“Ivory hearts, iron lung
keep an ear to the ground
you can hear them howling the death-charm
can you hear them marching
getting drunk to the same song
low and behold”
aKING – Cut-Throat-Tongue & Razor
A dirty-tearstained face peeked out of the corner and my heart shuddered. Those small little hands shook and trembled into one another, her white dress smeared with dirt and blood. The pail pink sweater she wore was partly torn, the white stockings ripped and she had scrapes on her knees and arms. Her eyes found mine and I grimaced for the dear life in me.
“I’m looking for my mommy?”
I wanted to run to her scoop her up in my arms and hold her small body close, the horror she must have gone through. A child, a mere child and I found myself asking where god is in all this. If there was a god he would not, could not let this happen to a small innocent child. Tears burned in my eyes and my heart sank low. As I gave a step forward someone gripped me on the arm hard and pulled me back.
“Kenneth, no.” My own tearstained face looked back into Pete’s and I could see the emotion equally as powerful in him. No child should witness this, no child should be abused, be hurt, be raped! A child should have a home that welcomes them where they know they are loved, protected and where they can always return to.
“We check her first.” I nodded at Pete, it sounded cruel but he was thinking of the safety of the group and then it hit me. What if she is bitten or infected, what then? Do we kill her? Do we just leave her? I closed my eyes and shook my head trying to clear it of my thoughts but I couldn’t shake them. I heard Bailey speak up and my eyes opened as she approached the little girl.
“Hello sweetie, my names Bailey, what’s yours?”
I… I’m not supposed to talk to Stanger,” here voice echoed, I could hear the tiredness in it.
“That’s a good girl, but can you tell me your name? You’re looking for your mommy right we can help you find her.”
“Emma, my names Emma. I don’t know where mommy is, she said I should run when the men came then mommy screamed and I ran into the building.” She pointed behind her. She looked up at Bailey and I could see the desperation in her eyes, the pain of hope in her small dirty face. “Will you really help me find my mommy? Because she can give you money, she is very rich.” She stood proud with her hands on her sides. The innocence of a child.
As I slowly approached Bailey, Emma saw and took a step back. I forced a smile the best I could under my current emotions. I stopped when I reached Bailey and she gripped my hand tightly. I could feel it trembling.
I tried to keep the emotion back when I spoke “Hello Emma, my names Kenneth, I’m Bailey’s friend. I’m going to stay right her but I need to ask you a couple of questions okay?”
She nodded her head and perked a small smile at me.
“Are you like boyfriend and girlfriend? Cause there’s a boy in my school I like but he is very mean to me and the other girls.”
I chuckled softly and felt some of the tension in my shoulders ease.
“No, we’re not boyfriend and girlfriend and I know Emma, boys can be pretty mean.”
Her small eyes looked at Bailey and then at me, then settled to our hands. There was a cute frown on her face as she bit here bottom lip struggling to understand.
“But… but… you’re holding hands. Doesn’t that make her your girlfriend? I always like holding hands. I don’t like kissing boys. They smell funny and their mouths stink.”
“She is adorable isn’t she?”
I almost screamed as my grip tighten in Bailey’s hand and so did hers at Claire’s voice from behind us.
“Fuck Claire, just fuck! My heart!” I hissed under my breath.
“Sorry,” she whispered back.
My heart still drumming loud in my chest, I started to ask her the obvious. We all needed to know though I couldn’t just ask straight away.
“Emma, tell me how long have you been in the building?”
“Um…” She counted on her hands and then stopped and counted again “A month,” she shoved up seven fingers. I just took it for what it was and continued to my next question, all knowing my eyes and ears were all over the place listening for any sound that might disturb the silence.
“Emma what did you eat while you were in the building?”
“Lots of things. There is a restaurant in there but I started with the doughnuts first,”
The smile on my face grew at her words. Her voice sounded a bit more relaxed, I figured all these random questions were her subconscious drawing her attention way from what she experienced. As I looked up at the building she hid in, the silver logo and name flashed in the dim sunlight. Two things happened at once, my heart drummed in to my ribcage and my chest got tight as my breathing quickened. I knew this building, I knew it all to well. We had had lunch in there far too many times to count and it was convenient for him since it was just three floors down from his office.
“Kenneth,” Bailey spoke low in my ear. “Are you okay, you seem to be having an episode? Do you have some sort of epilepsy or something?”
“Yes… I mean no, I’m a bit dyslexic but no epilepsy.” My heart still rushed and my breathing never slowed, it felt like some one took a brick and slammed it right into my gut!
“Emma!” My voice came hasty and quick “Where you bitten or scratched by any of those men that you ran from, are there any of them in the building?”
A hurtful look came over Emma’s face, whether it was from the starkness in my voice or from the reminder of those things, I didn’t know. She shook her head but said nothing. I hissed under my breath and stepped forward releasing Bailey’s hand. When I felt a strong hand on my shoulder.
“What are you doing?” I looked back into Claire’s face as she glared at me, my eyes shifted from hers to Bailey’s who too had a concerned look on her face and I knew it wasn’t for me.
“I… I,” I clinched my lips shut and shook away from them walking towards the building entrance. Someone was running towards me and I felt Pete grip me round the waist and pull me back. The anger snapped in me and I swung a round.
“Don’t!” I growled angrily at him “I need to do this, I need to know. I need to be certain.”
Pete hesitated but nodded his head. To my surprise he handed me the shotgun “Just make it quick.”
I watched him turn around as he took the spade from me and walked towards Bailey and Claire. They could look over Emma, but right then I need to do this. I slowly pushed open the revolving doors as I entered the darkness of the building. His office was on the fourth floor. I took the stairs two at a time. There were blood smears on the wall, stains on the carpets, puddles on the stairs and torn limb here and there. My stomach quince not from the scene but from what I might find. Emma must have entered the building either after they left or she hid very well, my mind went with the first option.
So you ask how did we end up in the city if we were driving away from it? Well we took a back road around and passed the residential area. My theory was that if there was a safe zone and we could get to it whether abandoned or not, there could be supplies we could use, so instead of going to a smaller sized city we all decided to head back to Janesville. It didn’t register in my mind that we might pass the building in which his offices were situated. One, I was too high on my adrenalin rush of anxiety and trembling with what awaited us and two I’d had said good-bye to Thor, not made peace with it, but only said good-bye.
My hands coiled around the shotgun but it vibrated in my hands as I shook, my heart still pumped loud in my chest. As I came to the fourth floor I leaned against the wall. The feeling in me was like the ever present darkness looming in the buildings corner offices I passed. Faint rays of sunlight provided little light, I forced myself to remember that we should get some flash lights just to keep my mind off the inevitable.
Approaching the door that lead to his office, I out stretched a quivering hand and allowed it to rest against the cool steel of the handle. I took a deep breath and pushed. The squeak was a menacing sound in the silence that send a shudder of cracking glass over my flesh and I could feel the hairs standing up on my body. My ears did that perking thing where it feels like they grow a couple of inches enabling you to hear better but I knew it was just in my mind. I pushed out the sound of my racing heart and took in the stillness of the building. I swear I could hear the concrete crack as my senses seem to be heightened beyond human possibility, it must have been my mind playing tricks again. The air in the room smelled stuffy as I walked to the far corner of the room where there was a couch his clients used if they were early for their appointment. My shaking hand stretched out in the darkness till it touched the blinds. Gently and as quietly as I could I felt with my fingers for the cord to pull them back but I hesitated. For a couple of seconds I was terrified to pull that cord, I coiled it in my fingers and gripped it in my hand so hard that I knew there would be a indentation in the skin in the shape of it. I counted one, two, three! …but I didn’t pull. My thoughts were a whirlwind of images and emotions. I thought I could do this, I thought it would bring me answers or peace but now that I was faced with it I was too petrified to take the step. I let out my breath and closed my eyes as I released the beaded cord. Maybe it would be better not to know, never to know but the rope got hooked on my pinky as I pulled away pulling the blinds partly up. Sunlight flooded the room like a break in a dam wall, I reached for it again and pulled them up all the way. The sight before me was relieving and also somewhat disappointing.
Nothing out of the norm, no blood, no body, no nothing. The reception area looked the way it looked after they closed the office at the end of the day. The business magazines that were there for waiting clients to read were stacked on the coffee table neatly, the chair at the receptionist desk was pushed under and against the desk like she never came in that morning but the door was unlocked and his office door stood partly open. Slowly I willed my legs, which felt like cement hardening, to move closer. I pushed opened the heavy door with the front end of the shotgun. It made a loud crack as it moved back. I always told him to fix that and it made me smile. I slowly entered the office and seeing his desk, one that I have been fucked on many times, brought a bitterness to my mouth and my heart shook heavily when I saw his briefcase a top the desk, his coat folded next to it and the office key’s laid down beside it. He’d made it to work. My heart pounded again but for a different reason.
Maybe, just fucking maybe, he survived. He might even have made it to the safe zone. I swallowed the bitter taste of hope and placed the shotgun on the desk. I moved to one of the windows and pulled up the blinds. The sunlight hadn’t reached this part of the building yet, his office always got afternoon sun. I walked over to the desk again and reached for his coat, pulled it to me and inhaled the scent of him.
Deep down I shouldn’t have, I knew I shouldn’t have but could you blame me? As the faint smell of him went up my nose and filled my senses the tears made their way down my cheeks. I expected hysterical crying but it was silent, quiet tears that fell down my face and were soaked up into his coat. I picked it out for him. It was a privilege he allowed me, some sort of gift if you may, for me being good and I was good that day. I picked out the coat for him, it was my choice and he wore it. I remembered that day all too well.
It was a nice day when we walked into the Italian clothing store, not warm but good enough for shorts and must I say they were short and a bit snug. He kept pinching my butt as he allowed me to walk in front of him because he knew how quickly and how red I would blush. The only thing was, and I never told him this, I never really blushed until I met him. So inside the store he of course walked straight up to a stack of leather jackets, not that I minded leather but at least now and then something else would be nice. He was handsome, so what if I wanted to dress him up a bit. I left him but never went too far out of his sight. I knew what I was looking for when he mentioned the whole idea to me. Instantly I knew what coat to get him. So after fifteen minutes of snooping the store I found what I was looking for, well not precisely what I pictured, but it was close enough. As I looked back over to him he was still going through the leather jackets. I tried to figure out his size. I knew by then, since he instructed me thoroughly how to wash his dress shirts, they were custom made by this very store and his size wasn’t always available. So I took the biggest one I could find and headed back over to him.
He didn’t acknowledge me immediately nor did I try to pull his attention away from the jackets he was perusing. Patience was one of the first lessons he taught me, his needs, his time before mine. He picked out a jacked and turned around.
“How about this one?” he held it up and gave a grin. I kept my face natural.
“I thought we are here to look at coats, Sir?” Okay to other Dom’s that might seem like an arrogant answer but not to him, it was the way my brain functioned, the way my mind worked. I tended not to over analyze things and theorize on them before making a decision. My thought process was often too quick for another human to understand. Oh, and might I just say I also have the memory of an elephant.
“If I recall correctly Sir, you said that you needed a coat for winter and if I behaved that I could make the decision as to which one. However Sir, the decision is still yours if you will accept my choice or not.” Ok, so I am a smart mouth. I did study drama and old literature in university. I could be a deviant little basted if I wanted to. He took the trench coat from me and handed me the leather jacket to hold. It was heavy in my arms yet the leather was soft as I ran my finger over it. He pulled open the trench coat and observed for a moment. My eyes never left his face. I preferred him with stubble and longer hair to his smooth shaven face and short blonde hair. There was just something more wild and cave man about the first than smooth and short, it didn’t suit him. I had no right to state my preference of course.
“I’m not going to fit in this thing you know,” he peeked over the trench coat and raised an eye brow.
“I know, Sir I was just thinking maybe they could adjust it to fit your frame.”
He closed his mouth, took the leather jacket from me and went to the counter. He exchanged words with the tailor and then turned to me.
“See anything you like?”
He leaned on the counter with his heavy frame observing me closely. His eyes were all over me in a dirty kind of way and I knew in the way his eyes darkened when he looked at me that, if he could, he would have fucked me right there in the store and wouldn’t have given a shit what others thought or who saw. I was his, I belonged solely to him and bended to his needs. He reminded me of that every night.
“Nothing in particular Sir. We’re here to get you a coat… or a jacket, whatever you prefer.”
I hung my head low as I spoke. Of course it was a lie. I had seen something that I loved but did not dare bring it up even though he asked me. Somewhere along the line however, I made a big mistake. He was not one to point out what mistake I’d made. I had three tries to understand a lesson, after which I’d get a firm lecture from him. I knew I was going to get punished regardless if I caught on to what he wanted me to understand. That night at home long after the store, which we left with only the leather jacket he had picked out, (the trench coat was placed back on it’s hanger in the shop) I received my punishment in the form of a flogger kissing my ass numerous times. Yet the following evening he came home with the exact trench coat I picked out for him. Grimaces, growls and tantrums were in my face. But I knew then that it was nothing more then a simple act, a resin for him to give my ass a pink glow. He loved it the way I whimpered, the way I took it and honest after the punishment, the cuddling, the caressing and the fondling from him was all worth it.
I pulled away from the coat. On him it reached his upper thighs, on me it hung almost to my ankles. I looked through the room trying to figure out what happened that day. He must have come in then most likely went to get his second cup of coffee in the cafeteria. I scanned the office one last time knowing I’d never see him in it again buried in paper work, glasses stuck to his face sitting behind his laptop. Something else did catch my attention that I hadn’t seen before. There was a photo on his desk of us with Randy and Dale. I noticed my smile as he hugged me and I realized for the first time then, how truly happy I looked. Though tears didn’t go down my face this time it left a warm feeling in my chest but also a tug at my heart. I removed the photo from its frame put it in one of the pockets of the coat and took the shotgun. Never looking back, I made my way out of the office and closed the door behind me.
A shadow moved and the sunlight in the room behind me that shone through the glass doors got paler. My heart stopped and my breathing stilled, something in me kicked me back into survival mode then the sunlight changed again…clouds moving in front of the sun. I gave myself a mental slap and descended the stairs. Stepping out of the abandoned building Claire was giving Emma some of the baked beans, poor kid must be starving. Pete looked up at me as I approached.
“Find what you were looking for buddy?”
He had an easiness to his voice but I knew he was concerned about me. Admitting it only to myself, I don’t know if my mental state was keeping together as well as I thought it was. I just shook my head. He said something about the coat but my eyes caught something on the ground, I bent down and picked it up.
“Does anyone have a ligh…t…er?”
The cigarette fell from my hand as fear spread over my face. One moment there was nothing, the next there were too many of them. Pete still walking towards me must have either seen the fear in my face or their reflection in the glass of the building. I watched shocked and horrified. My mind froze as one of them took a stance, flexed his arms like the hulk. It opened its mouth and its jaw hung loosely. Then, like a lion only a lot more terrifying, he roared so load that pieces of flesh came out its mouth as well as warm vapor as it met with the cold air. Then they came for us. Claire was up with Emma in her arms. Pete turned around and gripped Bailey by the arm. He shouted over his shoulder.
“Kenny run! God dammit! Run!” and as you all know I was already running.
“Bailey lose the back pack, its slowing you down!”
She did without hesitation. The things weren’t groaning anymore, they where roaring. I could hear the hundreds of footsteps behind us. My chest burned as my lungs desperately lagged behind. We turned right me in the lead, Claire and Emma behind me, Bailey and Pete not far behind them and they were gaining on us fast. My eyes went in all directions, my mind buzzed and hummed to come up with a means of escape. Out running them was not an option and we went in the opposite direction of the car. This is it, this is where we die.
I heard Bailey scream as one of them must have reached her. My only thought was Pete! Not him I can’t lose him too. I swung around, stupid I know, aimed the shotgun and pulled the trigger. None of us, not even Pete checked the gun. A stupid mistake can cost you your life or someone else’s. The shotgun didn’t go off, it was empty. One thought coiled into another as I ran to them. Flung the shotgun around and brought the other end to the things face just before it could sink into Bailey. Pete also had fallen to the ground, he was huffing and puffing in terror. I gripped Bailey under the right arm and yanked her up.
“Get up! Pete fucking get the hell up and move your black ass now!”
He was up so quick at the sound of my voice and I knew he was pissed, he didn’t like it when I called him black or made comments about his rear region but it was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the shock on his face and it worked. I would deal with the repercussions of it later, for now we had to keep moving.
The roaring, the footsteps, the smell, all of those things got louder, closer and stronger. My throat and lungs were charred by now and my legs ached. Bailey and Pete were running and I along with them, were catching up to Claire and Emma. So I put what little strength I had left and pushed harder. I bit down on my teeth as my calves screamed as the lactic acid did it job.
“Give me Emma and run.”
As I came up next to Claire I took Emma from her and cradled her close to me those small fingers pressed and griped my shoulder. I could feel the fear in her through her grip, the wet stain of tears pressed against my chest as I held her and ran. We turned another corner, left this time, and the street was littered with abandon cars. Good, it might slow them down I thought. It was also slowing us down. I hoped and I prayed, prayed that if there was a god the he would save us. My prayer was shattered as I heard a car alarm go off and windows crack then burst. I turned my head for a split second to see more of them effortlessly jump on to the car roofs and run down the front. They were like feeding machines. If piranhas had feet this would be them.
“Here!” I heard Pete shout and I looked in his direction as he bent down under a gate that was up a couple of feet off the ground.
I went for it as Bailey made it down and crawled under. Zigzagging through the abandon cars. I came just as Claire made her way under the gate. Something latched on to my arm with a tight grip and two of them were behind me.
“Emma let go and come,” I heard Claire scream.
All I could do was push her off me and she fell to the ground, Claire gripping her and pulling her inside. The one that was still on my arm yanked me violently and we fell against the gate. At the same time I pushed down and luckily it slammed down. Then I turned right and started running again. Some of the things were rattling the gate, the two that were behind me were now next to me as I ran. I didn’t know how much farther my legs could carry me. The one to my left bit down just then into my shoulder. I could feel the bite but not it puncturing my skin as the trench coat was made of thick wool. As its jaws released and it tried to grip me, I took the butt end of the shotgun and slammed it into its jaw so hard, it and the gun slipped from my hands and fell to the road. It was up not a moment later.
I struggled for breath and my movement slowed down. I had to find someway, some means to get myself to safety but right-guy finally jumped at me and we both tumbled forward. I heard a snap and pain shot up from my hand. The pain hummed like something I’ve never experienced before but it was quickly forgotten. Right-guy was on top of me, I felt his breath at my neck as he prepared to sink his teeth into my flesh and then the angel came.