End of the CyclebywakingDown©
All characters are over 18.
This is a concept I first wrote out during my trip to the sandbox. I hope you like it, but understand if you do not. I had to write this out to cement it in my mind. I figure there may be others who like it, so am sharing it. Thank you.
She sat huddled the kneehole of the desk, tears rolling down her face, listening to the carnage outside the office. She could the demons laughing and gibbering as they rampaged, tearing through anything and anyone they encountered. When the door burst open and the sounds of the struggle crashed into the room, she held her breath and waited for them to find her. The sounds of a frantic struggle were deafening as they slammed into the walls and the desk. There was a loud, tearing boom and one of the demons slid over the desk and collapsed to the ground in a heap, its long twisted limbs bloody and tangled. A large chunk of its torso was blasted open. She creamed a short screech before clapping her hands over her mouth. Hoping nothing heard her. The room was silent a moment, the havoc in the background covering what little sounds were there. The click-clack of a shotgun being pumped seemed very loud when it came. She whimpered a little at the harsh sound.
"Someone there?" A rough voice asked quietly. "Come out now or I shoot."
She crawled slowly out from under the desk, and stood up. Her legs were shaking and her tears were flowing freely as she turned. She saw a man in a heavy coat, his face scruffy and lined, his clothes ragged and dusty, a splash of blood across his chest. He lowered the shotgun and sighed, his shoulders sagging, his relief obvious.
"Girl, I almost blasted you. Are you alright? What the fuck are you doing here? Never mind. Let's get the hell out of here. The city is swarmed." He said, jamming shells into the shotgun.
She sighed as well and stepped around the desk. He looked at her a moment before pulling a small pistol from the pocket of his coat. She tensed as he did, but he held it by the barrel, offering her the handle.
"Take this. It doesn't kick hard, and it won't jam." He said quietly.
She took the gun and was surprised by its weight. She held it carefully, keeping her fingers well away from the trigger. The gun felt strange in her hands, alien. She was entranced by the thing, her eyes riveted to the flat black metal of the barrel and cylinder.
"Just point and pull the trigger. Just don't point it at me or you." He said as he glanced out into the hallway. "Let's go"
They went out, trotting down the hall, towards the large double doors with the Fire Exit sign over them. He cracked the door and peeked out before opening it enough for them to leave. The street was a mess, it looked like a warzone, which she figured it was. He led her down the street, moving from car to car, from doorway to alleyway, keeping them in shadows and cover as best he could. She did not know where he was leading her, but she didn't really care. He was armed, had already killed at least one of them, and was protecting her. He ducked into a store front through the shattered display window. She followed, trying to keep right at his heels in the gloom. It appeared to be a sporting goods store. He led her to the back, his shotgun pointing wherever he was looking, watching the aisles and display racks for any sign of movement. He reached the back wall and it's collection of guns. He knelt next to the counter and whispered to her.
"Stay here, behind the counter. Don't move, don't make a sound. Unless you see one of them, then you scream, and I'll come. Now stay put a minute." He breathed before disappearing back into the aisles. She crouched behind the counter, trying to look everywhere at once. It seemed like he was gone for a very long time, even though it was only a few minutes. She heard him returning, carrying a bunch of gear. He set his load down next to her and began sorting. He had two backpacks, one large, one smaller. He jammed water bottles and packages of freeze dried foods into the larger one, along with binoculars and a few boxes she couldn't identify. Into the smaller one he shoved a stack of first aid kits, gloves, jackets, winter hats, and heavy socks. He looked through the case behind her and picked out a small stack of boxes of ammunition and jammed them into the larger pack. He wrapped a couple of tarps around three large pistols from the rack and put them in the smaller one. He pulled the larger one on and she took the smaller. They made their way to the side of the building and took the emergency exit out into the alley. They went to the back of the building, to the cinder block retaining wall. He gave her a boost up the wall to the ledge, where she helped him climb up. He helped her over the chain link fence at the top and followed after. One the other side was a small strip of scrub grass before the lanes of the freeway. They crossed in a hunched trot and slid down the short embankment. At the bottom they were at the edge of the bushes and stunted trees that marked the edge of the small forest that ran along the edge of town. They made their way through, being as quiet as they could.
On the other side of the woods they found a large field, the wild grass waist high and waving in the small breeze. They slowed as they entered the field, feeling safer. The sounds of the mayhem in the town were muted and seemed very far away despite it only being a little under a mile back. The full moon turned the field into waving silver that was sheer beauty. Too late they heard the shriek of the demon that leapt up from the grass. He swung the shotgun over, but it was already on her, its long jaws closing on her arm, just under the shoulder. She was too shocked to scream, simply gasping as it bit down. The pain was immediate, intense, and all encompassing. She could do nothing but stare as the beast dragged her to the ground. She saw the teeth sink deep in her flesh, felt the tips working their way towards the bone, felt the immense heat of its thick breath rolling over her. Then he was there.
The man slammed his knife into the side of the demon's head, the long, thick blade piercing deeply. He pulled it free as the thing howled around her arm. He hacked at the beast's shoulder, removing the arm that tried to swipe at him. He then, holding the bucking thing as steady as he could, stabbed into the demon's mouth, the heavy blade smashing through the base of its teeth along the gum line. With the blade firmly seated in the thing's palate, he pried as carefully as he could, opening the jaws while trying not to cut her. He freed her arm and wrestled the thrashing thing aside, frantic in his efforts to pull it away from her. A short struggle for control of the blade ended with him driving it into the demon's throat. As soon as he was sure it was dead he scrambled over to her side. She was laying on her back where they had fallen, her already pale skin ashen. The ragged holes and splashes of blood were a sharp contrast to her white skin. Her breathing was fast and shallow.
"Help. Please. It hurts." She said, her voice a hollow rasp. He cut the straps on her pack and eased it out from under her carefully, cursing himself for putting the first aid kits at the bottom. He dumped the pack and grabbed a couple of kits and tore them open. He dug in his pocket franticly and brought out a small prescription bottle. He shook out three yellow pills and dropped them in her mouth, tipping a bottle of water for her to swallow.
"Ok, this will hurt, but I have to do it. Those pills will help soon, but I have to do this now. I'll be as easy as I can. Bite on this. It will help." He said, his voice shaking, as he held the leather sheath for his knife at her mouth. She bit on it and he opened the blade on his small pocket knife. As carefully as he could, he began to remove the teeth that had broken off in her arm. She alternated between whimpers and creams, all muffled by the sheath as her teeth clamped down on it. He finished removing them, nine in all, and put the knife aside. He quickly cleaned the area as best he could with water and peroxide before he threaded a needle from one of the kits and began to stitch the larger holes as best he could. She kept twitching and making noise, which he was glad to see. He was terrified that at any moment she may grow still and quiet. He worked quickly and well, his hands skilled with the needle. When he had the last large one stitched he cleaned the mess as best he could with water again before putting down a layer of large square gauze pads. He then wrapped it all with a roll of gauze and pinned it in place. When he pulled the sheath from her mouth he could hear the teeth pop free of the small holes they had dug into the leather. Her breathing was a little slower and deeper, but not much. He wiped her fine, almost white hair from her face, being as gentle as he could. She smiled weakly up at him.
"Not. Not as bad as I thought it would be. Is it done?" She whispered.
"Yes. All done. Just rest now, try not to think about it, ok? The pills will kick in soon. You did great. Just relax now." He soothed, digging out another pill bottle, this one antibiotics. He did not know if the demons were poisonous or carried diseases or what, but he figured best to play it as safe as he could. She swallowed them with more water and took the bottle with her good hand. The hand shook a little, but was steady enough for her to sip the water without spilling it. He gathered some of the socks into one of the wool caps and made a makeshift pillow for her and draped his coat over her for a blanket. He sat next to her; one had resting on her good shoulder, the other on the handle of the shotgun laying across his lap. He sat that way all night as she drifted off to sleep, watching all around them and checking her until the sun came up.
She woke up to a horrible, deep, throbbing ache all along her right arm. He was still there, sitting beside her. He looked down at her and asked how she felt.
"It hurts. Is it bad?" She answered, not quite daring to look at her shoulder.
He lifted the coat and checked the wrapping. A little red in a few places, but not much. That was good. He told her he had to change the bandage before giving her a couple more of the yellow pills and another antibiotic. He unwrapped it, and carefully removed the pads. He wiped away the gummy, drying blood with a dampened pad and inspected the wounds. When he was satisfied that they were well enough he pulled out more pads to re-bandage it. She forced herself to look at it and was immediately sorry that she did. The ragged holes and large stitches made her stomach turn over.
"Oh yuck. Oh that's bad." She groaned, turning her head away quickly.
"It's alright. You don't have to look at it. It is healing well though." He said quietly as he began to bandage it again.
"I'm sorry I let that thing get me. We should be moving right now, shouldn't we?" She said, her voice low and sad.
"You don't apologize for that. I should have seen or heard that one. This is my fault, not yours. We'll move again soon, but not quite yet. I want to make sure that this can handle travel before we set off. Just rest and relax for now." He said, covering her with the coat again.
"Thank you for saving me. In the building and out here. I would be dead if you hadn't." She said, looking up at him.
"No thanks are needed. I couldn't leave you there. What were you doing in that office to begin with?" He asked, holding her good hand.
"I don't know. Being under the desk is the first thing I remember. What about you? Why were you there?"
"I don't know. I just remember stepping into the hall and seeing the demon coming at me. Nothing before that." He said, his rough face tight with concentration.
"Ok. Where do we go from here? Where were we going before that thing got me?"
"I don't know. Away from the town. We should probably avoid towns and cities, that's probably where the majority of those things are. Where there are people."
"What are they? They almost look like people." She said, her voice getting quieter. He realized that the pills were starting to work.
"I don't know. I don't think that they are people. But I think that they may be the worst of people. I don't know why, but that feels right."
"Feels right." She echoed in a whisper as her eyes closed.
She woke up that evening and was scared to find herself alone. Her eyes widened and she tried to sit up a little. It hurt like hell, but she managed to sit high enough to look around a little. The grass was waving in the breeze, and she struggled to find any sounds of movement in the constant rustle of the grass. She thought she heard something behind her and turned painfully. She saw the grass moving in a different direction there, and definitely heard something moving through it. Her good hand scrambled around looking for the small pistol he had given her. Her fingers closed around the handle and she brought it up just in time to see him push through a clump of grass and look up at her. She sighed deeply and dropped the gun, spilling tears of relief. He rushed over to her and knelt next to her.
"I thought you were gone. I thought you left me here." She cried softly, grasping at his neck with her good arm, burying her face in his chest.
"No. I'm not going to leave you anywhere. I'll always be here." He said, holding her as gently as he could, mindful of her injury.
After changing the bandage he declared her fit to travel. He broke one of the yellow pills in half and gave it to her with an antibiotic and began repacking. She saw he had sewn the straps of her pack back together sometime during her sleep. When she tried to grab her pack he stopped her quickly.
"No, not yet. Nowhere near yet. You need to let that heal before you put a pack on that shoulder. Doctor's orders." He said, easing the pack off of her good shoulder.
"So you're a doctor?" She asked, smiling.
"No, not that I'm aware of. But I do know that if you put that pack on you're gonna pop those stitches. They may not look like much, but they are there for a reason."
"Alright. But I feel bad, you carrying all that stuff while I carry nothing."
"I can carry a lot more than these two packs, and we will be going slower."
They made good time despite the slower pace, and had reached the foothills on the other side of the field when they stopped to camp. They munched on freeze dried snacks as they sat, watching the sunrise.
"We are going west." She said around a mouth full of rubbery tomato chips.
"Yes. Always west." He answered, not knowing why.
"Why west?" She asked, pinning the question that bothered him.
"'Hear the prophet make his guess that paradise lies to the west so join his quest for the sun'" He replied, trying to force his mind to recall the source of the troubling sentence.
"What is that from? It sounds so familiar." She asked, frowning as well now.
"I don't know. But it's in my mind like a fishhook." He answered, taking another handful of trail mix to pick at.
"Always west." She sighed, watching the sun rise behind the town they had come from, most of it in flames now.
They made slow progress up the side of the ridge. He seemed to know where he was going, even though he did not know how. But knowing the way did not help the footing. The faint trail was rough, to put it kindly. Her shoulder was doing better, the bandages were coming away now without blood, and there was no sign of infection. All the same, he kept her on the antibiotics, and she only needed half a pain pill a day to keep going. If it hurt very badly, she hid it well. It was at the top of the ridge that they found another demon. Rather, that another demon found them. They had set down in the shelter of an overhanging rock when they heard the gibbering of the demon. They both froze a moment, listening, before moving. She yanked the small pistol from her coat pocket and hunkered down, her breath coming out in shallow gasps that puffed small clouds in front of her mouth. He slid the packs off as quietly as he could, setting the shotgun down to do so. That's when the thing dropped down from the rocks above them. It landed a few feet in front of her. As it sprung at her, he leapt at it, the shotgun forgotten. Its teeth raked across his forearm before it turned from her and assaulted him instead. Its claws sank into his back as it pulled him into its embrace, teeth snapping at his face. He clamped one fist down on its throat, the other trying to turn its face aside. The crack of the small pistol was very loud between the rocks. He felt the buffeting of air next to his head as the bullet tore past. It went through his hand on the demon's throat, punching a neat hole between the bones of his middle and ring fingers, out of the palm and into the neck of the demon. It exited through the thing's spine and buried itself into the stone beyond. The demon slumped and he shoved it away, kicking it until it was falling down the slope back the way they had come.
He stumbled back over to her, his legs feeling weak. He knelt in front of her, breathing heavy.
"Thank you. I think that one would have killed me if you hadn't shot." He said, his rough voice an almost unrecognizable rasp. She stared at him, her eyes wide and shocked, the gun hanging limply in her nerveless hands. He took off his coat slowly, trying to do it without moving his arms much. He let the coat drop and slow lay down. She saw the back of his shirt was a red mat. Eight long, ragged gashes crossed his back where the demon's claws had sought purchase. The sight of it snapped her back to reality. She dug out the first aid kits and tried to remember everything he had done for her arm. She used a knife to cut the shirt open, finishing what the demon had started on it. She poured a bottle of water over it, rinsing away the worst of the blood. She poured some peroxide over it, apologizing as he tensed and groaned through gritted teeth. She placed the knife sheath in his mouth before threading a needle and starting in. Halfway through he spat the sheath out. She could see that it was now mauled to the point that it would not be usable as a sheath for much longer, rent and chewed mercilessly.
Her stitches were not nearly as efficient as his. Hers were a large, looping, uneven mess, but she made for quality with quantity. When she was done, she rinsed with water again and saw that there was not as blood as before. She hoped that was good. She started placing pads on the injuries, holding the pads in place with large amounts of the medical tape from the kits. When she was done with that, she dug through the rick-rack in his coat pockets to get at the medicine bottles. She found the one with the yellow pills and saw they were Demerol. She gave him three with an antibiotic and water. She looked at his hand, crying freely. She started to clean it as she did his back. The hole was small, but she though a couple of stitches would probably be needed here as well. She threaded the needle and went to work.
"I'm so sorry. I wasn't trying to shoot you. I just couldn't watch that thing hurt you." She whispered as she worked.
"It's ok. I'm glad you shot. I can handle a bit of pain. You don't need to be sorry about this. You saved me." He answered, his voice quiet and strained as she stitched. When she was done with his hand, he looked at it a moment, nodding, and lay his head back down on the rock. She pulled two jackets out of the pack and covered him. She sat next to him as he slept, the pistol in her hands. She was slightly more confident with it now, knowing what it felt like to fire it.
He woke up to see her checking his hand. Her touch was feather light and painfully cautious. She finished looking and cleaning, and carefully re-bandaged it. She noticed his eyes were open and on her and she smiled.