“Sssh, I don’t know.” I was afraid I knew exactly what it meant, but I needed to hear her say it. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I feared.
“What do you mean, a pantry?” asked Coli.
Celia was moaning so loud she almost couldn’t get the words out. She didn’t even sound human anymore. “They keep them there … they keep them there … for food, they keep them there.” Her eyes took on a mad gleam and she whispered in a high tone, “When they need to eat … they take a limb!”
My hands flew up to my face in horror. I felt my stomach contents churn and I had to force myself not to look at her severed arm. I knew if I did, it would be all over for me and that meal I’d just eaten.
Coli stood up, her face pale. “No!” she yelled. “That is not happening!”
“They … they …,” Celia was trying to get the words out but she couldn’t. She was almost hysterical now. “There were … kids … there were kids … they didn’t … they were … there were kids without legs!” she screamed. “All they had left were their heads!”
Several people backed away, many to vomit in the nearby bushes.
It was too much. Too much horror. Too much violence.
But we only had to hear it.
She had to see it and personally experience it.
She grabbed her brother’s arm with her one remaining hand, staring at him with fiercely maddened eyes. “Kill me! Kill me, please!” she begged.
He jerked his arm away from her and stood up suddenly. “No!” he cried. “I can’t do that, CeeCee. Don’t ask me to!”
“Coli,” she begged more softly now, looking at her cousin. “Please. For me. Just end this for me now. I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.”
Coli turned her back on Celia, sobbing, unable or unwilling to speak.
I scooted over and took Celia’s hand in mine. I couldn’t stand by and let this girl just lay here and beg her people to murder her.
“Celia? Listen to me. You can’t ask them to do that to you.”
“But I can ask you,” she said in a rush, desperation in her voice. “Bryn, please kill me. If this happened to one of your friends, and they asked you, you would do it. I know you would.”
I shook my head. “No way … I wouldn’t. We are going to get through this. You are going to get through this.”
“I can’t,” she whispered, “I just can’t.”
“Yes. You can. You want to know why? Because we need you to show us where that house is. So we can go rescue those kids and exterminate those monsters.” I squeezed her hand hard. “Do you hear me? We have to do this and we can only do it with your help.”
She just shook her head, her whole body trembling with anguish.
“Don’t say no to me. I know you enough to know that you value family. Those kids deserve to have a family like you have. We can’t let them sit there and be slaughtered like that. Without you, Celia, they’re all going to die. Slowly, painfully, and horrifically.”
She tipped her head back and said, “God … why? Why did this happen to me?” Then she whipped her head sideways to look at me. “And why did you have to put this white girl here in my face and ruin my chances of escaping this hell hole?”
She wasn’t joking. She was turning her anger on me; but I was totally okay with that. Anger I could deal with – anger would keep her fighting to stay alive.
“Because you have terrible taste in art,” I said. “Anyone can see that but you and your mother.”
Coli nudged me, a look of shock on her face. I winked at her where Celia couldn’t see me, and she visibly relaxed, nodding her head once.
“Did you just … did you just insult my mother’s shell work?”
“God, yes. Are you kidding me? Horrible stuff. Just horrible.”
Celia struggled to get up.
I jumped back and got out of Coli’s and Trip’s way. They were holding Celia’s shoulders and legs down.
“Let me up. She’s gonna pay, that bitch!”
Trip looked up at me and mouthed the words, “Thank you,” before turning back to his struggling sister.
I nudged Bodo and said, “Come on, let’s go.” Let these kids figure this one out for themselves. There’d be plenty of time later for us to weigh in with our opinions and offers of help.
We went over and pulled Peter up by his armpits, supporting his mostly limp form between us. We walked through the woods until we got to our huts, and didn’t stop until we reached our mattresses.
I helped Peter lie down and put the blanket next to him on the floor with a bottle of water nearby. Bodo and I laid down on our mattresses on our sides facing each other, talking softly.
“Today wass a terrible day,” said Bodo.
“Yes and no,” I said.
“What do you mean? How did I miss da good parts?”
“Well, I think we can assume that the tribes will come together, now that they have a common enemy. Celia’s back home and out of danger. And we’ve found out about a bunch of kids that need rescuing. The tribes can do this, I know they can.”
“I can’t belief da zombies were keeping kids like cattle. Dat’s just insane.”
“It is insane. But it makes sense that this would be their next level of insanity, doesn’t it? Now they can settle down in one place – go out on raids to find more … food. I hate to say it, but if I was a mentally ill but smart zombie, it’s what I’d do.”
“Sometimes you scare me, Bryn.”
“Sometimes I scare myself, Bodo.”
“So what do we do now?” he asked.
I thought about it for a second before answering. “Well … I think we help these kids to get their act together, get them trained in combat using the krav maga and George’s war journal, and then we figure out how to get those other kids to safety.”
“And then? We figure out how to live together. We make our home here. We take care of Peter and help him get over this crisis … I don’t know. You tell me. What then?”
“I like your plan. Dare’s just one thing missing.”
He leaned in closer to me … so close I could feel his breath on my lips, and said, “Just this.” And then he kissed me.READ MORE >>