Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I Can Feel It Coming In The Air Tonight

Ed Bender was in a bad mood until he saw the deer. A group of four meandered through a snowy yard, nibbling at branches, and he watched them through the binoculars from the top of the Half Moon Battery, drooling just a little. He watched them prick up their ears, then bolt as a biter came running after them. This one was alone, either not part of the group they'd been tracking or for some reason off on its own.

He took a moment to describe the sighting in his notebook and went back to watching. At this moment, Tammy The It, as he considered her, was keeping an eye on the house they believed the alpha and its group were sheltering in. Radio silence from Tammy though – they all kept radios off when keeping an eye on the zombies in case the sounds of the radio tipped off some hungry rioter as to where they were hiding, up in a metal deer stand. They'd liberated the deer stand from Home Depot and placed up a tree where an easy and hidden eye could be kept on the alpha's lair. It had a ladder that could be disconnected if the rioters started sniffing around it, keeping whoever was there relatively safe and out of reach until back up could arrive. At that point, the radio would be turned on and used.

Ben and Eve were doing something around the Fort, Amanda and Travis were out foraging, or so they said. Ed suspected they were getting up to more than that, and he wouldn't mind catching sight of that in his binoculars. More Amanda than Travis, obviously. Everyone else was taking care of whatever their jobs were for the day. Ed's idiot wife was sitting in the school house right now overseeing the underage brats while they worked on whatever schoolwork Amanda had set up for the week. Usually it was Amanda who managed the schoolhouse, but today it was Idiot Lila and one of the Teenage Whores.

Ed swung his binoculars around the the west for a bit, just in case he could catch sight of Amanda and Travis. Just in case he was having a lucky day.

Ed woke up earlier than usual the next morning. Today was sort of his lucky day, it was his turn to go out hunting with Amanda. Alone. Ben had the deer stand, Travis was moving supplies up to the shop for people to access. He and Amanda were going to try to find some trace of the deer he'd seen.

He elbowed Lila awake. She held her tongue and stumbled to the the front room, to the area she'd turned into a kitchen with a little kerosene stove, to make him something to eat. They never ate breakfast at Eve's like the younger folks or Tammy did. Too much going on, too noisy, and Ed tended to feel out of sorts if someone else was in charge. Much better to start the day this way, as the man in his own castle and being treated right.

You're a pretty tough woman,” Ed told Amanda as they waited atop a small cliff face, watching for the deer. He gave her the look he considered charming and flirty. She raised an eyebrow, he couldn't discern if it was in interest or disdain.

Give me the binoculars,” she said. “I'm going to see if I can find more tracks.”

He handed her the binoculars and she began scanning the ground farther up ahead. “So you and Travis, huh?” Ed asked. “That's your boy?”

Me and Travis,” she said blandly.

You know you could probably beat him up,” Ed said, with a sneer.
No probably about it.”

I'm here for you if you find yourself in need of an actual man,” Ed began, placing his hand on her arm.

Suddenly he was on his knees with the hand he'd placed on her arm being held up just behind his neck so his arm was crooked like a crippled bird's wing and he couldn't effectively move to free himself. As smoothly, she had his other arm up behind his back by his thumb, one of her feet anchoring the back of his knee down in place. Ed could wriggle just the barest bit without pain, and could not use his strength in this position. She spoke very near his ear.

Hands off, Ed. Never touch me again. In fact, I know who you are.” She shook him a little. “You don't get to put your hands on anyone in the Fort without permission. And you don't get to hurt women while you're there, either.”

He began to protest and she pulled his thumb up farther, making him feel like she was going to break it. Ed swore in agony.

I mean it, Ed. You hurt your wife, you'll regret it. If you put your hands on me ever again, I'll kill you. And I won't feel a thing but satisfaction about it. Do you trust in that? I want you to trust in that.”

He gave a furious, desperate nod.

I don't WANT to hurt you, Ed. I don't want to hurt anyone. But I won't lose a second's sleep if you force this. People can make bad choices, like touching me without permission. But if we have this out of the way, we can be friends. Can we be friends, Ed?”

He wanted to shout at her and he wanted to hold her by the neck until she was sorry, but he couldn't move, just ineffectually waggle his bird-winged arm.

Because if we can't be friends, Ed...” She moved again, so quickly he couldn't track exactly what she'd done, and now the arm yanked up behind him was free, but there was a knee in his back and one of her arms was snug and tight up around his neck, her elbow right below his chin. Her arm tightened just a little and the world dimmed.

Friends,” he muttered, his voice strangled.

She released him as quickly as she'd incapacitated him in the first place, steadied him, even helped him up.

Fuck, bitch,” he began, and it sounded whiny even to him.

That's not how friends talk to each other,” she said. “I mean it. I will let this go if you understand you don't put your hands on me again. We'll be good.”

He stared at her, his heart malignant, considering. There was a pistol on his belt, and they both knew it. Her stare was steady and unafraid. He realized sickly he wasn't sure he could even get it out before she'd have him down again. He wasn't sure even if he got it out and aimed that she couldn't take him down before he could fire it.

Fuck, you're a fucking mean bitch. Fine. Friends.”

I am a mean bitch. Better to have me on your side.”

Oh, yeah,” he said, and groaned, stretching his sore muscles out.

She picked up the binoculars from where she'd dropped them to deal with him and tucked them into one of her jacket pockets. “It's going to be dark soon,” she said. “We have a decent idea where to try to pick up the trail tomorrow. Wanna go have a fucking drink back at the Fort?”

He looked her face, searched it, and saw only a friendly reserve there.

My treat, Ed. I have some vodka, we'll both have a couple slugs, as friends.”

You know what, it's a deal,” he said at last.

I'm glad.” Now she grinned at him. He shook his head, bemused.

Travis found her later, standing in the unused building behind the gatehouse, inspecting the old cells used to lock prisoners up.

Some new kinky game?” he asked.

She pretend-slugged his arm. “Nerd. Maybe. You think we have some locks that would work on these doors if we need to?”

“Probably. How sure do you want me to be?”

“I just want to be ready for anything. Check in the morning for me?”

Anything you ask, little lady,” he said in his best cowboy voice.

Well, in that case,” she said demurely, and took his hand to lead him back to her room.

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