Chapter 25 - Hillock
I awoke to a ringing in my ears. I was staring up at the sun. Water was running into my eye. I felt bruised all over. Experimentally I tested a leg.
Not broken, sore. Good then another.
I licked my lips, one tooth knocked out, oh ah not water. Blood running into my eye. Head wound.
I looked around or tried rather, the moment I moved my head the whole world swung crazily and I think my eyes crossed because everything had two edges.
I breathed for a moment and just tilted my head instead. That seemed to work better. I saw mountain and more trees over there. I must have been tossed out of the RV for I lay on the edge of the path of destruction. I turned my head the other way to get shooting pains and a view of the denuded swath of hillside. The large enough trees had been taken out, broken, or at least debarked. The smaller trees and bushes had sprung back into place where they hadn’t been ripped up. I couldn’t see very far up the hillside.
I had to find him.
I heard a screech of tires from the road up the hillside.
I rolled onto my belly and got into a crouch. I looked up the hillside at our rescuer.
The silhouette of a man leaning over the broken guard rail and a long spindly arm extended down. When he turned I saw the coonskin cap of the hunter sighting down his rifle scope. I froze. Just then something caught his eye and his rifle whipped to the other side. The report rolled down the hill like a short thunderclap. I dropped instinctively and began to inch further into the forest.
I’d been thrown far enough to the side to escape his notice momentarily. I wanted to put a tree or two between us to be sure.
Crack. Crack. Crack. Then a long moment of silence - during which I chose to stay perfectly still... not even breathing. Apparently satisfied, I heard the crunch of gravel. I peeked up without thinking, but he had stepped back from the edge.
My chance! As quietly as my shaky legs would carry me I began the careful climb down the side in the trees. The trees actually helped me to keep my feet under me on the steep hillside.
I heard clanking and the wolfhound barking. I hurried.
Lost my footing and slammed my shoulder into a tree... same as before, the old familiar pain was back.
I glanced around, when the RV was torn in half the two pieces had continued their tumble but following their own paths. Shredded aluminum blades glinted, spindly wood that looked like kindling, and bits of old pink insulation, broken glass, an unbroken mug pushed into the dirt, part of a dish, a stuffed animal muddied and impaled on a branch.
My breath hitched in my throat. What if Apoc was one of those shots? I’d be all alone again. Somehow the thought of losing him, affected me deeply. I hadn’t brought him along, hadn’t invited him, hadn’t planned on him. But now - I wasn’t sure I wanted to try this without him. I wasn’t sure I could make it without him.
I was half-running down the hillside now. Slipping and running into trees seemed like my new method of travel. I wasn’t even bothering to dodge them, I was using them to slow my descent. The pain was only momentary, but the ache in my soul did not stop.
I spotted the wreckage ahead.