A steady stream of water was splashing on my face, abruptly rousing me from my spell of unconsciousness, it was only till some of it got in my mouth that I realized it was urine, HOT urine, like it was fresh from the tap.
When my captor had ceased his assault, I opened my eyes and immediately close them shut, a terror that was agonizingly familiar course through my body, deep into my bones.
Adrenaline set the blood in my veins on fire and my heartbeat was erratic, yet I couldn’t move a muscle, the dull throb of the arrowhead lodged in the crown of my cervical spine was a reminder of the dire straits I was in.
*No, no, no, this can’t be real..* I thought, tears flowing, as my eyes just had to be playing tricks on me.
“Wakey, Wakey! You little bitch! Get the fuck up!” Gunner screamed as he kicked me in the ribs, all I could feel was the pressure, but he may have broken something. “I said get the fuck up! You purposely antagonizing me or something? You getting off on this shit?!”
“No, you idiot, I’m fucking paralyzed!” I croaked out, my throat slightly sore.
He sucked his teeth and flipped me over with his boot clad foot, until he could see the damage to the back of my neck.
“Fuck! Bison ain’t gonna like this, he wanted you intact.. I can’t bring you back to him as a damn cripple. Why you had to get shot for dummy?!”
The bastard had the nerve to place blame to me, When had my life become such a dark comedy? What a predictable anti climactic twist of fate, and with the way my life’s been going I should have seen it coming, I mean, could the General’s words have been more true? I would DIE running from someone or something, it was only a matter of time, and what a cruel bitch she was.
Gunner looked almost the same as I remembered, but this was clearly a different man now that he was alone in the world, essentially for the first time, I know he despised me something fierce. Those torrential blue eyes, they were darker than I remembered, like he’d been through something worse than.. to be honest, all the shit he’s already been through, these freaks broke out of prison before they went on a rampage in the apocalypse.
My eyes searched the dimly lit room for the Wolf, as I remembered I wasn’t alone in this, where was my love. I quickly found him chained to a wall on the other side, unconscious, and it appeared we were in a mildew infested basement, if it wasn’t, it smelled like one.
Gunner ran his hands through his dirty length of platinum blonde dreadlocks, and I notice I wasn’t the only dread with a new cut. The left side was buzzed down almost to the scalp, leaving just enough hair to cover a subpar stitch job, it would do its job but that nasty scar was bound to get infected. I wondered if he’d suffered brain injury, with the way he was looking around all spaced out, it was clear he was showing the signs and that wasn’t good. It only made him more irrational, unpredictable, and ten times more dangerous.
“Just pull the arrow out, it hurts.. Please!” I cried, using any avenue I could to better my chances, as if on cue a fresh trail of tears trickle down my face.
“Quit your cryin’, I can’t take that shit right now!” He screamed, leaning down and ripping the arrowhead from my neck, shredding the flesh on exit.
It caused a sharp pain that caused me to scream, and I could feel the warm wetness of blood seeping down my back, my head had started spinning from the loss of it. He ripped my tank top off and wrapped it around my neck to stop the blood flow, the effort was doing more harm than good. When he finished, he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, I was then carried up some stairs to the main floor and taken to another room. It lead into an open space, and I could hear the murmur of countless people, it all sounded like white noise and was momentarily disorienting. I almost vomit when I saw the trail of blood we were leaving behind us, it was rushing to my head and out through my wound, soaking my locs in the thick carmine liquid.
People were following us, but I was too weak to lift my head to see their faces, only numerous dirty feet could be seen trailing behind us. They were trying to see who I was but Gunner swat at them like pestering insects, and they scurry away to join the crowd that had gathered on the sidelines. My presence had caused quite a stir, yet there was something else amiss. Gunner lead me forward till I could hear screaming, tons of it, coming from a woman. Then there was his voice, one I had hoped never to hear again, till I saw him in the fiery fire pits of Hell.
“Come on Lass, be a good girl.. Put the knife down, daddy just wants you to play with his friends, they need some sugar too.”
“Fuck you Bison, you’re a sick cold hearted son of a bitch, I don’t know how a mother could ever have loved you!” The woman screamed, no doubt waving that knife wildly, I could hear it’s sharpness slice through the wind even though I couldn’t see it.
“Aww, now you don’ gone an hurt mah feelin’s girl, I cain’t have none of that. Not in front’a my boys.” He replied wiping away fake tears, but his crooked smile broke through and he followed with his sadistic laughter, it almost induced me to gag.
I was unceremoniously tossed onto a ratty couch, getting my blood all over it, and Gunner tried to prop my head up with a pillow, situating me like I was just ‘making myself comfortable’, I’m sure I looked quite ridiculous but it gave me a view of the room. Everyone was garbed in the tattered rags of whatever clothes they once wore, there were many men, so many of them, yet just barely a handful of woman and no children. All of the females looked ragged and worn, broken down, used and abused, to the point it was hard not to pity them, even in the lethal predicament I now found myself in.
They were scantily clothed, one or two might as well call themselves naked, the exposed skin of their bodies were showing clear signs of the bruising on their pale skin. The most naked of them was a young girl, and her lower extremities were completely shredded, she needed an highly accredited gynecologist. Unfortunately, I was was studying neurology and critical care surgery before quitting Med-School, so there was nothing I could do for her, besides a patch up job. I saw what looked like blood, trailing down from her inner thigh, and couldn’t bare to look at her anymore.
Who knew what these poor women have been subjected to, what cruelties they’ve endured at the hands of these fiendish scavengers. There was one who didn’t look like the others, it was the screaming woman, she looked better kept. Her angry voice was youthful and belied her seasoned years, this older brunette was pleasantly beautiful in the ‘hot suburbanite MILF’ kinda way, so I knew she was new to this game Bison was playing.
She was the only one fully clothed, and was wearing cloths cleaner than anything anybody else had on, myself included. Her long brown hair had the slightest silver streak in the front, but otherwise she was extremely preserved for a White woman of her age. She must have been part of a group squatting in this town, before having the misfortune of Bison and his men coming across their town.
She was feisty thou, and the chick wasn’t just brandishing a Knife, it was more like a Katana. I could tell it probably belonged to Bison because he had the sheath in his left hand. It had deep slices marring its decorative finish, like he had blocked some of her close attacks with it, and from the depth of them it looks like she got pretty close.
None of the other women moved to help her, they just watched with apathetic dead eyes, even the risen dead seem to have more life in their minds than the poor women this group had damaged beyond repair. It was clear the fight had been beaten and ripped from the core of their souls, there was probably nothing left behind those blank zoned out stares.
“Where is my son?! Just let us go.. I gave you what you want! I slept with you and did every fucking disgusting despicable thing you asked me to, you gave me your word!”
“You heard that boys?! Haha, the fuckin cunt said I gave her my word!” Bison bellowed out, before breaking into a fit of heinous laughter, and the rest of the men were soon to follow. “How much would you say that’s worth there, huh Gunner?”
“Jack shit.. We all knows yous the biggest liar and cheat east of the Rockies!”
“Aww, thank you friend, that just warms mah heart.” Bison replied, clutching a hand dramatically over his furry chest. “She thinks I’m a monster, hows about I show her the truth.. Bring the little son of a bitch out to his mama!”
A small group of the men disappeared and soon returned with a boy, no more than fifteen or sixteen, about a year or two older than Kahlil. He looked like he’d been starved the whole time, and his clothes were soiled with feces and urine, his complexion was a pale ghastly white. I could see one of the men whisper in his ear, before they pushed him towards her loving arms. She grasp him tight and he wrapped his arms around her, she was sobbing into the crook of his shoulder.
“We promised your boy his freedom but it came at a price, he had to join us, and he had to pay his way in. Since he had nothing of value, save for his own sweet little ass, we were satisfied with a sacrificial offering of sorts, one that would cement him into our brotherhood.”
Suddenly the son slammed his poor mother to the floor, it caught her by surprise and left her dazed. I gasped in horror when he started to rip the buttons of her blouse, and then start to tear at the rest of her cloths. She screamed but he began to punch her in the face, knocking her unconscious for a moment, she didn’t wake again till he had penetrated her.
Her own fucking son…
I could feel the bile rise to my throat as the men cheered him on to drown out her screaming. I did the only thing I could do, and that was close my eyes, the sounds were disgusting enough but I didn’t have to bare witness to such heinous acts.
“That’s a good kid, he’ll make a fine addition, don’t ya say boys?” Bison called out, receiving a mix of cheers and laughter in response.
I was flush with anger, these bastards were out of control, it was then that I felt it, the slightest wiggle in my big toe. It took about three minutes, but I was able to shift my whole foot, the task left me gritting my teeth because the burning of the healing process had begun. The fire scorched its way up my spine, and the inferno settled at the the base of my neck. I try my best not to cry out or bring attention to myself, but I was sitting there soaked in sweat to the point my dreadlocks had gotten heavy.
The muscles beneath my skin felt feverishly hot, and it left the skin that covered it, feeling closely akin to bacon frying on a grill platter. I struggle to keep myself from falling in and out of consciousness, knowing what could befall me if I slept, as if I didn’t have enough motivation Bison had finally noticed me.
“What the fuck happened to’m?! He looks like shit!” He screamed, angered at the state of my condition. “You bastards fuckin ruin’d him before I even got a taste, what the fuck?”
“Sorry boss, one of the bowman shot’m, caught him right in the back of the neck.” Gunner answered, taking a step or two back out of his way, as the man came closer to further inspect me.
“Who is the lucky bastard that shot this one?” He barked at the group and pointed at me, they all looked at each other nervously, no one willing to speak.
There was a sudden commotion from the back of the pack, someone was protesting in Spanish, but it didn’t seem to work because a darker skinned hispanic guy was pushed forward by the people around him. When he got to the front of the crowd they pushed him onto the ground, causing him to land at Bison’s feet.
“Was it you friend? Did you bring harm to what’s mine?” He asked, in a tone so low and tense it was like a snake coiling to strike, I already knew the outcome no matter the man’s answer.
“Yes, boss.. but..!”
He was cut short by the loud bang of a pistol, not just any pistol, it was Hunter’s magnum. Gunner must have taken it from me and given it to him, the power of the gun blast had taken the man’s head clean off, leaving a mess of brain and skull fragment upon the floor.
“Let that be a lesson to you sorry motherfuckers..” He blew the black exhaust still spilling from the smoking barrel. “Don’t touch what belongs to me, unless I give you permission.”
“He had somebody with’m, some black fella, looks like he might be military or a cop.” Gunner mentioned to him, and my ears perked up, they were talking about Timber Wolf.
“Ain’t no more goddamn coppers you fucktard, Why you think I’m runnin this shit! I betcha he’s one a dem freelance mercenaries, you know, those ‘blackwater’ sons a bitches that do the government’s dirty work off the books. We should kill him, we don’t need no super hero wannabe fuckin up our good set up we got going on.”
“No! He’s just an army medic, we just happen to cross paths and teamed up..” I shouted, catching Bison’s attention, he came close but stopped about three yards away.
“A doctor, I don’t believe your lying ass.. He’s probably your boyfriend, I bet you fucking him. You giving my pussy away?”
He sound highly irascible and the look in his eye was slightly crazed, I just shook my head ‘No’, not even sure I could open my mouth to speak again. This dude was out of his god forsaken mind, how do I kept finding myself in these situations, clearly I must have fucked over the Fates in another life.
Bison still refuse to believe my lies, so he had them drag the Wolf up the stairs so he could see for himself. When the mercenary was brought in, it was immediately apparent they had roughed him up some during transport. His lip was bleeding and he was nursing his left leg, they then pushed my beloved to his knees, just as they done the man before him. I knew the Wolf could see the body, because he was kneeling in what was left of him.
“The kid says you’re a Doctor, we need one of those, the last one got nabbed by some wall crawlers a while back so there’s a vacancy. All you have to do is prove yourself first..”
Bison motioned for Gunner to bring someone forward, it was a blonde man with a bushy beard, he was freaking huge like a grizzly bear. He hobble towards them with a stick, and his ailing limb sorta dragged behind him, one could immediately tell it was gangrenous from the sickly color.
“Archie here got stabbed in a little tussle during the last shake down we pulled, he’s proven himself a valuable commodity, so that makes’m important to me.. I want you to diagnose and do what is necessary to heal him like they would in the world before this. You fuck it up or lose the patient and you die, you do good work, you join us with open arms. Those are your only two options, so choose wisely brother.”
The Wolf’s gaze met my own and I tried to let him know he had to play along, it was imperative he convinced them.
“Okay, I’ll prove my value.” He replied, standing to his feet, but it took a little effort because of the cuffs. “Mr. Archie, could you please approach so I can diagnose your ailment.”
“Oooh, look at’m sound aw’ll proper like, using all dem perddy words.” Gunner mocked, drawing a laughter from Bison and the men, Wolf ignored them and started to unwrap the bearded behemoths bandages.
There was a sticky sound, almost like Velcro, that I recognized it to be dry coagulated blood soaked into the bandages, he probably never changed them at all. Creating a breeding ground for bacteria, he shouldn’t be able to walk around, he’s lucky to be alive, most would already be on their deathbed in a feverish coma. The Wolf paused a moment and pulled his shirt over his face, and went back to work. A few moments later the rest of us could smell it, as far away as I was, the potent stench of infection and decay hit me like a brick.
“Oh that’s some raunchy shit, never seen or smell nothing like that before, and I’ve hidden in a pit of rotting corpses..” Bison said, moving in closer to watch as the Wolf removed the last piece, the end of it was stuck and had to be stripped off by force.
Both Bison and the Wolf reared back in disgust, the sight of Archie’s leg was so repulsive someone with a good view in the crowd threw up.
“Well Doc? What should we do?” Archie asked, looking worried, as he should’ve.
“I think we have to amputate..”
“What the hell does that mean?! I don’t know all them big doctor words.. just tell me in plain English man!” The thickly bearded red head barked nervously, and the Wolf’s gaze cut in my direction, I just nodded in confirmation.
“It has to be cut off.”
“Whoa! Looks like we’re gonna get some more entertainment for the evening boys, ain’t dis night jus fulla suprises! Somebody get the man a hatchet, the good ol’docter is gonna give us a class.. Surgery 101, hahah!”
More bloodshed was just the thing to get Bison all excited, the bullish brute clearly fed off of the carnage, he was even absentmindedly groping his crotch. They brought the Wolf a sharp but rust stained hatchet, and cleared off a nearby table, Archie got up on it and laid down. Someone handed Gunner a bottle of whiskey and the blonde took a swig before pouring some in Archie’s mouth, the rest he used to rinse the blade and the Wolf’s hands, which they had left restrained.
The big behemoth on the table must have had second thoughts, but before he could run off, Bison had some of the other men hold him down, and it took about seven to do it. As soon as they got him back down, Bison commanded the ‘Doc’ to start chopping, raising the Desert Eagle to the back of his head for emphasis. Wolf ran over and began to tie his belt as tight as he could above the area he was going to cut, He paused a moment and bison took it as him hesitating, so he tapped his head with it, trying to antagonize him, but Wolf already knew what had to be done.
The hatchet came down and Archie screamed so loud it left a ringing in my ears, the first swing wasn’t enough, so the Wolf has to saw the rest through. I wanted to pass out from the sight of the blood, but I had to make sure he didn’t kill this man. Once he got the leg off, Bison grabbed it and held the severed limb up high like a trophy, they cheer on his savagery, so he rewarded them by tossing in into the mob. Wolf glanced to me again and I looked at the fire they had burning in a metal trashcan, he had to seal the man’s wound or he would bleed out.
Wolf kicked over a chair, and picked it up with his shackled hands, he showed impressive strength by slamming it to pieces on the ground, leaving him with just the leg he held tight in his grip. He picked up someone’s shirt and stripped some of the cloth, which was soon wrapped around one end of the stick. He lit it in the fire and started to burn Archie’s huge stump, sending the man into another fit of screaming, fleeting thoughts of Sera flash through my mind and I knew such such a pain was almost unbearable, as if on cue, the bearded blonde giant slipped into unconsciousness. Good news was the hard part was over, he would live, only thing in question is whether he would want to.
“Great job Doc, you put on a good show. I think we might keep ya around..” Bison said, clapping the Wolf’s back with his free hand, and laughed hard in his ear. “Why don’t you go over there and give my little treasure a look over, see if you can fix’m up nice for me to break all over again.”
Wolf kept his mouth shut, but I could see he was gritting his teeth, and trying his best to hold his tongue. This was not the time to act, we both new that, there were close to eighty of these crazy barbarians, all catering to the whim of mad man. What’s to say about humanity if this is all that’s left of us, it’s as if the humanity died the day the world fell and I don’t have the words to describe what’s remains.. the virus should have destroyed us all. My eyes connected with the Wolf’s, and he gave me a small smile as he approached me. He was a about halfway to me, when Bison raised the pistol and put two shots in Archie’s chest.
“Why did you have me save him, if you were gonna kill him anyway?!” The Wolf asked, shocked and appalled at the actions of this man, but I wasn’t, I had come to expect such irrationalities from this sadist.
“I can’t have some cripple running around, he was useless to me missing a god damn leg, but now I have you to take his place.. So don’t that work out nice.” Bison replied as he drank moonshine from a dirty bottle, and fondled one of the women, she just stood there emotionless as he twisted her nipples like the feeling in them was long gone.
I cringed at the thought of what he would do to me, at the very least he would try to break me like these poor souls yet I knew he had to have more sinister plans in mind. The tender touch of the Wolf’s hand on my face, brought me out of my horrid thoughts, his eyes burned into me as if to rekindle my fire. I tried to lift my left arm, and it felt like picking up a couch with three people sitting on it, I barely got it above my chest but I took solace in the fact that I could move it. I tried to do the same with my right leg, but it started to cramp up on me, he smiled at me for further encouragement, and I was able to get my left leg to move just enough to bend the knee.
It was like I had a stroke, half my body betraying me, leaving me so vulnerable and weak. With that said, I was amazed at the way my body could regenerate, my spine was severed completely, there was no way I was going to be able to come back from that with such an ability. I should have been thankful, and I was.. but the fear within me was real, I was afraid of what this could mean, there were so many possibilities.
“He’s not in the best condition, but he’s making some recoveries..” Wolf said, loud enough for Bison to hear, and the man smiled wickedly.
“I remember my last last meeting with’m, I reckon he needs some training.” Bison replied, turning to Gunner who nodded in agreement. “What you think Gun, should we put him in the pen? I bet an old friend is dying to see’m..”
As the men began to approach me, I could see the Wolf tense, as if he was going to fight, but I was able to lift my hand just high enough to grab his. I gave him a squeeze, and he returned it before moving out of the way. Gunner grabbed me and threw me over his shoulder, laughing as he led me out of the room, when we entered the hallway I could tell we had to be in a small office building. Some of the walls weren’t even painted, so I knew the structure wasn’t fully completed. I could hear screams coming from down the dimly lit corridor, like cats were being tortured together in a potato sac, I struggle in his arms but it was no use, I was still too weak to put up a fight.
“You don’t know how long I been waitin and waitin fer this day, I’m glad I trusted Bison cause that bastard is sure smarter than he looks, haha. He knew you and your little group was coming through this way, cause it’s the fastest route to Lost Creek, all we had to do was wait.”
I should have expected they would follow us, especially after Bison had seen I was bitten, I chided myself for being foolish enough to believe he had been killed by that mutant, yet he had proved his resilience once again. I couldn’t help but to remain silent, since my mouth was the only thing I had control over, self restraint would be my only saving grace.
“You been on my mind everyday since that night.. I thought of the things I would say to you, and everything I would do to make you scream, somehow I had to make you pay. I’ve even been practicing and about a month ago I got the perfect idea, I think you gonna love it.”
He came to a stop in front of a thick wooden door, using his foot to kick it open, this was the room where all the screams were coming from. There were chains clanging loudly, accompanied by the unmistakable moans and groans of the risen dead, if my eyes couldn’t see, my nose could smell the pungent aroma of death’s presence. There were two men huddled tight in the corner, eyes wide with the shock of fright, one was crying softly, which cause Gunner to laugh as he tossed me onto the floor.
I landed awkwardly, knocking my elbow on the hardwood, I tried to get up or crawl but the floor was slick and sticky with something. The room was dark, so it was hard to see, the only source of light a small portable battery operated lantern that sat in the farthest corner. Just as I was able to rise to my knees, I heard a low gurgling growl right behind me.
“Hey kid, watch out!!” One of the men yelled in warning, but it was too late.
I turned to see what was behind me, but that was the biggest mistake I could have made, sharp jagged teeth had latch to the side of my face. I tried to scream in pain as the flesh along the right side of my mouth was torn away, but spurting blood was drowning my wails of terror before they could escape my throat. I rolled out of the way just as it lunged for me again, backing myself into the opposite corner of the room. I put my hands to my face, and immediately felt my teeth and the wetness of the inside of my mouth, the carmine liquid of life drained from my wound like an open faucet.
I jumped as the risen had lunged for me again, but luckily he was chained to the floor, toa spoke in the center of the room. There was another urge to scream as I finally recognize the lost soul before me, chewing on the remnants of my flesh in its rotten and decayed mouth. Though his eyes were now blackened and red, and the once tan color of his flesh now sickly and pale, it was unmistakable who it was.
Gunner wasn’t as alone in the world as I thought, because fighting his chains and staring back at me in insatiable hunger, was his twin brother Beau.