Winter quickly scrubs away her name with her wrist and slams the slate back into her bag. She purposefully points to each of us and demands that we give her our names. Her electric blue eyes focus on me as she slowly folds her arms across her chest. Joe enunciates as he speaks, pointing to each of us in turn.
Tilting her head to one side, she raises her eyebrow at Joe, prompting him to reveal his plan. "Okay, kid, now we are acquainted we can get right into it. Thank you for your help back there. We all appreciate it. Out here you gotta be cautious, and I'm sure you know all about that."
She nods her head once in response.
Joe points to her whip. "I'm not even going to ask how you got your hands on one of those. That's a military-grade weapon that is only issued to the most skilled fighters. In fact, I've never actually seen one in in the flesh, only ever heard about it because of its reputation."
A smirk twitches at the corner of her mouth as he continues, "I don't see any other folks with you, so I assume you're out here by yourself?"
As I stare at her, I glimpse a flicker of pain in her eyes; she purses her lips tightly as she nods once more.
Joe, noting it too, lowers his head slightly before continuing, "Well, kid, we could do with your help. Can you show us to the next walled town?"
She stares back at him, clearly suspicious.
"We don't have a lot, but I'll make it a worthy trade. That's a promise."
Joe and Winter exchange a knowing look as she calculates his offer, with a curt nod she quickly bends down and grabs her whip from the ground. At her touch, it suddenly glows neon blue, and the light almost throbs between her fingers. Not wasting any time, she turns on her heel and trudges into the thick forest, pushing branches from her path as she goes.
Will slowly bends down to grab his sword from the ground and is clearly on edge by the trade-off. He grits his teeth as he starts forward. "Dunno what the hell that was about, but I guess she's agreed to show us then, huh?"
Joe beckons for Tommy, and I to collect our weapons. I wipe my sword from Infected gore and ask, "Are you sure about this, Joe? I don't trust her at all!"
He exhales loudly. "No, but one thing I know is that I am smarter, older and more experienced. Besides, if she was going to kills us all, she would have tried it already."
I quickly study my sword before I place it back into its sheath. I look to Tommy who is standing poised and focused. His fists are clenched so tightly that his veins are popping in his forearm. Swallowing hard, I can't help but fear what has become of my little brother. I sling my rucksack onto my shoulder and push away an errant hair that is plastered to my face with sweat and grime.
Tommy follows Will, leaving myself and Joe behind, as we start forward, Joe murmurs under his breath, "Everything is going to be okay..."
At first I thought he was trying to reassure me, but after studying his expression, I realise that he may be trying to reassure himself. Filled with dread, I hold my head high and lightly place my hand on the hilt of my sword, following Winter into the unknown.
We march on in silence; the tension is palpable as Winter continues to hike upfront at an unrelenting pace. As I try to keep up, the balls of my feet begin to throb, and my arms are shredded by the thickets of the trees. Fortunately, I don't seem to have any blisters yet.
From the position of the sun, I can tell we have been walking for hours with no signs of a walled village or any Infected for that matter. But the further we go, the more I begin to panic.
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Kill or Cure (Extract)Horror
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