It’s Unfortunate To Have Met You
My feet carry me across the pavement, and I stop and stare as the canvas of brown and red unfolds before me.
There are dozens of dilapidated vehicles littered around the highway and it is a horrible sight to behold. I would have turned back if I could, but this was the only way out. This wasn’t the first time I had done it, but it sufficed to say that having a horde of monsters on your tail would make any obstacle in your path seem like a towering mountain. As if on cue, a haunting cacophony of hisses and scratchy screams echo from somewhere in the distance behind me.
They’ve caught on to my scent quicker than I had expected.
Steeling myself, I fling my fear addled body into the wrangled mess of metal limbs and shrapnel.
I surge forward and dive through the small spaces the first few cars unwillingly provide. Once past them, I take in a calming breath and look around.
With grim determination, I start to plough through the maze of rust. Despite how carefully I am moving, the tattered edges of my wind breaker continuously catches on a shards of broken glass jutting from abandoned wrecks. I frown. I had gone through enough trouble to find this jacket, and I wasn’t too…keen on going back into the monster infested city for another one any time soon.
I had gotten lucky the last time, but I doubted that it would happen again. It was as they said. Luck was indeed a fickle mistress.
It was then I heard it. The sound of shattered glass being stepped upon. The uneasy silence evolved into something much worse. I could feel my heartbeat accelerate, my fingers trembling nervously as I slid through the space between two large, grey trucks. Fear has a funny way of distorting your vision, and I was experiencing its side effects first-hand. I imagined the sides of the trucks advancing slowly, the harmless metal walls turning into death-traps that thirsted for my blood.
With harried breaths, I tried not to entertain those thoughts and continued moving forward. Though it had only been several scant seconds, I finally emerge on the other side, quickly stepping out of the shadows stretching across the cracked cement. I can see the other side of the highway, the foul looking ‘Exit’ sign hanging from the half fallen beams which used to hold up directions to god knows where. It swings from left to right, which I find odd because of the lack of wind, and I am uncomfortably reminded of the time I had seen a corpse hanging from the rafters of a barn that I had looted.
Shaking my head to clear away that awful imagery, happiness floods through me as I close the distance between myself and the exit of the highway. After one left the highway, they would come across a road branching off into several directions. I had made my base in one of the old farmhouses just a little ways off a small dirt road.
Getting excited at the thought of reaching ‘home’ safely, I started to daydream about whittling my days away in safety, holed up and surrounded by reinforced walls while reading books, comics, or just about any piece of written literature that I had gotten my hands on.
So distracted was I that I hadn’t noticed a slender figure crouching in the shadows of a car which I had sped past. When I suddenly heard a shrill screech coming from behind me, I clumsily pirouetted on my heel and turned around just in time to see a small body hurtling towards me.
The metal baseball bat made contact with my right shoulder, the area of impact already numb with pain. Biting back a shout, I saw the attacker headed towards me again, the dented aluminum weapon raised high above the head; poised to strike.
I reacted, sending my fist toward the assailant. I manage to clip them in the jaw, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the bat from rocketing down and hitting the same place it had before. Instead of numbness came a pain so intense that crippled me, and in the blink of an eye I was down on the ground; clutching my possibly shattered shoulder. As I struggled to regulate my breathing, I chanced a look at my attacker. Flimsy red hair hung limply from her head. It was unkempt and dirty, making her look scruffier than she probably was. And like most people I’ve met, she had quite the dark tan. Likewise, her clothes were mostly dark as well. Curiously enough, her left arm is completely exposed. I could see a smattering of cursive red words that spelt B-L-A-K-E. I reckoned that it was probably her name.
Blake clicks her teeth, her fingers making a beckoning gesture. “Hand it over.” She demands, her lips curling up into a menacing grin.
I stare at her from my position, growling under my breath. “No god-damn way.”
“Well in case you hadn’t noticed,” She shot back, “It wasn’t a question. I don’t care if you’re carrying rocks in there. I want your bag and you better hand it over. Now.”
I bristle at the order. My options did not seem too good. The creatures were probably still on my trail, and if I didn’t do something I was going to be a sitting duck. The woman did not look like she was going to maim me again, so I decided to drag things out for as long as possible, until I could come up with a half decent idea.
Irritation gnawing my chest, I try to distract her. “Alright just calm down, Blake.”
“Who the hell gave you the permission to say my name?” She shouts.
I roll my eyes, trying to will away the tears that threatened to form as I try to prop myself up to no avail.
“Huh aren’t we sensitive. Well, Blake. I’m Ruby. How unfortunate it is to meet you.”
“No one gives a shit.” She dead pans, looking even more pissed than before. “Now stop stalling and hand it over!”
She continued to watch me closely, her figure constantly hovering near me with the bat in hand. Okay so, talking didn’t work. So I tried the next best thing.
“Shut up.” I hiss. “As if I would give it over to a cowardly thief like you.”
Her grip on the bat tightens considerably. “Hey, watch that mouth of yours before I smash your head in.”
“I’ll like to see you try.” I say, and make a rather rude gesture. Her face flushes, and what is left of her composure melts away. Taking a step forward, she glares at me with all the intensity of a rabid dog to which I reply with a grin that made her angrier than she already was.
Suddenly, the ground beneath me starts to tremble, and several howls fill up the intense silence between us. She turns to look in the direction which it had come from, and freezes.
I don’t need to look to know what was coming.
Taking advantage of her distraction, I use my uninjured hand to push myself back onto my feet. I planned to take advantage of the current distraction to sprint away. It sounded utterly idiotic and probably even downright insane but now, it was either do or die.
Right as I plant my feet firmly back onto the ground, her attention turns back to me. Her eyes widen in shock, having not expected that I still had the strength to stand, before it is filled with utter rage. To make things worse for her, a black mass of writhing flesh leaps into the clearing with giant roar. It began howling, most likely calling its pack. I took this moment to dash forward when she turns to regard the monster in horror, and punch her in the nose. A satisfying ‘crack’ makes me grin, and the fact that she would be disorientated from the attack would give me just enough time to sneak away.
“Don’t worry, I hear that they don’t like bad meat!” I jeer and speed away into the distance.
Story by: Tow Min Yi
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