I took a few moments to observe the stranger before I approached her. She had a gun strapped to her thigh, but it was just a regular old handgun. 1911, or something close enough to be practically the same. She didn’t notice me, and she wasn’t being cautious.
Ever since the outbreak, it’s been hard to figure out how to approach people. If they’re out and about, they’re either immunes or desperate, and you never know how they’ll respond to you.
I thought about drawing my gun, but thought better of it. Bandits know better than to move brazenly. When they send out people to lure you into ambushes, they’re not stupid enough to send people running around like headless chickens.
I kept my hands visible and ambled toward her. She jumped to attention and fumbled for her gun, but once she saw me in my uniform she relaxed. “Who are you?”
“Private Braddock, First Recon. And you are?”
“I’m Sarah. Why are you here?”
“Dropping off supplies. Just a quick mission.”
“I’m looking for a safe place.”
“I can’t make any guarantees, unfortunately.”
The survivor came out from cover. “Sarah?”
She looked at him for a moment, her face distant again. “David?”
“Same as always, just a little rough around the edges.”
They reminisced. It made me feel better, knowing that the woman wasn’t a total stranger. We were close enough to the warehouse that I started heading that way.
Everything’s still there, so I go back outside and interrupt their reunion. “We need to get moving before dark.”
They agree. With three people the loads were light, and we made good progress. We moved quickly and quietly; even after the rain the sky was a mix of gray clouds ahead and the orange of dusk. Hard to tell exactly how long you have left when the light’s like that.
When we got back, a survivor put the bridge across for us. He didn’t know the woman, but David talked him into letting her across. Besides, what choice did they have? Turn someone away and they go sell you out to bandits. They could’ve shot her, I suppose. But that seems barbaric, even in times like this.
With night falling fast, the air got colder. I know it’s not much of a problem for the planes, but I didn’t relish the thought of trying to get to the airfield that night. That’s when I called in on the radio, let you guys back at base know the mission was complete.
Gray was in the room’s corner, tears in her eyes. I should’ve known that there was something very wrong about it. But I didn’t give it much thought.
I’m afraid to say that I failed. I was still pretty upset with her for running off and leaving us. Didn’t even think about what must have been going through her head.
She must’ve thought I was going to get her court-martialed. That’s probably true, too. But I couldn’t have foreseen what she’d do the next day.