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[personal profile] strryeyedgrrl
It had not been her intent to go this far south. She had been lost at first, when they'd been separated. Her bearings had been rattled by what they'd been through; her mental geography had abandoned her. Walking somewhat aimlessly had kept her out of harm's way for now, but it wouldn't last for much longer. Her senses began to emerge from what seemed like an endless fog and she started the process of assessing herself and her surroundings.

Nothing seemed broken or even too bent. She was slick with sweat, her hair matted against her forehead. That was understandable, given the pace she'd been keeping. Her feet were screaming at her, which was also understandable, and her lower back had been certainly been in better shape. There was blood on her clothing, of course, but none of it appeared to be her own. And she smelled. Horribly. She smelled like she'd rolled around in the dead, which wasn't too terribly far from the truth.

Tenderly, she put a hand to her forehead. Her head was throbbing fit to split and she'd lost her pack somewhere in the fray, so there was no ibuprofen to be had. She'd have to manage through that, but she considered it a small price to pay considering she was still standing and breathing and alive.

Heaving a great sigh, she looked up at the sky. She wondered if he'd made it out. She thought he might have, but it hadn't been a very winnable situation from his position. The last she'd felt of him had been his hand on her back, shoving her out of the crowd. The last she'd heard had been his voice, raspy and out of breath, telling her sternly to run. The last she'd seen of him was his head dipping below the horizon of the approaching melee.

Empty. That was how she felt now. Like she had nothing left to give. If she was wounded, it wasn't something she could fix with bandages.

Gradually, a light rain began to fall almost like a mist. The sky was growing dimmer, also; she'd need to find basic necessities soon. She sighed again, then squared her shoulders and set off in the direction she'd been heading before. She was in a brushy, wooded area, it seemed. A worn trail was at her feet, the earth tramped flat by what could possibly be centuries of foot traffic. The brush was taking back parts of the trail here and there, a testament to the last three months of turmoil. Nature was clawing its way back to dominance, she reflected as she kicked a particularly prickly vine out of her way.

About three weeks ago, they'd been camped near a small town that had been gutted. The landscape had proved safe enough that, for a few brief days, they'd been able to build a large campfire instead of relying on their dwindling supply of drugstore hand warmers. They'd spoken quietly to each other, remembering things and people lost. Regret was a constant in their hearts, always wrapping its roughened fingers around their souls and gripping tight. Regret led to sorrow, which was more like a vine that crept under the blanket at night, weaving between their entangled legs and threatening to root them to the ground.

Rarely did they have time like they had had on those nights, though. The tales of sorrow led to stories of better times, and the stories of better times led to intellectual debate on the fate of the world around them. He believed that order could be restored and would be, soon. She was less optimistic, but clung to his hopes for fear of letting him see the hopelessness in her eyes. Gardens would blossom again, he'd told her as he'd draped an arm lazily around her shoulders and pulled her close. Gardens would blossom and the carnage would end and they'd feel safe at night again. They'd be able to set their weapons down and not concern themselves with making it through another day.

Death had a way of ruining plans, though, didn't it?

Especially when you figured that once upon a time in a world far, far away, she'd been a married woman with a daughter and a dog and a mortgage. She'd planted her own garden, full of life and movement. Ballet on Tuesdays, flute on Thursdays, book club on Fridays, crockpot dinners on Saturdays. Rock shows when she felt like it. Knitting when she felt like it. Laying in bed against the warmth of her husband. Holding her daughter by the hand as they crossed the street. One by one, each of those mundane normalcies had died little deaths. All that remained was her exposed core by the end...and the emergence of a man she'd nearly forgotten, saving her from a death certain to come from sheer, heartwrenching loneliness.

Now, she continued on the path, a hint of light stabbing through light grey clouds. The mist still fell, though the dying day's sun glinted off where the moisture had collected on the ground foliage. In the distance ahead of her, she spied a small shelter - possibly an abandoned hunting cabin. In the distance behind her, though, she heard the telltale sound of footfalls too unmindful to be human...or at least not the kind of human she wanted to meet here. Regardless of the origin, danger had not let her be for long. She bent her head and began to run again.
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