“So I only have one question everybody.. Light or dark?” Balthazar called out, holding two bottles in the air.
We’d finally pulled off the road, making camp on a hill, overlooking the interstate. We were are piled into the Betty, and we’d just finish eating a feast prepared by the very man, now trying to get us all drunk.
“Well I’ve always been a Brandy girl, myself.” Serafi chimed in reply, snatching the Hennessy bottle from his hand.
“I’m not picky about my poison.” The Saint said, as he grabbed the Russian vodka from the other.
“Who’s gonna stay on lookout? We can’t all get fucked up..”
“I’ll take watch, Blood, you let your hair down for once.. ya might be able to pull that stick from your ass.” Husk told the uptight Hispanic, as he stood with his rifle and made his way to the roof of the Betty.
“Let take Shots!!!!” Tzar screamed at the top of his lungs excitedly, receiving a collective shush from the group.
He gave a shamed look, and said it again, in more of a yell whisper, that sent us all into a fit of laughter. Patience asked if she could go on the roof with Husk, and I nodded, glad to get her away while we indulged in adult activities. I’d never been one to turn to drink, but socially I’d partake in dark liquors only. They poured shots for all nine of us, and doled them out, we all held it up in a cheer before throwing it back. The familiar burn of the toxin, traveling down my throat, was something I’d never been fond of. Granny caught my eye and I recognized the look on her face, I smiled at her and ran over to my closet. After shuffling through my luggage, I found what I knew would set the party off right.
“Please tell me we got some casino players up in here.. ” I said, getting up and tossing the unopened deck of cards on Wolf’s lap.
“Oh shit! Spades?” The Saint asked, I just grinned.
“No, please, let’s play poker!” Surprisingly, that was Jerry, sitting to the side sipping a drink.
“I only play poker for money, bitch.” Tzar replied, with a snide look in the man’s direction.
“So Spades it is.. I call first table!” Caiden said, snatching the cards.
“I call me and Bloodhound!” Balthazar recited with glee, snatching him by his hand and dragging him to the bar stool, before he could decline.
“Who’s gonna play with me?” Caiden asked, looking at the rest of us sprawled around.
“I will..” Karishma and I, both chimed in at the same time, our eyes shot to each other.
“No, you go ahead.. I’ll catch the winner.” I said to her, forcing a small smile.
“Don’t worry, her seat won’t even get warm, let’s do this!” Tzar chimed in, and turned to his partner, across the bar.
Karishma just smiled as she stood in the kitchen area, across from Caiden, as he shuffled and dealt the cards. While they were preoccupied, I sat down on the wrap around with Timber Wolf, Granny, and Serafi. I pulled out three bags of green and tossed them to the girls, Serafi pulled out some papers she had swiped from the liquor store, I looked at the Wolf, out the side eye, half expecting him to say something but he remained silent as he watched us.
Granny and Sera rolled up several joints, and the air quickly clouded with the skunky but sweet aroma. I sat back and sunk into the chair, my nerves fading away as the euphoria hit, Mary was the only thing that eased that constant state of alert I had yet to become accustom to. Caiden shot a glance over at me but I couldn’t really read his face, that’s when I noticed the Wolf had casually stretched an arm out behind my head. It didn’t bother me, so I thought nothing of it, Granny passed me another joint, and somehow I had ended up with two in my hands.
“Anyone wanna hit this?” I asked, holding one up to the group at the table.
“Pass that here bitch!” Tzar replied, reaching over, I dodged pass him and held it out to Caiden.
“No thank you, bad enough we’re catching contact..”
“Are ya worried it’s gonna kill you? The fuckingworld has ended and you all are trying to have a D.A.R.E. meeting.. FYI, the drug war is over and the risen dead WON, there’s a chance you won’t even be alive at the end of the week, hit this shit nigga!” I said with a laugh as I held it to his face, causing him to pause a moment, but eventually took it between his lips and inhaled.
“May I have some too?”
All of our eyes shot over to the Doctor in shock, Tzar and I burst out laughing as I handed her one of the joints. She took a good hit, and tried to play the trooper, but the hacking coughing fit she quickly succumb to spoke differently. Everyone had a good laugh about it, even her, and the mood soon mellowed out enough for everyone to forget the tragedy of the world around us. The spades game commenced, and the Doctor had a few more surprises up her sleeve, quickly making short work of the Bloodhound/Balthazar team up. Sera and the Saint, teamed up next to face the champs, while the rest of us just gabbed on the sidelines.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had so much fun, and everyone was getting along for the most part, which was a rare occasion indeed. I guess we all just needed a little social satisfaction, we needed a moment to just feel comfort in the humanity and space around us. In another surprise upset, Caiden and Karishma took out the challengers, faster than the first set.
“Aww shit, Curry ain’t the only thing hot about this bitch here..” Tzar said, shaking his head in disbelief. “Loki you know you’re the resident Casino whore, you betta get homegirl right togetha!”
“Granny, you play cards?” I asked, turning to the old woman, but she shook her head no.
“I’ll partner up with you.. If you don’t mind playing with a beginner.” The Wolf said next to me, one of his sexy grins painted across his lips.
“That’s fine, I’m good enough for both of us.” I replied, winking at him, as I got up to go to the bar.
We were down to the last few hands, and I needed to make these last two books to win, with only a Big Joker and a low spade left. I took a deep pull from the joint I had, as I tried to count the spades I’d seen so far, and I knew there was Jack spade and a little joker out there somewhere. Caiden definitely didn’t have anything, I could tell by the way he’d been looking at his hand from the start, plus he’d run outta money a long time ago. Timber Wolf sat across from me, looking intently down at his hand, and my instincts told me he might have the Jack, but I couldn’t be sure with such a poker face.
“It’s your turn Loki.. the cards in your hand aren’t going to change, no matter how long you look at them.” Karishma said, in jest, it seems once she’s liquored up she becomes somewhat of a shit talker.
“It’s my hand, let me play it.”
“Ok, ok..” She said with a laugh, Jerry joined in, loving she was owning us at a game, we clearly played all the time.
I tossed down my four of spades, with a sigh, just knowing she had the other joker. she smiled confidently as she topped my low card with the Jack, and my eyes shot to my partner, who had a smile of his own. He tossed the baby J on the pile, and the group burst into a round of laughter and shouting, we had all forgotten about the threats outside during such a heated match. I tossed my Big Joker down and we threw our arms up in victory, Tzar hopped up and grabbed another bottle, pouring everyone another round of shots.
Most of the group was pretty wasted by this point, except maybe Husk and I. Jerry had fallen asleep, curled up into a ball on the couch, sucking his thumb. Granny and the Wolf had went to go lay down, while Karishma and Caiden said they needed some air. I could see Sera and the Saint were talking in a hushed whisper by the bar, he was smiling and she would giggle every so often, both clearly smitten. Speaking of couples, Tzar was sitting on Bloodhound’s lap, as they both read through a book I didn’t recognize.
My cousin had never been the type to be clingy with any man, actually he was pretty stand offish with men, that’s why we could never get him to stick with anyone he’d been set up with. The way he was with the mercenary was something new to me, but then again this was all new, I’d never been cramped into a living situation with nine people before either. They seemed to genuinely enjoy each other, and the Hound was less of an asshole when Tzar had him occupied, so it was a win win for me. My cousin was finally happy and I’d be more than satisfied that the merc would stay out of my face. Looking at the couples, made me feel a puzzle piece to my heart was missing, and it was eating at me. Only one person I knew, understood how I felt, so I got up and went to see if I could catch him outside.
I stepped off the bus, and the crisp cool night air, felt good against my skin. Looking up I could make out Patience laying down on the top of the Betty, more than likely asleep, as Husk continued to stand watch, his eyes looking out to the horizon. The sun would be up in an hour or so, because the slightest bit of orange could be seen, outlining the landscape to the east. I felt a bit nervous, because I couldn’t immediately locate the Doctor and Caiden, anywhere in vicinity of the Betty.
After looking around for a little while longer, I casually strayed over to Serafi’s Mustang and sat on the hood, it gave me the best view of the coming sunrise. I tried not to get worried about the missing twosome, as Karishma probably had to pee or throw up in the woods, something like that.
They both were kinda trashed, but I had faith Caiden could handle himself. I pulled the last rolled joint from my pocket, and sparked it up, I knew I probably wouldn’t get any sleep till we were on the road again, I had just been feeling too anxious and jittery for some reason.
I had probably been sitting there for about ten minutes, when I noticed the car was moving, and as soon as I slid off the hood you could clearly see the rocking. I looked under, and there was nothing, so I went around to look at what was in the back seat. I could make out a broad back and a man’s meaty pale ass, the person was thrusting hard with earnest, clearly trying to get his nut. The Doctor’s moans and squeals of passion, came out in rhythm to his thrusts, clearly she was getting her nut too. I never knew I could feel so many emotions, in the few seconds that make a moment, my brain felt as if it was boiling. I put the joint back to my lips as I watched them, and when I sparked the light, she must have seen or heard it.
“Omg! It’s one of the infected!” She screamed, and pointed out the window, in the direction of my shadowy silhouette.
Caiden moved swiftly, drawing his gun, and pointed it straight at me. I took a long drag from the joint and just stared at him, when his eyes finally registered who it was, they almost popped out of his face. He started to get up and get dressed, but I wasn’t trying to hear one of his explanations, and in reality, he had no reason to give me any. He was a grown ass man, capable and willing to do grown things, and just like an adult he’ll have to deal with the consequences of his choices. I couldn’t blame him really, Karishma was a beautiful woman, the perfect candidate to satisfy such a carnal need as lust. Who had the time to deal with the confounding chemistry we had going on, when there was pussy being thrown at him from all sides.
He called out my name, but once again, I just turned my back on him and walked away. I took the last drag from the joint as I opened the door to the Betty, and once I climbed inside, I hit the locks.
I had decided we were hitting the road a little early, unfortunately we were headed to Fort Wayne but as promised I didn’t complain. I looked out to my side mirror, and could make out the red vehicle that held Caiden and Karishma, speeding up behind us. I made a promise to myself to not to waste precious energy getting mad over what I saw, but I also wouldn’t forget it, I kinda thought it would be nice for the new couple to get to spend a little time together.. alone.
Sure everyone did look at me funny, when I hopped inside the Betty and started her up, then when Caiden started banging on the side door calling my name, things really took an interesting turn. I had given everyone a glaring eye, one that spoke of death if any of them tried to go towards the door. Patience and Husk had barely climbed inside from the roof, before I started driving off, full speed at first, but after a mile or two I slowed down. No one said anything to me, they were smart enough to leave it alone for awhile. About an hour later the Wolf came up, and sat in the passenger seat, he looked at me with concern.
“Are you okay?”
“Absolutely fine.” I replied shortly, eyes on the road.
“You sure?.. You been crying for the last ten miles.” He asked again, and I looked in the mirror, sure enough I was crying and I didn’t even realize it.
“I don’t want to talk about it, this isn’t anyone’s business..”
“Look, you don’t have to tell me anything, but I need to know you’re okay. For one, you’re the guy driving..” He said, with all serious, but I couldn’t help but to laugh at him. “Do you even know which direction you’re driving in?”
“Of course I do, I’m heading towards the fire..”
“What?” He asked, and I just pointed at the white pillar of smoke in the distance, we could see the thick cloud trailing into the sky.
“It was still burning a couple minutes ago.. but I can tell they just put it out.” I said, returning my eyes to the road, as he looked at the map. “That’s why I’m heading in that direction.”
“Are you sure it’s them?”
“Yeah, it’s been put out and started again twice now.. It’s also in the direction we were already heading in, just slightly to the east, so I just assumed.” I replied, noticing there seemed to be more of the risen dead, littering the side of the road than usual. “Have we been able to make contact with the base?”
“No, they lost communications five days ago, but the site still shows active..”
“What about with your Command, are they responding?” I asked hopefully, but he just shook his head no. “So we’re just roaming blind out here?! What if ALL of them have been killed already or worse?”
“We continue forward, we get the job done.. we don’t allow ANYTHING to become an excuse to give up.” He replied, giving a look, that burned with determination. “I find no satisfaction in failure, and in this case, failure could mean the death of us.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad right now, the dead seem to have gotten the better bargain..”
It was getting to be too much work to survive in this world, you couldn’t exactly call what we do ‘living’, so all we were doing was basic survival. I turned to him, and was caught off guard, as his soft lips were soon attached to my own. The Betty swerved a bit, and we hit a flesh eater on the side of the road, but I was able to straighten us out. I pushed him back, when I felt his tongue tenderly try to gain entry pass my lips, and I looked hard at the road ahead, not knowing what to think.
My body felt hot, my dick was hard, and my heart was racing. I finally felt brave enough to peek at him out the side of my eye, and he just sat there smiling while he overlooked over the map.
“I’d say life still has it’s worth..” Was all he said.
As soon as we pass Cedar Creek Canyon, we could see blockades lining the outer rim of the city. The path was still passable, but it would prevent any of the undead to hoard through in a pack of large numbers, very clever. I dove through the empty streets, a ghost town similar to the one we had scavenged, it was eerie to see.
When we pulled up to the military academy, we could see they had erected a wall around the grounds. Men were perched at the top, looking down with their rifles, more than likely seeing us way before we’d seen them. Several infected were sprinkled around the outside of the barrier, and I plowed right through a few of them. As soon as I got close the gate opened up, and they gave us back up fire till both vehicles were inside. Timber Wolf led the way off the bus, Bloodhound and I right behind him. There was an older Caucasian man who looked like a general of sorts, that sauntered up us, escorted by two young men.
“Welcome, welcome.. you must have come a long way. I have to ask, and believe me when I say it’s only protocol, are there any infected with you?” He asked, looking past us, to the battered caravan.
“We are all free of infection.. the dog too.” Caiden replied walking up, smiling at the general, he must have then turn my way because I could feel him looking at me, but I completely ignored him.
“We only seek a safe place to rest, possibly barter for a resupply, then we’ll be on our way.. we’d be grateful for your hospitality, Sir.” The Wolf said, and the man just smiled at us warmly, well, as warm as his stern face could emote.
“Of course, just consider yourself at home! The kitchen was just about to serve breakfast.. get yer group inside and we’ll get’m fattened up in no time.. Haha.”
Looking around, there were children running around gingerly, I assume from the nearby towns. I saw a handful of women, if that much, the bulk of civilians being the children and a few preteens. All the men looked to be soldiers, or at least dressed as one, each with a gun and on the job. Caiden signaled for everyone to come out, Sera advised we leave Buster on the bus, and I agreed. Patience stuck to Granny, and the old woman had a sour look on her face, as she looked around suspiciously. Everyone else seemed complacent, because it all seemed legit, we might actually be safe.
We were led into a cafeteria, where a large number of soldiers and children were eating. Everyone was laughing, and the few women seemed to be working hard to keep the kitchen flowing. They looked to be serving the daily catch, probably a steer or moose from the nearby wooded areas. They sat us down at a table and placed plates of food in front of us, I caught a whiff of a familiar smell, and my stomach was immediately turned off. It was that hamburger meat smell, it was disgusting, I pushed the protein heavy plate of food away from me and Jerry quickly snatched it up. Mostly everyone was digging in, tearing up the barbecue, and licking their fingers.
Granny, Patience, and I were the only ones that didn’t partake. Granny’s excuse, she needed to see the kitchen before she tasted a thing that came from this place, and Patience said she was sad they killed whatever animal they were eating, mentioning something about wanting to become a vegetarian.
I didn’t want to come across as disrespectful, so I transferred all the food on my plate to Jerry’s, and covered mine with a napkin like I’d had my fill. One of the women cleaning up, came around grabbing trash and clearing plates.
“Was the food to satisfaction for you Mister?” She asked, with a warm demeanor.
“Absolutely..” I replied, the smile on my face a bold faced lie, everyone at the table just giggled under their breath. “I wish I could eat more, but I’m so stuffed.”
“Well we’d love to have you all for dinner, will you be staying awhile?
“No longer than we need to..”