Pick and Choose
I walk along the bridge, crossing over the river below. The sun shines bright and sweat drips from my forehead. I look in front of me and see a large dog walking in my direction. We make eye-contact and it stops in its tracks. The dog barks softly. It turns swiftly and runs into the woods.
“Was that a wolf?” Rayla asks coming up from behind me.
“Not sure but it was big. Did you manage to pee?” I ask, turning towards her.
“Yeah, let’s keep moving. I still can’t believe we haven’t found any other survivors,” Rayla comments as we begin walking.
“Yeah, you would think there has to be at least a small group that survived, because there is no way that 2 high schoolers are the only people who survived,” I say as we walk.
“Well I mean we are pretty badass if you think about it. We weren’t popular in school but I’m pretty sure people, especially guys, were intimidated by us,” Rayla says, chuckling.
“That’s true, but there were other people that were way better survivalists before all of this happened,” I comment, looking around for the dog.
We continue walking as the sun continues to move across the sky and clouds roll through sparsely. We come across this small town that has a bar, a gas station, and a couple of general stores.
“We should set up camp here, and maybe clear out one or some of the buildings before dark,” Rayla says, looking around.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea, let’s start with the bar. I hope they have some Blended Whiskey,” I say, chuckling.
We take about an hour to clear out the gas station and the bar and walk over to one of the general stores. It’s about another hour until dark. I knock on the window and almost immediately 4 freaks are at the window, followed by more. Rayla is on the right and I’m on the left, I open the door slightly letting 2 of the freaks squeeze their way out. Rayla takes her knife and goes through the chin of one and going through the side of the head with another. We go through the same procedure for the next 20 minutes. We finish off 20 more freaks without getting bitten. Out of nowhere, a freak comes around from the side of the building and reaches for Rayla.
“Rayla look out!” I yell reaching out for her arm when suddenly, the dog from earlier comes from the same place the freak came from. The dog launches at the freak from the side, knocking it over. I take my knife shoving through the freak’s skull.
“Thanks,” Rayla says, letting out a sigh of relief and fear.
“I think he followed us,” I say watching the dog as he trots away in the opposite direction he came from.
“Yeah, I mean unless he lives around here,” Rayla comments in response.
I whistle, trying to get his attention. The dog stops and turns his head to look at me. He lets out a low huff and runs away.
“I wonder if he’d let us ‘adopt’ him and take him with us?” I ask still watching the same place he ran towards.
“It could be a possibility I guess,” Rayla says walking inside the store digging through things still left on the shelves inside. “Hey, I found some water, pain killers, some old probably stale bags of chips.”
“Okay, let’s bring them over to the bar,” I say walking inside, helping her grab everything.
We bring over some of the stuff from the general store to the bar. After finishing, Rayla sorts through our supplies and food while I look through the storage room and shelves for different alcohols.
“Hey! I found some bourbon, moonshine, scotch, and a few bottles of beer!” I say bringing some of the bottles out to the main area.
“Sweet, hand me a beer,” Rayla says, moving the tables and laying them on their sides against the windows.
“Here you go,” I reply, handing her a bottle of Modelo, “Sorry it was either this or Corona.”
“It’s fine,” She says in response, “I think you were right about that dog.”
“What makes you say that?” I ask, taking a swig out of the moonshine bottle.
“He’s back outside, just sniffing around,” She says, gesturing outside.
“Do we have any of that jerky left?” I ask watching him as his nose is aimed at the ground.
“Yeah, you going to give it to him?” she asks, handing me a piece of the jerky to me.
“Yeah, I figured he might trust us if we give him a little bit of food,” I reply.
“Okay, you do that, good luck,” Rayla says, continuing to move tables and chairs.
I open the door slowly, making sure not to move too quickly or be too loud and scare him, “Hey buddy, I got something for you. Are you hungry?” I say kneeling down holding out the jerky.
He growls lowly at me, bearing his teeth slightly. He inches towards me, sniffing the air, he then calms down and stops growling.
“Good boy,” I say softly, as he carefully takes the meat out of my hand. I stand up very slowly and walk backward, into the bar’s front door. The dog stares at me intensely.
The dog and I continue to make eye contact for a few seconds but suddenly, he turns his head towards the woods. He stands perfectly still and he hardly looks like he’s breathing. I look closely and see a group of freaks, traveling through the woods just before the edge. The dog turns his head back to me and then back to the woods. Whilst still watching the freaks, he slowly makes his way to the bar.
“Rayla, get ready to block the door,” I whisper just steps away from the door.
“Hurry, just leave him. If he isn’t dead yet, he’ll find a place to hide,” She whispers in reply.
“I’m not leaving him out here,” I whisper still waiting for the dog to make his way to the door.
I look over to the left and see the front of a horde, there are too many to count and too many to take out. The dog finally makes it to the door and runs inside, hiding in the back corner. I step inside after him and we shut the door just in time that the horde enters into the area.
“Amara, that was way too close, if you would’ve been out there any longer, you both would’ve been dead,” Rayla whisper yells at me as we sit against the tables,
“I would’ve felt way too guilty if I left him out there,” I whisper back, gesturing in the dog’s direction.
“Next time, think to yourself, what’s more important, our lives or his!” She whispers loudly, “Get some sleep, I’ll keep watch.”
I don’t say anything, still being pissed at her and what she said. I lean into the corner of the wall and the tables, looking over at the dog, he’s laying down on the other side of the room. He opens his eyes and lifts his head, looking over at me. We make brief eye contact and he puts his head back down, letting out a deep exhale. I do the same, I lean my head against the wall and close my eyes, going to sleep.