The day was scorching hot and bone dry, the air smelled like burnt toast, and everyone’s nerves were on edge. Only Zachariah was calm. He patrolled the perimeter, making jokes about the Eastlanders finding us out here in the tall grass hiding in our small camp. He always tried to make light of the situation we were thrown into. Nothing was ever completely serious unless it personally effected the outcome of his life. He is amazing in a fight. He can swing a sword quicker than another human can see. He is quick and dead on with aiming arrows and bullets. Everyone else, they don’t see all the hidden pieces of who he is. They didn’t see him at his lowest and alone like I did.
“You know if the Eastlanders find us it will be because you can’t stop talking.” I let my hand rest on the knife at my hip. He smirks and his blue eyes are full of mischief.
“We have our way out. Just need to run now.” I remember the first time he brought up leaving. He wanted to just disappear, but he couldn’t do it alone. He couldn’t be alone anymore. So, he just decided putting up with my life and the people around me as an easy answer.
“Can’t. I got family here.” He let out a scoff and walked on.
“You know they have attracted more trouble for us than we would have found out there.”
“You mean outside of you fighting for money and slipping out on the last fight. Us needing to run for it from the collectors. How about when you ended up having to save my ass in that bar?” I laughed remembering how much trouble we pulled in on our own.
“Well there’s more here than there was out there. We haven’t been able to catch a break.” I stopped him by grabbing a hold of his left arm at the crook and pulled him to a standstill facing me.
“We won’t catch a break. Not now. Not with the Eastlanders out to kill us all.” He put a hand lightly on my cheek before letting it fall to my shoulder. “One day it’ll all be over and we can run to a farm in the middle of nowhere and live off the land around us with nobody coming on our land.” I moved my hand to his face and he leaned in resting our foreheads against one another.
What felt like the perfect moment was interrupted by a bullet whizzing past my head and into the tree just mere feet behind me. We dropped down below the grass and waited for whoever it was to pop back up. An arrow came from the other direction grazing my shoulder. I tried not to make any noise or react at the shallow cut. I turned back and Zachariah was gone. I felt panic rising in my chest and rolled out the other way. I heard swords clashing behind the tree line and dodged an arrow from in front of it. I ducked behind a tree and dropped. I rolled under a brush and popped up on the other side of the shooters aim. I slid from tree to tree as silent as possible until I was right behind the man. I moved quickly as I slit his throat and dropped him. A woman came running at me with a sword and I pulled my knife out throwing it square in her chest. I heard a gun fire off. I didn’t hear any movement after. I froze.
“I think we got em all.” I turned quickly ready to throw a punch when Zachariah put both hands up in the air. “Woah! I surrender.” His sword was still wet and dripping blood.
“They found us.”
“Clearly. Come on we need to get everyone ready to go.” I nodded and followed him back to the camp. Everyone argued and picked sides Zachariah or Joe on if he should have been brought back to the group or not. He was a dangerous criminal. That is all they knew.
“And if he wouldn’t have saved me I wouldn’t be here.” My family grew silent. “Still want to argue or can we get the hell out of here?” The next two hours was silent except for feet shifting gravel. I stayed near the rear of the group watching Zachariah and Joe go back to the normal semi-friendly routine from their past. Zachariah looked back and I gave a false smile wondering if we would all be dead if we were separate two months ago.
Would I have survived the bar? Would I have come back to save my uncle? Would I have stood up for Zachariah or would I still be trying to hunt him down and kill him for past sins? What if?