Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Night is the New Day - Chapter 1.2

A home is a place where you can feel safe. In this new world, homes became an endangered species.

Chapter 1.2

Cities were the worst places, for obvious reasons. So, our getaway was to small towns and their neighboring woods (sounds quaint, right?). We continued to move down south until the weather became decently warm. One of the perks of being in hell should be that you’re at least not freezing your ass off. After traveling a few weeks, we stopped near a non-descript town somewhere in the South Carolinas. Out in the surrounding woods, we found little communities built by some like-minded survivors. A new sort of economy was taking shape out there, based mostly on the barter system. I won't go into the particulars, but batteries and common flashlights became very valuable very quickly. Since we were younger than most, our agility put us into business. Daily, we would speed into towns for small supplies and leave even quicker, hoping to prey on those who hadn’t been able to let go of luxuries like toilet paper.

A challenge in the communities was to keep close, but never too close. Unfortunately, you never knew which poor neighbor had become infected and decided to keep it a secret. That was never fun: knocking someone's head off during a get together made after dinner conversations just a tad bit… awkward. We always tended to stay away from firearms during any skirmish with the infected, since the sounds would only alert others. Also, the bodies of the infected were so deteriorated that often times a good swing with a bat took care of them immediately (personally, I always prefered aluminum over wood thanks to the lighter weight and all, but some love to hear the crack of a bat on a sunny afternoon). Anyway, we kept a cordial distance from our other "friends", which served me fine. Alice was enough companionship for me.

I found her to be incredibly resourceful. Along with be able to cook and having an extensive knowledge of medicinal herbs, she also had been camping enough in her life to be able to build us a place of our own in the community. I, however, was totally incompetent. I know it sounds odd that I had so little to contribute, but it’s the truth. You would think all the tv shows, movies, and video games would have gotten me ready for this. No. Thankfully, experience is nature's best teacher. When you needed to learn something to live, your mind could become as sharp as a Harvard Grad. Shelters were important, and so were traps for food. Game varied, but you dealt with what you got-in no time, I had no problem with fried bugs and even began to crave a warm Rodent Stew. Every so often a real treat came into our area in the form of a doe. Those really tested my skills in those days, and because of the lack of firearms I had to rely almost solely on the clever snares I had set around the camp. In itself, those were like arming puzzles, which I had always loved. Each takedown brought me great pride since we always turned it into a big meal for everyone. No piece was left on the animal, and we even used the bones to fashion tools for later use. Hunting definitely became my “thing”, and I was only scratching the surface of the depths I would reach in coming months.

One night after dinner, Alice heard a sound in the woods that scared her more than the usual bumps in the night. I asked her what was wrong, but she only looked up at me with terrified eyes. After several long minutes, she explained that while she was in the hospital, she sometimes caught glimpses of people who were affected differently by the infection. Things that displayed far more gruesome attributes than the normal mutation. The noise she heard reminded her of one particular baddie. The thing (she said it couldn't be described as male or female like most infected) had horribly bruised black and deep purple skin. The purple areas were especially nasty, and she claimed that it looked so infected it hurt your eyes if they lingered too long on the spot. Its bones jutted out in odd places, and each one had a razor sharp edge. Worst of all was its jaw-it was completely slack and unhinged, but looked even more dangerous because of it. I cautiously grabbed my bat, and prepared for the worst.

*End of Chapter 1.2*

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