From the Blood of the Wolf Ch. 02byLL_Timber©
I woke to rain on my face...or at least that's what it felt like. I quickly realized that it was dew that had fallen from the inside of my tent after Keith had thumped it from the outside. It was one of his favorite camping pranks.
I climbed from my tent and felt so grimy. I really needed a shower. I knew I looked a little to crunchy for my own tastes. That's when I spied Claire. She looked pretty bad...no make-up, greasy hair...now I didn't feel as crunchy as I thought just moments ago. Her normally glossy, corn-silk hair almost looked matted. All she needed was a hemp knit hat and the look would be complete. I laughed quietly.
A boot nudged me. I looked up at Mitch standing over me. "What's so funny down there?"
Last night came flooding back to me...the beer sharing...the hand holding...the kiss on my forehead. I blushed. "Uh, nothing."
Mitch looked down on me for a moment longer then looked to Claire. He knelt down next to me and said quietly, "not her usual polished self. Looks better than I've ever seen her look."
His words struck me wrong. "You like dirty hippie chicks?" I was annoyed.
Mitch laughed and stood up, extending a hand down to me. "No", he helped me up. "Not dirty... I like nerdy hippie chicks". He winked at me.
I actually had to think about that for a second before I smiled back. "I seem to remember saying that you could call me that all you wanted to...last night."
He pointed to the horizon and smiled widely. "Suns not up...yet. I bet I have, say, 30 more minutes of the night left."
I rolled my eyes and smiled. He was lucky he was so attractive. I realized that Mitch was still holding my hand. I looked down at our hands together. I felt him give me a squeeze so I looked back at him. His smile made me blush. Mitch winked and let my hand go as he headed to help pack things up.
Love. Romance. Not exactly my forte. Actually, it had never been my forte or even a part of my life. Sure, I've known my share of attractive guys, but always avoided any type of connection with them...emotional, physical, what have you. I always told my friends that I was not interested in romance yet, I wanted a career first. But, that wasn't the truth. I was scared to let someone into my mind, to let them know the real me.
I watched as Ben apparently told Mitch a joke or something very funny as Mitch had a hardy laugh.
There was only one person that knew me really well...and that was mainly because I had no choice. Keith and I have almost always shared the same wave length. It's not like we had the same personality, but we could read each other very well. As such, we couldn't keep anything from each other. I glanced at Keith. He was looking at me as he pushed his tent into it's bag. I wasn't surprised he was looking at me. I was just thinking of him, after all.
After we finished packing up, it was time to head on. I figured we had about 2 more hours of walking before we reached the farm and the wolves.
It was about 30 minutes later that we saw our first house in Yale Valley. I slowed, looking at the home and thought of the possible supplies that might be inside. I turned to my group. "What are your thoughts on checking the houses along the road for supplies?"
Claire stiffened. "There may be zombies in them."
I nodded, "and there might be a lot of useful supplies. If we could find some more weapons, a bow, machete...maybe some keys and a car even." I smiled at that thought...driving. I thought back to us leaving our own cars parked at the trail head when we spied the pack of infected milling around the corner store. So we left our cars there and went around them.
"So, what are your thoughts guys?"
They looked at each other.
"Let's do it", said Mitch.
"Yeah", Keith agreed.
I turned to Ben and Claire. "Stay here with her and whistle if something goes down." They both nodded.
The house wasn't too far from the road. The three of us kept a wary eye out, watching for any type of movement in or around the house. There were two cars parked in the driveway...a old Ford Taurus and a pretty cool looking old Jeep Cherokee...tan with wood-paneled sides. I thought how great it would be for the keys to be inside the house for it.
We thoroughly checkout the house, no one was around. We called Ben and Claire to join us. "Okay, everyone search for keys. If we find keys, we can gather a lot more stuff from this place and take with us."
Five minutes past, it didn't look like we would have any luck with keys. "I found some!" Ben shouted.
They turned out to be the keys to the beat-up old Taurus. Amazingly enough, the car started and we had about a half a tank of gas.
After the cheering was over, it was time to get to business. "Look for weapons, batteries, flash lights, medicine, and any type of foods that might be good for a while", I instructed. The four started to head off when I grabbed Keith by the arm. "I know you are headed for the liquor, so get as much of the strong stuff as possible, we may need it for wounds."
"Don't give me that look, I know you." And I did. "if they have some beer, grab a couple of them for tonight...but just a couple".
Keith made a farting sound with his lips and gave me the finger. Ah, brothers. Whatever, I didn't care. I knew he'd do what we needed.
I found a large garbage can and took the bag out, headed to the bathroom for supplies. I raked all of the containers from the medicine cabinet into the can and moved on. I found a lot of towels and several extra pillows in the linen closet. They went into the can as well. I spied several perfume bottles in one of the bathrooms. I picked one up and looked at it, then glanced at my reflection. My dark hair had started coming loose from the braid I had it in. While my clothes fit my thin body well, they were dirty. I looked awful. I managed to get a little water from the sink and washed my face. Once my hair was tidied back up into the usual french braid, I felt a little less gross, a little more like me.
Thirty minutes passed and we had the car loaded down with all types of supplies. Keith was just finishing loading up his booty. He had found several plastic bottles of cheap vodka, one bottle of Everclear and 2 bottles of whiskey. Work hard, drink harder, I guess. Keith also had a case of Rainier out by the car. I frowned.
"What?" he asked, even though he knew what I was looking at.
"Nothing. If you can squeeze it in there, then fine." And guess what? He made it fit.
We moved on to the next house. Didn't find much there, but I did find three bows and a lot of arrows. I was actually relieved when I found them. It's not that I didn't like guns, but I knew that arrows were much quieter...and reusable.
Claire found the keys to an older Toyota Tacoma 4x4 with fog lights and a grill guard. It had a quarter of a tank in it. At least we all didn't have to pile into the Taurus now.
Keith and I were in the Toyota with Mitch in the back. Claire and Ben drove the Taurus. We made pretty good time to the wolves and the farm.
It seemed as if the properties were together at one time as the buildings resembled each other. The 'wolf' place sat off to the left with an old frame house, the kennels and a large barn just behind it. The farm was another frame house, same color even, and it sat further back on the property to the right.
We decided to split up. Mitch and I would check out the 'wolf' house and Ben, Keith and Claire would go on to the farm.
I took a bow, a quiver of arrows and a revolver. Mitch took a shotgun and a 9mm. We slowly approached the old house. My eyes were trained on the windows, watching for any sign of movement within the house. I saw nothing.
As we walked on the porch, I looked at Mitch. He shook his head as he saw nothing as well. My hand reached out and knocked on the door. Still, we heard nothing.
When I opened the door, we immediately heard movement. I called out. "Hello? Someone in here?"
The house was silent for a moment. "Hi there", called a male voice, followed by the sound of a shotgun as a shell was loaded into the chamber. "How are you guys doing?" The voice was friendly and cheerful...but I knew it was meant to intimidate us.
I glanced at Mitch. He looked as on edge as I was sure that I looked. I continued. "Uh, are you the only one in there?"
The question was met with sudden laughter of the stranger. "Why don't you come in here, sweetheart, and find out?"
Mitch and I both heard something clatter to the floor in a different direction than the voice. Either the guy wasn't alone or he just threw something to make it seem like he wasn't. There was no way to be sure. "Have you seen many infected around?"
"Zombies?" the voice called. "Yeah, the place is crawling with them. You should leave this area quickly!"
Why did it seem like this guy was trying to play with us? Granted, if the situation were reversed, I'd probably try to get the armed strangers out of my house too. I stiffened. We were in the wrong here, this was his house. I whispered to Mitch, "we should go".
We backed away from the door and found a place in a small grove of trees where we could talk.
"That was weird. That guy was crazy", said Mitch.
"Maybe, maybe not. His act kept us out of his house, right?"
Mitch considered what I said and nodded. Acting crazy would be the perfect way to keep people away. If they believe you are crazy, then they can believe you are unpredictable and might do anything.
We decided to check out a large barn that sat up on the side of a hill, not too far away from the house.
As we waded through the tall grass, we made note of the wolves' kennels to our right. I wondered if the man inside had been feeding them...or if they were left to starve in the cages. I frowned. "I want to set them free Mitch. When we are done with the barn."
"The wolves?" I could hear the warning tone in his voice. I'm sure he thought I was starting to lose my own mind.
"I've been around them before and I don't think they'll hurt us. In fact, there are some tame ones in there."
"Tame...how do you know?"
"They were wagging their tails and had their ears down."
Mitch said nothing, so I glanced at him. He was staring at the grass at his feet as we walked. If he was thinking something, he wasn't saying it. Perhaps he didn't agree with what I wanted to do, but was letting me get my way...since he was fond of me. I smiled in spite of myself.
I noticed how he made me seem small. I was 5'9"...he had to be about 6 more inches taller than me. I smiled again.
Feeling a little feisty, I lifted my right foot up and side kicked him in the butt as we walked.
Before he could get that word out, I was already laughing and running up the hill towards the barn. Mitch easily closed the distance between us, as God knows, I'm not a runner. I slowed near the open bay doors, breathing and laughing, waiting for Mitch. It became apparent that he had no intentions of stopping once he reached me. Smiling, he plowed into me, knocking the bow out of my hands. He picked me off of the ground, turned his body so that he hit the ground first, then rolled over so that he was on top of me. We were both laughing and breathing hard, but Mitch's smile quickly faded as he look down at me. His intense greens bored into my eyes.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
At that moment, the sun broke free of the clouds, sending a beam of brilliant light down upon us, which caused Mitch's hair to lite up like pure gold.
He smiled down at me again and slowly pulled a long strand of my hair out of my face, brushing my cheek with his thumb as he did so. I searched his eyes for answers, when suddenly, I felt terrified. I knew what was coming.
Mitch lowered his lips to mine and we kissed. My mind was screaming, my heart was pounding. I didn't know what to do or how to act. As his tongue gently brushed my lips, coaxing my mouth to open, it seemed that my body dismissed my brain, as if saying it was no longer needed. I felt one of my hands go to his broad shoulder and the other to his head where my fingers entwined into his thick hair. What was I doing? What were WE doing? At that moment, time stopped. I really don't know how long we stayed in the grass. Only when Mitch pulled away from me did my mind return to my body.
"Mmmmm..." he smiled down at me. "I could stay in this grass with you all day." He traced a finger lightly along my chin then rolled over on to his back.
Surely, he had to have felt my heart pounding, desperately trying to be free of my chest... There was no way he couldn't have noticed! I really have no idea what expression was on my face. Did I look happy? Scared? I didn't have a clue.
Mitch stood, pulled me to my feet and handed my bow to me. He planted a lingering kiss or two on my neck and straightened up his clothes.
I was still in a fog. This must be what it feels like to be a zombie. My hand was wet as I gripped the bow. I felt myself teeter.
Mitch quickly grabbed me with both hands. "You okay??" He laughed nervously.
"Yeah", I avoided his eyes and cleared my throat. "Head rush." And without another word, I quickly ventured into the barn. 'Idiot!' I cursed myself. 'First kiss ever and I nearly fainted! Alright, alright...no damage done, right?' I turned back and looked at Mitch. The way in which he smiled back at me made me believe he that KNEW I was uncomfortable, perhaps he even knew it was the first time I had kissed anyone. I quickly averted my eyes. Dammit.
Clearing my mind, I looked around the barn for signs of movement. I saw none. There were garden tools, stalls with hay and a lawn mower.
"I'm going to check up in the loft", Mitch said in a hushed voice.
The back of the barn was open too. It looked out into a little more grass, then the land sloped away. As I walked out of the back of the barn, I heard water. About 20 ft down a sharply-sloped bank was a small, fast-flowing creek. Just as I turned back, an arrow narrowly missed my head, flying over my left shoulder. Without thinking, I quickly drew an arrow and raised my bow towards the direction of the shot. I stopped. A strange guy was standing on the back porch of the frame house, holding a bow down in front of him. Then I heard a body fall behind me. I turned suddenly. A zombie lie there with an arrow in it's head. I was stunned. I turned back to the house. The stranger had saved me. Was he the same guy that was acting crazy in the house earlier? I took a step back, tripping over the zombie...and fell down the steep embankment, towards the creek.