at us and see Mom's hair.  Robbie could too.  But at least he made sure we had a gun to protect us.  Dad just leaves and doesn't even ..."

"Chris!"

Family drama.  Ugh.  Now I know why Dad hated domestic calls more than anything else.  They were so messy and dangerous and draining.

I just closed my ears to their quietly fierce discussion, one I was pretty sure they'd already had more than once, and kept an eye out for trouble.  A couple of minutes later, hearing movement but being unable to see it, I told them both, "Hush.  Listen."

Chris almost immediately heard what I'd heard and cursed which caused Dorrie to chuck him in the ribs with her elbow.  He made a practiced evasion and moved out of her reach then whispered to me, "Scabs," he said as people dressed to blend in with the surrounding woods slowly crept into the clearing.  "They're like thieving coyotes.  They hang around and will steal you blind if you leave anything where they can get at it.  They follow the camps and hang around settlements until they get run off ... but they always come back.  They must have come through where the fence isn't finished."

"So they aren't puss brains?"

"You mean infecteds?  No.  But they are bad in their own way.  If they can't get what they want one way they'll do it another.  And they fight dirty."

"They sound like looters."

"That's pretty much what they are.  Except sometimes they'll start a riot just so that they can loot if you know what I mean."

"Like a flashmob kind of thing."

"Uh ... yeah ... yeah I think so.  Kinda.  I gotta try and stop them.  They'll take all the gear and food."

"OK.  You got a plan?"

"Not you," he said dead serious.  "You're a noncombatant ... a cook."

"You weren't saying that when ... oh carp ... come on.  They'll get away."

Back down the tree and before I could make sure he actually had brains under all that red hair he shouts out, "Stop!  You're under arrest!"

Doh!

The one I pegged as the leader almost dropped what he was carrying and ran but then he saw us and smirked.  "Well, well, well.  Look what we have here.  A little rooster that thinks he's king of the barnyard."  Then before I expected it the Scab pulled a gun and goes to shoot but Chris gets him first and dang if he isn't really fast and good.  Every guy that pulls his gun Chris shoots.  If the guy doesn't pull his gun Chris doesn't shoot him.  Then some chick comes out of the dark and stabs a knife into Chris' arm and he goes down and she growls ... I mean really growls like a dog or something ... and comes at me.

I hate fighting.  Just leave me alone, ignore me, or whatever.  I always feel like a fool getting into a brawl.  Jerry and some of the other men used to cause fights with the girls just so they could see the fur fly.  It was humiliating.  I will avoid fighting if I can even at the cost of some pride.  And I really haven't had to brawl since I left the city but in some ways I am in better shape than I was there.  So I was holding my own but I wasn't winning.  Then the girl gets over confident 'cause I am on the bottom and she is so much bigger; but I wiggle and wedge my boot in her stomach and flip her up, over, and off me.

I'm up and on my knees prepaing for her to barrel back into me when this leg with with this big boot attached to it comes out of the dark and catches the girl so hard in the side that she goes flying.  The night lights up with spot lights and people are all around shouting, "On the ground!  Hands where I can see them!  On the ground!  I said on the ground!!"

I duck and almost out of instinct raise my hands in the air when I see the booted foot belonged to MSgt. Shadwell and that there are men and women all around us hunting down the scabs and covering the corpses of the puss brains and dealing with everything so professionally that I realized this wasn't the first time they'd had to do something like that.

I wheeze, "Chris ... this guy ... is stabbed ..."

MSgt. Shadwell grabs me by the scruff and hauls me up like I'm a kitten or puppy and sets me on my feet.  "Stay put," she orders.

I do but I can still look around and I do, looking for Chris.  I find him in the dark just in time to see Gayle jerk the knife out of his arm and apply direct pressure while telling him there is a medic on the way and that if he hurls on her boots he will be cleaning them up.  Only the way she says it doesn't match the words she uses and I realize that maybe, just maybe, Gayle isn't the awful person I was beginning to think she was.  I've met too many people that are double natured like that ... Doc, Moses, Sherry ... even Jace to some extent.  Sometimes you can work with the double nature someone has and sometimes you can't.  Seeing Gayle with Chris made me think maybe there was something to work with.

Lucy was using some kind of plastic thing to hog tie a scab and saw me.  She said, "Gayle ... two o'clock."

Uh oh.

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