The wanderer 2: the girl

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Second episode of the series, changing our point of view

He was tired, she could see it. Even without a word said, it was obvious that he walked slower than before, had increasing difficulties fighting every evening and slept longer. It was time for him to stop.

F. When she met him, she was nothing but a little girl, crying alone hidden behind a table in a dark room. Her mother had told her to go and hide before she left to find her father. When her mom had come back, with her husband on her heels, she had raised her head from behind her cover, just to see him jump forward and fall on her back. When he had finally lost interest in her mother, there were more of them in the room. Some she knew, with whom she had travelled, and some who were there long before they arrived in this building. She had waited a long time, while they stumbled on wreckage around the room. Then the man had arrived. In just a few seconds, he had wiped them out and gotten her back on her feet. The noise of their growling still filling her ears, she had followed him without thinking. After the Incident, she had always been fleeing with her parents, first from the cities, then from all the dead corpses walking around, and finally from anything able to move by itself. She had lived in fear, and now all she had was this broad back getting away from her.

Since then, she had always followed him, focused on his shoulders, his pace, the strange rolling of his shoulders when he approached danger. Every day, when he woke up, she packed her few belongings and got on her feet. During the day, she walked in his tracks, close enough to always see him. When he entered a building, she came in too after he got out. As fast as possible, she caught what he’d left behind him, be it food forgotten on the table or clothes found in empty rooms. When before dusk he stopped walking, she settled her own camp and waited for him to come back. She’d always stay hidden during this time. It wasn’t safe not to, she had experienced so several times before. They had met groups, but none could ever offer her the safety she enjoyed with him. He wasn’t a talkative one, that he wasn’t for sure, but she was almost never in danger, nor hungry.

It had been a long time. Walking behind him, living side by side, settling their camps close and resting for the same amount of time. She wasn’t a little child anymore, but he had paid the price of his wandering. She would probably look like a child if put side by side with him, but she had the muscular body of a well-trained gymnast of her age. He didn’t leave his camp with the same determination, be it in the morning or at dusk. She knew that on his capabilities lied her life, and seeing him not able to secure their camp zone with as much energy as before, she started to worry. She wasn’t sure what to do, when they met a group of livings. They had settled in a little community behind high walls, not moving since the beginning. They had food, water, weapons and needed men. But as always, they just passed by. In some way, she was glad they did: what she had seen of living communities was far from engaging.

It had gotten worse as she grew up. Maybe she used not to see this kind of things, but more probably she had turned into a more interesting target as an adult woman than when she was just a child. Now, one in every two groups they met tried to recruit her specifically, be it by words or by violence. She always given a negative answer, by words or by violence too. Even though she didn’t need to protect herself from the dead, he looked after this kind of danger, she needed to from the living. She didn’t want to enter a community if it meant for the people there to turn into monsters a few hours after her arrival.

But this time was different. She could hear children’s laughter as they passed along the walls and saw him try to relieve his left shoulder by adjusting his bags. This shoulder had hurt him for a few weeks now and she knew it wouldn’t get better left alone. He needed to stop. She couldn’t remember when they had last spoken. Probably a few years ago. Such occasion would not show up before at least a few more month. It was now, or much later. For the first time since she started following him, she decided to catch up on him. He was still walking quite fast, so she found herself having to run to reach him. He must have heard her as he turned and stopped to watch her come. So close of him, she felt again as the little child he had gotten up by the arm so long ago. He was looking at her, piercing through her with an eagle’s stare. “Let’s stop there” It was all that was needed. She knew he knew. Maybe he had even been thinking about it. His eyes caught hers and she suddenly understood how tired he really was. She went back on her own path to get the bags she had thrown on the ground when running. And for the first time, he followed her. He reached her in front of the gate of the community. They stood together as the doors opened and walked in as one man.

Submitted: February 12, 2018

© Copyright 2022 E. Lascawosc. All rights reserved.

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