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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 36

Morgan looked at Ally, riding slightly behind him, her face expressionless as she looked forward. He'd found the horse running in a field still saddled a few hours after leaving the house and had helped Ally calm the animal down. She was a fairly good rider, having been around horses most of her life, but she was still ginger from the beatings she had taken. Each mile they traveled though seemed to ease her more into the saddle though and Morgan took that for a good sign.

 He'd considered camping at the old farmhouse, but with what little light the darkened sun was giving off, he thought it best to make towards Desperation while he could still see. Desperation sounded like the best option at this point. It was the closest populated town with any kind of protection. The core of the town had been built around an abandoned Army fort that had doubled as a shipping and supply depot. It was there Morgan was most likely to get some answers, and maybe be able to leave Ally with people who could look after her. People better suited than him.

They stuck to the main road, following the trail as it lead to Desperation. Occasionally Morgan would stop them and dismount, scanning the ground for tracks. He'd been seeing signs of travel, recent travel even, but he didn't trust the signs. It'd been too long since he'd used them, to long since he'd had to be the kind of man he'd tried to forget. Still, this was a pretty heavily traveled road and that could explain a lot of the tracks he'd seen. But one man had recently come down this road, he was pretty certain of that.

It was at the crossroads he finally got confirmation that they weren't the only ones traveling this road today. He'd scouted up-road, away from the trail to Desperation, Ally never far from his side, and he'd seen the carnage on the road. Bodies, the undead kind, shot, and recently. Also the lone tracks had stopped, running across the path of a stage with riders, two at least. They were ahead of him, he was sure, by a few hours at least, but they were getting closer. He wasn't sure what he felt about running into strangers on the open road. More men meant more guns, and with these damnable monsters running around that could be a good thing. But his mind kept going back to that shed at the farmhouse. That poor woman, assaulted and killed. About the things he had told Ally.

"It's not just those god damn monsters out there. Regular folk are just as bad as they are."

He closed his eyes, trying to force down the images that ran through his mind. The things he'd seen the last time he'd worn this uniform. The things he'd seen since he'd taken it off.  Damn right regular folks were just as bad. He'd proven that time and time again on his own.

They'd long since doubled back and made good time down the trail. Morgan hadn't seen any of the creatures, walking at least, since before the farmhouse. Still the sun was getting low in the west and the dim brightness was beginning to ebb. He reckoned that Desperation lay a good 10 miles down the road. It was better to keep moving than risk camping this far out in the open. He told Ally as much an she just nodded, her face still an expressionless mask.She hadn't spoke much since the incident at the shed. Morgan could only hope that was a good thing.

He heard the gunfire as the last dregs of black daylight clung to the sky. It was off the road, maybe a quarter mile through the sparse brush towards the shoreline of the river. Those instincts he had doubted earlier kicked in, as he spurred the horse through the underbrush, heeding Ally behind him. He'd kept the river to his left, trusting the road to be a faster, if not necessarily safer way to get to Desperation. Besides with what Ally had told him from her experiences on the river earlier, he preferred to have options if it came to retreating.

Six shots had rung out, pistol fire by his experience. Either the shooter was dead, or he'd emptied his gun based on the staggered firing of the shots. He loosed quickly, one hand on the reins as he lessened the rifle from the scabbard on his saddle bag. He glanced back to Ally, whose grim expression was starting to crack as they neared the source of the gun play.

"Time to steel yourself girl. Trust me to watch your back. I'm trustin' ya with mine."

She gave a small little smile and tried to look tough. He wished he didn't have to put her in harms way, but the whole damn world was harms way now. Either she faced what was out there, or joined it. Better here, better now to just get on with the whole damn mess. No sense in denying that the world had gone to the fucking  bastards. At least Ally had one of those bastards on her side.

Morgan's horse burst through the underbrush and he pulled the rifle up, drawing a bead with his eye. Only one man stood at the edge of the shore. The ground was littered with the dead, both the sad and forgotten kind, and the fresh hell of the recently risen. A solitary figure stood by the carnage, splattered with the blood of the pure dead, and the black ichor of the fallen. The smoke wafted from his pistol as he looked up to Morgan with haunted eyes. Morgan heard Ally rein in behind him as he lowered the rifle from his shoulder.

"Howdy Padre."

End of Line.

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