Title: And monsters see me
Sequel to: I see monsters (found here: 1 2 3.1 3.2 4 5 6)
Summary: It’s the End of the World as they know it. Again!
Rating: Adult; NC-17 for eventual Adult themes.
Genre: Apocalyptic/Plague/End of the world scenario
Warning: Character death everywhere!
And monsters see me
House was finally asleep. She knew because he’d stopped shivering, and each exhalation was a regular, tapered sigh. Cameron needed to leave before he woke again. She didn’t want to move from her warm spot beneath the blankets, but she couldn’t wait another day. She didn’t want to leave House alone, but something needed to be done about their situation. A few days earlier Cameron had been watching House trying to shoot a rabbit in a nearby field. Shivering in the snow for hours and returning angry and unsuccessful. For some reason the sight of him out there had reminded her of an old college friend, Henry...something. She couldn’t remember his last name. Henry something had been a keen sailor. Whenever Henry sailed open water, he had lived by a strict code: if the crew encountered poor weather conditions and a problem occurred, the person most capable of dealing with the problem, be that physically or mentally, had to deal with it. It didn’t matter if that happened to be the Captain or the last in command.
It was obvious to Cameron then that she was the most physically capable of walking to the next town to gather some food supplies.
Outside the sun was lifting, somewhere. It was absolutely white in every direction and the snow was coming down fast and heavy.
Cameron shifted gently forward; the rickety double bed creaked with every subtle movement. She lifted House’s hand and freed herself from his weak hug, glancing over her shoulder when she was clear of him. He didn’t stir.
He’d started talking to himself again. It usually happened on one of the longer, colder nights, after he’d spent all day outside in the cold, trying to shoot something to eat. Very occasionally it happened when he’d indulged in too many opiates, or had hit his Whiskey stash far too hard. He’d collected the drugs and the booze before they’d dug in for the winter. The farmhouse had come with a flatbed truck and a good stock of gasoline. They’d scoured their immediate area for supplies in the run up to winter, and had stocked up before the cold had really set in. Now the roads were too deep with snow for the truck, and the bike wouldn’t run at all. They’d completely miscalculated on the stores; a simple mistake to make. This was, after all, their first winter surviving an apocalypse. House had taken it hard. It had been his idea to stay here for the winter and even though he hadn’t verbalised it, she knew he blamed himself for the mistake that was causing them to starve.
House rolled onto his back and sighed loudly. He began rubbing his head slowly from side to side on his pillow. It was something she’d noticed he did in his sleep often. She watched him for a moment, making sure he wasn’t waking. Even in sleep House looked disgruntled.
They stayed fully clothed during the nights now. She carefully reached down for her walking boots, the ones she’d taken from a Jersey Mall months ago. She laced her feet into them, barely taking her eyes from House, and then got off the bed, with the strained tension of a cat burglar stiffening her posture. She pulled on a thick woollen sweater, adding to the one that she was already wearing and then slipped into her padded, green slicker. She lifted her brown, woolly hat from the oak dresser opposite the bed, and pulled it down over her ears. Finally she took her scarf from where she’d left it hanging on the bedroom door.
When she was suitably dressed for a long walk in the snow, she went back to the dresser and looked at the gun - her gun. The Walther House had tried to give her on numerous occasions. She checked the safety like he’d shown her and then aimed it at the wall, closing one eye. She weighed it in her right hand. It was light. She placed it the pocket of her slicker. Sadly, there were certain fundamental truths to her new reality that she couldn’t avoid, however much she would have liked to. The laws of America that had once protected them were history, as relevant to them now as Ancient Rome or some forgotten necropolis in Greece. She couldn’t take the risk of travelling alone without some protection. If there were people in the next town – something she did not expect – she would try and give them the benefit of the doubt. But she was not a fool.
Their small farmhouse was on the North Road coming out of Shelburne. She knew they were only about five miles away from Gorham, which sat on the North-Eastern edge of the White Mountain National Forest. She figured if she could keep up a regular pace she could get to Gorham and be back before nightfall. A knapsack full of tinned food would see them through the worst of the snow and then they would need to move on.
If House wouldn’t face the truth she’d face it for them both.
She twisted the cylinder of an old red lipstick she’d found in the dresser and scrawled a note to House on the mirror:
Gone to Gorham to look for food. Had to. Back soon. Keep trying the lake.
I’ve taken the Walther.
She took one step back and looked at the message. It looked alarming, but his behaviour was beginning to alarm her. The world was one empty, silent graveyard. The world was still. Not a single person had passed along the main road since they’d been at the farmhouse. She had to believe there was nothing out there that could harm her.
House was sitting on the bedroom floor with the blankets pulled around his shoulders looking at her message. He sat there for a long time.
He wasn’t going after her.
He had no idea what time she had left. When he’d looked outside, the snow had been hailing down and had already covered her tracks. There was no point in both of them freezing to death. He’d never been one for empty gestures.
The hands of his watch crept toward midday. The wind rushed the house and made every single window rattle in its frame. Three and a half hours of light left – if that.
At Noon he went downstairs and ate a tin of tuna fish. He got a pathetic fire going in the living room and dragged the sofa up to the hearth.
The familiar voice spoke.
‘She’s still so naive, she’ll get herself killed. Look what happened last time.’
“Seventeen days later, he pipes up to bitch some more.”
‘Get up. Go. You have to.’
“I told her not to do it,” he muttered under his breath. “It’s her fault if she freezes to death.”
‘So you’d prefer to spend the rest of your life alone? Literally alone?’
“Nothing new there,” House grumbled, tossing the stick he’d been poking the fire with into the flames out of irritation.
‘Enough melodrama; snap out of this, it’s not helping. Get up, take the tent. Go now.’
"Wilson!" House turned, ready to tell him to shut up and act like all of the other dead people, but there was no one in the room.
House closed his eyes and forced out a deep breath. What if the next figment of his imagination had her voice and her bangs?
He got up. Limping slowly toward the back room, where the camping gear was stored.
The snow made it almost impossible to read the map. She’d been walking through the woods for about an hour. She was about to reach into her backpack for some water when there was a load crack behind her. It sounded like baby thunder. It echoed around the forest in every direction. She reached for the Walther in her pocket and spun around, aiming wildly, and her gloved trigger-finger fumbling to find the safety. There was nothing. Only the remains of House’s paranoia that had rubbed off on her; it was just an animal, or a tree branch falling to the floor. She stood frozen like that for several minutes. There was nothing out here that would harm her. She chanted it in her mind, over and over, until she could almost believe it. Then she placed the gun back in her pocket, pulled her hat down until it almost covered her eyes and marched on.