Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Living in the Dark

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Becca pulled the black steel ring mail over her face. The biters wouldn't be able to get through it. Hot as hell, it was at least comfortable thanks to the silk backing. The rest of her outfit was just as pitch, making her hard to see, and it was treated to mask her body odor. Before she pulled on the kevlar gloves, she made sure the tactical tomahawks at her hips were in place. Held in quick draw rigs by rare earth magnets instead of snaps, they wouldn't go anywhere unless she got in a knock down, drag out. By then, she should have already pulled them free.

Gloves on, she grasped the six foot long pole. Each end tipped by a metal version of the tinkertoy wheel, short blunted spikes radiating out from their perimeter. It served as both probe and braincase buster.

Ten steps to the door.

She walked to the exit from her bunker and ran her hands over it to the locks.

Click. Click. Click.

The door swung open silently. There was no fresh biter smell. No sound of shuffling feet. She walked out into the evening air and closed the door behind her. With practiced hands, she slid the key into lock after lock and secured it. She wasn't as worried about her relentless neighbors getting in as she was about any unknown passers by finding and taking advantage of her hospitality. She walked up the stairs to street level.

Feet scraped across pavement nearby.

She stopped and waited to see if they got any closer. Her pole swept the ground in front of her.

When her weapon tapped the shambling bag of rot on one foot, she swung the pole. It connected and the vibration shuddered up to her hands. The gloves absorbed the shock. A heavy thump told her she’d connected with its head. After pausing to listen for it rising, she continued on her way. It was a long walk to her destination and she wanted to make it there and back by midnight.

The tabi and knowing how to walk in them minimized the noise she made as she moved. Decades of living on the dark and moving silently, at first for fun and of late for survival, meant she heard the man coming. He was quiet. Not as quiet as her, but enough so as not to attract the attention of the biters or even most people. The smell of body odor and smoke teased her nose. She eased to a stop and listened to him pass by. In the park now, she had plenty of plant cover. The former playground was a riot of undergrowth and scrub. It wanted to trip you up.

When the man fell, cursing, it was all she could do not to laugh. Given how big he must be, based on the sound of the fall, she held her mirth in. She didn't want to tangle with anyone that large.

He spoke to himself, this big man. Some of it was unintelligible even to her sharp ears. "Hate the city," was the first thing he said, which she could clearly hear.

She couldn't blame him. She hated the city too, but there was no way she could leave. Unless she could find a sighted person, the idea of learning such a new swath of territory on her own scared her more than this new world she lived in. Hoping she could learn who this new man was, before taking any kind of initiative, she followed him a good dozen paces behind.

"You're good."

The voice came from her left, a lot closer than it had any right to. She whipped her pole around and it stopped suddenly.

"Nope. Don't wanna end up with a concussion."

The pole was plucked from her hands effortlessly. She took a defensive stance, arms guarding her face and torso. "Neither do I." She spoke back, voice a little rusty from disuse.

"I give this back, and you don't try to hit me again?" There was a trace of humor in his voice.

"You be nice, and I can make that bargain." She thought about drawing one of the knives she had on her person, but he wasn't attacking.

His movements were gentle as there was no whistle of the club splitting air. Instead, he held it out and waited for her to take it. "I ain't about to kill anyone who don't ask for it. Don't worry about me."

"I'll worry." She took back the pole. "But that's just me engaging in an excess of caution. I'm Becca."

"Good to meet you, Becca. I'm Chris."

They had been quiet in their brief conversation. "Well Chris, good to meet you, too." The breeze brought a strong smell of rot with it. "Especially since we're about to fight some biters." She backed away a few feet and brought the pole into a guard stance.

He swore again, and she felt as much as heard him shift his stance as well. Together, they waited in the dark for their shared enemy.

Art Source: Menswear on Now Fashion
Story and Characters (c)/by Scott Roche

#action, #Suspense, #PostApocalybse, #Zombie