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   Chapter 15 Hungry Dogs

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 7339

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:19

Halter's body lay on the cold ground, dead eyes to the sky as the soft falling snow slowly took him. I was grateful for the cold now. Grateful that I wouldn't have to smell the death I'd created. I sat in the dark of the antique shop, rifle aiming out, in the midst of things crafted hundreds of years prior. The people who had checked the time with the wind-clocks beside me, or listened to classical melodies through the oak-wood phonographs decorating the walls above me had long been dead. I was surrounded by death, in this moment, as I sat waiting for my prey-- I was death.

Halter's partner sauntered around the corner. I tracked him with the rifle as he moved behind a grouping of crashed cars on the road. I watched him through their cracked windshields and collapsed metal frames, studying his breath, each burst of white smoke was another marker, a countdown. Within moments he was out in the open. I had my shot.

"Holy shit, " he said when he saw the body. He reached for the gun hanging off his belt, eyes scanning the empty windows ahead of him until they fell on me. He hadn't gotten the gun out in time. He knew I had him.

"Drop it, " I said. But he remained still. I could see his mind working, calculating. Did he have the time to pull the gun out and fire it at me before I shot him? He had no cover, nothing to protect him but his bad luck.

Slowly, he pulled the gun from his belt by his thumb and index finger and dropped it on the snow. He raised his hands over his head, helpless, beaten. I thought of the prisoners from the school library all hiding in a dark corner-- living-dead shells of what were once human beings. I stared at him for a long time without speaking. Snow piled atop his black hair as it showered down in sheets. I knew if I let him go, he could lead the rest of them back to me. He was a murderer, letting him live meant condemning others to die. Killing was all they knew. It was how they survived.

"How many people have you killed?" I finally asked. I wasn't sure why, I didn't know what I would do with the information.

"I don't know, " he answered honestly. Something in my chest was beginning to burn. A fire in desperate need of fuel.

oad, like the debris which littered the streets. Trash left to rot.

I took Halter's key from my pocket when I saw the bike leaning in the woods outside of town where he'd left it the day before. A sound similar to the one I had heard in the gas station grew in the quiet as I was about to start the ignition, hoping I could learn to drive it by instinct alone. The sound had a gurgle and pull, the struggling cough of an old car engine. Two dim lights approached fast, the cadillac raised constant slivers of snow on either side, like white wings on a pale green bird.

It was too late to hide-- taking the rifle in both hands, I moved to the center of the road and lifted it to my eyes, putting the windshield in the sights. The car hit its brakes, it slid sideways at me before coming to a full stop about ten meters from where I stood.

Smoke escaped from the exhaust as it idled. "Hands out the window, " I ordered. The glass reflected only the white clouds above, I saw nothing inside the car. Two hands came out raised on the driver's side. "Open it."

One of the hands reached down to the outside handle and pulled. The door creaked as it fell open. Vicki stepped out, behind her, the children did the same, they smiled. I lowered the gun. They waited for me to go to them but I didn't, I couldn't. I thought only of the wolves in my dream. All at once it dawned on me. The insatiable burning I'd felt in my chest the day before had never subsided.

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