Well, here is part Eight of our continuing story of Carolyn’s life in post-apocalyptica . For the other seven parts please look to the left at the pages I have listed. Carolyn has one and the seven parts are listed at the bottom. I do believe the story will finish out next Tuesday. Following that, I will put all nine parts together and post them as one story. My hope is that some of you will take it upon yourselves to do a beta read on the novelette (or novella), critique it, and give me feedback. If you do and the story gets published (even if it’s just me on Kindle next fall), I will give you all credit as readers and hopefully a link to your blogs. Enjoy!!!
Keeping Watch – Part Eight
Scott L Vannatter
She stopped her thought processes and shifted into “kill or be killed” mode. Her gun was in her hand, the knife within easy access. She became quieter. The night crawlers might not be able to run or open doors quickly, but they could hear well. She was just glad their eyesight was not as keen.
Carolyn worked her way toward the back, toward the noises. As she reached the simple plywood door, her hand grasped the knob and turned as she brought the gun to bear about head level pointing ahead. There was a tiny squeak, but the door was relatively new and had been oiled a bit. Still, it was enough. Carolyn saw two night crawlers heading her way.
Instinct was usually enough to dispatch a night crawler, but, to make certain, a person had to think about what it was they were doing. A shot to the chest might bring them down; in fact, it should if the heart was hit. However, unlike most people, these disease-ridden things could hang on a lot longer from damage. If you hit the heart and it stopped, Carolyn had seen some take that hit, many kept coming and survived another three or four minutes after they should have dropped. That was long enough to get to a person and bite them, or worse.
So, Carolyn put her gun away and picked up a hatchet that was lying on one of the work benches. She stepped to the side, so the pair would be separated by a couple of steps and slammed the blade down onto the skull of the nearest one..
In the movies they seemed to be able to pull the axe out without problems. Carolyn had no illusions about the difficulty in this. She let that one go down and redrew her gun for the second one. Saving one bullet may not have seemed like much, but Carolyn knew they were becoming scarcer as time dragged on.
The second creature dropped as the shot’s noise reverberated throughout the building. Carolyn waited. When no more were heard or seen after ten minutes, she decided that there were no more inside. This was where she would spend the night.
She settled into a corner near a door to another room and one to the outside and slept lightly for about five hours. Her dreams were of Billy and Jordan; she awoke in a sweat, feeling as if she had not closed her eyes at all. It was the best she could hope for right now. She hoped it was enough.
Armed with a nice shiny axe hanging from a holster in her belt, Carolyn felt better about protecting herself. She had added a couple of tools and knives to her doctor’s bag. It was almost too full to close now, so she had stopped.
Mid-afternoon had Carolyn walking down a badly paved road, not quite in the county, but nearly so. She had passed a couple of houses, but did not like the possibility of getting stuck inside if several night crawlers came around. She finally settled on a house that was close to the road and mostly free of bushes and trees.
Carolyn looked in a kind of awe at the sight in front of her. There, on the porch of the old house, were rows of old lamps without shades. Her mind told her the obvious: garage sale pre-apocalyptica. However, she continued to stare. The owners were gone, obviously, and most of the lamps, being electrical, could no longer be used.
Finally, her impish side won out. She picked up a small rock, took aim, and, dozens of pieces of glass and metal fell to the ground. She had thought to smile at her own antics, but somewhere down inside her emotions poured over her and all the anger boiled to the surface. She picked up another rock and heaved it into a second lamp. The stone hit one which fell over and knocked another to the ground. Rock after rock flew from her hands, striking the glass and porcelain lighting instruments, shattering them to pieces. With each new stone, Carolyn saw Jordan being torn apart and Billy lying on her lap, slowly becoming one of them. She would finish by seeing what she had to do to Billy because of a scratch. She blamed herself and did not know what she could have done different. It seemed all who had the misfortune of receiving her love died in miserable ways.
She picked up a rough baseball-sized rock and looked to take aim. All the lamps were smashed and Carolyn’s body took it as a signal to give out. The stone dropped from her limp hand and she plopped down on the sidewalk and cried. The tears were hot in the near-freezing weather and her chest heaved with the sobs racking her body. The snow had melted in a sudden heat wave of near forty the day before, so her butt got wet not soaked.
She stood up slowly and looked around. She would have liked to say she was looking for night crawlers, but she smiled just a bit when she admitted she had been looking to see if anyone had noticed her fit.
“Like there’s anyone around,” her mind taunted her. With that thought, she picked herself up and began the preparations to stay the night.
While she was not over her mourning, Carolyn did feel better after the expenditure of energy and anger from yesterday. She checked the house over for food, finding just enough for a decent breakfast of dry Cheerios and canned fruit. Following the modest meal, she struck out for the next town.
After a walk of several miles without incident, Carolyn came to the first building of the new town: a school. She dragged herself toward the old school building, her legs aching with fatigue and her mind so very tired of feeling guilt over Billy’s death and even more over her continuing life without him.
It was an elementary school, or had been, and most of the windows were intact and the doors were sturdy and solid; it was holding up well. It would take a bit of checking out. She really did not want to go inside. She knew there might be children night crawlers and she really did not think she could bring herself to kill any. In the end, her determination to face her fear won out and she kept on walking.
She finally reached the door and stopped to breathe before tackling what would surely be another lock picking session to gain entrance. As she straightened back up, the door opened and her hand went for the pistol, her mind already thinking about the situation. An adult female with several small children behind her stood with a piece of pipe ending in a large spike; she stared at Carolyn almost harder than Carolyn stared at her.
Carolyn continued looking at the woman standing in the doorway. She counted four young children behind her. Carolyn lowered and holstered her firearm. The woman calmed immediately and lowered her sharpened pipe. Both continued to stare. Carolyn spoke first.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. I just never expected to see humans, especially children.”
“Oh, oh, I understand. Same here for you.” The woman motioned Carolyn inside. The children had to be asked twice to move so she could enter. They were excited to see a new face, a friendly face.
After locking and boarding the door back up, the woman, Sheila, offered Carolyn some tea.
“It’s cold, but good.” Carolyn heartily agreed. It tasted heavenly. She looked at the place. It was fixed up well. Carolyn was a bit envious that they had it like this, then regretted feeling that way. They were treating her as if she was royalty.
“Well, tell us about you.”
And Carolyn did.