Author: cdf320 PM
The worst that could happen is that I could be spotted by one of the monsters below, and they could storm the keep, killing everyone hiding here until they find me in this tower and kill me where I stand. Maybe I should be more optimistic.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Supernatural - Chapters: 15 - Words: 24,257 - Reviews: 6 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 08-18-12 - Published: 08-08-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3048948
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
We're still floating in the middle of the river, but there's no time to find shelter now. The woods have thinned considerably on the left side of the river and on the right they're gone completely. I feel completely exposed here on the river, and there's no time to find somewhere to hide. Even better, when I look at Anthony, a cut has opened up on his cheek and thin lines of red trail down his cheek. I would tell him about it, but he probably already knows and we're already in enough trouble.
"What do we do?" I ask him, and he shakes his head.
"Do you think they can swim?"
"I guess we'll find out, won't we?"
The sun dips below the horizon.
"Come here," Anthony says, sliding over as far as he can to one side of the boat. I lie down beside him, and we watch the lightning flash overhead. The edges of the boat are high enough that we can't be seen from the shore, but we're entirely dependent on the current. If we get caught in something or swept to shore, we could get caught. Better yet, the monsters can swim and we're going to die anyway. I want to cry. How could I have been so stupid?
"I'm sorry, Claire," Anthony says. "I didn't mean for it to end this way."
"You've not only given up on your life, you've given up on mine too?"
I feel him shift beside me. "That's not what I meant."
"Yes it is."
"Claire," he says. I look over at him and find that he's staring at me with eyes that are now noticeably paler than they used to be. He's definitely changing. He lifts a hand a brushes it against my cheek. He doesn't have to say anything. I can read him perfectly for the first time.
"Do you ever wonder why this had to happen?"
"You'll be okay." He smiles crookedly. "You're going to make it out of here, you know that?"
I shake my head. "Not alone," I say, and my voice cracks. I didn't want to cry, but tears well up in my eyes and threaten to spill over.
"You're not alone."
Anthony pulls me close, and we kiss to the crackle of lightning in the sky and the wailing of creatures on the shore.
I'd always wanted to kiss him, ever since first saw him. It might be perfect, if he weren't on the verge of dying. Somehow it doesn't feel as real. Maybe it's because we're the only two left, and there isn't anyone else. There's only me, and him, and we're stuck on this boat in the middle of the river waiting to die. I guess it's that kind of situation that drives a person to this, kissing without regard. If you're going to die anyway, you might as well enjoy the time you have left.
When we break apart, Anthony's eyes are still closed. "I've wanted to do that for a while." He says, but I still don't believe him. Maybe it's because when I touched him, my hands came back wet. Cuts are breaking open on his arms. The moon isn't very bright tonight, so Anthony is just a shadow beside me.
"Really?" I ask, trying to wipe the blood off on my pants without him noticing.
"Could've fooled me."
He smiles. "Well, I did my best to ignore it. Trying to be with someone right now seemed stupid. Why attach yourself to someone who could die as soon as the sun went down? But here we are. Kissing you was one of the things I wanted to do before I-"
He coughs, shaking the boat with the sheer force of them, and a monster cries out from the shore. There is a splash as something enters the water. I try and hold Anthony still while he coughs, but there's blood everywhere and I can tell he's not going to stop any time soon. That only leaves me with one option.
"Thank you," I whisper to Anthony, and I grab the oar and sit up in the boat. There are hundreds of monsters out tonight, roaming the plains, chasing game through the hills, and some are lingering on the riverbank. One in particular has spotted out boat and now charges towards us in the water, splashing and screeching at us. Naturally, the noise attracts the others, and suddenly I'm paddling away from not only one creature but several. The current isn't that strong here, and though my arms are still sore from earlier I can barely feel it. Adrenaline courses though me. Anthony just kissed me. He might die tonight, but I don't want to. I don't want to.
I paddle faster, and want to cry with relief when I hear the sound of rushing water up ahead. Rapids. I take one look behind me and see that the creature that first spotted us has fallen back, but three more are quickly making up the lost ground. Anthony gives another sputtering cough behind me, and I hear something wet fall against the little boat's floor.
"Hold on!" I shout. The rapids are just around the bend. The current picks up faster here, and I hear one creature cry out in pain behind us. I sneak a glance back to see it slammed up against a rock, held there by the roaring waters. We're nearly in the rapids. There's a big drop in front of us, maybe a couple of feet or so, but this boat is made of wood and I'm not sure how it's going to handle the waters before us. I grip my oar tightly in one hand and the side of the boat in the other, and I scream as we plunge into the rapids. The boat slams hard against a rock, and I can hear the sound of wood breaking but I don't have time to look for the break now. I paddle around a big rock and round a corner. We're free of the rapids now, and the monsters that pursued us are gone.
There are no monsters immediately on the shore, so I take the time to turn back and see the damage. Luckily it isn't anything big. The back part of the boat is splintered near the railing, but the break doesn't extend down into the floor of the boat and we aren't taking in water. Anthony is curled into a ball on the floor of the boat, clothes soaked red with blood. Already his skin has started to darken. He moves just slightly and peers up at me, and it takes all of my willpower not to scream. His eyes are pure white. He doesn't even look human anymore.
"Claire," he moans, "Why aren't I dead?"
"I don't know," I say, shaking my head. This doesn't make sense. He's lost a lot of blood, but not nearly as much as Clay, and he's already showing signs of the change. A sudden fear hits me. What if he's not going to die? What if, when you survive the infection, you become one of the creatures yourself?
He edges closer to me in the boat, and I feel myself pull away slightly. This boy is all I've wanted since I found him, and now that he's mine and about to die I can't help but want to run from him as fast as I can. What if he changes here, in the boat? Will he keep his sanity if he changes? And if he doesn't, will he go after me? I've spent so much time hiding from these creatures that the very thought of seeing one right in front of me sends me into a near panic, even though Anthony's not gone yet, his skin is still getting blacker by the second.
The realization hits Anthony a little too late. "Shit," he says. "Shit shit shit!"
I turn away from him. "Maybe it will be okay," I say, but even I can hear that I don't believe what I'm saying.
Anthony laughs bitterly behind me. "Realism finally making sense to you now?" He gives one sudden cough, and falls quiet.
I gasp. He couldn't be dead, not like that, not so soon.
Someone speaks behind me, and the voice is low, rough, and not altogether human. "Claire."
I don't want to turn around, but I have to, because there's only one person in this boat with me.
He's staring at me with those empty white eyes. He smiles widely, and it's the most frightening thing I've ever seen in my life. His skin is almost entirely black, and his teeth have become jagged, just like that of the creatures.
"You look so good right now, Claire," the demon Anthony says. "So tasty."
He advances towards me, and I slide as far back from him as I can, though I've run out of boat. I reach behind me slowly, for the one thing that could possibly save me right now.
Anthony draws a hand up in front of his face, and his smile grows wider when he sees the long claws that have grown in place of his fingers. They drip with something black, and I realize that Anthony's not bleeding red anymore.
"Come on, Claire, just a couple bites. It's just like kissing, only messier," he says. He doesn't even sound like Anthony anymore. "And I know you like to kiss."
"Stop it," I say, just as my fingers close around the shaft of my last arrow. I grip it tightly, trying to steady my hands.
He draws back violently, throwing himself against the back of the boat with such force that think he might tip us over. I grab on to the railing with both hands, my arrow falling with a small clatter into the boat behind me. I can't see where it landed, but I scramble for it before Anthony gets up.
"Claire!" He says, and I stop dead in my search. His voice, though strangled, is his own. "You have to kill me, Claire."
"Look, I can't stay long. He's going to come back, and you won't be able to stop him. He knows you, knows how you fight, and he'll win. You have to kill me now, before-"
"You want me to kill you?!" My voice is so high pitched, I know we're going to be found.
"Look, I'd do it myself but I'm not strong enough. We're running out of time. Do it now!"
I can't kill him. I can't. Who just kills someone they care about? Killing monsters is one thing, but killing Anthony, even if he is a monster, is something else entirely.
Anthony shakes his head, like he's trying to push something away, and his face contorts with the effort. "Claire," he says, and his voice is soft but urgent. "One of us has to make it out of here, and it's not going to be me."
I nod. The boat rocks and something rolls against my foot. I bend down to pick it up.
"I'm sorry," I say, and I plunge the arrow into Anthony's chest.
Anthony smiles at me, and his face nearly breaks my heart. But it doesn't last long. The smile turns into a snarl and the demon inside Anthony yells, "You little bitch!" before losing its balance and falling backwards over the side of the boat and into the water. The body doesn't float like I expect it to. Instead it sinks to the bottom, taking Anthony away from me forever.
I would cry, but I can't. It's still dark, and there are still monsters. Something glints in the darkness behind where Anthony was laying, and I lean over to pick it up. It's his knife, which is stained with Anthony's blood. Red blood, from the real Anthony. My Anthony. I jam the knife into the seat beside me so it's ready when I need it, and grab my paddle.
I don't know where I'm going.
I don't know when I'll get there.
All I know is that I'm going to make it there alive.