Chapter Sixteen: Kyle Richards
I took my arm back from around Aria’s waist as we stood up, trying to look as carefree as was humanly possible while being in a huge box surrounded by zombies in the middle of an apocalypse with your best friend and some heavily religious girl. As you do.
Together, we all walked over to another of the heavily coated, dusty piles of stuff under a white sheet. I reached forwards and my hand grasped the sheet in front of me. I pulled. The sheet became stuck on something, so I bent over the top of the pile to unhook it. When I finally did clear the way, I realised the sheet was much larger and heavier than I’d originally thought. So, pulling harder, I managed to lift the sheet off and reveal what was hiding underneath.
Three quad bikes were standing elegantly, waiting for a rider each. They were all as black as the devil’s sinning heart and not a speck of dust had settled on their lovely, shiny coats of paint. Nothing interrupted the uncontaminated black paint job, apart from on each of the bikes; there was a smooth, angelically pure white, loopy phrase, written lovingly onto the body.
One said, “Don’t fear the reaper.” Another, “Together only in eternity.” The last said something that made me want to laugh (and I would have done, if not for the serious circumstances), for it read, “Nobody told me there would be days like these.”
So I stifled a snigger and walked slowly around them, casting a critical eye over the bodies, looking for any imperfections. I simply loved them. Once I’d completed a full circle and still not found any errors on the untainted master pieces, I stepped back for a while, watching the faces of Aria and Martha as they did the same as I had, walking around them, searching for anything to criticise them for. Nothing was wrong with them… if they’d start. So long as that worked alright, we’d be able to use them when the next message got here.
I wondered about the messages we’d received, wondering about who this ‘The Fifth Horseman’ was. Surely this had to be some sort of a set up? Sighing shallowly, I knew that couldn’t be it. Yesterday, if you told me that the end of the world would happen today, I’d probably just have laughed at you, or maybe stopped just to ask if you were okay in the head. Now I knew. After today, I’d never be able to cleanse my mind, my conscience. Always, etched into my brain would be the pure screeches of terror, unspongeable from anyone’s memory. Those sounds and the pictures that continually ran through my mind, those of people we knew and loved that had been surrendered to the zombies, sacrificed to the god or possibly the devil, would play repeatedly every time I’d a dream. I’d no longer sleep to dream, I’d just sleep until the nightmares came. Sleep for energy. Sleep to live.
My mind is cast back again to The Fifth Horseman. There was no way that he’d know everything about us though, I thought logically. If he did, there would have to be some sort of spying equipment he used, or maybe just spies. What about if he had friends that were high up in the world? Would he know a lot about us if that theory was right? Even if that is what he was, why on earth would he want us? There are plenty of other people that are fitter, faster, stronger, better people. Why choose us? It just didn’t make sense, and it was bugging me. What logic was there to it? Was there some sort of secret about us as to why this guy was being so helpful and nice to us? An idea struck me.
Was he setting us up for a fall?
Did he enjoy watching the pain of others? Or was he purely on the side of good, willing us on? But then again, that brings me back to one of my original questions: why us? As far as I could see, there wasn’t anything special about any of us. I wasn’t trying to make any of us sound stupid, or like we were bad people, but none of us had super powers or anything like that, we weren’t especially clever or insightful.
Unless he knew something that we didn’t, which I felt was unlikely, but the best thing I could think of, then I was left going around in circles.
If he was evil, he may be setting us up, just to watch us fail or perish in terror-striking pain, knowing that our determination would drive us on, no matter what the circumstances were. He’d be right. No matter what happened, I’d stand by Aria. If that meant hanging on until the very bitter end, then so be it. I’d do it..
If The Fifth Horseman was good, he might’ve picked us out because he recognised qualities in us that were strong? I don’t see how this would be, or even how it is a possibility. The only thing that sets us apart from others is the fact that we’ve survived this far. I don’t think we’ve survived on our own, the letter for example. The letter in the church had our names on the top of it. There was no way that that was possible, that we just happened to have the right names.
The more I thought about it, the more apparent it became to me that it was all a lie. It wasn’t luck, strength or anything to do with us. There was practically no input from us, no say. It was fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it.
A sharp clicking noise emanating from right in front of my face woke me from my thoughtful slumber. I looked up. Laughing wickedly together, Aria and Martha were looking down at me. I felt paranoid. What had they been doing? Trying not to get angry, I looked at them with a face that I hoped would say “Really? Are you sure? I mean: really?” but probably said something more along the lines of: “What on earth… I wasn’t tuned out. Not at all. I’m also not an awful liar. Oops.”
Seeing my reaction to them must’ve been funny to them, because they were laughing even harder now, not even bothering to try to hide it.
“What?” I said, also trying to keep the laughter out of my voice. “What did you do?”
Aria snorted, “I love how it has to be what we did, not you!” She laughed more now, in a fit of giggles that would only stop in their own time. I’d dealt with Aria having these unstoppable, weird, infectious laughing fits, but I’d only ever had to deal with one girl at a time. Only ever her. I knew what I had to do, all I could do. I’d to just step back and watch. It ended up lasting a lot longer than I expected. Every time Aria caught the eye of Martha, or Martha caught the eye of Aria, which would start them off on another uncontrollable fit.
“So, what about all the other sheets then?” I asked through the gaps where they took breaths to laugh more. “Do you want me to uncover everything myself or…?” I left the question hanging, hoping someone would answer me. When nobody did, I shrugged nonchalantly and headed for the nearest pile.
Once again, my hand crept forwards towards the sheet. On first touch, the dust flew everywhere and covered everything it could reach (although it couldn’t reach far enough to reach the quad bikes) including me.
Coughing, I cleared the residue of the dust from my lungs and continue to pull with one hand, curling the other into a fist and covering my mouth with it. I closed my eyes, preparing for the worst storm of unsettled dust to come flying off, but when it didn’t, I opened my eyes cautiously and peeked at the revealed object. It was amazing! Just what we needed!
Supplies! Tinned food and things to cook the food with, bottles of water, blankets, clothes, bags to carry it all in when we were on the move and, something I didn’t expect I’d be so happy to see at that moment, soap! We could wash the blood from our hair, change into clean clothes, eat and drink until our stomachs were filled to burst and then have a nice night’s sleep. Some things, in certain situations, just can’t be explained. I can’t explain why I was so happy to see soap and water. I expect clothes, food and water are pretty self-explanatory. It felt good to wash the blood of the damned off my body and into a bowl.
I cheered loudly as I stood looking happily at the uncovered gold mine, so much so that the girls decided to stop laughing for a while and come over to see what I was cheering about. When they saw for themselves, they also cheered with such force, that I thought they might turn into screams, kind of like the screams you get at concerts for these poor lads who try to make a singing career and end up being successful because they’re classed as ‘fit’ by boys. I certainly hoped not. I was standing right next to them and that would be painful.
I stepped back, just in case, out of immediate harm of my poor, poor eardrums that had been pierced by these screams many times before. Aria hadn’t screamed like that before, but I supposed there was a first time for everything.
“Oh my! Food! Clothes! Water! Soap! Blankets! Things to cook the food with! I’m definitely going to sleep well tonight. Are you not?” Aria asked rhetorically. “Oh yes. You know what? I’m beginning to think this Fifth Horseman guy isn’t all that bad! In fact, if he’s the one that provided all this, I think I could marry him.”
I laughed and added, “I’m not letting some scum bag who gives you food one time get the upper hand over me,” I whined playfully. “What about all the food I’ve ever split with you? Eh? What about all the food I’ve ever bought you?”
I laugh and so does Martha. Usually, I’d not laugh at something like that, but at the time, it was the funniest thing that had happened all day, what with the apocalypse being a slight shock to the system. It was good to just laugh freely, no qualms or anything to hold us back but time. Everything was a war against time. Running out of time is the only restriction here. Well, that and all the zombies attacking us all the time and the fact that we can’t go outside for fear and knowing that we’ll be ripped to shreds where we stand. Other than that, time is the only factor.
“So,” Aria started, knowing exactly what the reply to her question would be even before she’d even asked it. “Who is going to wash first? Also, who is going to cook? I could do with someone being a good cook right now.” Aria looked at me and winked. She knew I was into cooking and actually, I wasn’t all that bad.
“I’ll cook.” I blinked, and then nodded at Martha. “You can wash first and Aria can give me a hand with this food. Is that okay?” I looked between the girls, seeing that they agreed. “Right. Whenever you’re ready Martha. Aria, come on and give me a hand.”
Martha didn’t move, despite the fact that I’d told her she could go first for her wash. I looked at her inquiringly, shooting a look at her that I thought she read, as “Is there a problem?”
“Erm. Where should I wash?” she asked timidly.
“I suggest here in the warehouse, sorry, safe house. You know, unless you want to be eaten by the zombies?”
“Is there nowhere I could…” she trailed off, looking thoroughly embarrassed.
“Are you shy?” I teased gently. “Don’t worry, I’ll cook looking the other way if you want. I’m not like that anyway. Your privacy is safe from me.”
She sighed, “I suppose that will have to do.” I nodded politely and began to gather the ingredients in their tins, wondering what I could cook up from what was here. Then I turn away, leaving Martha to wash the sweat soaked, blood caked dirt from her body.