Alone at the End of the World Ch. 04

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*Phew! Story line done! I am never going to do that again. I will close off Tenderness and New World before I dare start another, I have learned my lesson, I promise.

This, I can safely say, is my darkest story line, and apparently, you like the dark, so all I can hope is that you will appreciate the way I tie things up.

PS, I wrote the last third of the story listening to the INCEPTION soundtrack… I believe it helped. ^_^

All characters are 18+*


Good and Evil.

They are words.

And words have little meaning at the End of the World.

A smaller and more desperate camp was being held by the five men that remained of the raiding party. Two of them were wounded, one with a grazed leg and one with a shattered shoulderblade. Among them, a Wal-Mart manager, a college student, a mailman, a high school teacher, and a bus driver. Desperate men, not Evil. And desperate men can be persuaded to do terrible, incredible things.

The teacher with the broken shoulder had finally stopped bleeding, but hadn’t woken up either. The mailman with the grazed leg was whimpering with the pain of it, tying a clumsy bandage made with his own sleeve.

“Why did we do that?” The wounded man moaned. “Why the fuck did we do that?” He whimpered as he tugged the bandage shut. “We never should have listened to Calvin, he was insane!”

The college student was pacing the fire. They had a single tent, but it was an unseasonably cold night, so they all circled the fire. He was twitching. He did that when he was excited or angry. “Yeah, that fuck had us attack the place in broad fucking daylight. We don’t have the manpower for a fuckin siege. I’m glad that motherfucker got his brains blown out, they weren’t any use to him alive!”

The bus driver was a timid older man. The manager was a heavy latino man with wet frightened eyes. The student was a twitchy burly overgrown boy with a wispy mustache and bad acne. The mailman was a tall gaunt man who twisted his wedding ring with worry. The teacher was a heavy bearded man who carried photos of his children and his wife in his wallet, and had rubbed them nearly invisible with his big fingers.

These men weren’t Evil, just capable of it.

The mailman scoffed. He was normally a quiet man, but pain and despair made him bold. “You stupid kid! He was an idiot because he attacked them at all! He stood there like a fucking bandit, asking for women! Threatening to burn down the house! I bet if we had gone up like civilized men, they might have given us some food! Instead I got a bullet in my leg and he’s dead, and we’re still starving! We should just move on, we can find something in the next town.”

The kid stopped pacing. He glared at the mailman. “Fuck you.” Not loud, not angry, just contemptuous. “You can’t get it through your thick skull can you, it’s the end of the fucking world, and you just don’t want to live. It’s us, or them. We’re gonna attack again, and this time we’re gonna be smarter…”

The bus driver stood. He had a heavy white mustache, and thick forearms and scarred knuckles. “Please, let’s just be civil here, there’s no need for fighting…”

“Fuck you old man.” The kid spat and the wad of crud landed right on the bus driver’s scuffed black loafers.

Something had changed. The body language of the group had changed. The manager and the bus driver were suddenly in the background, hesitant, watching. The kid was standing over the mailman, fists clenched, staring down at him. They were animals, and this was a show of dominance. They might have been wearing clothes, they might have had jobs and families and lives, but at the end of the world, they were wolves on two legs.

The boy was a violent lean upstart, he frightened the others with his raw vitality. He was a leader. Perhaps not a good one, perhaps a horrible one, but he was a leader, and only one of them had the gumption to argue with him.

“We’re not going back you dumb shit!” The mailman spat, looking up at the kid. His voice was snarling and loud and dominant, but his eyes were getting wider and wider. The college boy was just looking down at him, smiling like it was a joke. All of them had lost weight, but the kid still had the networks of muscle that had made him huge. Even after weeks of near-starvation, he weighed nearly two hundred pounds, nothing but muscles and bone and sinew and grit and ambition.

“So what are you gonna do? You gonna walk to the next town? We’re out of gas, and the next place is forty miles away. We are going to collapse without food. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. They are standing on a stockpile of exactly what we need, and if we’re smart, we can get what we need.”

The mailman looked at the bus driver, the manager, looking for backing, for allies. They stared back with timid follower’s stares. On his sleeping bag, the wounded teacher groaned, blood oozing from his mouth.

“For fuck’s sake!” The mailman snarled. His voice rose to a shout, an appeal. “We are human beings! We can’t güvenilir bahis just attack, and take. You can’t… you can’t…”

He looked up at the kid and rose to his feet, shaking and pale-faced from the pain. “You little fucking punk!” He bellowed. “You think this is a fucking game. You think you can just–“

It was so quick, so unexpected. A woman crashed from the treeline. An older slender woman. A woman with a regal neck and a slender body dressed elegantly in a silk blouse and dark slacks.

Her carefully upkept curls were bedraggled and bloodstained, filled with twigs and leaves. A flap of her scalp nearly hid her left ear. Her eyes were twitching and crazed, the right one filled to the brim with blood. Her mouth was a twisted stroke-victim sneer. Her mouth and swan-neck were tacky with blood. Her blouse was torn, and one flat sagging breast flopped as she ran on torn bleeding feet.

The men got up, galvanized with terror, but she ran past them and swooped to her knees, silent and almost graceful.

Then she bent down and took the eyebrow of the unconscious teacher between her teeth and tore away a chunk of flesh as big as a pack of cards.

The teacher started to writhe and scream. He begged for help from his fellows, who were frozen in place. The woman sank a claw-like hand into his face, and her first two fingers popped the agonized blue orb of the man’s left eye. Popped it in a flow of viscous fluid, and blood. He screamed in a high weak voice like a woman. He beat weakly at the woman’s body and head with his working arm. She bent down, spitting out the piece of flesh. She lapped up the clear fluid leaking from the socket, like a dog, before sinking her teeth into his cheek to tear away another piece.

A single gunshot rang out and the woman flopped down on the teacher, growling incoherently around the blood that gushed from her sneering mouth and broken teeth.

The bullet went through the middle of her back, exited from her ribcage and entered the stomach of the teacher.

The man wailed and thrashed weakly with agony, blood streamed from his eye.

“Shut him up!” The mailman whimpered, cowering by the side of the fire with the others. The manager was swaying, near fainting. The bus driver was gibbering what sounded like a prayer, clasping the saint’s medal he wore around his neck.

The college student stood, the gun handle warm and heavy clasped in his cold hand. He stood, the gun still aimed at the limp crazy and the agonized man.

“He’s infected, fucking kill him already.” The mailman shrieked.

The college student fired another round, and this one missed, hitting the teacher in the thigh. His hand was shaking badly. The teacher thrashed and groaned, blood bubbled through his lips and into his beard. He begged them weakly to stop as he flopped and screamed under the woman like a dying fish. It was obscene. It was disgusting.

The college student was crying, tears streaming down his face. He shot again, and this bullet thankfully caved in the teacher’s temple.

It was finally quiet, except for the crackling fire, and amorous frogs singing throaty love songs in the marsh.

The college student turned the gun on his fellows.

“We’re going. We’re gonna get food from those selfish motherfuckers in the farmhouse. After that, you all can go fuck yourselves and die for all I care.”

His hand was shaking visibly. His face was so pale, the acne scars and red pimples standing out like battle scars. His eyes were crazed. His mind broken.

The three men followed him, and they planned. Eventually, he stopped shaking, he didn’t threaten them. He spoke in a quiet civil voice.

But he was in charge, and the rest had subdued themselves. It was easy to follow. It was suicide to resist.

These men were weak, frightened, human.

But they weren’t Evil.

How could they be?

Evil is just a word.

Thad woke up with Jonah thrashing weakly in his arms. His tiny body was soaked in sweat and burning with fever. He twisted from side to side, moaning. Thad shook him gently awake, and Jonah smiled at him.

“Hey.” Jonah whispered.

“Hey.” Thad murmured. “How are you feeling Honey?”

“Not so good…” Jonah whispered. “Not as bad as before, but I feel awful.”

Thad’s heart sunk. They wouldn’t be able to leave as soon as he had hoped. He put on a brave face and kissed both of Jonah’s eyelids. “Don’t worry Honey… Some more medicine, and you’ll feel right as rain. I’m gonna go find the Doc, see if he has your next dose of pills…”

Jonah’s hand gripped Thad’s arm with surprising strength. He looked down at the pale fingers sinking into the darkness of his muscular forearm.

“Don’t leave me.” Jonah whispered. His eyes were so wide that Thad could see the whites all around. He was shaking. He clung to Thad’s neck, pulling his torso above the blankets, burying his face into his lover’s neck.

“Please don’t leave me.” He whimpered.

Thad gently unclasped türkçe bahis those arms and embraced the frightened boy. “I wont Love, I wont. Shh… Sh..”

Thad rested, holding the feverish boy close to him.

Ben slept with his eyes shut tight and his body curled into a frightened ball all night long, but Mark never came.

Mark was lucky, but he also possessed an animal cunning. He knew that he had to lay low. He just slept in the bunk with his brother, eyes open, and thinking. He was facing the wall, so he never saw how David glared at him. David stared intensely at the back of his brother’s head until he fell asleep.

Jess and Annette were taking the morning watch.

Annette told the hunter that she wanted to leave, that it was no longer safe. The young lanky man looked shocked.

“But…” He whispered, staring at the orange horizon. A low cloud looked like a fluffy towel dipped in blood.

“I need to go, it’s not safe here. Mark is crazy, and he’s acting even more fucked up now that Jonah is back. I think that Mark had something to do with him leaving. He’s like a rabid dog, and no one will put him down. I need to take care of my family… I’ll be okay.”

No one looked convinced, least of all, Annette.

Jess’s voice was ragged. “Annie… Please. Please don’t go.”

Annette looked at him sharply. They were both sitting in the lawn chairs. Her rifle was resting against one knee and his was leaning against the chair. He was looking at her, his soft sandy hair surrounding his handsome square face. He had rough stubble on his chin and cheeks, his eyes were surrounded by dark circles, and his blue eyes were wet and lost-looking.

He leaned closer. She could see what he was trying to do, but was powerless to stop him. He reached out and cupped the back of her head, pulled her gently into a soft kiss.

They sat there, framed by the sunrise as their lips touched with shy resounding warmth.

“Please… Please don’t go Annie.” Jess whispered.

The sun continued to rise, unhindered by the unwatchable movements and unhinged lives and unbearable love that it sustained.

Thad looked up when he heard a soft knock on the door at the base of the steep attic stairs.

Jess came up the stairs. He wore his brown leather jacket, a faded blue shirt and bluejeans with frayed cuffs. His scuffed leather boots came to slight points under the sprays of white threads spilling from the worn cuffs.

His hands were in his pockets, his eyes fixed on Jonah. Thad sat up from when he had been hugging the frail boy. While he sat up, he covered Jonah’s body with the blanket and positioned himself in front of his lover. The movement was so protective, so hostile that Jess took a step back.

Jess saw that Jonah’s clothes had been rumpled and unfastened. Thad was only clothed in his underwear. His body was huge and capable of violence. The same mistrust flashed between them. Jonah sat up and clung to Thad’s shoulders gently from behind, resting his cheek on Thad’s arm.

“I just wanted to talk to Jonah.”

Thad tensed slightly. He turned to look at Jonah. Jonah whispered into his ear. “It’s okay Thad.”

Thad stood up, smoothly pulling his jeans up and buttoning them. Jonah was straightening his own clothes.

Thad leaned in and kissed Jonah on the top of the head. “I’ll be right outside on the stairs Baby.”

“Kay.” Jonah whispered, reaching out to brush his fingers against Thad’s arm as his lover left the room. Thad had the pistol shoved in the back of his jeans.

The door closed. Jonah patted a spot on the bed. Jess sat down, looking unsure where to start.

“Thad… Is he treating you okay? I didn’t think… that you two were, um… together. Not when you were sick anyway.”

“Don’t worry Jess, he didn’t hurt me. I… I needed him last night.”

Both Jess and Jonah flushed slightly. “I dunno… I just don’t trust him. I’m worried about you.” Jess hung his head. “I didn’t take care of you like I should have before. I guess I’m just over-compensating.”

Jess covered his face with one hand. Jonah tentatively put his hand on Jess’s shoulder. “I don’t blame you.” He whispered. “I was trying as hard as I could to keep a secret. I’m very good at keeping secrets.”

Jess conceded a tiny smile and ruffled Jonah’s hair. “How are you feeling?”

Jonah shrugged. “Kinda sick. Better then before, I’m lucid, but I still have a headache, and I’m kinda cold. Thad wants to get out of here as soon as I’m better.”

Jess glared at the door. “I’m not sure. I just get the feeling that he really doesn’t like me. And, he’s so huge. He could really hurt you if he wanted to. Or even on accident.”

Jonah’s voice was very dry. “Well, you did train a gun on him and accuse him of beating and raping me. That’s not very endearing. And he is big, but he has never hurt me.” Jonah chuckled a little. “Also… He’s kind of jealous.”

Jess looked up, startled. “What do you mean?”

Jonah güvenilir bahis siteleri giggled again. “Well, he just is. He knows that you used to protect me. Even if you’re straight, that’s his job now. He’s a little jealous.”

Jess frowned. “I didn’t protect you. Mark was hurting you every night, and I didn’t even notice. I just thought that he was harassing you.”

Jonah leaned a little closer. “You did protect me. You always kept watch with me so that Mark couldn’t. You took me away from the camp a lot. I was getting so stressed, but whenever I got too upset, you’d whisk me away on a fishing trip, or a load of laundry.”

Jess shook his head. Not refusing, but hesitant. “I wanted to ask you two something. Call Thad back in?”

“Thad?” Jonah called hoarsely. “Thad, come in here.”

Thad came in, sleek and graceful as a panther. He had the small orange bottle in his hand. “Doc was passing by, I got him to get me the next dose. What’s up?”

Thad dipped the plastic mug into the bucket of water and handed it to Jonah. Jonah held out his hand for the two white pills. He swallowed them with a gulp of water. Thad slid into a tight grey shirt from his backpack. It outlined his powerful chest in a way that made Jonah shiver.

Jess looked up at Thad in all seriousness. His mouth was a grim line. I’ve been talking to Annette, and she wants to leave, too. She doesn’t trust Mark, and she wants to get her sister and her son away from him.”

“We want to come with you.”

Thad was quiet, deep in thought. He sat down on the other side of Jonah, and took the boy’s hand in his own. “What is David going to say when his recruits start to leave? You four aren’t the only ones that want to get the hell out of here. If you four leave the others will try to leave as well.”

Jess’s face was hard. “We can help you. If we leave with you, we’ll be more likely to get food and seed. Don’t just refuse us because you’re scared of David.”

Jonah felt Thad tense up. “I’m just stating the facts. If you come with us, we could start a conflict, and you need to be ready for that. This whole place is ready to blow. It needs to change, but we need to be able to change without anyone getting hurt.” Thad was thoughtful for a moment.

Jess sighed. “We need to go to David. He’s reasonable. He will listen to reason. Maybe we could even tell him what Mark did, and may–“

“NO!” Jonah gasped. “No Jess. No one is going to know, ever.”

Jess growled under his breath. “Fine… But we need to think this through.”

“Our shelter is too small. It was a three-man trailer, and it’s pretty cramped with just me and Jonah as is. It can work, but privacy will be a joke.”

“I don’t care.” Jess answered. “We just need to leave. I need to get Annette out of here, I love her.” He shook his head. Janet is going to have a hard time leaving, she and the Doc have been getting close.

Thad glared over Jonah at Jess. “We can’t bring half of the people here. We’ll barely fit if it’s just five people. What about their possessions? Or any of the seeds or tools we bring? The trailer is a tin can, and you’re trying to make it the same as this house.”

Jess put his head in his hands. “I don’t know the answer Thad. All I know is that we have a problem.”

“Yeah.” Jonah whispered moodily, surprising them both.

Annette and Janet were doing laundry. Ned tagged along with them. In the aftermath of the attack on the farmhouse, they had to bring a shooter with them. Unfortunately, it was Harold.

They had tried. Mark was not an option for either of them, he creeped them both out. Melvin and the Doc were on watch, David was supervising Bert and Davis as they dug irrigation ditches. Jonah was sick, Thad was guarding him, and Jess was nowhere to be found.

Ned was playing in a patch of sandy dirt on the bank of the stream. It was almost like a beach, and he was trying to get the moist dirt to make a castle without crumbling. His ‘castle’ looked like a termite mound, but he was having fun anyway.

A lot more fun then his mother and aunt, that was for certain. Janet was silently fuming, alternating between putting her sweatshirt on so he would stop looking at her chest and the way the sweaty tank top clung to her, and tying it around her waist so he wouldn’t ogle her ass. Annette was quieter, but still uneasy under his filthy gaze. She was deep in thought. Elbows-deep in the river, scrubbing a load of mixed shirts with the last of the soap that Jonah had cobbled together from animal fat and ash.

It was so fast.

A young man with an acne-scarred face leapt from the bushes behind Harold, and driving the long serrated blade of a hunting knife deep into Harold’s neck. Harold let out a single wretched squeal as the knife tore out of him, leaving a huge gash that gushed with scarlet. One sick liquid gush, and then drips and splatters. Harold fell on his face, twitching and spasming and silent, surrounded by an unreal pool that shone darkly in the bright midday sun.

An aging man with wispy white hair combed over his balding scalp darted from the woods and snatched the stunned little boy with dirt all over his hands. He yanked Ned’s arms behind his back and used duct tape to immobilize the boy.

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