The sky lit up like the sun had risen, the burning vehicle nearly collided with the Betty, missing us by a few mere seconds. Embers from the wreckage bombarded her shell, the flames from the explosion reached into rear cabin, igniting the curtain and one of the throw pillows.
I could hear Tzar frantically yelling as he tried to put out the flames, I couldn’t look back, so my eyes stay focused on the scene before me. People littered the road, but these weren’t the infected, the weapons and fiery torches they held, were proof of that. I swerved, trying my damnedest, not make roadkill out of them. Weapons and fists, beat fiercely against the Betty’s hull, as they crowded the sides.
“IF THEY DON’T MOVE IMA RUN THEM THE FUCK OVER! I swear to God.” A flash of bright high beam headlights, caught me by surprise, momentarily blinding me.
I pushed my foot hard on the acceleration, not giving a damn at this point, and the Betty burst through the crowd. I was thankful to be momentarily blinded, the sickening crunch of crushing bones were enough for me to retch and gag. When my eyes finally adjusted, a fresh flush of adrenaline coursed through me, setting my nerves afire. Through the blood smeared front window, I could see the bright headlights on the vehicle, racing towards us head on.
“They wanna play chicken!”
“Wha.. what the hell does that mean?!” I asked, looking over at Caiden, confused with what he meant.
“Whatever you do, just keep moving forward!” Caiden yelled out to me, as he looked ahead of us with this intense glint in his eye, one reminiscent of what I’d seen back at Granny’s house.
I didn’t argue, I just kept my foot the gas, and the Betty’s engine revved viciously as she picked up speed. Behind me, I heard more gunshots and bullets strike the Betty’s hull, then some retaliatory blasts from Tzar, with the shotgun. This was insane, the pounding of my heart was deafening to my ears, so much was happening at once, and I felt my mind racing to keep up. I heard another gunshot, and then a yelp come from the back, it was Balthazar. I was so tempted to run back there, I almost forgot I’d been the one driving. Gripping the steering wheel tight, I was fighting the urge to falter, never had I been more unsure and afraid, even with a bomb in my hand.
Just when it looked as if we’d crash head on, the other driver swerved to the left, a moment too late. The Betty steamrolled through them, clipping their rear end, sending the vehicle into a tailspin. The result was an explosive impact against a resilient tree, I could see it in my side mirrors, but it soon disappeared as I kept the Betty running full speed ahead.
“Go check on Tzar and the girls!” I yelled to Caiden, and he immediately jump up, heading to the back. “Dammit Caiden, if we only would have went straight to Lost Creek..”
I drove about six miles, then cut off to a dirt road, the forest was thick enough to conceal us from the main road. I followed the path for a couple minutes, and brought us to a stop, near some trees before a clearing.
Upon rising from my seat I was in for a surprise, staring me in the face was the barrel of a pistol, and the solicitous grin of some strange man.
I doubled over in pain, the latest punch to my gut, sending shock waves of pain rippling through me. I fought the urge to vomit, and the breath was caught in my chest, I wheezed and gasped from my crouched position on the floor.
“You gonna tell us where you were going or do I have to ask again?!”
I received a kick to my ribs, that made me see stars in my eyes, and I was almost ready to just answer him. I never would though, they’d just kill us once they got the answers they were looking for, and I’d be damned if I’d play the fool. I was picked up by one of the man’s two companions, as the other rummaged through our bags.
Their clothes looked worn, and worse for wear, and some of it was tattered from the rough living of the wild. The strange man, who clearly was the leader, was a darkly featured Caucasian, or at the very least a white Hispanic several times removed. He had these beady black eyes and greasy dark hair. His two companions were definitely twins, both pale blondes with natty locs, but only one had blue eyes.
“What about this other one?” The man asked me, gesturing toward Balthazar. “Would he know where you guys were going?”
The man walked over to the wrap around, it was where they’d restrained Caiden and Tzar, by their wrists and ankles with rope, they had also gagged their mouths. Tzar was soaked in blood from a bullet wound near his right clavicle, and he was bleeding out from no pressure to the wound, I could see his face had begun to pale from the blood he’d lost. The man grabbed Tzar by his legs and dragged him to the floor, he looked at me before looking back down, then stepped on the bullet wound, causing Tzar to give a stifled scream.
“Bison, we hit the motherfuckin’ jackpot! Holy shit, this dude is sitting on a fucking gold mine here!”
It was the other guy, he had gone into the closet compartment, and I’m sure he was salivating at what he’d found within. The leader, who I now knew to be Bison, went over and grabbed one of the satchels. He began pulling out several ziplock sorted bags of pill bottles, and I looked over at Caiden to find him seething, I just sent him an apologetic look. That’s when the brown eyed twin walked over, with a kilo of cocaine, and cheshire smile upon his face. If looks could kill, I would have died two times over, from the way Bison and Caiden both looked at me.
“Seems you’ve been holding out on us, is that anyway to start our new relationship?” He said, walking over and grabbing a fistful of my dreads, I couldn’t quell the yelp that escaped from my lips.
“Get your fucking hands off’a him!”
We looked over to the couch, it was Caiden, he had gotten his gag to loosen. He pushed himself up, and launched at the man, who easily knocked him to the side. Caiden landed hard on top of Tzar, eliciting a cry of pain from him, the two of them looked helpless upon the floor. Tears burned down my cheeks, as I struggled to free myself, but the blue eyed twin had my arm bent at an odd angle.
“What are you guys, a bunch of faggy lovers?!” The blue eyed twin taunted and laughed wickedly in my ear, then he gave my jawline a lewd lick with his tongue, and I felt like vomiting all over again from the smell of his rancid breath. “I was wondering why he looked so pretty.. now it all makes sense, Boss! An’e taste like chocolate too!”
“Monsters like you belong in prison, rotting away, till the maggots feast on your despicable bones.” I spat at Bison, staring him defiantly in the eye, this caused them all to break out into a riotous laughter.
“Where in Hell did you think we were before all this?” Bison asked, with the most wry of grins. “Out here is like a paradise, compared to the shit hole we were held up in, and this here is like a world tailor made for us!”
My stomach dropped, as it fully registered to me just how dangerous these men really are, I looked past the man to where Granny and Patience surely wait in terror. I didn’t let my gaze linger too long, and I quickly glanced down to where Tzar lay bleeding out, with Caiden next to him looking like a caged cobra ready to strike as soon as a hand drew near. Bison took out a small blade, and made a small incision on the package of cocaine, he took a generous amount of the alabaster powder and balanced it along the edge of the blade. He held it up to his nose, taking it all in a single hit.
His head hung back from the rush, as a growl of pleasure escaped his throat. He snorted a bit, before his gaze settled upon me with those unnerving beady eyes, and a insidious half smile crossed his lips. I felt a chill run up my spine, when he started to approach me once more.
“In prison, two of the rarest treasures, are drugs and women..” He brought a hand up to stoke his thumb across my lips, and I fought the urge to remove the digit with my teeth, but I knew there would be consequences. “We make do without the women in prison, thas where pretty little bitch boys like you come quite in handy.”
He took a few steps backwards, and dug the knife back in for another hit, it’s taken with less effect than the first.
“We escaped from that hell hole, to find the world outside has gone to shit! The motherfuck’n dead are running around eat’n everybody.. Shit is crazy! While the dead feed upon the meek, guys like us know how to survive, we know what it takes.” He said, looking off to the side, as he rambled on, his eyes quickly shot back to me. “But you know what else is fucked up? Guess what are the two rarest things to find in an apocalypse?”
“Drugs!” Chimed in the brown eyed twin, as he popped some random pills in his mouth.
“And women..” Whispered his brother in my ear, as he rubbed his hardening crotch against my ass.
I stomped his foot and tried to shake loose, but I only felt sharp pain shoot up my arm, and Bison gave me a stinging slap across the face that maybe me see stars. I was suddenly tossed to the couch, the blue eyed twin firmly gripped my wrists, and the brother began to strip me from the waist down. I kicked and screamed, begging for them to stop, pleading for them not to rape me, this only caused another round of laughter among them. Bison stood back and watched, groping his crotch at the scene. He ordered them to flip me onto my stomach, and my further struggles remained to be in vain, I couldn’t believe this was happening.
“Damn, that’s a fine ass..” Bison mused, as he drew closer, giving my meaty cheek a slap. “You black bitches always got the best ass, fuck yeah! I’m getting in that pussy, right now, move!”
He pushed brown eyes out of the way, and he got down in between my spread legs, I was reduced to blubbering tears at this point. Where was the out of body experience? where was the numbness I remember hearing allot of rape victims speak about? I felt every callous of his hands, as they sodomized my body, his hot breath blew against the back of my neck, labored with lust. That’s when I heard a gun go off, and Bison slumped onto my back, the bullet had gone straight through his shoulder, nearly taking me out with him.
“Unless you bastards are ready to die, I suggest you pick up your friend and hit the goddamn road!”
We all turned to see Granny, standing behind Patience, who held the smoking gun in her small hands. She pointed the gun at brown eyes, aiming down the sights, to show she wasn’t playing any games.
“You little black bi..AAAH!” He screamed, as she blasted him in the kneecap, I just watched her in shock as I tried to pull my pants back on as fast I could.
“That was your second warning, there won’t be a third..” Granny said, a menacing smile gracing her lips.
“C’mon bro let’s just go!” Blue eyes said, his voice quivering in fear, and eyes locked on the fair skinned old woman and the ebony colored young girl. “Help me grab Bison, let’s get him up..”
Suddenly, the haunting moans of the dead, permitted the Betty, all the ruckus must have attracted some of the infected nearby. A black woman, dressed in filthy tattered marsh soaked cloths, tried to jump through the bust out back window, she hissed at us as her mouth dripped the dark toxic muck from her mouth. A well placed bullet to the forehead, from the young girl, quickly dispatched her. There were others surrounding the bus, but Granny and Patience showed no mercy, sending the bandits though the back window. I ran to the front cabin, and started the engine, wasting no time taking off.
Once Caiden was untied, he quickly came up front and took over driving duties, so I could help Granny tend to Tzar. He was screaming bloody murder, but with good reason, the bullet had gotten lodged and the old woman was trying her best to remove it. Her hands were shaking, and she looked frustrated that her body was betrayed her. I started noticing all the blood, and I felt my stomach do a summersault, I closed my eyes a moment to get my bearings.
There was no time for this, Tzar needed me, and a panic attack could mean his life. I swallowed the foul taste of bile that accumulated within my throat, and snatched the utensils from Granny. I quickly went into auto pilot, as instinct took over, barking out orders to two women. I looked down to Tzar and could see he was about to lose consciousness, the pain and shock finally taking hold.
“Come Tzar, don’t give up on me now, I need you stay strong! I’m gonna get you through this, I swear it!” Tears welled in my eyes but I stayed determined to the task, finally getting the shrapnel out, I pressed down hard on the wound. “It’s all gonna be ok, Tzar, it’s gonna be ok…just hold on!”