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The crossbows and the knives

By Roberta Pinto

Romance / Action

Chapter 1

Alright, just going to grab some berries and then back to the car, Madeleine tried to reassure herself for the hundredth time as she made her way through the woods. She didn’t use to be this scared, granted she had been freaked out like everyone when this thing started but she had managed to survive rather well. However, since last week’s incident, she had become pretty scared once again. 

Suddenly, she heard some leaves rustling in the distance but when she turned around, she couldn’t see anything moving. 

‘Calm down,’ she sighed, speaking to herself, ‘you have a badass dagger and a badass gun, and most importantly some throwing knives.’ She smiled as she felt the six knives secured around her hips. They had quickly become her best friends; a gun was too loud and attracted even more zombies, and she avoided using the dagger because that meant that they had gotten too close. Besides, it was rather messy, she thought, shuddering in disgust as she remembered the first she had had to use the dagger and how she ended up covered in zombie blood. 

She then saw what she had been looking for: A beautiful bush with even more beautiful berries! Happily, she grabbed the empty plastic bag from her backpack and filled it with berries. 

As she was almost done, she heard leaves rustling once again but this time, as she turned around, she saw someone holding what seemed to be a crossbow, moving through the woods, only some meters away from her.

‘Shit,’ she cursed silently as she hid behind the nearest tree. 

You would have thought that after being alone since the very start of this thing, she would have been happy to see another human. That would have been the case before last week: Same scenario, different place. She had been picking berries in the woods further south, when she had seen two men walking in the forest. Madeleine had been so happy to see humans, she 

immediately made her way up to them, a big smile plastered on her face. 

However, she now looked back at it bitterly, not all humans are good…

She heard the steps slowly growing louder but still barely audible, meaning that the man was getting closer. The young woman was breathing very fast now and almost screaming when something suddenly appeared in front her. A squirrel! God! This is so embarrassing, she thought.

However, through the sounds, she registred that the man must be very close to her tree now. Breathing deeply, and very slowly as to not make a sound, she grabbed one of her knives firmly in her hand. 

Without wasting anymore time, she got up rapidly, turned around and threw her knive without taking the time to aim properly. At the same time, an arrow flew only some inches away from her right arm, instantanly killing the squirrel. 

‘The hell !?’ She heard the man wonder in a low voice, as he noticed the knife protruding from his shoulder.

‘Oh fuck, I’m so sorry,’ Mady apologised as she made her way towards the man. He was rather tall and looked a bit disheveled, his hair falling in front of his blue eyes. As she reached him, she noticed that he had very muscular arms. 

‘Let me have a look,’ she urged and before he could react, she was feeling around the wound to see if there was any major dammage. However, his hand abruptly grabbed hers and rougly removed it from his shoulder. 

‘Ya gotta be crazy if ya think ‘m gonna let ya touch me after this,’ he drawled in his thick southern accent that had her mesmerized. Mady wasn’t from the South, she had lived in Chicago all her life, before moving to Florida three years ago and she wasn’t very familiar with his accent. 

‘I’m sorry I impaled you,’ she apologised again, ‘I kind of freaked out when I saw you!’ If deadly stares could kill, she would have died right then. 

‘I look that scary, uh?’ he sniggered, looking at her disapprovingly as he silently let his crossbow fall to the ground. Damn, that thing looked badass!

‘Yeah, well, it’s too late now,’ she was starting to become impatient, ‘So you stay still and let me remove the bloody knife,’ Mady uttered the last part so quickly that she had already taken out the knife before the man could react. 

‘What the fuck, woman,’ he now barked in disbelief as he saw her wiping the knife clean against some tall grass. He was holding his left shoulder with his right hand in order to lessen the bleeding. She had been right, it didn’t look that bad and the bleeding was under control. 

‘Don’t be such a pansy,’ she laughed, starring at him as if he was the funniest thing she had ever seen. The brown haired woman then ripped the right sleeve off her dress and gave it to the southern man. ‘Here, cover it with this, I’ll make you a proper bandage once we reach my car.’ 

‘Ain’t no way in hell ‘m gonna follow ya to yer car,’ he spat, obviously getting angry at the young lady. That didn’t keep him front accepting the bit of fabric, though. 

‘Oh, come on now,’ she was becoming rather annoyed as well, ‘I already tried to kill you and failed.  The least I can do now is desinfect and bandage it properly.’ 

He seemed to think this through for some time, before nodding reluctantly. ‘How far is it?’ 

‘Not that far,’ she replied, as she grabbed the bag full of berries. ‘Ten minutes tops.’ He actually looked rather handsome, not like a model or anything, but like a strong badass that had survived in this apocalypse. 

He then took the dead squirrel, removed the arrow and tied the animal to his waist where three other squirrels were already hanging. 

‘Alright,’ he agreed, ‘But do not try anythin’ funny,’ he warned her in a serious voice but she couldn’t keep herself from laughing.

‘Do you want me to carry your crossbow?’ She asked, wanting to help him. However, he looked so insulted by her offer that she merely raised her hands in defeat.

They walked quietly, he didn’t seem to be much of a talker. She offered him some berries but he quickly refused, looking at her as if she had grown a second head. 

‘That yer car?’ He asked once they reached the road, gesturing towards a black car.

‘Obviously,’ she replied under her breath, it was the only car in the road for miles. He stared at her, a deep frown on his face. Clearly, humor wasn’t his thing. 

She opened the trunk of the Cadillac Escalade and rumaged through it, looking for the first aid kit. 

‘Did you steal it?’ He suddendly asked.

She looked at him and saw that he was talking about the car. As she now thought it over, she noticed that he must probably be a redneck, considering his accent and the general vibe he gave off. 

‘Yeah,’ she lied, avoiding his eyes. 

Once she found the kit, she took out some bandage, a steril gauze and a small flask of desinffectant. 

He didn’t move when the desinffectant touched his skin. Not such a pansy after all, she smirked. 

‘Thanks,’ he said once the wound was properly taken care of. He then slung his crossbow around his unhurt shoulder and turned around, walking back towards the woods. 

She silently watched him leave, stunned for a few moments. There were probably only fifteen more minutes of daylight Mady noticed as she looked up at the sky. Cursing silently at the recklessness of what she was about to do, she remembered that she didn’t even know his name.

‘Dude’, she called out, and he stopped so suddendly that it was almost comical.

‘What did ya just call me?’ He growled, turning around. 

‘Look, I don’t know where you are staying but it’s going to be dark soon. I can give you a ride,’ Madeleine offered.

He looked up at the sky and constated the same. Sighing, he walked back towards the car, hating the fact that she was right but accepting her offer nonetheless. 

‘Call me that once again, and ya will be dead,’ he warned her as he walked past her towards the passenger door. 

‘Threaten me once again, and you are the one who ends up dead,’ Mady sassed, making her way towards the driver’s door. 

As she sat down behind the steering wheel, she saw that he was sitting rather uncomfortably with the crossbow on his lap. She thought about asking why he didn’t put it in the backseat but she had already noticed that he was rather protective of it. 

After driving for about five minutes, the silence only interrupted by his indications, she decided that she couldn’t stand it any longer. 

‘So, what’s your name?’ She asked and saw him tense, probably hesitating whether or not to reveal it.

‘Daryl,’ he replied after a few seconds.

‘Nice to meet you, Daryl,’ Mady said and stretched out her right hand to him while driving. ‘I am Madeleine, by the way.’ He shook her hand, looking curiously at the weird young woman sitting beside him. 

‘Pretty name,’ he said out of the blue after a few minutes had passed.

‘Thanks! I got it for my birthday,’ she laughed and as he heard her childish laugh and saw her bright smile, he coudln’t help but laugh as well. 

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