“I just can’t shoot a kid in the back,” Jack said, as he lowered his new rifle.
“I would tend to agree with you,” Rollie started, as he checked his pistol and found it loaded, “But if they come back with a dozen more kids that are less than happy that we have now killed two of their number, I think we might be in some serious trouble.”
“That and by the sounds of things zombies have already claimed the other side of this wall.” Stopping only long enough to loot a large hunting knife from the still warm body of the teen he’d just shot down, Jack continued. “We have little choice but to follow this through. We’ll never make it past the zombies without water and hopefully more gear.”
Looking in the direction the two teens had fled, Rollie asked, “But what makes our lives more valuable than theirs? There has been so much death already and all of it useless.” The loss of Will came bubbling up and left him barely able to breath.
Jack regarded him silently for a moment. “Death owns this world now. When the living try to assist death by making me join its ranks, I’m more than happy to return the favor and beat them to that punch. Now we need to quit yapping and get going.”
Then, without another word, Jack led the way around the rock formation and they jogged up the old road to the north. On either side of them pristine desert rose from the steaming sand. The area on this side of the wall appeared to be zombie free. Of the teens there remained no sign.
Rollie feared another sniper and the back of his neck prickled as he imagined a bullet hitting him at any moment. The desert cliffs and cactus offered a hundred hidden areas, but so far they made their way without issue.
They pair traveled anther hundred yards and found what they had originally been seeking. It wasn’t large and it appeared murky, but they before them they found more water than Rollie had seen in a year. The pool stretched twenty by thirty feet and may have reached his waist in its center.
Jack dropped his pack to the ground. “First things first, fill the containers we have and then stash the backpacks, but this isn’t going to work unless we find a vehicle and maybe not even then, but a place this organized should have some rides. We’re going to need one.”
“I don’t know, Jack, we could just head into the desert and circle around the horde.”
“And what have to do this again in a week? Screw that, and screw these people that think they have the right to Tucson’s best water supply. I don’t mind them setting up a base, but to shoot us on sight when we’re just trying to survive, fuck that.” Jack’s eyes blazed. “Stay here and fill those in case we have to go with your plan. I’m going to get a ride and I’m going to cut down anyone that tries to stop me.” A mirthless grin crossed his face and he finished with, “And I hope some of them do.”
Rollie stared at the man who was willing to take on who knew how many men instead of just taking their gallons and run. He took the time to dunk his head into the water and take in a few mouthfuls. It tasted brackish, but most likely it would be fit to drink. Then he focused on the task as hand. He spoke under his breath and he filled to big water bottles at the same time.
“I’m not sure what sort of testosterone overload that guy has, but he’s going to…” his voice traveled off when he heard movement in the hills behind him. Damn, he thought to himself, it would be just my luck to have to be the one to have to fight these delinquents by myself.
He listened and kept filing the containers and then put their lids on. All the while he scanned the cliffs with subtle movements. Play in cool, Rollie. Play it…
“Hold it right there asshole,” a young voice cried out.
Looking up suddenly caused droplets of water to arc out from his hair and splash before him into the pool.
There were two of them, but not the same ones who had fled away from him before. Each held a pistol pointed at him, but they were still on the cliffs on the opposite side of the pool—a good sixty feet away.
“Take that pistol off slowly and tell us where the other asshole is!” the one with darker brown hair yelled.
Rollie knew he was a bad shoot, but hoped these teens might be just as bad. He’d always heard that in the real world hitting a moving target with a pistol proved difficult, but if they had been practicing on zombies over the last year it could go either way.
He went for it anyway. Drawing his pistol as quickly as his skills allowed, he got the first shots off as he got to his feet and sprinted to the rocks located on the north side of the pool.
They shot back and bullets ripped through the air like angry hornets. One sparked off a rock before him, but he kept running. Somehow he made it to the slabs of orange sandstone and drove behind them.
He heard no sounds of new clips being driven home. Could these people be low on bullets? Perhaps they left in such great haste they forgot to grab them. He figured if that was the case they probably each only had a bullet or two left in their pistols. Still…one bullet is enough.
“Come out, you stupid thieving coward!” The brown haired teen demanded.
“Oh yeah,” Rollie called out. “Sounds like a great idea. You watched too many cops shows kid. And BTW, if you head toward me, you’ll be the one getting shot.”
The teens found cover and he could just hear their murmuring voices. But then he heard something else. A loud tearing sound disturbed the desert birds and two ravens took flight and soared over his head. Seconds later this was followed by an echoing crash.
“What the hell is that?” the teen shouted.
Rollie called back. “My guess is that all this shooting drew in enough zombs to tear through your gate. Now we can either work together or all die. What do you say?”
Thanks for reading Rollie’s journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath and come back next weekend for a new episode.