Chapter Twenty: Kyle Richards
When I woke in the early hours of the morning, I had the greatest sense of déjà vu. At the metal shutters, which I’d taken special care the night before to close properly, was a scratching, tapping type noise.
It was immensely annoying and impossible to sleep through. So, with much effort, I managed to wake up and disentangle myself from the blankets.
The light was unnatural and harsh against my eyes as I opened them and rubbed at them. I glanced by my side. Aria was still asleep. Not wanting to disturb her in any way, I shuffled away quietly. Around the boxes I walked, as wary as I could ever have been early in the morning. After yesterday, there was no such thing as being too careful.
Creeping like I was in a movie, I headed for the shutters. As I neared them, they became louder and louder, rattling more and more with each step I took. I took a deep breath and steeled myself, steadied my hands. When I’d finally managed to stop them from shaking, I reached out for the metal shutters and started to open them. Slowly, they opened. It was harder at first than I thought, or remembered them being before, but the more I pulled, the easier they became to open.
I heard a voice behind me. “Where are you off to?” I whirled around, expecting an intruder. Once I realised it was Aria, I calmed down.
“I heard a tapping noise at the shutters. I thought I’d go and check it out.”
“What was it then?” I looked at her, baffled. “The noise?”
“Oh. I haven’t looked yet.” I paused. “I think I’m going to need help with these metal shutters. They’re so heavy. Besides, I’ve the strangest sense of déjà vu.”
“Oh yeah?” she inquired.
“It's of the night we spent in the church. Last night.” I paused, not sure how much more I should say. Then, deciding there wasn’t harm that could be done by telling her, I did tell her. “When we were woken up by the crow at the window and the message was tied to its leg. The message from The Fifth Horseman.”
I kept looking down, frowning up until I heard her cough. I looked up. She smiled at me and came towards me. Together our hands reached out and we managed to pull the shutters up.
Peering against the lack of light, I scoured the horizon for zombies. None were in sight.
Deciding we were relatively safe, I let go of the shutter and stepped out. The air was immediately intensely hot, fiery almost. Oxygen darted away from my lungs, trying to make me suffocate.
At the ground, by my feet, was a huge, fat, black-as-sin crow. It shook its leg at me, almost as if to tell me something. I bent down to examine the crow more closely. On its leg, just like before, was a letter. It was rolled up to a minuscule size and slotted inside a small tube attached to the bird’s leg. Exactly as before.
I had a feeling that this was also the same crow. From the way its beady little eyes darted around everywhere, I knew that it was the same bird as yesterday.
I reached out to take the letter from the bird and must’ve startled it slightly, because it jumped back in surprise. Or awkwardness.
I tried again, this time slower than before. The crow’s beady, black eyes studied me as I reached forward, staring at my hand. I think it was trying to work out whether I posed a threat or not. Eventually, the crow must’ve decided that I wasn’t a threat, since I was able to reach and retrieve the letter.
Gulping heavily, I stood up with the rolled up piece of paper in my shaking hand. I watched as the bird flew away noiselessly and, for a second, I could believe that the world was beautiful again.
Then the red skies and monstrous grey clouds loomed into view, the thunder echoing around the world and the lightning providing the only light over the desolate town as it streaked across the clouds, bouncing from one to another.
With one last look at the seemingly deserted town, I turned away and joined Aria in the safe house. Well, that wasn’t exactly true was it? It wasn’t safe at all. Martha knows that now. We know that now.
After shutting the metal shutters again and making sure they were properly closed so that no wandering zombies could get in, we made our way back to the makeshift beds. Sitting down, we breathed heavy sighs of relief. We had the next letter. It would tell us where the next safe house was. We had quad bikes to get there on. We had food, water, blankets and other supplies that we wouldn't have survived without otherwise.
I sighed. “We’ve got to open it sooner or later. Why are we putting it off?”
Aria shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it's because we’re scared. Maybe it's because we don’t want to bend to the wishes of The Fifth Horseman anymore. Maybe it's because we don’t want to be here.”
I nodded. “Maybe.”
My hands tremble as I hold the paper in my hands. It was so small that I feared that I may have crumpled it up and made it unreadable. Not wanting to take that risk, I passed it over to Aria.
Her nimble fingers made quick work of the numerous folds in the thin, small paper and soon enough it was unfolded all the way. The thin, scrawled writing shows through the paper quite easily. I instantly compare it to what I imagine a spider would write like if a spider could write. The things I think of! I stifled my snigger and watched Aria as she read the note.
Her face turned white and she started to shake. I looked at her, my face full of concern. She looked up. I could see the panic in her eyes. Slowly and shakily, she reached out and handed me the letter.
I let my eyes drop to the spindled hand-written note in my hands.
“Dear Aria and Kyle,
I sincerely offer my condolences for the death of Jason and the mysterious disappearance of Martha. I do hope that you shall still be able to continue on your quest for safety from the rest of the apocalypse.
As I stated in my previous letter, there are a number of safe houses dotted around the country in preparation for the apocalypse. The one you are in contains only a very small portion of supplies, intended only to keep you ticking over until you can get to the main safe house near-by.
The main safe house has enough food, water and other supplies to last many lifetimes. I have made sure of that myself. I will tell you the location now: Goldfinch Close, off Haybarn Road. You cannot miss it. I suggest that to get there you use the quad bikes I provided, although it is a shame that one of them will not come in any use. Use these things I have bestowed upon you wisely.
I look forward to you being able to survive through the apocalypse once you reach the safe house. Once again I offer my condolences for the loss of your friends.
The Fifth Horseman”
I looked up from the letter. Who was this loon? How did he know about Jason being killed and Martha being kidnapped? Although those were the thoughts going around in my head, I still didn’t believe that The Fifth Horseman was lying. He didn’t seem to be the type of guy that would lie. Then again, I’d never met him. How would I know?
I decided that I’d trust him to lead us to the safe house. I’d not necessarily trust him for anything else though, such as a helping hand if anything were to go wrong. He didn’t seem all that bothered about Jason being dead and Martha captured.
I looked over at Aria. Her face was ghostly white and her hands were shaking. In her eyes, pure terror coursed through, the bright green reflecting the fear. Her usually tanned skin was now white, not just her face. All the colour had drained from her. I raised a hand to check her temperature, ice cold. This wasn’t good. If Aria didn’t feel comfortable with it all, at least a little, how could I? So, in a desperate attempt to warm her up, I grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders, but each time it fell lifeless to the floor. Walking over to the control panel with all the flashing lights, I managed to find out how to turn on the huge air conditioners. Rewiring the main control panel again, I made it so that instead of cold air flowing through the safe house, it became hot air.
When I rejoined Aria in her pile of blankets again, she looked slightly better. Some of the colour had returned to her cheeks and all over she wasn’t as pale. The tone of her skin was nowhere near how it was usually, but at least she wasn’t deathly white anymore.
We didn’t speak for a while, shocked by the news that the letter had brought to our very small, and ever shrinking, group. All we could do was sit there and rest until the sun was at its highest point in the sky so that we could go outside and have full view of the land, just in case the zombies attacked again. At least this time we had the quad bikes to get around on. I don’t think I could have faced the walk to the next, and hopefully final, destination during this horrible, blood-thirsty apocalypse.