It glares at me, mouth parted. Peeking from under its blue lips are rotting teeth that’s stained with blood. Its bloodshot eyes are sunken in to its head. Its flesh is red and torn. This Turner must have had a horrible death.
For a moment, I just stare at it sympathetically. This person, this thing, had a family and a life. It probably went out with its friends for a drink and took its kids to school every day.
Just like my father.
The Turner starts hissing at me. I frown at the pathetic creature.
It wants to devour you.
It outstretches its arms and reaches for me. I cower away.
“I’m sorry this happened to you,” I say as it growls at me. I look at the name tag pinned to his shirt, “Jim.”
His eyes are glossy and noticeably green. The infection makes them look like marbles. I watch them as he presses against the shelf harder and harder. The shelf is shaking.
I shake my head and bend down to pick up my findings. I fold the hem of my shirt to make an extra pocket and store a loaf there. Crouched, I stuff the remaining breads in the large pockets of my pants.
I take my time, surprisingly, knowing that Jim can’t hurt me.
Something hits the back of my head. My head hits my knee. In a blur of movement, my other foot is crushed by the shelf.
A blood-curdling scream escapes my mouth.
Jim comes toppling after. Now two heavy objects are crushing my body.
“Jim!” I shriek.
He hisses and gurgles. His dirty hands claw at my hair.
I pull my arm from under the toppled shelf with a groan of pain. With all my might, I push at the shelf. Fear and dread boil in the pit of my stomach. I take a big breath and grit my teeth together. I push the shelf with all the power I can muster. The shelf slowly inches up. My entire body aches.
Suddenly, the weight becomes lighter. My arms still wobble, but the shelf is a whole arm’s length away from me. Jim’s arms are slung over the edge, reaching for my face. His nails are caked with dirt and blood. Disgusting.
But how am I doing this?
I smile at my new strength. Another figure pops out of nowhere, behind Jim. Jim's fingers slide away from my face. Who is pulling him?
Jim’s tattered collar becomes very tight at his neck. Someone’s pulling him away from his shirt. As the person tugs him off, I realize that it wasn’t my strength being practiced. It was someone else’s. I huff in defeat. My arms and feet still throb from the impact.
The shelf is pulled from my body, back into place. I catch my breath as I stumble back to my feet. Jim now remains on the other side, like a few minutes ago, sputtering once again.
This is a little too strange for my liking. How did this happen? Who is there, helping me?
A pair of hands is holding back Jim. A knife blade suddenly appears from his face. I shriek in horror as the blade sticks out towards me from his ugly face. Blood, a strange bluish color, trickles down his face. I step back, knocking into the shelf behind me. I slide down to a sitting position. Tears tickle the corners of my eyes. I hold my hands to my face and sob. I hear a loud thud. It’s Jim’s body falling on the floor, no doubt.
I make a crack in the barrier of my fingers to see the person, and in a blur of tears, I see the Turner’s body slumped on the floor.
Another figure stands above it, with red-stained hands.
I try to control my breathing. Horrified, I hear the footsteps become louder and louder. I see the large, black shoes coming closer in my tear-blurred vision.
“Get up,” a male voice orders.
I choke on my words, “W-who ar-re you?”
“Nevermind my name. Don’t you know better than to play around with those things?” the irritated voice asks.
After composing myself, I rub the wetness from my eyes with the back of my hand. Although I’d rather not be treated like a child, I’m too scared to look up.
“I was getting supplies,” I say matter-of-factly.
Whoever, this man is, he’s getting on my nerves. I finally look up to capture his attention. Before me is a young man, probably around eighteen or so. His frame is neither lanky nor muscular. It’s just in the middle. Either way, he’s bigger than me.
His eyebrows are drawn together, his eyes are examining me. I resist the urge to squirm under his intense stare. After a long, silent moment, the man speaks up, “You’re getting supplies?”
He looks over at the crushed bread then back at me. I gulp, “Yeah.” The man paces around a little.
With that, I stand. I try to reach his height by straightening my shoulders, but he’s taller than I thought previously.
Must be around 6’ 2”
“Where are you camped out? Where are your people?” he questions me. He looks down at me.
“I live up that hill. I don’t have any ‘people,’” I say awkwardly in reply. He raises his eyebrows in surprise. His face breaks into a fake smile. He’s making me uncomfortable.
“So what you’re telling me that you are living up the high life while we’re suffering down here?” the guy says. He mutters something unpleasant under his breath.
I shrug, “Well, I ran out of food I would eat, so I came down for supplies.”
He laughs creepily, “Food you would eat?”
I nod slowly. This man was becoming increasingly dangerous with every question.
After another awkward silence, I decide to leave as quickly as possible. Instinctively, I back away from the suspicious character.
“I’d love to stay and chat, but I have found what I need. I’m heading back. Good luck,” I say as I gather new loaves, cautious of the rotting corpse that is making me so anxious.
The man ignores me.
“It’s Ethan, by the way,” he sticks out his hand. I reluctantly shake his hand and manage a smile. His stern face softens.
“I’m Jocelyn,” I mutter, “But I really have to be going now.”
Ethan chuckles, “To do what? It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen a new face, and I’m sure it’s the same thing for you too. Please.”
I am surprised by his enthusiasm. Just a minute ago, he was interrogating me. Now, he was smiling. I’m not sure if I like this boy; he’s very mysterious.
Out of nowhere, he laughs. I crinkle my eyebrows at him, “What?”
He shakes his head, smiling really big. “What?” I ask again, louder.
“It’s just that a little girl, like yourself, had made it this far.”
I cock my eyebrow at Ethan, “Excuse me?”
“Little girl. How old are you anyways? Thirteen?” he asks, his shoulders shaking with laughter.
I pout and clear my throat, “Sixteen.”
Suddenly, Ethan stops laughing and just stares at me. Ethan looks me up and down, making me feel uncomfortable again. I turn on my heel to walk to the door with a sour taste in my mouth.