Previously on: Amie and Sam scan Bloodtown to see if saving the new recruits is worth it, but are interrupted before any decision is made. Parker and Andy begin their new job working for the VCC, but Parker finds the whole thing uneasy.
Do Amie and Sam take in the new mysterious recruit?Click To Reveal Results
Sam and I flicked our eyes to the source of the voice. It was a man, not much older than us. And in his hand, was a sizeable piece of rebar.
He flashed a grin before raising it to strike.
He swung it down hard, aiming for our heads, but we dove out of the way just in time. I felt the whoosh of air on the back of my neck. Had I been a millisecond slower, I would’ve been dead
He was one of the Crazies. I should’ve known better than risking a trip into Bloodtown. It was a cess pool of them.
I dashed away from the man, jumping over a pile of rubble, and ducking under a web of uprooted plumbing. I didn’t think about Sam; I didn’t think about the man we were considering saving. I just focused on getting the hell out of dodge.
It was a protocol we had set up right from the very beginning. Should danger ever occur, it was every man for himself. No jumping into the deep end to save people nonsense. We would know you made it back, when you made it back.
I took a sharp right and skidded to a halt. A woman stood there with shredded clothing and a smirk on her face. She held a small object in her hand, and dropped it. Instantly, a wall of flame rose from the ground.
I cursed loudly.
The Crazies really knew their place here.
I turned on my heel to go the other way, but was met by the Crazy with the rebar. He swung it like a bat, and I dropped to the ground to dodge it. I rolled to the right, scrambling to get to my feet. I tripped twice, and he managed to smash the bar on my fingers.
A yelp escaped my lips, but I managed to get to my feet, and I sprinted down a street. I hurdled over the once famous street lamps, paying closer attention to my surroundings. I could be ambushed at any moment by a group of the Crazies, and I didn’t dare want to know what would happen to me if I was caught. As well, I had to keep my eyes open for the VCC.
Getting caught by them would be just as bad. Perhaps even worse.
I darted out into the intersection of Cordova and Abbott, and slammed into another person. But this time I was ready to swing.
I grabbed the man by the collar, reared back… and paused
I admit it, I wasn’t necessarily the smartest person around. I didn’t calculate my decisions, I made them with my heart, and took no time to think things over. But now that Andy and her brains were out of commission, I had to take over that role in order to insure our survival. And right now, something was tickling my brain that told me we weren’t safe where we were.
I closed the distance between Andy and I, and grabbed onto her hand. The trucks were all parked along Cambie, and guards dotted the area we were ‘cleaning.’ But as long as it looked like we had a purpose, we wouldn’t garner their attention.
“Let’s go check out this scary, haunted looking, probably full of ax wielding murderers, street,” I said into Andy’s hair. It was greasy. We were provided with showers back at the convention centre, so there was no reason for her hair to be like that. I grimaced. The poor girl couldn’t even take care of herself.
We climbed across a destroyed building, and jumped down from a rusty red shipping crate. I took off at a brisk pace pulling Andy with me. My eyes roamed everywhere, wondering where those guards went.
We couldn’t actually escape… could we?
Logic fled my brain and I had to chance it. I gripped Andy’s hand tighter and took off at a run.
“Parker, what are you—”
We didn’t make it very far before someone slammed into me.
A short girl with dark skin reared back to hit me, but hesitated. So I took the opportunity to push her to the ground and continue on.
“Hey!” she called, urgency clear in her tone. “Wait!”
I paid no heed to her, and kept charging ahead.
But this girl was fast. Never had I come across someone who could eat up ground like her. In a moment she leaped onto my back, and brought us tumbling to the ground.
“Get off!” I yelled. I wriggled around, trying to throw her off. But she stayed on strong, and slapped me upside the head.
“Hey! You listen to me bud,” she growled. “I can take you—”
“Screw off. I don’t want to be a part of this nonsense anymore. I didn’t sign up for it.”
“I know.” She slammed my face into the ground. “That’s what I’m trying to get to, but you’re not listening.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I can help you. Come with me. I can take you to safety.”
“Safety?” I said in disbelief.
“Yes,” she said, getting off of me. She helped me to my feet. “I can’t give you any information until we get there. But I’m willing to take you.”
She said that last sentence in a way that didn’t sit well with me. I glanced at Andy, who was still sitting on the wet pavement, chest heaving from the run.
“Um, you take me, you take her as well,” I stated.
The stranger pursed her lips together. “We run a tight program, and can only take in those—”
But before she could finish her sentence, another girl joined us.
“Amie!” she said breathlessly.
“Sam! You made it.”
“Hardly. They’re just around the corner. We gotta go!” she grabbed Amie’s wrist and began pulling the reluctant girl along.
“No, wait. We can only take the one,” she protested.
“There’s no time – we can take them both. We have to go,” Sam urged. “Now!”
With much reluctance, Amie agreed. “Come on, both of you."
I pulled Andy off the ground and followed the two girls, hoping desperately that my intuition wasn’t horribly, horribly off.
We dashed down Abbott street, careful of the ruin on the road. We crossed past Hastings, and I was horrified by what I saw on my left.
A large group of ragged people were charging down the street like an angry mob out for blood. Some were screaming obscenities, others brandished weapons. An arrow with its tip on fire landed next to my foot.
“What the hell is that!” I yelled.
Sam grabbed onto my wrist and tugged me forward. “Be glad that’s all they had. Some of them have guns.”
“Guns?” I exclaimed. “What do you mean guns?”
“No time to explain. Just run,” she ordered.
We followed a series of twisting turns, darting between broken buildings, and travelling through rotting gutters. We doubled back about four times, then waited in the shadows of rubble.
“Any reason as to why you decided to take us through the track and field valley of death?’ I panted. My throat and ears were burning from the cold air.
“Can’t lead anyone to it,” Sam responded, breathing just as heavily as I was.
We waited about another four minutes before moving, and I was grateful for that, because it allowed my heart beat to drop from such an alarming rate.
We slinked through shadows, and ended up on the doorstep of the Canada Post warehouse.
“Here?” I whispered.
“Mind the smell,” Sam warned.
We walked into the dark warehouse and instantly I was slammed with a horrible scent of brine, rusting metal, and moldy paper. “You live here?” I asked incredulously. “This place is for rats.”
“Better than working for the VCC,” Amie simply stated.
“Sam!” A blond girl ran up to her, and wrapped Sam tightly in her arms. I noticed one was wrapped up. Did that mean they had doctors?
“Did Yohan make it back?” Amie asked.
“Yeah, about seven minutes ago,” the girl hugging Sam reported. “How did it go? Successful I see.”
“Yeah. We’ll see about that,” Amie responded bluntly, eyeing Andy. “Leena, debrief them for now. I have to go report to Joy. I’ll be on the roof if anyone needs me. Please don’t need me.”
“Who’s Joy?” I asked. “Some leader of some sort?”
“No,” Sam replied glumly. “Amie’s in charge. Joy is her dead friend. But to Amie, Joy is still alive and well.”
I glanced at Andy, then back at the girls. “Wait a minute,” I said. “This woman is hallucinating someone who doesn’t even exist, and yet you’re still letting her be leader? Where does logic fit into that?”
Sam shrugged. “We’ve made it this far with her in charge.”
“She rescued us, actually,” Leena confessed. “We were on our way home. Saw someone had broken in. And it wasn’t Mom or Dad. It… was one of the Crazies—”
“Those people you saw today,” Sam interjected. “With the flaming arrow. One was in our home, and Leena was injured… and then we were surrounded. But then, down the street, a fire erupted, and Amie was suddenly there, herding us to safety.”
“This warehouse is our new home now. The earthquake and tsunami made the place basically unlivable. Not to mention the invasion of privacy from the Crazy.”
I looked at Andy. All this crazy talk about crazy people… was she thinking back to that cult in Langley like I was? The one that had burned that camp down and ate the corpse. “Crazies… who are these people?”
Leena and Sam looked at me like I had three heads.
“We were away for a while,” I explained. I gave a sidelong glance at Andy. “Three days ago we were taken from home… one of us didn’t make it.”
“I’m so sorry,” Leena said softly. “But you’re here now. You have us. Let me take you through the warehouse. Show you your new home. Sam go get warmed up. It’s chilly out there.”
Sam complied, and headed around a stack of boxes.
“We all like to sleep close together,” Leena explained, nodding to where Sam went. “There’s no electricity for heat, so we like to do whatever we can to keep warm. I’ll take you to the cages later – where they use to sort mail. We keep most of our supplies there now. Get you two some sleeping bags. A lot of supply was ruined by the tsunami, so it’s really limited to what we have, but it’s still something.”
We followed her around the dark warehouse, the only light coming from the little electric lamp in Leena’s hand. “Some of us managed to move skids around so it’s a bit of a maze in here, but that’s for safety. If the warehouse ever gets breached, they’ll have to navigate the maze to find us, which will hopefully give us enough to time to either ambush or escape.”
“Have you ever been breached before?” I asked.
“No, we haven’t, but we’re prepared. We have hidden stashes of packs that’ll keep us going until we find our next hideout. And we have hidden lookouts out there, making sure no uninvited guests stroll up here.”
We walked through a maze of conveyor belts and skids. There was something about the way the light from Leena’s lamp threw shadows across the walls that made the place feel like a monster. Perhaps it was the way the shadows pulsed with the rhythmic swinging of the lamp that made it feel like we were being swallowed.
They were putting a lot of trust in us, welcoming Andy and I into their home without much thought. It seemed strange for them to do that with the lack of order in this new world. I didn’t know what was going on in Andy’s head at the moment, but I was hesitant to trust these people.
But these people had been here in the thick of things longer than we had, so they must’ve known their way around well enough to put some trust into us. And even if I couldn’t trust them, this visit into their warehouse couldn’t be wasted time.
“So, these people you’re talking about ambushing you. Who are they?” I asked.
“Anyone really. There’s the whole don’t trust the government thing. The military patrol the streets everyday so we have to steer clear of them. And then there’s the Crazies. The cannibalistic people that can’t stop themselves from their impulses. You met them?”
I nodded my head slowly. “Yeah, right after the earthquake. Bumped into them again on our way here. One of them shot a flaming arrow at us.”
Leena took a deep breath. “I knew going into Bloodtown would be too dangerous,” she said more to herself. She turned to us. “Oh well. Nothing to worry about now. Everyone is safe.”
We walked a few moments in silence. We were literally living in an apocalyptic world now, littered with zombies that weren’t your typical slow moving ones. There was no electricity, no help. We were on our own.
This was something out of a cliché Hollywood movie. This was something out of a nightmare.
“So, these zombies—”
“No,” Leena stated. “Don’t use that word. They’re not zombies. Zombies are a product of the dead and your imagination. They’re starved creatures brought back from the grave, stuck in a catatonic state.”
“Uh, okay. Then, what are these monsters?”
I looked at her. There was no way she was going to tell me that these cannibalistic maniacs were real, and not some government experiment gone awry.
“Humans with a part of their brain that doesn’t quite work the same,” Leena elaborated. “I’ll introduce you to Kevin. He’s the one that discovered it.”
“So, you’re saying these Crazies are just like me and you, just, sick?”
She shrugged. “You could put it that way, I suppose.”
“So, how does their brain get this way? Could, we go crazy?”
“I’m not sure how it exactly works. We think people were triggered by the tsunami and earthquake. People do strange things when put under huge amounts of stress.”
I looked over at Andy, who was keeping a neutral expression on her face. “So, you guys are just camping out here, until this all goes away?”
“Absolutely not. Someone has to fix this. And I’m tired of waiting for someone else to. You know? We’re all waiting for the world to change, but we’ll never stop waiting if we all just wait. Someone has to change it.”
“You’re going to fix this?”
“I’ll try until I don’t have any try left. And then I’ll try some more.”
“They took my home. They took my parents. I’m grateful every day that I got to keep my sister. But I can’t let them keep taking. I want my bed. I want a hot shower. I want social media back so I can stalk my crush again. The earthquake and tsunami took all of that away, but it’s the government that is preventing us from taking back our city. The Crazies aren’t at fault here. They just have a brain abnormality. And I think it’s complete and utter nonsense for the government to think it’s okay to kill them and shove them wherever they’re shoving them in the Tomb.”
“So you guys are the rebels. The freedom fighters.”
Leena nodded. “We like to call ourselves the Trader Hoes though. Because I miss going on weekend trips to America and shopping at Trader Joe’s. And because we’re traitors to the crown, or rather the web of government hiding in the Tomb.”
“And you’re hoes because?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Little bit of humour goes a long way these days. Join us. Be a Trader Hoe and put the world back on her feet.”
I looked at Andy. For the first time in a while, there was something in her face that suggested she was going to mend from her heartbreak. That we had a chance at life again. That there was hope.
But I knew better than anyone that thinking you had a chance, that there was hope, when there really wasn’t at all, was poisonous. The world was a mess. There was no way a small group could change the world. That was an impossible feat.
We rounded one more corner, and bright light cast shadows on the walls. A fire danced in the middle of sleeping arrangements. Heat spewed from the flames, and it seemed only then that I realized just how cold this warehouse was.
“Everyone,” Leena announced to the group of twenty something. “This is…” she looked at us with wide eyes. “I forgot about introductions,” she whispered. “Quick! Tell them your names so I don’t look stupid.”
“I’m Parker,” I said, waving my hand. “And this is Andy.”
But she didn’t wave to the crowd. Instead, she stood there fixated on someone in the back. I knit my brows and scanned the crowd and saw who she was looking at. Ice slipped down my spine.
She was looking into the beady eyes of that man that captured us in that mall in Abbotsford. I think he had a name, but I couldn’t remember him. I licked my cracked lips. It had to be a doppelganger, or coincidence or something. There was no way it could be him. But I looked down at his hand, and saw the unmistakable marks from Newt’s teeth.
A pang of guilt and fear ran through me. We couldn’t stay here. Likeminded people stuck together and he was a bad man.
He tried to kill us. He tried to kill Andy’s dog. A sudden wave of grief crashed through me. It didn’t dawn on me until now that I missed that flea ridden beast. He was disgusting, but loyal, and did a damn good job of leading us home. My eye twitched. That man had wanted him dead. And he got his wish.
Andy lunged at him.
Despite the fact it would shred our chances of having a roof over our head for the night, and any sort of food and blankets they carried, I didn’t stop her.
Because Andy was a damn good fighter, and he deserved every little molecule of pain that would come from her fists.
She screamed obscenities at him, and tossed punch after punch. He threw her off him multiple times, but she always came back for more. Because she wasn’t a quitter. The two toppled into a wall of boxes, ripping at each others shirts, clawing at faces, and aiming hard.
Others from the group swarmed in, attempting to rip them apart. One got a hold on Andy, and tore her from the fight, but not before she got one last good kick in.
“What the hell is this?” a voice exclaimed over everyone else’s.
Fighting stopped and we all looked to the source, and saw Amie on a rickety staircase, staring at us in disbelief.
“Oh, God,” Leena whispered. “You just got on her bad side. That is not good. Not good at all.”
What’s going to happen to Parker and Andy? Are they going to leave or fight to stay.
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