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   Chapter 32 The Princess & The Wolf

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 11077

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:28


Moonlight glossed the road white as I drove through the night, Annie slept in the back, her pistol safely tucked under the seat. For the next two days, we drove, stopping only to sleep and hunt. When we had gotten back to the car after the fight, we found that they had tossed all our food and water before the attack began. Hunting rabbits and searching for water was all we could do to keep ourselves alive, but water was getting harder and harder to come by. The only thing we didn't have to worry about was gas, I had siphoned the remnants of the two cars and motorcycles left behind by the Vesp.

Before setting out, I lay Annie in the back seat and looked at her wounded leg. She bit down on her sleeve as I pressed the red hot blade of my knife to the bloody gash. That night we had driven mostly in silence as she recuperated.

As dawn broke on the third day, Annie sat up behind me, her hair all tangled in knots, her eyes wrinkled with the fog of sleep.

"You learned to drive so quickly, " she said through a long yawn.

"Wilson was a good teacher, " I told her. "It's so strange to get used to something you never thought you'd get to do. Actually it feel totally natural, maybe that's what feels strange about it."

"Do you think you can show me?" she asked. I pulled over, rolling atop the gravel lining the road. The landscape that was once made up of only farms was now nothing but fields of overgrown grass stretching out on either side of us.

"We don't have to do it now, " she said.

"What better time?" I got out of the car and rounded the hood, opening her door. She limped as if condemned to the driver's side and got in.

"Alright, " I began as I sat down, "let's see what you got."

"That's not how you teach!"

"Why not? Look, D is for drive, the right pedal's go, the left is stop-- everything else just slows you down. Let's hit it!"

She let out an overwhelmed sigh and shifted the gear. The car rolled ahead as if being pushed by a light breeze. "If we're ever wanna get to that camp we have to go a little faster than this."

"Do we grace? 'Cause I thought this would be good. I'm new at this!" she blurted and looked to her feet for the right placement. The car dashed forward-- she screamed and slammed the brake. I couldn't help but laugh. "I don't know what I'm doing!" she said with an involuntary smile.

"No, no, that was a nice effort, " I began, "...now try again, easy at first until you get the hang of it."

"I'm supposed to use both feet right?"

"No!"

"Just kidding, " she said and the car began to roll steady forward again.

"Brat."

"How fast can I go?" she asked, speeding up.

"You tell me, " I said. Foot by foot we drove faster and faster until the car sped smoothly along the empty highway. "I'm driving!" she shouted, triumphantly.

Annie drove for hours. The wind tossed her hair every which way as we rode the mostly empty highway, all windows down. We stopped when we saw a herd of rabbits hopping along the grass fields beside us. I shot two and we ate, lighting a fire as the sky turned a pale shade of pink above us.

"I'll keep driving, you go to sleep, " she said as I stomped the fire out when we had finished.

"You sure? At night?"

"Yeah, if it's a problem I'll wake you up."

"We can just rest here."

"Pl

ne would leave their stuff like this, " I told her. "They're either dead or, " I turned back, scanning the empty house behind us, "...still here."

Annie spun back, scared. "Shouldn't we be running?" she asked.

"If they're here, they can pick us off when we leave. We have to clear the house."

The quieter I tried to be while climbing to the second floor, the louder the wood squeaked and whined under my feet. As I reached the top, I counted three doors to my right, one on the left. I moved quick but quiet, throwing open the door on the left; an empty bathroom. I crossed to the three doors on the right, Annie close by my side. All the rooms were empty. We ended up in the master bedroom, I moved to the tall window which looked out back toward the woods.

"Look at all this stuff, " Annie said. I turned back. There were mannequin torsos wrapped in dresses handmade from sheets and wide strips of leather which cut through the chest. Needle and thread had been neatly set in open containers, a pair of binoculars hung beside a set of knives which decorated the wall in a row above the bureau, and a bow with a quiver of arrows hung from a nail just above them. Annie moved to the gray dress and brushed her fingers over the leather. "I've never seen anything like this."

"Take it, " I said.

"What?" she nearly shrieked.

"Whoever made it is either dead or they can make more."

"I don't know, I don't think it's right, " she said.

"Fine, but we're taking some of that water, " I said and started to leave the room. I stopped when I saw a green hair-band on the desk. I picked it up and placed it on Annie's head just like I had seen some of the mothers do with their daughters in my camp. The mess of clumped hair was pulled back from her face, making it fall neatly to the sides.

"At least take this, " I said and walked her to the bureau where a mirror had been placed. She looked at herself, wiping the grime from her cheeks to get a clearer picture. "You really are a princess, " I told her. She smiled.

As I looked at the girl in the mirror, I saw a pair of rage-filled eyes staring out from over the barrel of a shotgun behind us. "Drop your weapons, " the woman ordered.

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