Despite the high levels of annoyance and danger the young men presented, Mitch slept with a greater sense of security than he had in a while. Rus’s rummaging hands hadn’t discovered his hammock and he wasn’t about to point it out to them, so he slept on the desert floor with the rest of them. In the distance the sounds of dry moaning was curried up to them by the winds.
Once, in the middle of the night’s darkest hour, a wounded animal screeched through the stillness. Whether a cougar or undead had made the kill was difficult to determine. Mitch saw Eric’s face wide eyed with fear. The youth looked at him for a moment then turned away.
The next day found Mitch surrounded by the three youths as he struggled to free the tangled mess his trip wires had become.
“Hurry up, old man.” Rus said.
“I wouldn’t have to do this at all if your clumsy fingers hadn’t made such a mess of my well stored gear.”
“I’ll do whatever the hell I want,” Rus started, “And right now I want to-”
“Quit your damn bickering,” Brad ordered. “You don’t need to have every damn wire free to show us how they work.”
Thinking that his nominal use to them would be at an end once they felt secure with their knowledge of his traps, he figured he should string them along. “You have quite a bit to learn about trapping. What you think I just put one trap out for that rat. No, I put out twenty to get just that one. You guys might have to put out sixty to get enough to live off. Each place is different. Each time you have to find the perfect place to set it. If you don’t know what you’re doing you could set a hundred and not get jack-”
A moaning interrupted him. A moment later at least six undead began to pour into the boulder filled camp.
Mitch leapt to his feet, grabbing up a club sized piece of firewood as stuffed some of his trip wires into his back pocket..
The two younger boys panicked and scrambled over the rocks. Brad however aimed his rifle and fired off a shot. The zombies head jerked back. He quickly slayed a second and then a third zombie. “Come back you cowards. Come on, we got this.”
“Idiot,” Mitch said as more savage words exploded under his breath. “You don’t go shooting, every zombie in five miles will be heading this way.”
“Screw you old… Hey! He’s trying to get away.”
And Mitch was. With the chaos of the fight and the approaching zombies, he figured this would be his best opportunity. Cactus and low bent trees passed by him in a blur as he raced downhill as fast as he could. Besides his club, he had almost no gear on him. But he did have a canteen attached to his belt along with a buck knife that always road in his back pocket.
He heard useless shouts for him to stop, but he hit a gully and just kept going. A few seconds later a rock exploded near his left side. They had started shooting at him.
“Oh, it’s going to be like that?” Mitch growled. “I guess we’ll see who wins I the end, mind, muscle, or teeth.”
Check in next weekend for the next part of Mitch’s journey into the beginning of the second year of the Eternal Aftermath.