Page 18: Wild Card Part OneEdit
Matt grabbed for the radio in Eric's hand but Eric snatched it back, shouting into it as he pressed the recieving button as he spoke, "What the hell do you want, dammit?! Was it WORTH the life of the man you just took?!"
A tense, long beat passed as they all waited for a reply from the stranger across the airwave. Matthew's rage subsided and he stepped back, allowing time for an answer too pass. "Oh, excuse me," began the raspy voice, "were you finished? I didn't hear you say 'over', over." Eric leaned back into the speaker, "Is this some sort of GAME to you asshole? What do you want... over."
"Fuck this man, let's go hunt that bastard down!" exclaimed Matt. "No Matt," Eric replied, "We don't know how many there are and what they want. Let's play this out some first... flush them out!" The voice took another moment before responding, "We know how many of you there are inside there and we want everything you've got. That's an order! Over!"
Eric looked around the room. Anna was holding onto the hands of her mother and Heather, silently praying as they watch what their men will do next. Brooke continued to cry in the corner and Eric felt that whatever was going to happen next, would not be good for her or anyone else. Josh was posted at the door with his rifle as he awaited the next command while Matt stared down at the body of their fallen commrade. Enrico was looking outside of the window for any sign of the apparent bandits. Eric felt guilt in not avenging the death of one of their own, but something told him that these people were most certainly responsible for the fall of Enrico's family. In the apocalypse, there could be no greater coincidence. We draw these pricks out, Eric told himself, feeling more and more comfortable with the idea of killing living beings for survival, We draw them out. Have Josh posted by the window, or even Anna, someone they wouldn't expect.
"Let's talk about this face to face," began Eric, catching everyones ears around him, "how would you like to proceed? Over."
"You don't really have to keep saying over, we were just fucking with you." the voice returned, "We know when the walkie isn't recording." Anger burned within Matt, ready to go out and fight rather than play this stupid game with these assholes. "As for the request now," the voice continued, "we'll meet two of you. JUST two. The two that WE select will get into one of your vehicles and drive up the road some where my brother will meet you. Bring some of the supplies as a sign of good faith and leave 'em in back of the truck. You won't even have to leave the truck and we'll talk through a window from there."
At that moment, everyone looked to Eric for the next sign as to what would happen next. Eric thought out the options and the possible outcomes. Here they all were, eight of them left against possibly two or more armed and dangerous individuals wanting everything they had. They'd already lost one man unexpectedly and it seems as though that was enough. They would make their stand here.
In Eric's eyes, Matt saw the decision before he even stated it and silently began to nod in response. "No dice asshole," Eric said finally, "You want our shit, you come and get it. But be ready for a fight, because we're not giving you SHIT!"
The brave reply from the strangers made Chad uneasy. His little game for them to play was not going over so well and he was starting to believe that this was going to get very gruesome. "What now Chad?" asked Troy, his voice wavy with uncertainty. Chad thought long and hard as to his reply, before it finally hit him. "Come on Troy," he began, "Let's see if this little chica is related to the spics down there."
Troy lead his brother back to the camp, his stomach erupting with butterflies as he held on tightly to the handgun they had picked up off who they believed was the girl's father after their concealed spikes in the road caused the family to crash. The Harmon family had been a strong one, but those who had died in the crash were most certainly strong as well as each of them fought for their lives before being consumed by the rotten people. Only the young girl had survived because Brett told Chad he'd like to get to know her better.
As Chad and Troy reached the camp, Chad saw that Troy had retied the barbed wire around the young latina's waist to prevent her from reaching out if she had come to. Not that she could now even if she wanted too, given the extensive pain she had endured over the last two night. Chad kneeled beside her and looked into her face, sapped of the once warm and lively color it had before. He slapped her across the face once, causing her to stir some and slapped her again, this time drawing out a small sound from inside of her. She groaned once as Chad placed the speaker of the walkie into her mouth, depressing the button so that the survivors would most certainly be able to hear her pain.
She continued spewing random noises into the speaker, her pained yet still soft tone allowing the horrors of her experience to be broadcast. Chad removed the speaker from her mouth and brought to his, his nose picking up the scent of the young woman's breath which he had become no stranger to. "You hear that guys?" he spoke into the walkie talkie, "that's the sound of a precious little vixen we picked up on the road. Had a bunch of others with her but they got got, if you know what I mean. We were able to snag her just in time, but she hasn't been very talkative. None of you would know her name by chance, would you?"
"Consuela," spoke Enrico aloud. Maria ran to his side, holding onto him and trying to give him comfort. The man dropped to his knees, feeling overwhelmed with a mixture of pain and guilt over not being there with them.
The revelation lead Eric to change gears and he turned to the others. "That was Ceasar's daughter... what should we do?" he asked. Everyone looked down in fear as to what could possibly happen next, even Matt shaking his head at the chances that the poor young teenager had. "I'll go and get her," spoke Enrico, his voice shamed and searching for strength, "I wasn't there then, but I'm here now. You all should leave while you can, I won't blame you."
"Not happening," said Eric, his confidence almost overbearing, "I'm not going to let you take this on alone. What I was asking for was a plan, one that everyone can agree with."
As everyone began to think to themselves, Heather Dennis asked, "Ask them who they want to meet with."
Eric did as told and spoke into the walkie, "Who do you want to drive around the corner with me?" Brooke looked up to her brother, horrified at the proclamation. A moment passed before their reply came, "The deal was who we picked buddy, don't think we won't kill this little girl."
Eric paused, summoning the courage as he replied, "No way am I not going, you choose who comes with me. Now you'll kill the girl or you won't regardless, along with the rest of us. You might as well just humor me to get what you want."
Brooke began to plead, "Eric, please don't---" But she was halted by Eric's quick, hushed command, "Shut up Brooke!"
The reply came steadily, the voice now obviously irritated with the fact Eric had placed himself in the meeting but seemed contempt none the less, "Have it you're way bud... bring the one with the big ass, I think it's this one's sister."
Matt glanced over at Anna and began to shake his head. "No, FUCK that---" he started, but was unable to finish, Anna walking over to hush him with one delicate finger, her mother trying to hold her back, "No, Matthew, you listen... this may be this girls only chance. I won't let her die if I can help it. This is my choice, papi..."
Eric watched as Matt and Maria held onto Anna, crying and pleading to her not to go, but the young woman's mind had been set. Eric had always wondered why Matt liked to be called papi by Anna, given the meaning as one's father. He believed at first that it was because of the way she said it in her spicy, sexy accent but in the last few days that Eric had gotten to know her and her family's past, he knew it was because Matt was just as strong and couragous as her father used to be. That kind of bond was something Eric hoped he would get to know one day, but when and if it would ever happen now, would have to wait.
Eric looked to Enrico, still on the floor as slowly began to die from the guilt festering in his body, stronger than whatever cancer could have felt like all on its own. He lifted the walkie speaker to his mouth and replied to the demand, "You've got a deal. But she isn't related. We do, however, have her uncle with us. You should let him come with us too." He waited for the reply which came almost too fast, the bandit having obviously known the answer to this all along, "FUCK no!" he began, "Just you and the mamacita! Bring the body of you're buddy too, load him with the guns and toss him in the back of the truck. We got use of him too. Now, you have fifteen minutes and if we think it's been too long, on account we ain't got no watches, the girl gets it. That is ALL! OVER!"
Eric dropped the walkie talkie and glanced around the store, finally taking notice as to every detail as he had barely given a shit since they'd arrived. However, nothing seemed useful and it appeared as though they were going to be leaving it very soon, dead or alive.
Matt began loading up Davids body with the AR, his shotgun, the nine-millimeters and ammo, doing what he could to take his mind off of the scenario. Eric leaned over, tying his thirty-two onto David's belt buckle and Josh's rifle next to the AR and Mossberg on his back. "Keep two of the handguns," he said to Matt, "These backwoods idiots don't know just how much we got. The sight of the big guns should be distraction from a few of the handguns and---"
Eric stopped speaking as he and everyone else watched Enrico stand up and pace across the store into the bathroom with the M4 in his hands. Before Maria could try to stop him, he'd shut and locked the door in her face. Eric jumped up and ran to the door, stepping beside Maria and began to beat on it, demanding, "God dammit Enrico! We need the rifle!"
Several moments passed and Eric violently kicked the door, turning back to the others who now seemed even more fearful. "Hopefully," he expressed allowed, "these jackasses hadn't counted the guns anyway. I'm leaving Matt and Josh with the only other handguns, the rest of you... sit tight." Eric continued walking back to the front of the store as Brooke stepped into his path, looking up to him with horror in her steel-blue eyes. "Eric," she began to say, "I'm sorry about before, with Josh, I was--- I'd----"
"It's Okay," Eric replied, feeling his frustrations slipping aside to let his baby sister know just what she meant to him, "You were scared and confused, I don't blame you for that. We get through this, we'll talk it over but while I'm gone, just remember something... if things don't get better but keep getting worse, holding onto things from before will never help. Don't let trust misguide you, like it has for me."
After Eric hugged onto his sister briefly and began heading for the door, Matt stepped into his path and extended the nine-millimeter that he was to keep himself. "Take it man," he said, "I'm not letting you two drive into a death trap unarmed." Eric took it, thinking about the idea Matt was actually giving up his own guns for once and began to reply, until Matt continued, "I'll snag Josh's gun and we'll be fine here. Try to get Enrico to come out and prepare for whatever happens next if... well, you know... yeah..." as Matt's head dropped down, Eric placed his hand on his old friend's should and said, "Thanks man. I won't let anything happen to her, I swear it."
Matt and Josh approached David's body, one of them lifting the former mentor by his legs while the other lifted by his torso, the dead-weight along with the weight of the steel firearms making it nearly impossible. The group assumed that whoever was doing this would understand.
Once outside, Matt and Josh quickly carried the body across the pumps over to the Avalanche. Still loaded with supplies from the cabin, this truck would most certainly keep them busy enough while they tried formulating some kind of plot to save the girl. However, as bad as Josh felt for Enrico and his family, he just wanted the rest of their own group to come back and be safe.
Eric and Anna came from behind them, pacing to the drivers seat and passenger side as Matt and Josh loaded Dave's body on top of the supplies in the back. Eric climbed into the driver's seat as Anna turned back to look at Matt one more time. She blew him a gentle kiss as the truck's engine revved up, finally climbing into it. Matt and Josh stepped back, raising their hands in the air as the truck entered into the drive-gear and took off around the corner of the store into the shadows of the night.
"Oh fuck," said Josh, realizing something. "What is it dude?" Matt asked. Josh replied with a question, "Did they forget the walkie talkie? How are they gonna---" Matt interrupted him and said, "It doesn't matter man. Eric knows where to go." Frustrated, Matt kicked the gravel below their feet and then they heard it. From inside, Maria was crying and panicking, so Matt and Josh hurried back.
Back inside, Heather and Brooke were trying to console Maria who had become hysterical, speaking in broken latin as well as beginning to hyperventilate. "Maria," Matthew said, approaching his lovers mother, "there's nothing we could do... best thing we can do now is try to stop Enrico from doing something stupid and open the door."
"That's the thing Matthew," said Heather, finally having calmed Maria down some by consoling her within her own arms, "Enrico's GONE! We got the door open and---"
Before his mother could finish, Matt ran by them and headed for the bathroom which Enrico had just gone in moments earlier, Josh right behind him with the handgun ready. Upon reaching the door, Matt saw it had been opened, presumably having been unlocked from the inside after Enrico escaped the bathroom through an open window nearby.
Matt looked to Josh as a horrible realization came to cross them both. Josh ran to the window and looked out, unable to see the back lot of the store from how dark it was. The constant candle lighting from inside kept his eyes from adjusting very well, but from what Josh could see, Enrico had slipped away during the conflict.
"He out there?" asked Matt.
Josh leaned back inside, shaking his head as he replied, "Think he let us distract them while he made a break for it..."
Matt stepped away from the bathroom, slowly walking over to the windowed front door and waited for whatever was to happen next. The situation had already gone from bad to worse in the last two weeks, but now it wasn't the undead they had to fear, but the fact they had no clue what was going to happen next.
- End Of Page Eighteen. To Be Continued.