Writing and Reviews – Denise Pasutti
Scott pleaded for his life as he knelt on the muddy ground, hands bound behind his back and Langley’s gun pointing at the side of his head, telling him it was too late. I stood in the dimness of the truck’s headlights, wiping the kid’s blood from my hand. Calm had turned to shouting, fear and threats in a matter of seconds….
We were 30 or 40 miles from the town, far enough that I thought it would be safe to pull over and let Scott in the truck cab without worrying about Shamblers on our tail. I pulled over in front of a gated side road and left the engine running while Langley and I stretched our legs and Scott hopped out of the truck bed. As he passed in front of me and headlights I noticed him cradling his arm, the one that the Shambler has gotten hold, and felt my heart drop seeing blood peek through the fingers clenching his forearm. Maybe he was trying to hide it or just staunch the bleeding but it didn’t work as the stark redness stood out on his pale skin the dimly lit night. I saw it before Langley and grabbed the kid by shoulder, noting his wince of pain that I knew wasn’t caused by me. He started to ramble before I could ask any questions and swore it happened as we were leaving town, after the zombie let him go. I wasn’t sure I believed him and didn’t get a chance to get any answers as Langley moved to stand on the other side of Scott with his pistol out, not allowing Scott to move after seeing the blood. I felt for the scared kid and didn’t trust Langley but we had to be sure where the wound came from before continuing and avoid possibly spreading the infection.
Scott continued to try to explain but Langley and I knew that we didn’t have time to listen or explain the urgency of our concerns. The kid wasn’t stupid enough to try to run and was very much aware of the gun pointing at him to keep him locked between us. But he couldn’t keep still, shifting on his feet, hand still gripping his wounded arm.
“Find something we can use to tie him up.” Langley kept his eyes on Scott as he gave the order. I didn’t move. What he said wasn’t registering as a logical course of action. “Henning, do it.”
Walking away from Scott to the truck, I felt a pang of sympathy at seeing the look of terror in his eyes and it almost stopped me. Almost. My hand shook as I rummaged through Holly’s bag, finally finding a leather belt that would work. I dangled the innocuous accessory at Langley, looking at it like I didn’t know what it was. Langley quickly fixed the blank stare on my face and ordered me to wrap it around Scott’s wrists (all these orders were getting to me) and bind his arms behind his back. The kid moved toward me saying again and again that he cut his arm on the truck and wouldn’t let me get a hold of either of his hands. Langley kicked the back of Scott’s leg, forcing him to his knees and the kid finally stopped the struggle and let me tie him up. My unease increased as Langley become more forceful in his actions and kept barking orders. Stepping back, I looked at Scott and hated what I was doing. The kid was scared and confused and I couldn’t blame him but I also couldn’t disagree with why Langley wanted me to do this to the kid. I started wiping Scott’s blood from my hands on my soiled pants. I was still uncertain about the way the virus spread and just wanted this stranger’s blood off of me.
“Henning, get over here and check him.” Langley stood in front of Scott, the gun pointing at the centre of his forehead.
I was pissed with his orders and the fact that he wouldn’t touch Scott or do anything more to help other than threaten the kid’s life. Blood covered my hands again and Scott fought against me, making it even more difficult to move his bound arm into the light. Langley stepped forward and pressed the muzzle of his gun to Scott’s forehead. He stopped fighting and I finally got a good look at the wound after wiping away blood several times. There was a ragged gash but no teeth or finger nail marks making the cut seem to be an injury from a serrated knife or broken piece metal. I dropped Scott’s arm and he pulled himself into a ball as best he could, repeating over and over that he was fine. Without a word to Langley, I moved to the side of the truck where Scott had cowered during the drive and carefully ran my hand along the top of truck bed, stopping as a piece of twisted metal bit into my finger.
“Is he clean, Henning, Henning!”
“He’s fine Langley. The cut is from the truck, right here.” I patted the area where I had found the protruding metal, not caring if he could see it or not. “Let him be.”
Knowing that Scott wasn’t infected didn’t relieve the anxiety that I felt about having his blood all over my hands. I had to get it off. I grabbed a bottle of water from the scattered groceries in the truck, tossed the jacket Holly had given on the seat and took off my filthy shirt, drenching it in water and scrubbed at my bloody hands. I finished the cleansing as best I could and tossed the shirt in the woods, ignoring the disapproving look from Langley. I shook my head in annoyance and told them I was leaving. The night was cold, my hands and arms were still wet and even the jacket couldn’t push away the chill penetrating my bones. I cranked the heat once I got back in the truck, cringing when the headlights flickered but thankfully didn’t go out. That was just what I needed to add the already messed up situation, a dead engine out in the middle of nowhere possibly surrounded by zombies and with a cop all too eager put someone, living or undead, down.
Langley waited for Scott to get in but the kid just grabbed the blanket off the backseat and hopped into the back of the truck. Langley chuckled and murmured good as he slid into the passenger’s seat. I couldn’t blame Scott for not wanting to be near us; I didn’t want to be near us either. I turned back onto the deserted highway and continued to drive away from the town. We passed a highway sign a couple of minutes later proclaiming we were 20 miles out from Sumas which would put us at the border crossing into Canada. Entering Canada wasn’t planned, I didn’t actually have a plan, and I couldn’t know if there was any advantage to going there but it was starting to seem like a good idea to leave this country and the madness behind; that is if I could cross the border with the small arsenal at my feet, a cop who clearly wasn’t where he suppose to be and kid covered in blood huddled in the open back of the truck. I kept driving for another 10 minutes, trying to formulate a plan to get across the border when Langley shouted at me to stop.
“What the hell is your problem Langley.” The abruptness of his voice caused me to react and slam on the brakes.
“In about another 5 miles there is going to be turn off on the left that leads down a private road. Go that way.”
“The Sheriff’s cabin is there.” He said it in a way that made me feel stupid for not knowing this.
“He can tell us more about what’s happening. He was at the facility in the mountains before I got there and he brought me to that town with him.”
I was fed up with Langley. I wanted to get to Sumas, kick him out and get across the border. But we had driven for nearly 100 miles, having diverged from the route from Holly’s cabin in Silver Lake to here, and still not encountered a single vehicle. It was approaching dawn and this just seemed too unusual to not have something to do with the Shamblers. I saw the turn off and took it. One way or another, I was going to get some answers, get rid of Langley and then I was going to get away from this nightmare and these people. Yeah, right.
© 2013, Denise Pasutti