Deborah gulped the last bit of blood she could draw. She had shot Tate in the forehead, but the bullet had caught the top of his left eye socket. Respectfully closing his eyes would’ve been an ordeal. Examining his body hanging upside down from the rear of the trailer, Deborah decided she hadn’t given Tate much respect to begin with.
The woman sighed at Tate’s pale corpse. With all the blood she had taken, Deborah was surprised that her old and fresh bullet wounds still burned like hell. Her left shoulder and forearm had been tagged by silver bullets. Another round had scraped along her right ass cheek and back of her thigh. Sniping from a lying position had made Deborah more difficult to hit, but when she did catch a round, it left a definite mark.
One of the other dead vamps on the ground around her had been lucky enough to catch Deborah in the chest, just above her heart. She wasn’t sure what kind of bulletproof material the vests were made of, but Deborah was impressed. Her black shirt and pants were also resistant to knives and teeth, but the bullets seemed to go through just fine.
Deborah was also grateful for the first aid kit she had found. Extracting the fresh bullets with tweezers was much less painful and much more efficient. She licked Tate’s blood from her knife and hand. Thinking back to the first time they met, Deborah decided to push him back into the trailer instead of toss him on the ground.
You were going to kill me out of mercy for being a vamp. I thought you were cute; you said I was cute, for a vamper. Deborah stepped into the trailer and looked around. She found a survival kit and took out a cloth blanket. Stepping on one end of the sheet, she started cutting it with a fresh knife. It seemed appropriate to cover him up, even if he was the one that had probably put a gun in Linda’s mouth and pulled the trigger.
Deborah covered Linda in the same fashion beside Tate. As hungry as she was, Deborah couldn’t make herself drink from Linda. There was a lot more history and mutual respect for the woman that brought Deborah to Anthill, but she couldn’t deny how Tate had helped her.
Tate had given Deborah a mission at a point where all she had wanted was to shove a shotgun in her mouth. James had given her the support he could, but Deborah had always been better at taking action than talking about her feelings. Hunting down Tate and his tribe was a job that Deborah had hoped would get her killed. Somewhere along the way, Deborah had realized that being a vamp wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
She looked down at Tate with a nod. “Thanks.”
Deborah checked the pulse of Jake and Tess on the same bench. Still weak. She had already searched the first aid kit and the cabinets under the benches. There was nothing she could do but hope they woke up soon. Should probably move them away from the corpses.
The woman wasn’t known for her strength, but Deborah was just strong enough to lift the athletic build of Tess in both arms. Gently sliding Tess’ body to the floor wasn’t difficult, but dragging her off of the trailer had Deborah planning logistics. Oh yeah!
Deborah searched the rear of the trailer until she found a switch. She had barely remembered that the blue eyed vamps had walked her off of the last truck by lowering a ramp. That’ll help. Deborah walked Tess to the edge of the ramp and around to the passenger side of the truck. Her body trembled, but Deborah had enough muscle to lift Tess up the two steps into the cab. She walked around to the driver side, and lifted Tess onto the actual seat. Moving them shouldn’t hurt, should it?
Glad she wasn’t panting for breath, Deborah repeated the process with Jake. He was an average sized man in his early thirties, with a small bit of flab around his waist. Jake had been skipping runs over the last few years to work closer to home, and a desk. Deborah smirked, Broke the routine to come save me, huh?
Dragging Jake wasn’t much more difficult than Tess, but Deborah’s frame wasn’t naturally strong enough to lift him around for long. Eventually, Deborah found a way to roll the man off of the side of the ramp so that she could carry him over both of her shoulders.
Dispersing his weight had helped, but the stride in her footsteps were noticeably shorter. As she approached the open cab door, Deborah only hoped she could make it up the steps. Come on. Just two steps. Two dammit.
Shaky steps upward were just enough for Deborah to slide Jake’s head onto the floor. She slid him as best she could until at least his ass cheeks were past the door’s threshold. Deborah ducked under his legs, anxiously watching to see if his unconscious body would slide back out.
He seemed fine, but Deborah decided not to walk around the truck. She carefully stepped around his body, using her arms to steady herself through the cramped space. Close enough to the other side, Deborah had enough room to drag Jake until only his knees dangled over the edge.
Deborah stood on the first step hanging below the driver’s side door. “Stay with me.”
The woman’s attention drifted to the vamp corpses. Deborah jumped down and walked to the first vamp corpse. Its dead eyes stared past Deborah to the abyss of pitch blackness. Deborah had only ever heard of the blue eyed monsters as bedtime stories for small children in Anthill.
She didn’t know how much time she had until reinforcements arrived. Better be quick then. Deborah grabbed the shoulder straps of the vamp’s vest, and dragged it around the ramp, then past Tate and Linda’s corpses. One.
Deborah dragged the other five corpses via the same process. Then she jumped back out of the trailer, regathered her weapons and gear, and locked down the trailer’s ramp and door. If I make it back home, they need to know what’s out here.
James’ harpoon gun was still partially impaled through one of the blue eyed vamps. Removing it had proven difficult since she hadn’t figured out the pneumatic power source or correct switchboard sequence to retract the barbs. He had tried to give Deborah a quick lesson, but she felt lucky she had figured out how to shoot and coil the cable. Thanks James.
Other than the harpoon in the trailer, Deborah was satisfied with the small armory she had gathered. A shotgun and two pistols were stashed in the truck’s dash. Two more pistols were tucked in Deborah’s belt, and an assault rifle was slung over her shoulder.
Deborah carefully unloaded the remaining rifles and pistols. She laid them on a second cotton blanket she had found under the truck’s driver seat and rolled them together. To tie it securely, Deborah slid two tactical vests on either end and tightened them as best as she could.
Hefting the makeshift knapsack over her shoulder, Deborah managed to walk up to the driver seat without much effort. A lot easier than two bodies. She stuffed the bag of guns along the dash and examined Jake and Tess. With a little rearranging, Tess sat upright on the far passenger side. More effort with Jake got him onto the middle section of seating.
Deborah felt fortunate that the cab had one shared bench seat instead of two separate seats with a separating console. There was just enough space for Deborah to set the guns at the feet of both Tess and Jake. She reached over her friends to close and lock the passenger door, now that Jake’s feet weren’t dangling out.
Reaching for the driver door, Deborah looked at the ground around her side of the truck. If there was anything else to gather, Deborah couldn’t see it. She just couldn’t ignore the feeling that she was missing something. Her eyes drifted to the stars.
The woman wondered why Neal hadn’t sent another drone with an electromagnetic pulse. That would be the only thing that could really piss me off right now. Deciding it was time to move on, Deborah found Polaris, and started the truck.
Deborah and Megan had agreed that when they had been taken away from the oasis, the trucks seemed to have had a west or northwestern heading. Shifting forward, Deborah felt like this truck didn’t handle two differently than the one she had stolen with Megan. I miss my little buggy.
It took Deborah just a few minutes of slow and steady driving to find the warped rear end of the first truck and trailer. The yellow Humvee was no more than a charred frame surrounded by blackened sand. Straining her eyes, Deborah followed the tracks from James’ new truck. I wonder if Jake knows his truck was blown up.
Turning the steering wheel twice as wide as Deborah’s own waist, she trailed behind James’ heading. She then tuned the radio to ninety-two point five and grabbed the handle, “You out there Repair Man? Over.”
Only static answered.
Deborah glanced over to her passengers. They looked like they were sleeping peacefully, gently rocking with the slight bumps from the tiny dunes. She reached up to her mouth and tried to wipe away any of Tate’s blood that may have dried. How the fuck are they going to look at me?
When she had left James to hunt the Red Bone tribe, Deborah had known that returning home would get her, or someone she cared about, hurt. Almost draining James in the tank had been the most terrifying moment she had ever shared with him. Her body had told her that he was just a blood bag to bite in to. Leaving him then was the best call she could have made.
Deborah knew how to control her hunger now. She stared at the tire tracks ahead. I’ve been killing and drinking nothing but raiders and jailers for weeks now. If I make it home, I won’t be lucky enough to have a constant flow of human enemies.
How am I supposed to ask someone to let me feed on them? James might let me, but that’s fucking James. I’ll be surprised if he says ‘Hello’ to me after all this. Deborah’s thoughts drifted to Tsara; how she died searching for her. James watched her die… for me.
Deborah shook her head. Megan? How often will she let me feed? How often do I need to feed? She thought back to the prison cell she had been trapped in for about two days straight. I couldn’t wait to eat… Was that just because of the UV lights? Maybe I could live on a mouthful a week? Fuck.
James, Jake and Tess were the only surviving members that had volunteered to find Deborah. A dizzying wave hit Deborah. How many friends do I have left? Deborah banged her head off of her head rest. She thought about the best case scenario of not losing anyone else on the way back to Anthill.
‘Hey guys, thanks for risking your lives for me. I know we lost a lot of our best friends to get me back here, but would you mind if I shit on their memory by continuing to live as a fucking vamp? No? You don’t mind? Great! Can I leech off of your veins for the rest of your lives so I don’t lose my fucking mind and go on a killing spree someday?’
Deborah forced her lungs to inhale for the simple sake of sighing. Get my people home. Simple, short term goals had always helped Deborah get her head on straight. Forgetting about problems she couldn’t fix seemed to help her feel more confident about the problems she could fix.
Get my people home. Die later.