Vacant

Escape

Tris

I attacked so he wouldn’t have time to react. I flipped the knife in my hand and caught the handle backwards so the blade faced forwards. I swung the knife towards him, not giving him a chance to block the attack. It sliced somewhere on his forehead as he stumbled back a few steps, covering the wound with his hand. The other boy caught him by the arms. They both fell to the ground and grunted. From behind me, I hear the girl from the driver’s seat sit up and I hear a pistol load and I decide I’ve waited there long enough. I drop the knife to the ground and take off running.

My side hurts like hell, but I know it would be far too risky to stop and rest. I hear from behind me someone yell some words, sounding like orders to the girl in the R.V. Then, I heard feet pounding after me. They were heavier than the girl’s could have been, so I sped up a bit as the adrenaline took over. I knew if it were one of the guys, I would be overpowered

I couldn’t tell where we were at all. I didn’t recognize anything around me. It seemed like a farmhouse of some sort. The R.V. was parked back towards the actual house and I was now at the barn. At the red wooden doors was a table. And on the table lay a spread of various weapons. Guns and blades of all calibers and lengths. I looked around and peeked over the edge of the barn. The blonde girl was in the entrance of the R.V. The other boy, the one who shot my brother, was in it, moving it around. He was probably checking on the other boy I had knocked out earlier.

The last guy was nowhere to be seen.

I turned back to the table and armed myself. I stuffed two knives into my belt, one serrated, the other smooth. Then I grabbed a pistol. I didn’t have the time to see what kind it was. I switched the safety on. There wasn’t any need to shoot myself accidently. I looked around the barn once again. The girl was still at the entrance, but the blue-eyed man was now in the middle of us, looking around the perimeter. I looked back to the girl to see that she was looking right into my eyes. Mine widened. She yelled at the guy in between us.

“Four!” she shouted. She began to point. “She’s right there; right behind the barn.” The guy, Four apparently, turned and saw the back of my head. I was already off running. I heard him take off after me. It wasn’t long before I reached the perimeter of the open space. Cornfields now stretched as far as I could see. I knew somewhere along the stalks, there should be a dirt road that the R.V. must have come in through and the owners of the farm would have used to enter and leave the property, and I knew I risked getting lost in the corn, but I didn’t have much time to decide. Still I was stuck between the two choices. That was when the guy, Four, turned the corner of the barn and shouted at me. “Hey! Stop!” he yelled.

I turned back one more time to look at him. But that only lasted so long. He pulled up his rifle. I turned back and jumped into the corn stalks. I heard the rifle go off a couple times and flinched each time. If it hit me, I would die in the corn. That was not the way I wanted to go in this world. I wanted to die fighting. I kept running, though, so I knew he had missed. Or maybe it was just the adrenaline that kept me going. I had made it probably a straight mile into the corn, when I stopped to catch my breath. I leaned over and felt like vomiting. I wondered briefly if they had drugged me, but they didn’t seem capable of that. It was probably because I hadn’t eaten anything in hours. I looked up to the sky. It was dark, but the sun want completely gone yet. I figured I could use the light up as much as I could. Besides, I needed to get to some shelter before night fell.


Not even an hour had passed and it seemed like midnight. There was no light at all, besides the faint moonlight. But it wasn’t even a full moon. I had exited the corn a while ago and was now walking on an open road. It was a highway, but not the same one where Caleb and I were attacked. This one didn’t have any cars on it. And the pavement was all cracked and the yellow paint was faded. It seemed like more of a back road highway used by the rural citizens going to and from the city every month or so. But it was nice. That meant that there weren’t many people who had Turned out here. And that meant it was less of a threat.

A sudden burst of wind from behind me blew cold air all around me. I stopped moving. It was freezing and I was not prepared for this kind of cold. I had cargo pants and a white tank top on. That wasn’t nearly enough to protect me from the cold. I let my hair down from its bun. I pulled it over my ears and neck to protect that sensitive skin. The last thing I needed was frostbite. My toes were safe in their boots, but my fingers were bare. I stuffed them into my pockets. I looked ahead and then continued walking. My thoughts started running through my head of all the things that could be happening at the cavern. They would have taken the shelters down. They would have waited for Caleb and me to return. And after a while of waiting, Will would have left Marlene in charge and gone to find us. After that, I couldn’t determine what would have happened.

Another burst of wind brought me out of my thoughts. I looked up ahead of me. I squinted and blinked a few times, but it was there. A gas station, not even a mile in front of me. I figured I could sprint the distance without a problem. In about two minutes, I was standing by one of the pumps. The actual convenience store part was boarded up and there were shards of broken glass surrounding the spray-painted glass. The OPEN sign was hanging by a black extension cord. I pulled out the pistol and clicked the safety off. I leaned up against the glass and peered through it, after wiping the dust and dirt off of it. Inside, I saw some shelves almost fully stocked. And there was the counter with the cash register. A tip jar was tipped over and coins spilled out. There was a door leading to the back room. But other than that, there didn’t seem to be a threat. So I moved to the door and pulled it open. I entered, and when the door closed behind me, it was almost completely dark. The window let in very little light, but it was enough for me to guide myself behind the counter to the drawers. I pulled a couple open and found a flashlight. I turned it on, but it was weak. It would probably only last an hour. I turned it off to save its battery. I continued to look further and found a half empty box of matches. I grabbed those and turned the flashlight on once again. I started looking through the shelves for food and something to cover my hands.

I ended up finding some candles. I smiled. I had always loved candles. I looked at their scents. Vanilla Cream. Midnight Dream. Summer Nights. I wondered vaguely what the names were supposed to mean, because I certainly couldn’t imagine what that was supposed to smell like. I brought a few of them to the counter and lit them. Then, I placed a couple of them on the tops of the shelves and lit those. That brought the place to life. I could now turn the flashlight of and rely on the candlelight. And the place smelled pleasant, too. I saw some water bottles on the bottom shelf and grabbed those. Then there was a travel pillow and blanket set on a different shelf. I set those by the candles on the counter and hopped back over it. I wanted to know what was behind the door in the back room. When people worked here, it was probably some kind of break room. It probably locked, and if it locked, I wanted to rest there. I pulled it open and backed up. The overwhelming smell of death blew out and into the main room. I gagged. One of the candles went out. I waited with the door open for anything to come out. Nothing did. I didn’t want to go in, in case the thing was just waiting, but I couldn’t see in it.

I pulled out and turned on the flashlight. I shined it in the room. Something shiny caught my eye. And I realized it was another eye. It stared back at me, but it didn’t move. And it wasn’t human. It never was. Then there was a whimper and I realized.

It was a dog.

I shined the light along its body. It was a big dog, too. And there was something wrong with it. Otherwise, it would have attacked me. I looked around the rest of the room and deemed it to be empty. I grabbed two candles and set them in the room, one by the door and one by the next to me, as I sat down next to the dog. It growled at me. I was wondering why it didn’t get up and attack me, when I realized it was hurt. I looked at its side. The fur was all mangled and blood was everywhere. I shined the light on it. When I tried to touch it, the dog snapped at me. I pulled my hand back. But there was too much blood. If I didn’t do anything, the dog would die. So I left and grabbed the first aid kit from behind the counter. I came back and the dog growled again. But when I touched the wound, it just whimpered. It was pitiful.

I started wrapping the wound in gauze. I began thinking what could have done this. If it was a Turned, then there was a chance that the dog could also Turn, but I didn’t know if that was possible. I had never considered the disease to be affective on animals. I had to be careful still; if it was a Turned, it could still be around, even if it seemed to be gone now.

It only took a few minutes to wrap the wound. By then, the dog was quiet. It let me touch the fur and its head. I scratched its ears, and its eyes closed. I smiled down at her. I wanted so badly to keep her, but I couldn’t care for her

I sighed at it. I think it fell asleep, so I figured I could, too. I wiped my hands on my tank top, adding red blood to the dust and dirt. I went back to the main room to blow out the candles. On the way back to the other room, I opened the main door and looked out. The road was clear in both directions. I grabbed the blankets and water and went back to the dog. I sat next to her for a second or two and stroked her fur. Then I scooted away and shook the blanket out on top of me. I leaned my head against the back wall and closed my eyes.

After a while I fell asleep.


Four

I lost her. I lost her in the damn cornfields. How stupid of me. How could I have done that? I don’t even know how I managed to miss her with the rifle. I shot six times, six bullets, and she still got away. I didn’t know what I was going to tell Zeke and Lynn. I swore under my breath. She had done something to Uriah, probably nothing permanent, but that didn’t matter. Zeke was about to go off on me.

“Four!” he shouted from the R.V. “Four, I fucking swear!” He came down from the steps and ran into Lynn. She tried to hold him back, but to be honest, she was quicker and lighter, not stronger or more forceful. He was marching across the dirt towards the barn, where I was. I swore again and turned. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him, but if he tried to fight me, it would be self defense. I swung the rifle over my shoulder so it hit by back on its strap. I held up my hands. I started walking in his direction, but I didn’t start defending myself until he was a few feet away.

“Look,” I said. “I’m sure he’ll be fine. She’s weak; she couldn’t possibly have done much harm.”

“He’s out,” Zeke argued. “Like out out. Not waking up.” Lynn finally reached us and tried to stand between us. Like that was going to do anything. But she still tried to push us apart.

“Zeke,” she said. “Four’s right. It’s not like he’s dead.” He looked down at her and gave her a hard stare.

“And if he ends up dying?” he asked.

It was obviously rhetorical, but me being who I am, responded, “Well, you did shoot her boyfriend.”

He looked straight back up at me. “You son of a bitch,” he said and tried to swing at me. Lynn struggled against him and tried to bring his arms down. I backed up. I seriously didn’t want to fight right now. I wanted to go check on Uriah and see if he would wake up, but there was no way in hell Zeke was letting me do that. Then the R.V. caught my attention. Lynn finally managed to calm him down as she saw what I saw. With our eyes trained on the door to the R.V., Zeke furrowed his eyebrows and turned to see what we were looking at.

“Told you,” I retorted like a child, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say at the moment. Because there was Uriah, standing on the bottom step of the R.V., looking a little dazed and out of it. Zeke looked shocked but quickly recovered and shouted his brother’s name. He kept his cool as he quickly walked over to him. Lynn and I followed close behind.

Zeke embraced Uriah tightly, and Uriah began to talk.

“She had a knife,” he said, trying to defend himself. “And she’s stronger than she looks, I swear.” I could vouch for that. The knife she held had done some serious damage on my forehead. I checked to see if it was still bleeding. Not really. I’d have to wrap it later, though.

Then Eric came out from the farmhouse. I had totally forgotten about him. He had been taking a nap in one of the beds in the house. It had been hours, I guess. But he walked out as if it had only been a couple minutes. The screen door slammed shut behind him. He walked down the steps and made his way over to the four of us.

“I heard shots,” he said. “So… what’d I miss?”


Tris

I woke up to light shining in my face. But it wasn’t artificial light, it was actual sunlight. This worried me for a second because I remember falling asleep in the dark back room in the gas station. I opened my eyes quickly.

Nope, I was still here in the back room. I looked up at where the light was coming from. Only then did I notice the small window at the top of the wall. I hadn’t noticed it before since it was so dark last night, but now it was so bright that I couldn’t miss it. I threw the blanket off of me and to the side. I had the gross taste of nothingness in my mouth, so I grabbed one of the water bottles that was next to me. I chugged it all down in a matter of seconds. That woke me up a bit more to remember the dog from the night before. She was missing now, so I got up.

I pulled the pistol out again and checked the ammo. I realized I hadn’t fired a single shot since I stole it. I didn’t even know if it had bullets.

But yes, it was full. That boosted my courage. I didn’t necessarily want to kill the dog, but if it had, in fact, Turned, then I wasn’t taking any chances.

So I nudged the back door open and aimed into the main room. Everything was the way it was before, but in the middle of the floor was the dog eating from a gnawed open box of Cheerios. I dropped my arms down to my side. In the sunlight, I could see that she was a German Shepherd, or maybe a mix of that and something else. I wanted to pet her and scratch her ears, but I also didn’t want her to start following me when I left. So I figured it would be best if I left while she was distracted. I went back to the room and took only what I needed. I stuffed eight water bottles and the box of matches into a drawstring bag. Then I went back to the shelves and took some of the nonperishable foods. Then I opened the door to the outside. I pulled my weapon out beside me and looked both ways on the road. There wasn’t anything out yet. Turned might come out later, so I didn’t want to wait any longer. Will and the others could be long gone by now. In fact, they were supposed to leave today. I wondered if I could intercept them.

I started out into the hot sun. After a few minutes, I stopped. I sensed that something was following me. If Four or the rest of his squad had found me, I had no place to hide. I was completely exposed.

I turned around, expecting to see the R.V. Or maybe a pack of Turned that came out of nowhere, but no.

It was the lone dog, trotting behind me by about a hundred yards. I stood still as she caught up to me. She reached me and sat down in front of me. Her tail wagged against the cracked pavement.

“Go away,” I commanded her. “I can’t keep you.” I turned and started walking away again. She continued to follow me. For a few minutes, I let her. But then I thought about if I got too attached to her. I stopped again and she sat again. She was a real sweetheart to be honest. She was only mean yesterday because she was hurt. I decided keeping her wouldn’t be too bad.

“All right,” I said, as if making a deal with the dog. “If I’m going to keep you, you’re going to need a new name, aren’t you?”
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