"I AM NO MAN"
[WARNING - Offensive language and violence]
[WARNING - Offensive language and violence]
The Crow lay frozen in place and watched the Scout as he moved closer, again using his peripheral vision to observe the man. His mind raced trying to decide how to deal with this new threat. He glanced quickly at the horizon and did a quick assessment. The last few rays of pitiful twilight were just a minute or two away, and then it would be pitch black darkness. "Now, if he'd just cooperate..." The Scout paused every few yards to check his back trail...he was relaxed, but alert. The Crow picked up a stone and pitched it towards the road when the Scout had his back turned. It made a small sound as it landed in the dry grass and brush, just audible enough to draw the Scout's attention. He froze and scanned the area where the sound came from. The whole area was a tangle of waist high dead brush and dry grasses, but thick. The Scout brought the shotgun up to a high ready and started moving that direction. Finding nothing he relaxed, then started back to camp before it became completely dark and he would be unable to find his way back to camp. So much for a fire, thought the Crow..it would be a cold camp that night.
The crow had rolled up in his tarp and blanket, but sleep was impossible. The marauders camp on the other side of the hill was in full party mode; drunken shouts, loud talking and laughter, and an occasional scream from a female hostage. It went on late into the night. Sometime in the early morning hours exhaustion overcame him and the Crow began to doze. It didn't last. He was awoken by movement and voices again nearing his camp. Gaining consciousness, he worked to decipher what he was hearing. A gruff male voice, cries, and pleading from a woman's voice, an occasional fall...it appeared one of the marauders had peeled off from their camp and had brought one of the women hostages with him. They stopped a short distance away and, judging from the sounds, the male was sexually assaulting the woman. She cried and begged him to stop, but that wasn't in the cards. Then the woman broke free and that's when the whole thing went to shit. The woman ran blindly in the darkness and with the marauder in pursuit, ran right into the Crow's hide, tripping over his prone body. "YOU FUCKIN' BITCH! "I'LL BEAT YOUR ---." He never got to finish the phrase. The Crow had fixed his position in the darkness by the second word and threw his full weight against him, simultaneously guiding his knife, a worn but razor-sharp BUCK "Special" first into the man's throat, severing his ability to scream then up under the ribs into the heart cavity, and finally thrusting repeatedly into his groin as he went down over and over until he went still.
The female hostage didn't bother to thank him. She was long gone. She didn't know how or who, and she did not care. All she knew was she wanted to be as far away as possible by sunrise and was doing her level best to make distance. The Crow sat and got control of his breathing, thought for a few moments, then got moving. He rolled up his camp and made ready to move off. He searched the man and removed his belt knife, an old kitchen knife, and buried it in the marauder's groin. He was hopeful that the rest of the marauder's would conclude the woman had acquired the man's knife and killed him to escape, but wasn't overly optimistic. By sunup he'd made 5 miles, but never saw hide nor hair of the woman, nor did he wish to.
The Marauder camp had just started to come to life when the Scout returned. He made his way to the leader, who was nursing a severe hangover after a night of heavily drinking rot gut swill. "Bad news Brock. Denver's dead." Brock hacked up some bile and spat it at a child lying nearby. "GIMME SOME WATER YOU LITTLE BITCH!" he roared. The child scampered off to find a canteen. "What happened?" "Well, Denver dragged that blond whore off for some fun, and somebody cut him bad. Throat was slashed, stabbed in the lungs, and groin. Many times by the look of it." Through his headache, Brock raised an eyebrow and cast a sideways glance, "Somebody?" The Scout nodded. "Wasn't no woman. Denver was tore up bad by someone what knew the drill. And I found sign of someone bedding down in the brush under a tree. Just one man. They put Denver's dull old knife in him. Tried to make it look like the woman did it." The child returned with a canteen and gingerly held it out to Brock who jerked it away. Brock rubbed his temples, then drew on the canteen, rinsed his mouth and spat. He didn't really give a fuck about Denver; frankly he was a pain in the ass, always wanting pussy. Hell, he'd been a pain even when they were kids. He never had liked his kid brother, but it vexed him someone had killed a member of his crew and helped the woman escape. That called for payback. Brock glanced around the camp, then looked back at the Scout. "Can you track them?" The Scout looked down and thoughtfully stirred the dirt with his toe for a moment. "Yea, I can track them." Brock nodded. "Okay. Take Rodriguez, Fatso, and the Nazi and track them down. I want them alive. Hear me?" The Scout raised his head, looked around and avoided eye contact with Brock. "You got it" he replied, then turned and walked over to the group and tagged the trio. They gathered their weapons and headed out.
Late the following day, the Scout and his team returned and met the marauder crew as they were continuing their march south. The marauder called Fatso was half-dragging a badly beaten woman at the end of a tether. Rodriguez and The Nazi brought up the rear, checking their backtrail from time to time. The woman's hands were once again bound, and her face was swollen and discolored from a severe pummeling. He shoved her to the ground, where she just collapsed with exhaustion. Brock walked over, looked her over and shook his head, then gave the woman a swift and brutal kick. A loud crunch indicated ribs had shattered. He looked at the Scout and cocked his head. "We caught her hiding in the brush about 10 miles from here. She told us Denver had tried to bang her, and she ran. She said a man surprised Denver and killed him. She couldn't see him in the dark and they never spoke. She just ran off. She caught sight of a man the following day, moving south. Said he wore black clothes and she thinks he was the one. We beat the fuck out of her, but that was all she knew. She ain't lying." Brock turned to walk away. "Find him...finish it. And get rid of her...she's no good for anything now." "The Scout nodded then motioned The Nazi, who dragged the woman off into the brush, strangled her and left her where she lie. He laughed as he did the job.
The Crow had covered about 20 miles and reasoned it was safe to find a place to rest and eat something. He'd managed to harvest a Turkey Vulture with a throwing stick and had been plucking it as he walked. Just off the road he had found a big flood culvert and had decided to hole up there for the night. He gathered squaw wood and set about making a fire, then gutted and cleaned the bird, cutting the head off and discarding it, lest he pick up a parasite. He roasted it very well before eating it, then rolled up in his blanket. Earlier that day he had crossed into Arizona and knew he was now nearing his destination. Rumor had placed the New Republic in Phoenix. He had heard that it was being formed by Patriots who had pledged to restore and follow Constitutional Law as the founders had intended, and he was hopeful he could find some way to contribute and help reestablish a real community...anything would be better than living this lonely hard life, day after day. As he drifted off to sleep, he could not know that he was about to face a life and death struggle.
The following morning, The Scout, Fatso, Rodriguez, and The Nazi filled their canteens, loaded their shoulder bags with ammunition and some meager rations, took up their weapons and started out. Thunder sounded in the distance and lightning flashed. A freezing rain began to fall.
Death was in the air.
TO BE CONTINUED,,,