#Chapter 155: A Light in the Darkness
I was jostled awake by a bump and a swaying sensation, followed by the feeling of a searing pain shooting through my leg and the sound of a car engine. I groaned as my eyes flickered open.
“Oh! Honey, she’s awake.”
“Hold on. I’m pullin’ over. Coast clear out there?”
“Hmm… Mhm. I don’t see anything.
As my eyes adjusted, I saw the forms of two people sitting in front of me. Judging from the long leather seat beneath me and the two seats in front, I was in the back of a car. A truck, too, I surmised from the hollow and tinny sound of the engine as it sputtered to a stop.
I groaned again. The man in the
driver’s seat got out of the car while the woman in the passenger seat turned around to face me. I blinked a few times, and as her face came into focus, I saw that she was an older woman with graying brown hair and a round, soft face.
“You sure woke up quick,” she said with a smile, reaching out and squeezing my hand. Her hand was warm and soft in a motherly sort of way, and it eased some of my anxieties.
The door by my feet opened. I looked up to see an older man standing there. He was wearing a flannel shirt tucked into a pair of jeans, which emphasized his slight beer belly. He had a baseball cap on and had a gray mustache on his upper lip.
“Howdy, young lady,” he said with a grin. “Let me see that leg. That okay?”
I felt myself stiffen, and instinctively looked up at the woman. “It’s okay, hon
“,” she said softly. “Dan’s real good at
this sort of thing. Aren’t you, honey?”
“Yup. Decades huntin’ and trappin’ll do that to ya. You get real good at pickin ‘out bullets so it don’t spoil the meat.” My stomach turned at the thought, but Dan only chuckled. “Don’t worry. I don’t eat human.”
He reached out and peeled back the white bandage around my leg a little bit, and I let him, although it made me wince and grit my teeth. He eyed my wound for a second before nodding to himself.
“How’s your head feel, sweetheart?” the woman asked. “I’m Laura, by the way. That’s my husband, Dan, although I guess I already told you his name, didn’t I? Anyway, we found you last night in real rough shape.”
“Um… Water?” I croaked. Laura smiled
and nodded. Dan held out his hand for
me and helped me sit up, and once I’d chugged an entire bottle of water in one go, he pointed at my leg with a confused expression on his face.
“Your leg’s lookin’ mighty healed already for someone who was shot less than twelve hours ago,” he said.
My eyes widened. I couldn’t tell these people about my healing abilities.
But, it seemed that they weren’t looking for answers. “Well, either way,” he continued, “you’re lucky we found ya out there.”
“Mhm,” Laura chimed in. “You were nothin’ more than a hop ‘n a skip away from meeting the big old man in the sky,” she said, pointing upwards with a grin.
I swallowed, leaning my head back on the headrest. The pain in my leg was still unbearable, and when I searched for my wolf’s presence, it was nothing more than a flicker. She must have used
up any strength she had left to help me fight off James.
“Thanks,” I said quietly, then peered out the window. It was just barely morning; the sun still hadn’t come up yet, but it was bright enough to see everything through the slight tinge of blue. “Where are we?”
Dan sighed, then looked around. “Just a few miles north of town,” he said. ” We’re headin’ out that way where there ain’t any of them… What are we callin’ em, honey?”
“Prowlers,” Laura said proudly. Then, whispering: “I came up with that one myself.”
I couldn’t help but smile a little bit at the older couple’s good humor, but at the same time, I knew I needed to get home. I couldn’t leave town, not with my friends still there.
“Anyhoo,” Dan continued, “I heard there’s a safe zone just a little ways further north. This… disease, or Iner petats (ps tome er
whatever it is, spreads like wildfire. Just before the news stations went out, I saw that all of the towns in the nearest fifty mile radius are crawlin’ with the Prowlers. I dunno if the rest of the world even knows, if I’m bein’ honest. We’ve always been sorta remote out here, and well… You know how the folks ’round here are. They rather take things into their own hands.”
“Help is on the way,” I replied. “I can tell you that much.”
Laura and Dan’s eyebrows raised, but they said nothing. There was a bit of a silence before Laura spoke.
“You’re coming with us, right, honey?” she asked. “You don’t wanna go back there.”
Her eyes were pleading and full of worry, but I shook my head. “I can’t. I have to go back for my friends.”
Dan and Laura exchanged glances.
Hon’, I’m afraid your friends are probably beyond the point of help,” Dan said. “You were the first uninfected human we saw in days.”
I shook my head again. “No. There’s an antidote.”
“And what do you think a single little girl like yourself is gonna do?” Laura asked, sounding a bit flabbergasted now. “Cure everyone in town?” 1 swallowed; I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I only cared about my friends, and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Dan, seeing this, finally nodded slowly and let out another sigh.
“Well,” he said, “we can take you back to town if you really want. It’s your decision. But with that leg…”
“I’ll be fine,” I said. “Thank you.”
Laura opened her mouth to speak, but shut it again and turned around in her seat. Dan nodded once more and shut the door, then came around and got back into the driver’s seat. No one spoke as he pulled away from the side of the road, then swung the truck back around in the direction of the town.
We were close enough to town, so it didn’t take long before Dan stopped the truck right on the outskirts. I got out first, limping on my injured leg despite Laura’s protests, and grabbed my backpack out of the back of the truck.
“You sure about this?” Dan asked.
I nodded solemnly. “Thank you for everything,” I said, “but I do need to go back.”
Laura sighed and put her hands on her hips. “Well… Good luck,” she said quietly.
“Here,” Dan said, reaching into the back of the truck and retrieving a double-barreled shotgun. “Can you shoot?”
“It’s okay, I don’t-”
“I said, can you shoot?”
I nodded. Dan shoved the gun into my
hands, then gave me a box of bullets.
Silver ones. I recognized the box as the same one from the gun shop that the woman gave me before.
“You use those if you need to,” Dan said. “Pump, shoot, then run. Don’t bother lookin’ to see if it’s dead or not. And if you come across a human who’s not all there, like the one I’m assumin’ shot you last night… Aim for the chest. The bullets have a good spray to ’em, so you don’t have to be too accurate.”
I nodded solemnly, my hands shaking as I gripped the gun tightly. “Thank you,” I said quietly.
Dan only gave me a single, grim nod before they both walked back over to the truck and opened their doors.
“Keep an eye on that leg,” Laura said “Keep an eye on that leg,” Laura said over her shoulder. “If the Prowlers don’t kill you first, the infection’ll kill you for sure.
“I’ll keep an eye on it.”
With that, Laura and Dan soberly got into their truck. I watched as they drove off, watching the truck fade into the distance, before I took a deep breath and turned back toward the town.
As I limped toward my destination, I only had one goal in mind: I had to find the antidote and save my friends.