Continued from ‘Fatal Noise‘
Above me, the sunlight outlines a shadow. The shadow of a person. An androgynous shadow of a person. My eyes narrow to get a better look at them, but it does little to accentuate their features.
“Are you okay?”
The shadow crouches down next to me, no longer just an outline of a person. A guy. His dark hair hangs about his eyes. He tips his head sideways. His hair conceals one of those dark eyes.
As I continue to stare up at me, shock paralyzing me against the pavement, he holds a hand in front of my face. The hand has seven fingers. Seven?!
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
“Seven,” I answer, sounding like it’s completely normal.
He shrugs, pulling his hand away.
My eyes follow back to his face.
“Eh, close enough. Come on. Let’s get you up off the ground.” He grabs my hand and hauls me to my feet.
My legs wobble like jello. My stomach clenches. My throat burns, but worst of all are the tears pooling in my eyes. I bite my lip, trying to keep them at bay. Why am I crying? I’m fine. I tip my head down to hide the tears.
The dark-haired guy ducks down to look up into my face. He sighs. “It’s terrible what these people think they can do just because the world’s gone to Hell,” he comments, looping an arm around my back.
I jerk away from his touch. My foot catches on my attacker’s body. Balance fails. I stumble backwards, but stop mid-fall when shaggy-hair snatches my hand out of the air.
“Woah!” His dark brown eyes widen. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Allowing him to stabilize me, my eyes glance to the unconscious figure on the ground. “What- How-“
The dark-haired boy holding my hand swings a lead pipe onto his shoulder like it were a baseball bat.
My eyes lock onto it, horrified. Red blood dribbles down the cold, dark metal. I grimace. One hand flies to my stomach as it tries to heave and empty itself. The other snatches away from the boy as I stumble to the grass, bile expelling from my body.
“Oh,” he breathes behind me. “Sorry.” He wanders to another section of grass and smears the blood off the lead pipe.
I avert my eyes, trying to regain control of my stomach. With my eyes pinched closed and me on all fours, I can only think about how far I’ve fallen in the past few days. Tears prick my eyes again. I’m not made for this.
Beside me, the boy stands with his hand outstretched.
I turn away from it.
“Would you rather stay out here by yourself?”
Panic washes through me and I snatch his hand in the blink of an eye.
He hauls me to my feet once more. As he does, I swipe away the tears with my free hand, trying to make them vanish.
If he notices my tears, he says nothing. Instead, he places a hand on the small of my back and leads me down the sidewalk away from the campus store, and my unconscious attacker, but the memory will haunt me forever.
“Thank you,” I mumble, realizing he just saved me.
“Don’t mention it,” he returns, the lead pipe settled casually on his shoulder once more. “We’re just trying to keep the peace.”
He glances at me out the corner of his eye. “Yeah. There’s a group of us.”
“A group?” My stomach churns once more. I couldn’t even handle fighting off one person. How am I to save myself from many?
The boy stops. Placing a hand to my shoulder, he turns me to face him. “Oh no! Jeez! We’re not like that!” He exclaims quickly, his eyes alight with worry. “We’re protecting people, not harming them. We’re not like…” Darkness clouds his face as he glances over my shoulder to the campus store.
“Forgive me if I don’t take your word for it,” I return, pulling back a step.
His lips pull into an uncertain slant. “It’s okay. Most people don’t.” He continues down the sidewalk, not waiting to see if I follow. “I don’t blame them.”
My feet jerk into movement, catching up with him. I may not trust him, but he saved me and I probably stand a better chance surviving with him than by myself. Assuming, he’s not the one trying to kill me.
“Especially with the horrific things I’ve witnessed,” he continues. “Everyone has to be on guard. Still…” His head drops. “It’s sad how quickly humanity has fallen, the way people do whatever they want, take what they want, kill whom they want. It’s impossible to know who to trust anymore.”
I don’t answer. I don’t know what to answer. I stopped trusting people before I even left my room and I sure don’t trust people now.
I shudder, the memory of his hands on my body still fresh in my mind. My arms wrap over my torso. My parents warned me about the city… I should’ve listened to them… I should’ve stayed home.
My eyes glimpse the glittering force field keeping us inside the city. That’s if home even exists anymore…
Next Installment: Fiends