Carolyn continues her adventures here in part 4 of our story. Check out parts 1-3 and the short segments listed in Carolyn’s page on this blog.
Morning came quickly for Carolyn. She woke, still sitting on the floor of the nurse’s library. She realized how lucky it was the house had, indeed, only contained one night walker. That one had proved almost too much for her. She was not certain she could have handled two of them, especially if both had been fighters.
She looked at the dead body on the floor with its face smashed beyond recognition. Knowing she had done that to something that had once been a young woman both bothered and fascinated her. She stared at the huge nursing dictionary, now covered in blood with the back cover as well as the binding broken. Carolyn stood slowly up and began sorting through the books, looking for anything that might help her down the road.
One title caught her eye: “Natural Remedies in the Wild”. The book was a field guide, small and compact. She took it and went through the rest of the house. The kitchen turned up a decent breakfast of old Cheerios and some sugar from a closed cup. She found a jug of water in the fridge and poured it over the cereal. There were a few graham crackers in the cabinet to go along it. She saved some by wrapping them in aluminum foil after a second bowl of cereal. There were two cans of soup, both tomato, and a plastic jar of peanut butter about half full.
The search of the bedroom was worth the time. She found a heavier jacket and a pair of thin gloves that fit. Along with some better boots and thicker socks and a ski-type hat, she was all warm and comfy heading to retrieve her bag and be out for the day.
The bag was nearly full and heavy enough she did not want to add anything. Carolyn peered all around before heading into the street and on out of the suburbs. She knew the rural area was about three miles out and thought she could make it by noon if she did not stop anywhere on the way. The temperature was dropping and she wanted to be somewhere she could have a small fire tonight.
As she walked the sky darkened a bit with clouds. She really hoped it did not rain right now. She was dry and full and well; she wanted to stay that way. Carolyn guessed it to be around the mid-forties. Rain would be cold and harsh. Her body had been through more than it needed and deserved a break. Perhaps, tonight, she could plan to stay an extra day and rest. Only time would tell.
The wind picked up and Carolyn’s thoughts returned to the weather. It was early November. The weather was fairly mild for this time of year in the Midwest. Normally, she would be bored, waiting for the first snowfall and the new line of Christmas items coming into the store. As it was, she hoped it would never snow. The cold would chill her to the bone. Then, her mind took a more devious turn. Perhaps, if it snowed enough, it would kill all the night walkers in the area and she could settle down somewhere for a week or two. A nice house away from the city and well-stocked with wood and food and water would be perfect for her needs. When she came to the next intersection, she turned north toward the more wooded land and much smaller towns. The temperature dropped even more and a light snow began to fall. Instead of feeling bad about the change, Carolyn smiled a bit; she did love the white stuff.
As she thought, just a little after noon by her judgment, Carolyn totally left the city and suburbs and roamed into the surrounding rural area. Buildings and pavement gave way to trees and dirt roads after just a few turns. She had been to this area a couple of times, but knew she would be totally lost if still out in this open when the sun dropped below the horizons, especially with the snowfall which had gotten heavy for a short time. Somehow, Carolyn knew that would be a bad idea. Fewer night crawlers did not mean there were no night crawlers.
Carolyn had been walking for quite a few hours. The snow was letting up, but still falling. She was tired, but happy she had not seen any night crawlers since the nurse’s home. She still had to be alert; however, the reprieve had been nice. She had covered several miles since leaving the last small town and its possible nightmares and was now in a very rural area. She looked out over the fields covered in an early snow and almost enjoyed the brisk cold air lightly blowing on her cheek.
She stopped and stared hard at the figure in the distance. The sinking sun was behind it, making it difficult to see clearly. She decided to chance it and walked forward, knife in hand, gun holster unsnapped. So far, the night crawlers had seldom stopped and certainly not for the several minutes she had been watching. Of course, the people she had known had not acted this way either. She was not Spiderwoman, but Carolyn really felt her spider sense buzzing. Her eyes darted back and forth as she approached.
A short, sharp laugh escaped her as she realized the snowman was not a threat. It was standing guard duty in the field, evidently built by…the thought snapped her awake. Who had built this? She stared hard, but saw no one. The snow was less than a day old. It had to have been created after Hell Day. Whoever did this was, had been, human. She crouched a bit lower.
Leaving the snowman behind her, Carolyn headed toward the closest house she could see. It was across a snowy field with bits of cornstalks sticking up in long rows.
“Harvesting must’ve been done early here,” she thought, the loud crunching of her shoes adding to the tracks created by her steps in the, otherwise, clean inch or two of the new-fallen precipitation. She felt exposed and vulnerable.
Still, she was having trouble focusing. Carolyn had grown up in another town, much smaller than the city she left behind earlier. Her mind, for some reason, kept going back to her high school days in Science class. She remembered watching the movies and digital programs on the stellar bodies. One in particular, was a huge cloudy mass with a star at the center. She could not remember the name, but the idea of there being all that and more out there always filled her with hope, especially now. While out here, Carolyn could almost forget about Hell Day and all the nightmares she had dealt with in the past weeks.
She reached the house and crept toward the door. She was still reminiscing over her younger days when a snapping twig brought her around, knife in hand. The little boy looked at her with wide eyes.
“Y-You lost, Lady?” he stammered.