I looked around our camp and then back down at the half skinned head in my hands. It was gruesome, but it was something for me to do other than give orders. Aside from Jayden and John, I seemed to be the only one who hadn’t lost their head, or maybe I lost mine a long time ago, either way I was in charge. It had taken a lot to get people in gear and working but I had managed it, even if my methods weren’t exactly humane.
The sun had been starting to set when the rest had refused to get up and give me a hand with setting up camp. I had taken out my gun and fired in the air back the way we had come, only so that the bullet wouldn’t pay any of us a visit later. “You hear that shot?” I had said, the rest had nodded shyly, “Think of the sound of that shot as a net, seeming the corpses respond quiet well to sound, they hear the shot, they come looking for the source like birds to a worm, and we are the worms!” I had paused, letting my words sink in before continuing, “Now unless you want to be caught out by those damn things, GIVE ME A BLOODY HAND!” I pointed at Lewis and Pete, “You two stay and look after Jayden and John.” They had nodded and done as they were told.
I had heard plenty of swearing and comments aimed at me over the next few hours, but it just bounced off, having spent most of my schooling career as a victim of bullies none of it really did much. We had been attacked later in the night by a group of corpses, but nothing we couldn’t handle. During that attack was when I had claimed my prize, and now here I was sitting by one of the least crowded campfires cleaning the gore from the skull.
I looked at it for a moment, thinking. I had removed the eyes and most of the skin and flesh. The jaw bone was sitting next to me clean and white. The skull itself was larger than my own, quite a feat, and the back was caved in where I had almost broken my knuckles trying to kill it. I pulled out my machete and used it to remove the whole back side of the skull and hollowed it out.
“What the hell are you doing now?” asked Peter. He was sitting next to me, holding a bowl of spaghetti.
“Making a mask.” I said casually. All I needed now was some wire and maybe some leather and a bit of metal.
“You’re crazy.” He said.
“And it’s taken you all this long to finally figure it out.” I answered back.
I held the remains of the skull up to my face, but didn’t let it touch. I could see fairly well through the eye sockets and the rest was easily large enough to cover the rest of my face, the jaw even fit over my own. I poked a long piece of wood through one of the eye sockets, rested the jaw bone along the same stick and held them in the fire.
“What are you doing now?” he asked me again.
“Sterilising it.” I answered simply.
He shook his head and went back to his food.
I left the bones in the fire for a few minutes before laying them on the ground, getting up and having a walk around the perimeter. Two of the sentry’s, Pete and Samantha, were almost asleep when I got to them, and after giving each of them a talking to I knew that they wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon.
I had no sleep that night, but was able to give the lead over to John the day after Jayden had woken up. I took my leave and stretched out in the back of the car that had been my dad’s before we ‘borrowed’ it, but it was too uncomfortable. Eventually after half an hour I climbed up a tree and made myself fairly comfortable in between two branches and with a pillow for my back. I could get used to this I thought, as I drifted off.
The next morning I was confronted by Pete and Peter.
“We want you to step down from giving orders when Jayden and John aren’t.” Peter said.
I shrugged “Sure, but unless you guys know how to organise a defence, I don’t think we’ll last to long.” plain and simple.
“What makes you say that?” asked Pete, a little on edge.
I gave a small chuckle before answering “You all breakdown, hate to work and only ever seem to feel sorry for yourselves and the position your in.” I shook my head, “Jayden, John and myself are the only ones who can keep their heads at all times, without them you wouldn’t last more than a couple of days, hell without me here you all would be dead by now. Worm food, or even corpse food, take your pick.”
“We could last as long as we needed to without you, the place would be a lot quieter with out you any way.” said Peter.
“Only because people would have no one to complain about.” I shot back. From the looks they gave me I could only guess at what was going through their heads. “Ok then,” I said, “I’ll leave for two days while Jayden and John regain their strength. If your all still alive by then I’ll come back, if not I’ll take what I can and move on.” I gave them a small gesture to say ‘and your answer is’.
In what seemed to be the heat of the moment said “Deal.”
I turned around, grabbed my stuff and left, walking off down the road, in the direction we were heading, ‘one day until they call for help or come looking for me’, I thought ‘and when someone dies it won’t be my fault.’
I trekked on for a few hours and found myself standing in front of a gas station. I peered inside, the place was a mess, things were over turned and food stuffs were everywhere. I looked for any signs of movement but there was nothing. I pulled out my bayonet, preferring it over the Machete, and had a look around for any nearby corpses. When I found none I kicked open the back door went inside and put a chair under the door handle. I sorted through the mess and came out with a large supply of chips, snack foods, off milk products and a few cans of unspoiled fizzy drinks. ‘This was going to be a good two days’ I thought as I opened the first of the chips.