Chapter Nineteen: Aria Stephenson
What was happening? Martha had just walked away from us, towards whatever was attacking. Her face was peaceful, full of calmness as she bravely strode towards the end of the boxes, towards the enemy. I didn’t want her to go. I kept screaming her name, shouting for her to turn back. She didn’t even turn to look at me. I doubt she even could turn. She seemed mesmerized, or hypnotized.
Kyle also shouted, but he gave up hope first. He sensed something that I either couldn’t, or would not accept. Whatever we’d said, she would have kept going. She wouldn't have stopped for us, not for anyone or anything.
I didn’t know what had overcome her. I couldn’t understand why she was screaming so hard to begin with, then nothing. Silence. Quicker than I could follow, the memories played back in my head. Martha stopping screaming. Calming down. Holding her breath. Walking calmly towards something she seemed to know was after her.
How did she know that? What could’ve told her? Was she just really sharp eared and she heard whatever the beasts were that took her away coming from a mile off? Was it just paranoia that had made her scream hysterically?
I didn’t know.
All I did know was that I could only stand there and cry now that Martha was gone. First Jason, now Martha. What was it with us? Did whoever kept coming after us think that we were just some easy targets? Were we just a game to this sick, twisted, warped freak The Fifth Horseman?
I screamed. Not at anything in particular, but at everything that this world had thrown at me. At us. Why? What for? What use were we?
I screamed for all people that had died. I screamed for Jason. I screamed for Martha. I screamed for the sick, twisted mind behind this to stop. I screamed for this world to hurry up and take me, to take me while it could. I promised that I’d fight every step of the way. I didn’t care that I wasn’t making any sense, or the fact that it was just us now. Just Kyle and me. Up against the world.
I wanted to curse the world. I wanted to curse my parents forever bringing me into this place, this warped reality.
But what I wanted to curse more than anything was The Fifth Horseman. I was pretty sure by now that this was all a set up. He might be leading us to safety, but then again, he might be picking us off, one by one.
How are we supposed to play against an opponent we can’t even see? I hated this. All of it. The world was ending, all my companions were being picked off one by one and I couldn’t do a single thing about it. I had tried and I had failed. What was I supposed to do now? Go and try to beat an opponent obviously way out of my league? I mean, I know I was awful last time. All the last times. So what would make this one any different?
I knew one thing though – I would promise to at least try. I’d already made my mid up. And if I failed and died trying? Then I’d die alone. I wouldn't take Kyle through this. Taking someone with me wasn’t an option. It was me, or nobody. That was The Fifth Horseman’s pick. He might want to pick Kyle or someone else we might meet on the way. How was I supposed to know?
I realized I’d tuned out of the world altogether at that moment, so I attempted to focus back in. When I finally focused, Kyle had his arms wrapped tightly around me. A sharp, shrill, screaming noise was coming from somewhere.
It took me a few more seconds to realize that the screaming noise was me and that I’d been thrashing around on the floor, so Kyle had grabbed hold of my arms and kept them by my sides so that I couldn’t hurt either him or myself. I concentrated and managed to regain control over my vocal chords. Kyle raised his head and looked me in the eyes, full of concern. He realized I really had stopped and that it wasn’t just a lull in energy and let me sit up. Grunting, I tried my hardest to sit up, only just managing to.
“What happened?” I asked, almost afraid of the answer.
Kyle sighed. “Once Martha was taken, you started to scream. I tried to talk to you, to calm you down, but you didn’t respond at all to me. Then you started to wrestle with me. I think you thought I was one of those things on the horses, come to get you. After a small struggle, I managed to get your arms by your sides and lean on you to stop you kicking me or lashing out. You just kept screaming, over and over. Incoherent screams.” It was then that I noticed a small bead of blood trickling down his face.
I leant forward and wiped it from his brow. “Did I actually hurt you in any way?” I asked, calmly.
He shook his head and looked at me. I could tell that I had and that he just didn’t want to upset me. Then, with tears in his eyes, he said, “I thought I’d lost you. I thought I’d never be able to talk to again, to just sit next to you and not get beaten to a pulp.” The tears that had formed at the beginning rolled freely down his cheeks now. “What would I’ve done without you? What could I’ve done without you?”
I gulped, trying to force back the tears in my eyes. “I don’t know, Kyle. I don’t know.” I whispered gently.
Standing up, he went to pull a top over his head and finish dressing.
I sat thinking for what must’ve been an hour running everything that had happened through my mind over and over again, playing the scenes like movies. Finally, I’d made my decision. So I stood up and walked towards the supplies. Picking up a bag, I started to shove in as much as I could, food, water, a blanket.
A cough came from behind me. It was Kyle. “What are you doing Aria? Are you leaving without me?”
I sighed and shrugged. “I don’t know what to do Kyle,” I answered truthfully. “I need to go. I need to get away from the twisted mind of The Fifth Horseman. I can’t stand it much longer. I’m not someone to be messed with, and he needs to learn that.”
“So what were you going to do?” he asks, hurt in his eyes. “Just pack up and leave without me? You know I’m going with you. But we have to wait until the next message comes. The next message will come from The Fifth Horseman and he’ll tell us where the next safe house is. You’ll die otherwise. I really don’t want you to go. Stay this night. In the morning, regardless of whether we’ve the note or not, we leave? Okay? But not until then. Not until I say we can. I don’t care what sort of an argument you put up,” he said, holding up his hand. “We aren’t leaving until I say.”
This was the first time which Kyle had asserted authority over me. For once, I didn’t care. I wanted him to. I needed him to, for my sake. I didn’t just need him to assert the authority though, I needed him.
We sat down and sorted out the beds for the night. All we had were blankets, so we did what we could. There were only just enough blankets for three people, so just having the two helped. We had more room, more space and more blankets each. We lined the beds up so they were next to one another.
I walked towards Kyle and wrapped my arms around him, embracing him in a hug. Burying my head into his chest, I wept deeply and openly about all the things that we wrong in this world.
Neither of us said anything, both of us thinking, crying. I just didn’t want to be here. I mean, why did I have to survive? Why could I not have fallen to the savage zombies? Died a noble death? Been spared all this? Why me? Why Kyle? Why Martha? Why Jason? Why us? What was there that someone was interested in? We were regular humans. There wasn’thing special about us. So why spare us just to watch us as we’re condemned in stages, each losing everything each time? Each of us having the worst fears each time we turn a corner. Each of us being terrified constantly. Never having any relief. All we needed was a bit of relief. A break. A new start in life. Be slaughtered quickly like the rest.
How could two people save the world? How could we do anything? What is there that makes us so good to feed on? What makes our pain any sweeter than anyone else’s?
Was The Fifth Horseman really a good guy? Could we really trust him? Or was it all lies? Was he the devil? Was he worse than that? Was he setting everything up, waiting for us to fall? Who could I trust? Who could we trust? I didn’t know anymore.
I went to sleep, thinking these thoughts, knowing that when I awoke, I may just have to face one of the hardest decisions of my life.