There, I’m done with that. I toss my new journal to the side as I flop down on my bed.
My room is bare except for the small bed, the set of drawers, and the small bookshelf that stands next to my bed. I don’t have much, not that I need much. It is just my brother and I after all.
He has taken care of me ever since we lost our parents to the diseased. It’s why I joined the defenders in the first place.
I will defend the people that I have left in my life even if I put myself at risk doing it.
I roll over and pull the thin blanket up over me. I will myself to sleep and as always it works. When I wake I wake before the sun rises. As always.
Despite my short time being part of the defenders I have already become accustomed to the early mornings and late nights. It’s my life even if some days it seems slow and boring.
I’m doing my part to keep the people in this city alive. For all we know we might be the last people alive. We haven’t met another civilization in the time that I have been living here.
I dress quickly and head out to meet up with the other defenders. Today we are going beyond the city limits.
Typically, we never run into trouble in the area that surrounds us, it’s just the area beyond that that holds the diseased. They usually stay a good few miles away from our city limits.
Our rounds today will make sure that the diseased aren’t getting any closer.
Since the first day that I joined I have gone on my rounds with Zach. He is ten years older than me and has been teaching me the ropes since the beginning. Today isn’t any different.
When everyone disbands to go out and scan their designated sectors we head out to ours. Just like any other day.
My brother, Alistair - who is five years older than me - claps me on the back as he passes us with his partner, Mike.
“Remember, in the off chance that you end up in trouble we are just a horn blow away.” I smile, as always. He is always looking out for my safety even if he is not around.
He has taken care of me since our parents were killed and he still does even though I am almost an adult now. Though, I don’t mind it.
The defenders dispatch off to their different areas and I follow close behind Zach as we move off to our area.
The city line disappears behind us as we move into the open fields to the west of the city.
I don’t expect anything to happen today, but still I have the gun that I was issued when I joined held tightly in my hand. As always I am on my toes and searching for any possible danger.
We are across the field and in the cover of the trees quickly. As soon as we are here I have this funny feeling that something is watching us.
We are barely even a mile out, so there shouldn’t be any of the diseased out here and no one should be in our sector. At least I don’t think so.
We keep moving and I can see that Zach can feel the same thing that I am. Something is watching us. I see him turn slightly, looking over his shoulder and off somewhere behind me.
The hair on the back of my neck starts to prickle when he does. “Get down!”
I drop as soon as I hear him shout the command. Without even looking I know what is going on and why there is fear in his voice - something I have never heard before.
As soon as I hit the ground I hear a shot ring out above me, followed closely by more. The diseased are here with us. Rolling off to the side I jump to my feet and spin around quickly.
They have been following us, getting smarter than when we last saw a group of the diseased.
There must be at least a dozen and I have a feeling there are more that I can’t see, because every time Zach drops one another appears in its place.
“Tayra! Call your brother!” Zach shouts as we both take down another half dozen of the diseased. They look similar to the people that they once were, but now their skin is gray and flaking off.
Pimples cover their faces in angry red dots and saliva is basically running free out of their partially closed mouths. What once were fingernails are now basically sharp claws.
Their approach is jerky, and uncoordinated, yet they still seem to be closing in on us despite our best efforts.
I unload another round into the diseased as I back up. With one hand I hold my pistol, and with the other I reach for the horn that I always have clipped near my shoulder.
Pressing the horn to my lips I let out a long blow that rings through the trees around us. I only hope that Alistair can actually hear it.
Pulling the horn away from my mouth I fire off another volley of shots, taking down more diseased than I have seen in my seventeen years of life, yet there are still more.
They keep coming, despite the carnage we have already created. There are too many of them.
Then I hear a sickening sound that I never wanted to ever hear. My gun clicks once and does not fire. I pull the trigger again and I get the same response. I’m out of ammo.
The diseased seem to know what the sound means because it seems as though they start moving a little faster. Zach still has a few rounds left, but I know that they will not last forever.
I swing my useless gun as one of them gets too close to me. It grabs my wrist as I try to back away. Three others join it. A sharp pain sears though my lower arm as I pull my wrist away.
It’s just a scratch, but I don’t look at it as I see one of them fall, leaving an open space for me to escape through.
Zach pulls me back towards a thick trunked tree as he fires off another shot. He only has three more left in the chamber.
“I promised your brother that I would keep you safe and that is exactly what I am going to do.
” I barely have time to register his words before he grabs me around the waist and tosses me up into the branches of the tree that we are under.
Being light for my age helps him to get me far enough up to grab ahold of a branch that can hold me.
He drops one more of the diseased before he tries to jump up towards the branch that I am on.
I catch his wrist and try to pull him up to safety, but I find that there is more resistance than at first. One of the diseased have Zach by the ankle. They are getting smarter. Too smart.
They have never done this before, which makes it all the more disturbing as I try to pull my friend as well as mentor up to safety.
I hear him grunt in pain as he uses his free hand to shoot the one that has a hold on him. As always another takes its place and the remaining bullets in his chamber are quickly emptied.
He tosses the empty gun at one of the diseased that have swarmed around the base of our tree. It bounces off one of their heads and dazes it for a moment.
I manage to pull him up a little farther so that he is holding onto the branch when we both hear rapid gun fire from beyond the trees that we can see from our branch.
The diseased drop like flies as the rapid gun fire continues. Only when it is deathly silent around us do I accidentally lose my grip on the branch and we both free fall to the hard ground.
We both land with an undignified grunt and I land on top of Zach, which makes the landing a little worse for him. Moments later I am pulled upright and squashed in an embrace.
“Thank goodness you are alright. I didn’t know what to expect when we found that group of diseased that had you surrounded.
Are you okay? Were you hurt?” Alistair says, his words jumbled together as he talks fast, the adrenaline still clearly in his veins.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. Just a little scratch. Zach is in worse shape than me. We should worry about him first.” I say. I look down at Zach who is getting tended to by Mike.
His ankle doesn’t look good. The thing that had him by the ankle tore it up pretty good. Thankfully he wasn’t bit.
I’m not sure what I would do if he had been bit and I survived because he died saving me. I don’t want to think about how I would feel if I lost another person who I am close to.
I have known Zach since I was ten, ever since my brother and I found our way to this last city that is still inhabited by humans and not over run by the diseased.
Alistair hands me a small first aid kit that he always carries with him and then kneels down next to Zach who is now propped up against the tree that we had taken refuge in.
Taking the special disinfectant out of the first aid kit I pour some of it onto my wrist, but I don’t look at the scratch that that diseased thing gave me.
I don’t want to think about how close we came to becoming one of those things today. It stings like heck, but it is not the worst thing that I have ever felt in my short life.
This is mild compared to what could have happened.
I quickly wrap my wrist up in gauze without looking at it at all as Mike and Alistair both stand with Zach propped up in-between the two of them.
Pulling my sleeve farther down across the gauze, I follow them. His foot is completely wrapped up in gauze now to help stop the bleeding. The trip back to the city is slower than the trip out.
Zach’s ankle is in no shape for walking and when we get him to the hospital we are told that we are luck that my brother and Mike arrived when they did.
I’m not sure what I would do if I had watched one of my friends die and I survived. It’s something I hope never happens.