A/N: So we’ll be catching up with Issac. He’s an unstable character. Not quite as broken as I’d like to leave him. But we’ll leave it at this for now. Let’s give it a little more later, shall we? But anyways enjoy my creation my pretties!
I had finally calmed down; if you could even call it that. I wanted to die right now. Just to end my perpetual misery. There was no way I could do it easily out here on my own I was still feeling volatile and on edge. And as if life wanted me to suffer, I heard a familiar voice call out to me. And moments later I saw Jonas sprint into sight, his eyes showing so much relief when they landed on me as I shivered out in the cold. He needed to stay away from me. People would say I was too good for him. But he was too good for me right now.
“Stay the hell away from me!” I shouted, feeling more tears well up in my eyes.
He faltered, looking confused, and hurt. It hurt me to see him like that, but it was best if he stayed away. If everything stayed away. I was a dangerous monster. I had felt that was what I was. But I never could admit it to myself. Though tonight put the writing on the wall.
“Bambi listen me. You’re scared and shaken up.” He reasoned gently, approaching me slowly.
“I’m not stupid. I know what I did.” I barked back, holding my ground.
“You’re not thinkin’ clearly Izzy.” He tried again, all the while taking small steps towards me.
“I-I killed them. I made them suffer. I’m not okay.” I rambled, wiping at my tears.
Though when my vision cleared, Jonas had gotten right in front of me, hugging me to his chest. I fought back with all I had, but my body was so fatigued my attempts were futile against his embrace.
“Calm down and come back. We can figure it all out at the ranch.” He comforted as I fought against him.
“I’m a monster Jo-Jo.” I cried, sobbing into his chest as I finally gave up.
“No, you’re not Bambi. You did that for Ellis. If you didn’t we could all be dead.” He reasoned, hugging me tighter.
I was tired of trying to justify my actions. It as if I couldn’t do anything right. I didn’t want to keep going on like this.
“C’mon. We need to head straight to the ranch now. We don’t want to get attacked by any infected the gunshots lured out.” Jonas reasoned, sobering me up.
“O-Okay.” I replied shakily, as he finally let me go.
He looked afraid as if I were going to bolt again. I would have. But he’d catch me before I could make it far in my current state. I still wanted to be alone, but my thoughts were slowing and becoming more clear. But I couldn’t drag people down with me. They deserved to live. Jonas took my hand as he tugged me behind him. After not even a minute of walking, my legs gave out, causing me to clumsily fall to the ground.
“Do you need me to carry you?” Jonas asked, though he didn’t wait for an answer as he scooped me up into his arms.
He wore a stone-like face I couldn’t look at. I knew under the surface he was scared and worried. But would he tell me? No, he wouldn’t. I just stared at the ground as he carried me bridal-style, unable to meet his gaze. I didn’t feel worthy anyway. When the glow of the campfire came into sight, I realized I hadn’t made it far before my body gave out. When Jonas set me down to stand, I was instantly bombarded by my sister.
“What the hell Izzy. You gave me a heart attack.” She fretted aggressively. I knew she was worried, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything.
“He’s not doing well Ali.” Jonas warned, and for that I was thankful for.
I looked at Ellis who was sat in the back seat of Jonas’ truck who grimaced from pain. On one hand, I was happy he was okay. And on the other, I was angry that he did something like that to save me. Something that pushed me over the edge of a cliff I’d been trying to stay atop
“Why did you do that to me?” I questioned him, feeling anger bubble up rapidly.
“Calm down Bambi.” Jonas attempted, but I was too far gone already.
Ellis on the other hand didn’t seem phased as he looked not the least bit shaken by my anger.
“Why I did that? Because you’re just as important to this group as I am.” He returned bluntly
I wasn’t thinking totally clear so I let him shut me up.
“Come on, lets get your arm into a sling.” Alisha sighed, sounding drained now.
I felt myself retracting, feeling cold and small as I slowly closed in around myself. My thoughts were still running, though I felt too exhausted to express anything else. Things were blurs and brief moments. I vaguely recall Jonas giving out some instructions. The same thoughts were running through my mind. I felt vile and filthy. How was I supposed to progress in my field of helping people when I cast aside empathy so quickly? Was I always like this? What felt like the blink of an eye, we came to a stop, and my mind cleared as I took in everything around me. Jonas handed me my sword and bow, to which I hesitantly took. It was clean; I hadn’t recalled him cleaning it. Though I wasn’t paying attention.
“So Jonas and Issac. My family is okay with gay people if that makes sense. But some of the other families that live on the land I’m not sure about.” Daniel explained from the front seat clumsily.
It was the first time I was addressed directly. If my name was called or mentioned I would have known about it. It was early in the day, the sun looking as if it had just risen. Ahead of us was a vast expanse of land locked behind a sturdy and tall wooden fence. And at the center of the land was a massive farmhouse. We were here; but too late to save me. Though perhaps I could find something here for me? Daniel had told us to wait while he hopped out of the truck. He walked up the metal gate, typing something into a covered keypad after unlocking it. When the gate opened, he came sprinting back to the truck.
“They know to expect you guys. We’ll get everyone a room to sleep in for the night. And get Ellis properly looked at.” Daniel explained.
“Then I’ll give you all a tour of our land on the property.” Daniel smiled.
He pulled into the compound, up to the house where there was an older woman and man standing on the porch of the house wearing smiles. I suddenly felt the need to make sure I looked presentable. My hands were clean; I guessed Jonas did that while I was spaced out. Jonas ushered me out of the truck alongside everyone else. He assumed I must have still been fatigued. I shrugged him off, not wanting to be touched anymore, trying to drag up some semblance of emotion.
“Hello ya’ll. I’m Donna and this is my husband Jerry.” The woman I assumed was Daniel’s aunt/mother.
“This is Issac, Oscar, Jonas, Alisha, and Ellis.” Daniel greeted, his mother’s eyes landing on mine for just a moment.
And just before I could get emotion into my eyes I realized I was likely late.
“Oh my. Jerry can you get that boy taken care of?” Donna fretted.
“I managed to get out the bullet and stop the bleeding. But he’ll need stitches.” Alisha explained.
“And we’ll get you all to your rooms. And Danny will take you all on a tour if he’s up for it.” Donna said, beckoning us to follow after her while Jerry escorted Ellis off somewhere else into the house.
I was so exhausted. I just wanted to be alone. It was like an itch and a craving. The desire to be away from everything was all I wanted right now.
“Alisha will get the suite since she’s a lady. And being around all you boys surely must have been taxing.” Donna joked as we trudged up the stairs after her.
“They were all sweet. But thank you!” Alisha thanked as we were lead to her quarters.
“Can I shower? Alisha asked.
“Go on ahead. You all took care of my son. So I owe you all so much.” Donna cooed, pinching Daniel’s cheeks while he complained.
Alisha said her goodbyes as she ducked into her room wearing a bright smile.
“Now you all have the run of the rest of the rooms on this floor.” Donna said.
Jonas looked back to me before he went, pausing. I nodded, letting him know it was okay. Oscar, Daniel, and Jonas went down the hall as I lingered behind with Donna, not wanting to move as I was processing so much.
“What’s the matter sweets?” She asked out of the blue.
“I...” I began, speaking for the first time in hours.
My thoughts trailed off. as I felt emotion well up again; not the good kind.
“You don’t have to tell me what you went through out there. Is there anything I can do for you hun?” She asked, eyeing me with a worried gaze.
“I need to be alone.” I stuttered.
“You can have your own room if you like.” She proposed.
“I need to be away from everything for a while.” I asserted, hopefully adding some clarity.
“Oh...” She replied, her voice trailing off.
She looked thoughtful for a moment, tapping her foot on the wooden floors.
“I tell you what. There is a guest cottage about a 10 mile hike from here.” She began, an amused smile on her face.
“Its plenty room for just you. Its got power and running water.” She explained.
“You’d let me?” I asked, feeling a little thrown for a loop.
Had I missed something?
“If you want to make the journey there you can stay as long as you want. Community dinner for the entire ranch is in the dining hall near the center of the property.” She answered, not really answering my question.
I was left feeling a little confused, as she gave me an amused smirk.
“The moment I laid eyes on you I knew you were going through something. And you asked if you could be alone somehow. I’m all for giving people time they need to heal.” She beamed, like a happier version of Daniel.
“I’m just...Thank you.” I replied, lost for words.
“Now one thing I will ask is that you tell everyone you came here with where you’ll be.” She began thoughtfully.
“I’ll leave it up to you if you want to say why. Just tell Danny to give you a property map and a compass and you can make it there pretty easily. Come meet me in the kitchen before you go” She finished with a smile, spinning on her heel, and leaving me in the hallway of bedrooms.
I’d tell Alisha first. She’d be the most understanding between her and Jonas. Making my way back to her room, I knocked on the door. A few moments passed as I heard running water and her ask who it was.
“Issac!” I called back.
“Come in.” She said.
Entering I felt like things were normal. A ceiling fan spinning. A television playing a DVD. And a shower running. I stepped into the bathroom, leaning against the marble counter-top.
“What’s up?” Alisha asked from the shower.
“I’ll be staying at a guest cottage for some alone time. I need to clear my head.” I said vaguely, leaving out the depth of my feelings. I don’t even know if I’d want to return.
“I know you won’t go into detail. But so long as you drag your ass to see me at least every other day I won’t throw a fit.” Alisha huffed.
“Thanks for understanding.” I sighed.
“And I’ll come out to visit you as often as possible.” She tacked on, making me feel as if my needed isolation would be intruded upon.
“Okay. I have to go and tell Jonas and the others. I’ll leave you to shower in peace.” I replied.
“Kay.” She sang.
She was trusting me. I appreciated it deeply. But me being on my own felt like the right thing to do. The right head space to be in. I left her room, locking the door behind me as I made my way back to the hall. Daniel was excitedly in the middle of telling Oscar something; such radiance that I hated to tarnish by being a dark cloud.
“Hey Danny. Your mom asked if you could give me a property map and compass.” I interrupted.
“Oh! Hold on.” He said, disappearing into his room.
Oscar looked thoughtful for a moment, turning his attention to me.
“I’m not sure what thoughts are running through your mind. But distancing yourself from everything won’t help you.” Oscar explained, his words cutting deep. And before I could fix my mouth to say something, he spoke again.
“I might have overheard you chatting with Donna. Sorry about that.” He elaborated.
“Its what feels right. I don’t feel like I’m a good thing to be around. I just need to be alone until I sort my thoughts.” I struggled, feeling worked up.
“I’m not the person to stop you. By all means do. I’m simply saying it won’t do you any good.” He mused.
He seemed to respect my decision enough to drop it the moment Daniel reappeared with a small, folded up map and an equally small compass.
“Can I ask what you want it for?” He asked curiously.
“Its a long story.” I said simply, offering a weak smile; all the while I was waiting to just totally shatter somewhere private.
“Can I at least ask where you’re goin’?” He asked as Oscar took his leave.
“The guest cottage.” I said simply.
“Oh. Do you want someone to walk you there? There might be infected since that area isn’t fenced and its on the border of the property.” Daniel said hastily.
“I can look after myself. I’ll be okay.” I assured him, giving him yet another small smile.
“Ohhhh. Okay. I’m sorry.” He apologized, catching on.
“I’m just going to tell Jonas and head there. I don’t want to travel alone at night there.” I explained, turning to look for Jonas.
“He’s in there.” Daniel told me, pointing out a slightly ajar oak door at the end of the hall.
“Thanks.” I sighed, heading off and already bracing myself for what could be a negative experience.
Fully opening the door revealed a happy looking Jonas laying on his back on a neatly made bed. His senses still on alert he looked up at me as I came in.
“Share a room?” He asked, a large grin on his face.
“I was actually coming to speak to you about that.” I said, trying to fortify myself further.
His face dropped a bit as my words registered.
“What’s up Bambi?” He asked, getting up, looking worried.
Deciding to rip off the bandaid, I dug deep.
“Donna is letting me stay at the guest cottage. I need to be alone for a little while.” I explained, seeing him go through quite a few thoughts.
He looked ready to get angry but took a deep breath and calmed down.
“Why Bambi?” He asked simply, stepping closer.
“Jonas. I’m a monster. You saw what I did to those men.” I began hotly, my emotions being volatile when they managed to reach the surface.
“You saved Ellis’ life. All our lives maybe. You did what you had to do.” He argued, matching my intensity.
“I made them suffer in their final moments. And felt no way about it. Killing is becoming too easy for me.” I bit back, lowering my voice.
“So you’re just gonna run away from all of us?” He asked, looking pissed.
“I’m sparing you all from seeing what I’m becoming.” I returned.
“Bullshit. All the lives you’ve taken were justified Bambi.” Jonas asserted.
“I’ve killed more people than you’ve seen. And would have killed more. If I’m alone I can’t hurt anyone or anything.” I tried, hoping he would see my reasoning.
He paced around like a tiger eyeing its quarry. Anger made his stride and movements stiff. I knew he was upset with me. But I needed to put myself first so I could help others; and being alone seemed to be the best way to do so.
“Who were they and tell me why?” He asked suddenly.
“A man in a grocery store. I slashed his throat with Oscar’s machete. Then later I plotted on killing an entire family because they were too close to our camp. I put a man out of his misery on the highway.” I rambled, my thoughts racing again.
Jonas looked a little surprised as he pieced details together.
“You had every right to do all of that.” Jonas reasoned.
“Its gotten too easy Jonas. That, is what I’m afraid of.” I sighed, wiping away tears that tried to escape my eyes.
He seemed saddened too. Did I want to be away from everyone and everything? Not at all. But was it the best I could do? I thought so.
“Is there anything I can do?” He pleaded.
“Let me be alone.” I replied.
“O-okay.” He croaked.
“Can I go with you there? So you make it there okay?” He asked.
“I’ll be okay Jo-Jo. I just want to get there as fast as possible.” I replied, knowing he’d try to talk me out of it every step of the way.
“Can I have a kiss before you go?” He asked boldly, trying to be supportive of my decision.
Would it make me miss him more? Probably. And it might just fog things up. But this could be the last time he ever saw me again. I came forward, closing the distance between us. He was considerably taller than I was. But the action gave me butterflies, bringing me back to the amazing moments of our relationship. And there he waited as I inched closer and closer. Getting up on my toes to reach, he met me the rest of the way, giving me a short and sweet kiss on the cheek.
“Are you sure you’ll be alright? I don’t want you to do something stupid.” He whispered as he held me to him.
“I’ll be okay Jonas. I won’t do anything to myself.” A assured him as he gave me a squeeze.
“I just don’t want to lose you.” He admitted.
“I just need to be alone. I’m not dying.” I sighed, lingering in his embrace for just a moment longer.
Pulling away, he looked at me with longing. It was for the best this way.
“Goodbye.” I said softly as I turned to leave. He simply waved as I left, probably feeling too much to say anything.
I worked my way through the house, trying to find the kitchen, where Donna said she’d be. After some trial and error, I found the kitchen where you’d least expect it. And there Donna was, sipping on a cup of tea, waiting for me.
“Took you long enough.” She joked, trying to lighten my mood. All I could muster was a small smile.
“What did you want me to meet you here for?” I asked.
“Straight to the point huh?” She smiled, brushing aside my poor manners.
“I was gonna get you a horse to ride there.” She shrugged, setting down her tea.
“You can ride right?” She asked.
Luckily I did know how to ride a horse; well only western riding. My English riding was awful.
“So long as it’s western.” I replied.
“You’re in luck then.” She cheered, beckoning me to follow her.
We left out of a side door, walking across a gravel driveway towards what looked to be a barn. The red barn smelled just like any other horse barn, whinnies and neighs filling the air occasionally. Though we didn’t stop there. We continued down the hall, coming out to a fenced area where a few horses were out playing.
“Come here girls!” Donna called, the horses stopping. Though four kept on about their business while one left and came trotting up to the fence. A beautiful black horse, white dappling on her hindquarters.
“Well they’re probably moody.” Donna chuckled.
“I see that.” I replied, agreeing with her.
“Well Night came. She’s our best when it comes to listening and understandin’ so it worked out for you.” She explained, giving Night a treat she had in her pocket.
“I don’t know if I could take one of your horses out there.” I tried, not wanting people to risk things for me.
“She’s got a level head. When you get there just tell her to go home and she’ll hop on over the fence to get back in here.” Donna added as she ignored me entirely as she let Night out and into the barn.
She was right about her being quite the smart horse. She made her way over to what I assumed was the tack closet, waiting patiently.
“If you run into one of those things while you’re out just get off her and tell her to run to the cottage. Or just say cottage. Take care of it and call her name.” Donna explained as she got Night ready.
“She’s probably a human in a horse suit so just about any command you give her she should understand.” Donna smiled, leading Night over to me.
She had such soulful dark brown eyes. It wasn’t far-fetched that it was thought she was a human in a horse suit.
“And now you’re on your way. Travel safe.” Donna said as Night basically became my shadow.
I reached to take her reigns to lead her, but Donna interjected.
“She’s gonna stick to you like your clothes. No need.” She chuckled.
And with that, she left me, as I collected my thoughts. I unfolded the map, seeing that it seemed simplistic enough for me to follow; even though I was directionally challenged. As I left the barn, Night followed me like a large shadow. Heading for Jonas’ truck I collected my bag, my bow, my sword, and a surplus of arrows should I need them. Locking it back up I turned to night who seemed as if she stared into my soul.
“Ready to go?” I asked, knowing I wouldn’t get an answer.
Mounting her was a task as she was quite tall. But once I clambered up, I took hold of the reigns, looking at the map. Then, I thought back to what Donna said.
“Cottage?” I said, wondering if Night would take me there.
And with that one word she set off at a trot after spinning around a few times as if she were getting her bearings. It was hot, so I wouldn’t force her to carry me the entire way. I busied myself by looking down at the map while she trekked across the dry, grassy terrain. We had quickly covered about three or so miles. Then, I told her to stop as I surveyed our surroundings. The Dining hall was west of here so that worked out. Clicking my tongue she continued on, slowing her pace a bit. All the while I gave her rubs as I felt bad about being on her back while she carried me. It’s why I didn’t like riding horses. It just felt so degrading for such majestic animals to do for us.
About halfway into our journey to the cottage, I heard a shriek that drove my senses into high alert. It was an infected in the distance that was running at us from the direction we were headed. I told Night to stop, hopping off of her quickly as she seemed flustered and ready to bolt. I readied an arrow, taking aim to deliver a lethal shot. Releasing the arrow it hit its mark with precision, dropping the infected like a sack of bricks. Beckoning to Night, she calmed down and followed me. I’d walk the rest of the way, I didn’t want her out in this heat just because of me.
“Go home.” I commanded, though she stood her ground, unmoving.
“Go home, Night.” I asserted again as she once again ignored me.
I shook my head, tugging at my hair. Nothing wanted to leave me alone. I didn’t take my frustration out on her though, instead, I gave her a few pats before we continued. But I noticed something on her shoulder, what looked to be a bite mark. A cold shock ran through me.
“So that’s why you were so scared. I’m sorry.” I cooed softly, giving her a hug.
“Either you’re like me or animals get a pass.” I chuckled gently, finding some humor in this moment.
Me and Night continued as I walked beside her, content with her silent company surprisingly. My legs grew wary from all the walking. Pausing for a moment, I checked my surroundings for a landmark. Spotting a rock outcrop, there was a pillar of stacked stones. Almost there, just a little longer and I’ll have what I want. Suddenly I was violently knocked forward, snarling and shrieking filling my ears. The only thing keeping chomping jaws from digging into me was my bow that was being crushed into my back. Hearing Night whinny, there was a sickening thud just above my head. The weight had went limp above me, the fighting stopping. When I had recovered, blood staining the back of one of Night’s hind hooves. I scrambled to her aid, looking her over.
Though upon further investigation, it was the blood of the infected she saved me from. She was truly amazing after all. On the ground was a burly man, a bite mark on his neck. Judging by the graying of his already pale skin, he’d been infected for quite some time. On Night and I’s journey, we’d crossed a large fence that I had to climb over and that she leaped over. Maybe this was unused portions of the property that wasn’t fenced off? I’d have to keep my guard up as it was mentioned it was near the border of the land. Deciding to rush the rest of the way I looked to Night with a grimace. Climbing atop her back I looked at the waning sun. Had I been out this long? It hadn’t felt that way. I wondered what everyone else was doing? I had no way of communicating with them. Giving Night a gentle nudge with my calf, she set off at a trot. I’d never galloped on a horse, only getting up to a canter. So this might be rough. I made sure everything was secured to my body before giving her the final push, urging her into a full-on gallop. And like lightning she took off and atop a hill, the cottage came into sight the path opening up to a sandy road.
Night slowed as we came to the front of the small fenced-in area around the cottage. It was simple in structure, but just as picturesque. Slipping off of my temporary companion, I went up to the white-painted iron gate, slipping it open. It looked odd in this landscape with its aesthetic. An a-framed house with a balcony hardly fit the arid environment it was built in.
“I’m so fucking gay.” I huffed as I came to the door. There was a welcome mat that I instinctively checked under for keys, disappointed that there wasn’t one. So I spent time looking around.
Huffing in frustration, I felt like giving up. This wasn’t my property so I couldn’t break in. And traveling all that way back would be risky at night. Night had pockets on her saddle, perhaps there could be something in there? Checking, I found a folded up piece of paper, something slipping out of it and falling to my feet. Looking down there was a length of thin chain connected to a key. Picking it up, I unfolded the paper.
“I hope you’ve made it safe. And you’re quite the smart cookie for finding the key. If you really wanted what you’ve traveled to you would persevere and find this message and key.” The beginning of the note read.
“If you didn’t know what you wanted you might have given up and returned here. But anyway, enjoy your stay. Sincerely Donna and Daniel.” The note concluded.
So Daniel was in on the note too? That crafty boy I swear. Turning to Night, I sighed as this was farewell. She’d starve and possibly die of thirst of I kept her here.
“Go home Night.” I said softly, and finally, she listened to my command, turning to leave. Once out of the confines of the fence around the cottage, she looked back at me. And with much excitement, she reared up and tore off onto the land.
“They were all in on it.” I huffed, feeling slightly humored. Unlocking the front door, I saw a D drawn on it.
Curious, I pulled out the note, looking at the handwriting. The D starting Daniel’s name matched that of the one on the door almost perfectly. Was this his place back home? He seemed to have a room back at the main house. Interesting. Inside, the house was decorated pretty pleasantly. Though I could tell it wasn’t lived in as there was dust in quite a few places. Exploring the house I had found a small kitchen, living area, and bathroom on the main floor. Cleverly built, there was a washer and dryer built into the wall near the kitchen on the other side of the refrigerator. Taking off my boots I returned to the front door, locking it while I was there and leaving my shoes at the door as well. Continuing my tour, flipping on lights as I went I made my way up a ladder. There was a bedroom with a bed with that same D etched into the wood of the footboard. Heading back to the first floor, I’d shower and then keep watch for a bit to see what went on out here. If trouble happened I wouldn’t be able to call for help. So having a general idea of what goes on would be nice. Going downstairs, I took my sword with me, leaving my bow in the bedroom.
Stripping off my clothing, I was intent on being quick. I was always on edge since all of this started. Starting up the shower, I jumped right in, ignoring the surprisingly cold water. Reaching over to my bag, I pulled out my body wash, setting work cleaning myself. Running my hands through my kinks of hair, I untangled it in record time; albeit painfully. Reaching into my bag, I grabbed my swim trunks I had worn quite some time ago. They were my cleanest article of clothing. The rest would have to be washed. Forgoing drying off as I couldn’t find towels, I headed to wash my clothes. Setting them to wash I noticed it was dark out. So when I was done with that I rushed back up to the bedroom to grab my bow. Opening the balcony door, I stepping out onto it, the cool night air refreshing on my mostly bare skin. I couldn’t see much from here at more than one angle. Securing my bow to myself I had an idea. I ended up climbing up onto the roof to take watch.
A/N: Gonna end this here! The next chapter will be full of fun and fresh things. This chapter and the last one were some of my favorites to write! But anyway, look out.