Darkness

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No turning back

“I don’t have any weapons. Easy, easy. I’m getting down; it’s okay, don’t do anything irrational.”

“Shut up and just get down bitch!”

I kneel down on the ground slowly, trying to formulate an escape plan. I have no physical weapons but if I can get him on the ground, I can make a clean break for it. Nobody has to get their bones broken. I shouldn’t of left Roman. I’m not new to confrontation but it’s always ended in blood.

That’s when I spot it. A shard of metal shelving. If I can reach it then I have some form of leverage, a way to make this confrontation fair and not one sided.

“Give me everything you have on you and I won’t have to slit your pretty little throat. Nothing personal but I have people to feed so hand it over. I will kill you, make no mistake.”

He is right behind me. Close enough for me to smell the odour of stale cigarettes masked slightly by mint. I have always hated the stench of cigarettes and my coffee is threatening to make a reappearance; if I am about to die, I’m going to spend my last moments with a little thing I call self-respect, not in a pile of my vomit.

“I understand. People to protect but really...do you have to kill me? I don’t have anything on me; I don’t travel with my supplies so what would be the point in killing? The group I’m with will be royally pissed if you harm me. We’re a big group, fifteen strong and I’m sure you don’t want to start anything, do you?”

I edge closer to the shard. He hasn’t noticed. At least I think it’s a he; if it isn’t a man, god give that woman a lozenge. I’m not technically lying about the size of my group; we are a group of fifteen, but ten of them happen to be under the age of fourteen. Plus, they would be pissed if one of their most proficient hunter/gatherers were to vanish or to be put out of commission.

“Oh really? I don’t give a shit about your group. I need supplies and if you ain’t gonna give me what I want, I guess I’ll just have to kill you...”

He pauses in the middle of his sentence as if he is trying to subdue a cough. He turns his head momentarily and begins to have a violent coughing fit. Every cough seems to intensify, as if with every cough he suffocates more. When the coughing begins to calm, I hear him bring something up. The reflection from the shard hits me like a tonne of bricks. Blood. He’s brought up blood.

Oh my god. He’s infected.

I am trapped in a blazing stock room with an infected with a gun to my back...typical Saturday afternoon.

If he’s coughing up blood, he’s pretty far along which means in a day or so he will die choking on his own blood, struggling for breath. I cannot stay here. The longer I stay here, the greater the chance of becoming infected myself. He’s reloading his gun. I have a few seconds. This is good; I can do stuff with a few seconds. I just have to strike.

I dart at the shard. He notices this and shots at my abdomen. One of the bullets finds a way into my stomach. Getting shot hurts a lot more than I remember. However, there is an exit wound which means that I’m going to bleed more profusely but it is likely to be cleaner, at least that’s what Rita said. The bastard’s really going to get it now. I was going to let him go but now...how can I?

I crawl over to the shard. I block everything else out, especially the searing pain in my gut. I grab it. It is relatively sharp but whether it is effective as a weapon still is to be seen. All I can see is a red mist. So I dive at him, knocking him off of his feet. It is dangerous to be in such close proximity to an infected but I don’t really give a crap at the current time. It’s either him or me and he’s close to death anyway. I’m not planning on becoming worm meat just yet.

From what I can tell, he didn’t come prepared. He only had three bullets in his gun; all of them are gone. Two in the ground and one that ripped through me. He grabs hold of my arm and tries to twist it. I lift up my other arm, which I had been using to put pressure on my wound which would stem the bleed, and punch him in the face. I hear a crack; I think I just broke his nose because a great deal of blood flows out of it. He lets go of my arm.

I should leave. He’s relinquished his minuscule claim on me but I can’t. I can’t take the risk that he might leap at me again or might try to find me. No, I have to make sure he can’t be a threat. He’s heading for the grave anyway. I’m trying to think of it as a form of involuntary euthanasia.

I stand.

He grabs my foot.

I act on impulse.

I lean down and I...I ...I slit his throat.

The look of shock haunts me. I must have hit an artery because I am greeted with an initial jet of blood. I’ve stabbed and shot people but never have I used blood loss as a weapon. I’ve always been kind before; I’ve always delivered bullets and stab wounds to the head or heart, leading to a fast, almost painless death. The blood leaves his body as water spills out of a bucket. He makes a few sickening gurgling noises and then falls unconscious. He won’t feel anything. He’s already suffocating.

I just sit, in shock.

I just killed someone in cold blood. No, I killed him in self-defence. He was going to kill me but I acted first.

Just as promised, my coffee makes its glorious reappearance.

It definitely tasted better on the way down. Now it just burns like bitch.

The adrenaline has begun to filter out of my system and now, my bullet wound really begins to become agonising. I need to get supplies and get back to Rita. An exit wound at close proximity means that the bullet has ripped through me. I am already sitting in a pool of my own blood.

I drag myself up. I walk over to the shelves and grab a couple of tins. There’s very little left; no medical supplies or anything really useful. Tinned food is starting to become the only consumable food item. Most medication has expired which makes it more dangerous to get ill these days. Unless you can manufacture drugs, you need to grow some form of medicinal herbs if you want to stay alive.

I can’t help looking at the assailant. He’s wearing a balaclava and he has a rucksack a few metres away from his corpse. Maybe he has something useful on him. I need the supplies more than he does. I walk over to the rucksack; he has a few bottles of water and a pack of handgun bullets. I open the box. So that’s what ripped through me. It’s not too large meaning the damage is likely to be minimal. No food. I take the rucksack anyway, I need something to carry my loot. I walk over to the corpse and pick up the gun.

I’m tempted to take a look at his face. The face of the man I murdered. No, I can’t. I don’t want to see him. I prefer to have his identity blank. An anonymous victim.

I walk over to the window. The place can burn for all I care. I secure the rope around my waist. It kills but maybe it can stem the bleed. I don’t know if I have the strength to try without the rope. I feel like I am going to pass out. The amount of blood I’ve lost, it’s only natural I’m becoming a little hazy.

I finally reach the ground. The tug of the rope brings a little consciousness, enough to become aware of things. Pain is a fantastic thing for clarity.

I have to get back to Roman. To the camp.

I pick up my backpack from beside the bench and I walk on. I don’t have the strength to try and get the rope back. It’s going to burn anyway so it’s not like I am giving somebody else an advantage.

I begin to stagger home. My head is so faint; I can’t concentrate. Everything aches and the pain is consuming me. I am near the street where I left Roman. The bags are beginning to fall off of my back but if I trying and pick them up, I may not get up again. I need to stay awake. I can’t collapse because if I do, I’m dead. For good.

The fact that there is an exit wound means that there is nothing to stem the bleed; I can only hope that little damage has been done but I doubt that. It must have hit something, organ or bone. It hasn’t gone through my spine otherwise it would have been instant paralysis.

I can’t. I’m going to faint. I’m going to faint.

I have to find a place to sit so I don’t fall and hit my head. I don’t need brain damage on top of everything else.

Oh god. Oh god.

I can’t hold on.

If I can just get a little further, I may be alright. Along this road, there is nothing but concrete. Maybe Roman is still there. I can do this. If he is still there, I may be okay. Huh, the only time I have actually wished for Roman to be there to scoop me up in his arms. Flash me a charming smile. Tell me I’m going to be fine. Oh god, did I actually just think that?

That’s how you can tell my brain is being deprived of oxygen. I think I just threw up in my own mouth. If I’m going to die, I might as well keep my sense of humour, the only thing I can control.

I can’t. I can’t hold on. Where is Roman?

The bastard’s abandoned me.

I can’t think about that; why does he abandon me now? The one time. The one time. I have never abandoned him. I have always been there and he never returns the favour.

My legs begin to buckle.

I’ve lost control over my body.

Then, the world goes black.

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