Saturday, April 30, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
They sat around a roaring fire in the fireplace, small bowls of kettle popped corn in their laps. Kyle lay asleep on the ground, his head propped on the snoring form of Rocky while Zach recounted the adventure they had had up until that point.
“After that day,” his eyes dulled a moment, trying to remember when that day had been. “I ran into Peter here about a day later, while I was looking for something to eat. We were both in that big Kroger that we used to shop at when you used to come visit.” His mother’s eyes lit up, recalling happier times.
“The big freezer in the back had not been opened, so despite the lack of power, everything was still good in it. If I recall, I was having a big ham sandwhich, on day old bread out of the bakery, when he came in. I offered him a sandwich, and we sat there talking, on milk crates, for what must have been an hour, when we heard crashing sounds out in the store. That was our first encounter with one of the Others, he was knocking all of the wine bottles off of the shelf. We tried to reason with him, to talk to him, but he had just kept coming. Peter drew a gun and fired a warning shot, but it didn’t matter. He just kept coming.”
“I shot him. Twice. It was the guy that ran the meat slicer, back behind the deli counter. He just wouldn’t stop, and when he got close, he pulled his own gun out. I shot him.” Peter interjected, seeing Zach’s loss for words.
“I was at the Boston Market in the parking lot, having a sandwich myself when I heard the shots,” Amy added, describing her encounter with Peter and Zach. “I ran in and found them. I tried to save the guy, but…”
“We found Sam a day later, and then Julie and Kyle that same day.” Zach began, but stopped when he remembered that Sam was no longer with him.
“Which one of you was Sam again?” Aubrey asked, a wide smile upon her face. It disappeared as Zach shook his head.
“We lost Sam in a fire before we left McKinney.”
“You don’t know he’s dead!” Brian interjected, hope still in his voice.
“You’re right we don’t, but we haven’t seen him since then.” Peter said, his voice even, trying to calm Brian down.
“I’m sorry.” It was the first sentence besides “pass the rolls” that Jud had said since they had first come into the house.
Zach shook his head, “It’s been tough. Anyways, so next we met Sarah, ‘with an H’,” He smiled, and his companions chuckled, and he dismissed the quizzical look that his mom shot him with “It’s odd the things we cling to.”
“Next we met Brian and then Chris. We had encounters with the Others in their, but we hid and they went about their business, whatever it was.”
Zachariah took a moment to catch his breath, and his train of thought, but Peter continued. “We began using abandoned houses for shelter at night, and hoping to find supplies and the first few nights it went fine, but then the third night.” He watched as Zach unconsciously rubbed his arm where he had been shot. The wound had healed completely, but left a nasty scar. “Maybe you should tell this part Zach…” he conceded.
“Yeah…” Zach inhaled sharply and went into the tale of how he had been shot, and then patched up, sparing his mother the gruesome details. “I’m sure lucky we had Amy with us.” He added before his father interrupted.
“We could have used someone with her talents when this all started,” he trailed off, but not before shooting his wife a quick glance. “Anyways, go on.”
Zach spoke of the night of the first fire and told them how Rocky had become part of their family, and then the second fire, and how they had lost Sam. And then the story turned to Graham, and the group of others.
The hockey jersey was mentioned, and Jud interrupted again, “When it’s light out, remind me to show you something.” Zach’s mother, who was already pale, had grown even paler as this part of the story was told.
“Well, after that, we holed up in a motel for a little while and set out for Hoover Dam, and we’ve been walking ever since.”
“Kinda,” Peter said, and Zach glared at him, but the topic was on the table as Aubrey bade him continue.
“We found a group in Wichita Falls and were with them for a day. Graham caught up with us there, but he let us escape.” Peter unintentionally emphasized the word, but watched as both Aubrey and Jud caught the meaning.
“What happened?” Jud prompted.
Zach took over again and described the ring of cars and the earth shattering explosion that had reached them after they had left.
“Wait, so they made a bomb?”
“Well, we think they used a car with a remote starter to trigger the first explosion and the rest kind of followed suit.” Peter said, picturing the ring of death that would have followed that initial blast.
“Have you seen him since then?” Jud asked.
Everyone but Sarah shook there heads, but she just shivered, and Peter picked up on the motion. “Sarah?”
She shuddered again. “Last night, I saw him last night.”
Jud and Peter were both up, reaching for shotguns that rested against the wall when Zach spoke up.
“Where was he Sarah?”
She shook her head, refusing to answer.
“Sarah,” Zach said standing up. “Where did you see him?” he asked, emphasizing each word with a step toward her.
“He…he was in my dreams. He watched us arrive here. He is not far away now. I watched him burn a whole apartment complex to the ground.” She started sobbing as she talked. “He knows we’re here. And he said the war has begun.”
With the ominous words hanging in the air, Jud looked over the rest of the group.
“Ok, I’ve had it for the night, you coming Aubrey?”
Sullenly, his wife nodded, and as she left, those that remained chose to follow suit, until just Peter and Sarah sat there. A shotgun rest across Peter’s lap, and Sarah continued to sob.
“Peter?” She said, drawing him out of his thoughts.
“I don’t want to be part of his war.”
“I know… None of us do. Try and get some sleep, we’ll work this out.”