For my last blog post, I’m just going to give you guys another excerpt from my work. This isn’t the most recent writing that I have completed, but it begins where I left off in my second to last blog post. It’s been an interesting journey this year. Here it is:
After a couple of hours on the trail of my brothers and sisters in the dark of the night, I began to cross through more open fields. Farmland and meadows near old, burnt out and dilapidated shacks, centuries since they witnessed life. I often stopped and knelt in those wide clearings, listening for signs of anything amiss. I heard the slight breeze as it made old timber creek, and heard the crickets chirping and the frogs croaking. But no sign of my brothers and sisters. The tracks led on towards the town.
I had been on the trail of the mission for maybe four hours when I began to smell it. I was too familiar with that smell, had smelled it far too many times. You only need to smell it once and you’ll remember it for a lifetime. It can be interwoven with other smells, gunpowder, ash, and dirt. But this time I smelled it clearly through the trees. Death wafted from the meadow that lay ahead of me. It permeated the air, spreading like a virus. I didn’t gag, I didn’t vomit. I darted forward to the edge of the trees and knelt, swinging my rifle off of my back and bringing it to my eye to search the meadow for threats. I had to know if it was them, if Thane had told the truth.
The grey-black monotony of the clouds had passed and the moon illuminated the meadow in its own dark light. My heart pounded and my head raced, but I took deep breaths as I looked over the meadow. The stench of death undeniably came from the meadow, but I saw no darkened figures lying prone in the ankle-high grass. No, if it was them, I’d know it. There’d be five of them sprawled along the meadow cold, cold and gone. And yet, I saw no one. I sighed in relief and lowered my rifle, but stayed kneeling and on guard. This is where the tracks led. But why could I smell death and not see where it came from? Something wasn’t right. I started to detect another smell mingling with death.
But then I heard the breathing. The slow, hard, labored, breathing. Gasping, almost.
It came from the center of the meadow
The tracks led straight through.
My team. My warriors.
I heard only one set of lungs.
But what if…
I heard a cough. Painful. Sounded wet. Like there was blood in it.
I whistled. The same whistle warriors always used to signal to each other. If it was one of them, they’d know it.
I heard a broken noise. It took me a moment to realize it was the response whistle coing through cracked, parched lips and strained lungs.
I ran my hands through my hair. It was them. All of them. They had to be in the meadow. I shouldn’t have sent them with him. The tears didn’t come. The rage didn’t arrive with sweeping vengeance. I felt a coldness settle into my bones, an acceptance. This was my reality. I lost. I couldn’t change it and I couldn’t fight it.
“It’s Carter!” I yelled to the voice in the meadow.
The voice struggled for a moment, making strained, guttural noises, before saying, “Carter? It’s me… it’s… it’s Garrett.”
“Garrett! Where are you?” I saw an arm rise up from the grass and wave. Thane had lied. They weren’t all dead. I’d make him fucking sorry he left Garrett. It was about time he was exiled. “Hold on, I’m coming to you.”
“I’m hurt pretty bad, Carter.”
I reached him. I saw bullet holes in his pants and one in his shoulder. He was losing blood. I knelt down to him
“No, no,” he said, “I stitched myself up a little bit. I’ll be… I’ll be OK, at least for a bit. Legs… legs are busted though.”
“C’mon, I gotta get you back to the camp.” I leaned down to pick him up.
“No, hold on, where… where’s the rest of the rescue?”
I sighed. “It’s just me.”
Garrett smiled. “Typical fucking Carter… Acting against orders.”
“Well,” I chuckled, “You know me.” I looked away, to the treeline, and looked back to Garrett. “Where are the others.”
“I, I… I’m sorry,” Tears began to well in his blue eyes. His voice cracked, “They’re all gone. They’re gone. I’m the only one.”
“Oh, shit, no, no, fuck.” I grasped Garrett’s hand in mine. Sadness and rage, dueling, rose within me. I felt the heat rise to my face. I closed my eyes and breathed deep.
“Carter,” Garrett choked, “You need to… keep quiet. I’m sorry but… but I don’t know if they’re gone.”
I opened my eyes. “The ones who did this?”
Garrett nodded. “They… thought I was dead. I kept quiet… through all the… the pain. I think they’re gone… back to their place… but there’s no way to know.”
They had to be gone. They would’ve killed me by now if they were still around. I’d still find them though. I’d make them pay. “Well, Garrett, let’s get you back. You need better help than I can give you. We’ll come back with the rest of the Warriors.” I leaned down and got ready to heave him onto my shoulder
He brushed me away. “No, no, no… you need to tell the Alphas what happened. You can move faster without me.”
“Oh, fuck no, I ain’t leaving you here. I ain’t leaving you to die.”
“Carter, stop. You and I both know that… that the sooner you get back to the Alphas… the safer the rest of the Pack will be. Besides,” the faintest smile crept onto his face, “I can crawl a good long ways with… with these arms. You all can pick… pick me up on your way back.”
“No, there’s no fucking way. I ain’t gonna take that chance.”
“I don’t… mean to be rude, Carter, but… don’t be stupid. You aren’t gonna… make it far with me on your shoulders. At least… not fast. Before you say… anything else, you need to know what happened… how it happened.”
“Thane made it to the camp?” Garrett coughed.
“Yeah, yeah he did. Not in good shape. But he’ll survive. Says you all got ambushed. That all of you got killed.”
“Ah, typical Thane… little bit of truth, whole bunch of lies… surprised he even made it back… they were after him.”
“What do you mean?”
“I guess I should tell you… what exactly happened then. You ready? You’re gonna,” Garrett coughed up some more blood, “gonna have to remember this… real well to tell the Alphas.”
Recently, I’ve been reading the graphic novel series The Walking Dead and I realized that there’s a group of survivors who, as a group, are very much like my main group (The Pack). They’re called The Whisperers.