“Let me go, you fucking wanker.”
That’s not very nice. I just saved her life.
Then again, I also bashed her with a hammer then slapped her awake. I let go as requested and got some space between us. She fell back on her elbows.
A dirty look comes my way.
I point at my torn lips in pantomime, reminding her that I could have benefited from a more delicate hand myself.
The standoff lasts a few more seconds. We bleed and weigh each other up. I suppose I wasn't winning any beauty prizes even before being run through the shredder. My current demented murderer look, complete with blood drenched leathers, spider guts, vomit and blood in my hair and beard, wouldn’t be overly comforting to wake up to. The way my wild, darting eyes never settled might not help either.
“Where is it?”
Her voice quavered.
I nod towards the flattened pile of legs and mush next to her, afraid I’ll sound like a moron if I speak. She scoots away slightly.
“Thank God, it’s dead. It came at me so quick. I’ve never seen one ‘out’ before.”
Shivering with shock she gets to her feet, watching me warily. I don't offer to help. Another dizzy spell triples my vision. I ride it out by standing very still. When it’s over I pull on the helmet and holster my shotgun. Everything else in reach goes into the pack. Hefting it to my shoulders requires a major effort.
Full sunlight falls on the girl as she bends to pick up the knife and I’m treated to a moment of harsh clarity. Tiny rivulets of blood run down her face and neck. She’s confused, in pain and scared out of her mind. She needs someone to hold her hand, to protect and reassure her everything will be fine.
Pity there’s no one around here like that.
“I’m goan ome. Goobye.”
I was right, my lips flapped moronically. I glance at the expensive watch on my wrist, late for an important appointment. First order of business, getting out of these piss soaked pants.
“Wait up. You got somewhere safe to stay? What’s your name?”
She sounds desperate. I stall.
“Uhh. You mean Sam?”
There’s something about the intimacy of exchanging names that makes it harder to dump people. I sigh deeply. Thoughts of stray dogs that bite the hand that feeds them come to mind.
“Hokay fowwow me.”
I sound like a little kid.
In a rare moment of charity I undo my belt and throw her the knife’s sheath. She catches it then pretends to consider my offer.
“I don't know. You’re kinda weird.”
For fucks sake, did she expect me to beg her? I stalk off, slightly hurt.
“Wait. I’m coming. S’pose you’re better than the Creepies.”
Jesus! Thanks for the vote of confidence. Don't do me any favours.
I step over the corpse of the old lady who’d caused all this trouble and pick up the Ruger. I resist kicking the body.
Kristine walks a few paces behind me moaning about the dirt and goo in her hair. An uneasy thought makes me break my silence again.
I draw the line at running a hostel!
“Am I...alone? Yeah. I’m alone. There were three of us. The Creepie people surrounded us at a house near the Stadium. They were everywhere.”
She shuddered at the memory.
“I panicked. We left everything and ran. Got split up. I haven’t seen Shanna or George…for days.”
I didn't ask for her life’s story. A choked off sob silences her for a while. I walk on in my own little world of pain.
Kristine pulls herself together and continues her one sided conversation. Great. The first chick I meet in a year and I get one who can’t shut up.