The smell of cooking meat filled my nostrils, and not in a good way. We were nearing a town and columns of smoke rose up in several places around the outskirts. Obviously the workings of a band of Living. We were very wary of this and tried to see if there was a way around it on the map.
Seemed the town was up against a wide river on one side, the nearest bridge, other than inside the town, was a good 50 to 60 miles back the way we had come, and to skirt around the other side of the town would take us 3 or 4 days off track. We decided (and it is “we” in these decisions – Adam has as much say as I do, though he rarely makes a decision until I say which one I want, and, come to think of it, has never said anything other than repeating back to me exactly what I say – I’ll have to have a talk to him about making his own decisions one day) to risk going straight through.
We were very cautious, and took our time. We were only 2 streets in when a voice from seemingly nowhere boomed out at us that we had gone far enough.
Now this is why I hate the Living. At least with the Dead you know what they want – pretty much just to eat your face off. With the Living, you just can;t trust them not to take everything useful off you and either throw you back out of town again or shoot you on the spot. I feared most for Adam really. Me, I couldn’t care less. I’ve seen enough and been through enough that if it ended this minute I wouldn’t be too fussed, as long as I knew Adam was going to be safe and I wouldn’t turn into a mindless flesh eater.
So we stopped still. I put my hands up, and Adam just turned in circles looking bewildered and trying to see where the voice came from.
It was then that we saw the barbed wire barricades up ahead. An iron gate in the fortifications opened up and two armed guys came through. They had full police riot gear on, including helmets with clear visors, padded and armoured vests and all decked out in black. Scary stuff, but I couldn’t help but think what a clever idea that was to protect you from slovs. I’d have to note that if we got away alive to see if I could hook Adam and I up with some more protective clothing than the rags we stood up in.
So these guys come out and are more interested in looking all over us for bites and scratches than actually talking and telling us what their intentions are.
They eventually lead us through the iron gate and into the compound. Well, I say compound, but really it’s a small walled-off town within the city. There are people roaming freely in the streets and what struck me immediately was how clean everything was. The streets of any town these days are littered with cars, rubbish, desiccated corpses (some moving and others not) and paper. Paper everywhere. For a supposedly paperless society, the paper blowing through the streets would make up a sizeable chunk of rainforest in its original form.
Anyway, back to the main crux.
So once they were happy we were safe, they lead us inside the compound. “Sanctuary” is what they call it. A bit of a lame name, but there you go. They offered us food (in the form of a can of peaches), a cold shower, medical help for the various bumps and bruises we both carried, and a bed with a roof over our heads. All they needed in return was our promise we’d abide by their rules and not rock the boat in their happy community.
It’s “lights out” time so I need to stop writing for now. More soon…