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The forty degree heat filled the air; the rays of the sun beat down hard against the dirt, free of any cloud-like obstacle, the cicadas chirping incessantly throughout the day. I took out my three pack of filtered cigars; carefully unfolding the packet's lid and removed a single, small, cigar. Grasping the tip between my lips, I refolded the packet and placed them back into my packet, replacing them with a box of matches. Sliding the box open and removing a match, striking it across the rough side of the box ignited the match, creating a flame big enough to burn the end of my cigar, taking in a breath, inhaling the smoke, allowing it to sit in my mouth to savor the taste before exhaling.
Perched on my tiny stool next to my cosy, two man tent, I lean back to bask in the warm sunlight, arching my back and neck to equal the weight so my chair doesn’t give out from underneath my arse, again.
I remember this campsite used to be so busy. The smell of barbeques once filled my nostrils; now filled with the nauseating smell of flesh and blood. Remnants of burnt out caravans and tents were all that filled the pitches, as well as rows upon rows of body bags all label “Quarantined.”
As I sat there staring blankly at the clear blue sky, I try to remember my plan, remembering what compelled me to come back to such an open, exposed campsite to settle down for a few days whilst I gathered supplies. Then I remember. I think I let my memories get the better of me, however happy they may be: a happy campsite once filled with happy families camping in the sun, taking a dip in the cool, blue pool. The thought of you lying in the tent with me… Taking another inhale, I hold the smoke in a tad longer, slowly opening my mouth as the smoke dances seductively out of my mouth.
SNAP!! A branch breaks in the pitch next to mine. I slowly stand to my feet, laying the cigar down on the ground, moving my hand slowly to the front porch of my tent and grasping the recently acquired .33 rifle from a farm in the Dordogne region. I shoulder the gun, staring down the barrel through the sight.
I’m hoping that it is an animal. One quick shot would do me well; I could skin it and cook it. One of them and I’d have to use my knife as not to draw to me any attention. Please don’t be one of them. The pitch is surrounded by trees, one way in and out, offering me suitable cover from anything, alive or dead.
It's best not to move too much. If I move to the centre of the clearing, I won’t leave myself to get pinned. Slowly, one foot in front of the other, my eyes move left and right to make sure I’m clear. As I near the centre, I can hear something or someone kicking up the rocks, small dust particles moving upwards. A deer.
Only young, but still coming in from the right from the WC. It hasn’t spotted me yet, good. Gun ready and cocked already for a quick shot, I aim for the belly and take a deep breath and pull the trigger as I exhale. The shot echoes through the trees as the deer falls to the ground. At least the cadets were good for something. At least I will eat well tonight.
After skinning the deer and coating it in a blood mixture I had concocted in the kitchen of the creatures and diseased blood, I cut the deer meat into chunks to spit on the camp fire later. And the skin will protect the tent once I let it dry in the sun. I can hear the distant moans as I leave the kitchen. I look to the barricade of caravans once created by the owners to protect the campsite, ensuring that the barricade will hold. I have to get sorted quickly, though. The sky is getting darker.
Lying in the tent, my belly full of deer meat, my memories begin to get the better of me again, remembering the time we had here in Loumarin, the hot nights in the tent, the camp dinners on our little stove. I remember back to other days, our wedding, and the purchase of our new first flat. I can feel my eyes getting heavier. The deer skin pelt makes the inside of the tent darker than normal, but it’s necessary. I’m just happy that I can drift off to such happy memories.
A loud, close moan stirs me from my slumber. Trying to steady my heart rate, I can hear something outside the tent shuffling about the campsite. More moans begin to fill the air, getting louder and louder as four, maybe five begin to move towards the tent. Knife in hand, I slowly unzip the front of the tent, being careful not to bring attention to myself and keeping the bug net up as protection.
Looking through the bottom, I see five figures shuffling around my pitch, their moans and groans echoing through the pitch. The embers flicked gently from the fire as they stumbled about, almost sniffing the air for the cooked meat that once resided here. I can take them, but I don’t know how many came through. I came this far. I won’t let my memories fade here.
Slowly zipping the tent back up, I sit and wait, knife poised and ready as they begin to sniff around the tent now. I can smell the stench of death on their breath as the get closer and closer, sniffing the deer pelt. Please let this work. They sniff and sniff, moaning as one runs its hands across the pelt. Another, more womanly moan, appears by the entrance of the tent. Knife ready, they begin to scratch on the tent. One of them falls to the floor.
I won’t go down today. I made a promise to see you again, which I intend to keep. The hands scratch harder and harder on the surface of the tent. My heart now racing, I can’t escape the inevitable; I have to go out and kill them. Grabbing the zip, I ready myself, blade in hand.
Wrenching the zip open, I’m met by a grotesque face growling at me, the bottom jaw gnashing away at me as I kick forward with my hiking boots. His mangled hair is covered in blood as I kick and kick before finally plunging my knife forward into his crown. One good pull and the knife is free, blood seeping into the tent now. I kick the limp carcass of what used to be a 40-year-old man out of my tent before I scramble out, ready to meet my intruders.
Four of them stop and stare hungrily at me, three male, and one female, from what I could make out. A horrid sight as they shuffle towards me. Blood oozing from several orifices, scabs and cuts protruding from their flesh, their tattered, bloodied clothes were a painting to how they could’ve turned.
I can hear several more moans and shuffles as more and more enter the campsite from behind me. Staring at the four in front of me, the feeling of inevitably comes back. I lunge forward, knife in hand, and aimed for skulls, roaring, and all I can think of is you, your face, your smile.
I will see you again...