Today I found out that Sanctuary was anything but.
We were less than 5 miles from the town they had renamed Sanctuary after it had been re-claimed for the humans all that time ago by that ex-military guy. They put Adam and I up for a few nights – even gave Adam a gun for his birthday. That’s where we were heading. A chance for the woman and children to finally settle into a safe home. A place where Adam and I can let down our guard once more, just for a few days, before deciding where to go next. But it’s not to be based on what we found out today.
The poor train, coughed and spluttered its way along. Sucking the last dregs of the rotten fuel I had fed it out of desperation some days back. I wasn’t really paying enough attention to where we were going. Normally I was extremely vigilant and looking out for hazards on the track, but something had distracted me. I think Adam was bugging me about something or other. Anyway, the first thing I knew, I heard a gunshot from outside the train.
I immediately ducked down and peered out the window. There was a woman, dressed in black body armour like the riot police of old, with a rifle pointing up in the air held in one arm. I quickly threw the leaver and the train started slowing with a squeak of metal brakes.
The gunshot had brought me to my senses again – reminiscent of the shots the kids had fired where Jenny lost her leg. The memory of that washed down my spine like a bucket of ice cold sick.
Once the train came to a stop, the woman ran over and banged on the driver’s door with the butt of her rifle. I looked around out the cab windows and there were a number of others, similarly dressed, with rifles and handguns pointed in my direction. They could fill this cab and me full of enough holes I thought it warranted opening the door for a chat.
She seemed quite hostile at first, obviously somewhat miffed that we were travelling along in a coughing and wheezing train, probably agitating every zom within miles and encouraging them to follow us along to this peaceful town. Her concern was probably the clean-up job afterwards.
I took the time to start at the beginning, and sensing it was a long story and that we were no threat, she waved out at the others through the cab window and the rest of her entourage relaxed. A couple of them lighting cigarettes, and generally gathering in groups to joke and chat. For my part, I tried to keep the conversation relaxed, and invited one or two of the woman through from the carriage into the cramped cab to help with my story.
A couple of times the armoured girl’s eyes lit up in recognition of something or other in my story, but on the whole she just quietly absorbed our words with a few nods and the odd questions for clarity. Once our monologue ended we were left standing around in the cab of a broken train staring at oine another waiting for the next step. She looked out at her crew then back at us a couple of times, then she said those words that keep ringing in my ears now.
“That guy you mention, the Boss? Well here’s here now, in Sanctuary.”
I could feel my face fall, and glanced at the women beside me who wore the shock and horror of that revelation on their own faces.
“What? You caught him? Is he locked up? Why didn’t you kill him?” I asked in desperation.
“No, you don’t get it. Him and his boys rocked into town a few weeks back, started shooting anyone that stood in their way, and now they run the place. You want to live in Sanctuary, you need to do whatever he says. And one of the things he says is: anybody that’s still alive, and we catch while out on patrol, is to be brought back to him for questioning.” She said looking me square in the eyes.