A Pious Man (Part IV)Submitted by ridiculous at 2010-07-08 08:12:58 EDT
Rating: 2.0 on 17 ratings (17 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
Part I: http://www.ubersite.com/m/125235
Part II: http://www.ubersite.com/m/125255
Part III: http://www.ubersite.com/m/125270
She woke up. It was cold and the thin, hollow, door didn’t do much to keep the little Vestry warm. It didn’t help that holes in the broken windows had added a layer of frost over the entire Sanctuary and Nave. The jagged panes were modestly shielded by whatever scrap she or the little churches previous occupants had used in attempt to block the frigid wind.
Akilina pushed back her blankets and stirred the coals of the little camp fire before her. She added a bit of a service bible and a chunk charred pew to revitalize the flames. Satisfied that some action had been taken to halt her incessant shivering she realized she was ravenous. Digging through her pack and removing one of the cans scavenged yesterday she punctured the steel in several places with a can opener. The smell of the salty beef contents renewed her stomachs grumbles for attention. She wrapped a length of wire around the can several times and twisted the excess into a makeshift handle setting the can in the growing fire to warm. Removing her cotton gloves she wiggled life back into numb fingers.
The new day was chilly but that wasn’t unexpected for this time of year. Judging by the light peaking through the perforated window coverings, she judged it about 0630 and started preparing herself for another day in the containment zone. Akilina went through her typical morning rituals of checking her kit, making sure the patch job on the bottom corner of her backpack was still holding, her Makarov was in working order and that when she had finished her meal and broke her camp she left nothing behind.
She pushed open the broken door of the church and took to the streets. Having a bit of time to kill before her meeting with the stranger, from the day before, she scavenged some nearby buildings. He had told her where and when so it was only a matter of disposing of the time and distance. She was eager to talk with him, to fill in the blanks her minds constant questioning had generated, mostly just to be near another living soul who wasn’t trying to kill her. Well, she hoped he wasn’t trying to kill her. Really, she was just hoping to remind herself that she wasn’t the only moral and compassionate person left in the world.
Sighing she attempted to break her thoughts from the dark spiral she knew they were about to take. Looking up at the perfect blue sky, Akilina tried to remember a time when living didn’t hurt so much.
Just who in the hell did she think she was? Sergei replayed the conversation in his head again and again just as he had done all the previous afternoon and night. He was alone. He knew he was alone. Of course he acknowledged that it was possible he wasn’t the only survivor, he had seen signs of other people looting various places before he got there but he hadn’t seen anyone, hadn’t heard a voice in so long. They were dead, everyone was dead. They had to be.
She was a soldier; that had to be it. They sent her in to see if they could find anyone still alive. They were probably planning on breaking the quarantine soon and needed to make sure there was absolutely no one left to sneak past them and tell the story to the world. She was only interested in talking to him long enough to get him to drop his guard so she could put a bullet in him. That had to be it.
Those thoughts were absurd. He knew they were, but it had been so long, could she really just be another survivor like him? She had said there are “others”. What others? Who? More importantly, how? He had walked through that city so many times and had never seen another survivor. He had never smelled a fire? Or a shit? How could there be other survivors that he didn’t know about? No, she had to be a soldier.
Memories slowly trickled into Sergei’s conscious. Yakov had told him. Sure it was three years ago but Yakov had told him about “The Church”. He had wanted to take Sergei there, to show him around to the other survivors. Sergei had dismissed it when his friend told him it wasn’t really a church, but a place people went “To be saved”. The use of that moniker had disturbed him deeply. Perhaps in technical terms it wasn’t, but it still felt like sacrilege to him. He had declined his old friends offer and instead shared his food and a bottle of vodka with him. Was that what she had meant?
The memory put him on a new line of thought. Why hadn’t he remembered that conversation before now? He grimaced. Because he didn’t like the name they had give their camp, hideout, whatever. And because he wasn’t sure he liked the idea of there being others out there either. The world was cold and hard enough already. Someone else was another factor, another consideration and quite possibly a threat. That is why he didn’t want to remember. That is why he didn’t want to be there. That is why he had to be there.
She had been in the house for several minutes now. She would be coming out soon. He adjusted the stock of the rifle against his shoulder as he watched the distant door beyond the weapons sights. The minutes passed slowly, and the wind blew through the skeletal bushes he was lying in, up his back, over his head and down over the snowy field between him and the house. He stole a quick glance at his watch, it was 1003.
She cursed herself. She should have known better than to let him get away. She should have known better than to let herself get excited about something. He had told her not to be late. That meant he wouldn’t be. Now he was late. No, he wasn’t late. He just wasn’t coming. Not even a date and she had been stood up. She laughed at that thought, but the emotion was quickly replaced by the renewed feeling of loneliness. He hadn’t even told her his name.
She had called to him, waited, called again and then gone searching throughout the house. There was nothing of interest and though the home was predominantly intact it was littered and abandoned. No one had been here for a long, long time. Losing faith, she descended the stairs and was leaving.
Reaching out and opening the door, she stepping into the cold morning light. She shivered violently when she was hit by a gust of wind from the short ridge across the snowfield before her. Wrapping her arms around herself she stepped off the porch.
He watched her step off the porch, her hands wrapped protectively around her waist, against the biting cold. Just as he’d been taught, so many years before, he drew half a breath and held it as he started to squeeze the Kalishnikov’s trigger.