I’m taking a break. Getting my wind back as I rest. I’m in a small valley to the south of a large-ish city. I had to take the city in the daylight. No way I was going in there in the darkness.
I’m following the tracks, and the obvious signs that they’ve been through here.
How did it come to this? How did I lose my boy? Well that’s a long and, for me, disturbing story to regurgitate. I’ll try to summarise it, and may gloss over some of the more painful bits, but should get the general gist down for prosperity, or whatever bizarre reason I find myself writing this.
So the last thing I see I wrote was that we were in a culvert or ditch or something. It was a large pipe anyway, and kept the wet off us. There was a golf cart of ammo and weapons we had liberated from an overrun army base. Adam and I were holed up for the night and things were looking great for the foreseeable future.
I heard a noise outside the pipe, like a snapping twig or something – your senses are more alert to these things when you’re out in the wild and the only things moving at night are the dead. I stuck my head out the pipe to take a look and came face to foot with a pair of boots. As I started to look up, something solid connected with the back of my head. I heard the crack in my ears at the same time the gong went off inside my brain. The strobe of white light was like a camera flash had gone off point blank in my face. That was the last I knew. Thinking hard about it now, there are faint memories of Adam shouting, glimpses of trees, pain in my arms as I am dragged to who knew where. They could be imagined or real, I don’t know and they’re inconsequential.
I do, however, vividly remember waking up. I recall becoming aware of an intense red light in my face. But it wasn’t red at all, it was the light coming through my closed eyelids. As I cracked my eyes, the brightness of the daylight seared into my brain and I groaned. The first thing I heard was Adam shout “Dad” and I felt him land heavily on my chest and grope around my face as he searched for life. His sobs tore out my heart, and thinking back he must have thought I was dead, which would have been horrible for the kid believing he was alone in this terrible world.
I tried to put my hand to the back of my head, but my hands wouldn’t cooperate and I realised they were tied together. As my eyes creaked open letting in more and more of the painful light, I could see rows of blue, patterned bench seats, Adam also tied at the hands lying on my chest, and a dark and grizzled face staring down at me upside-down.
The owner of the face hadn’t taken the time to shave it for some months or years, so when the crack of a grin appeared, it was more like a reshaping of the fur where the mouth should be. Some words then came out, and for the life of me I struggle to remember what he said, but I’m thinking it was along the lines of “Boss ain’t ready for you yet.” That was just before a fist the size of a watermelon descended like a freight train (kind of ironic really, oh but that’s too soon). I couldn’t defend myself, my head was against the floor where I was lying, so all I could do was turn my head so my nose wasn’t broken, or pushed up into my skull. The explosion on my left ear ricocheted around my brain until my eyeballs felt ready to pop out of my head. My eyelids fluttered and I was out for the count once more.
And before I pack up once more to head out again I’ll let you in on a secret: Being knocked out isn’t like the movies lead you to believe, where you get hit, fall unconscious then wake up again and everything is rosy. A concussion lingers for days, making you feel nauseous, groggy, unsteady on your feet, sometimes you get hallucinations or think you hear things. Well, that is my experience from the only two times I have been knocked out anyway.