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Last Girls, Chapter Thirteen


  12:17:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 860 words  
Categories: Last Girls

Last Girls, Chapter Thirteen

?I'm kind of wishing we brought more rope right now,? Kelly said, tightening the length of it tying Angel to a tree.
?And I'm wishing we stayed home,? Betsy said. ?And that this-? She pulled the wolf's head up by his scruff, ?wasn't my boyfriend.?
?Is anybody else freaking out?? Lark asked, shivering in the cold.
?We know,? Denny said, rubbing her shoulder, ?you're still an amazing quarterback, even if you didn't get to play for a college team.?
?No, dick. That's not what I-?
?I am a little freaked that there's most of a cowboy sizzling in our firepit,? Kelly said, shaking, ?and a little extra perturbed that it kind of smells good.?
?I'm going to get you some jerky from the bags before you start gnawing like a zombie,? Alan said, and ran towards where their food was still dangling from a tree branch.
?He was dead, right?? Kelly asked, her words clipped and an octave higher than normal. ?That wasn't my eyes, or something somebody slipped in my beer or food or anything??
?Nobody dosed your food,? Betsy said soothingly.
?And having seen more than my share of wounds and injuries, no,? Alan said, ?that was not healthy tissue. I mean, I don't think I know exactly what a zombie would look like, but I saw someone with gangrene so bad they eventually cut off his leg. His flesh looked like that, all over his body. Yet another reason why I wouldn't take a bite.? He handed a strip of jerky to Kelly.
?How the fuck are the rest of you so fucking calm?? Lark yelled.
?Shock,? Alan said abruptly. ?Everybody freaks out differently. Bets gets even more focused and determined. Denny becomes a dick.?
?Fuck you.?
?See? Kelly babbles. You get quiet. I'm rambling and caretaking and-? He stopped and took a long, quavering breath, ?trying to remember to breathe.?
?We were attacked,? Betsy said.
?It's worse than that, I think,? Lark said. ?What happened. It wasn't random. These weren't just monsters. That wolf... it was like my greatest anxieties all tossed together in a big ball of furry limb-rending murder.?
?Your biggest concern is turning into a werewolf?? Denny asked.
?No,? she said, unconsciously touching her throwing arm- the same arm Angel was missing. ?I'm terrified of losing who I am. My... okay, prowess sounds douchey...?
?I'm not sure it sounds any better to say that you're freaked out over becoming disabled.?
?But that cowboy... he struck Angel's nerve. I mean, if he hadn't lost his arm fighting my wolf, the gunslinger was designed to unman him. Taller, beefier, manlier. I'm not... no aspersions are being cast, Bets, but Angel's always overcompensated. I'm not even saying he has anything to compensate for, just that there's never been a question of manliness that he didn't step emphatically to. He hated football, but he played with us every year, even tried out in college with us- and was miserable when I got cut before him. But that cowboy... if you were to design a perfect mousetrap to shake Angel to his core, I can't imagine a better Rube-Goldberg device.?
?That's crazy,? Betsy said. ?No offense,? she added, turning to Denny.
?What?? he asked.
?You know what I meant. It's not rational to suddenly believe that there are tailor-made monsters hunting us through a forest.?
?Is it rational at all, though?? Lark asked. ?There are definitely monsters. Is it suddenly too large a leap that for whatever reason they aren't hunting us at random? That there's something in us, each of us, calling out to whatever the hell they are.?
?Can we go back a sec, to why I'm crazy,? Denny said.
?Alan told us you used to cut,? Kelly said.
?Sorry, man,? Alan said. ?It kind of freaked me out. I didn't know what else to do; I had to talk to someone about it.?
?Fuck you,? Denny said, and started to stomp away, but he stopped. ?No, actually, fuck all of you. If you were concerned, you could have- should have had the decency to say something, rather than just treat me-? He stopped, and screamed, punching the nearest tree. He started off again, disappearing beyond the campfire's ring of illumination.
?Wait!? Alan yelled. ?We should stay...? he trailed off. He couldn't quite place the sound, or rather, he could place it, but didn't understand it, since he wasn't listening to someone's chest through a scope. It was a heartbeat, loud, like the pounding of dance music through a wall.
The sound seemed to ricochet off the trees. ?We shouldn't split up,? Alan said.
?Need to find the gun,? Denny said. He was somewhere in the shade cast by the trees, his voice muffled by the rhythmic and growing thump that seemed to surround them.
Alan didn't want to be away from the relative safety of the light any longer than they had to be, and turned back towards camp. ?Let me get a-? He stopped, when he ran into a tree.
No, not a tree. The thumping was coming from it, too tall to be a man, and too wide, but still it stepped forward.

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Nicolas Wilson is a writer and journalist. An archive featuring hundreds of short stories, comics and essays can be found here.


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