Beth Hambone author-mrboo end_of_the_world safe sam wade

Text

Comments - Download - Toggle formatting

Hambone and Sam

Part Four

By MrBoo


“All I’m saying is, there should be more bones. At least to my way of thinking.”

I thought for a second before replying. “But I’ve seen more than enough bones laying around.”

“Yeah, but shouldn’t there be more?” Wade asked.

He and I were going through a patch of wild raspberries, popping them into our mouths as fast as we could. Fresh fruit was a luxury and every so often I would toss one behind me to Hambone who sat on his haunches patiently, his muzzle stained with juice.

“Why more?” I answered with my own question.

“Take that town we met in,” he said, “the city limit sign said the population was 15,000. Did you see anywhere close to that many skeletons there?”

“No, but I didn’t go through every house, either.” I reasoned, tossing the golden tan fluffy a berry.

“You told me that the shit went down on a Saturday afternoon, right?”

“About noon, just before lunch.”

“I have to trust you on that ‘cause I was in the mountains,” he stopped and looked at me. “Don’t you think that on a Saturday, midday, in the summer, there would be people all over the place doing things? Shopping, yardwork, going out to lunch?”

“Sure.”

“So where are the bodies? The night before we met, I camped in a large park. There were no bones anywhere. The parking lot was full of cars, but no bones. Weird, huh?”

“Well, people probably went home and died there.”

“Without their cars? Just seems strange, that’s all.”

“Maybe it was wild animals,” I said.

“That’s a lot of wild animals in a town that far from the countryside. Besides, bears and mountain lions and such are pretty messy eaters. Dogs, too.”

“I guess that it’s just a mystery,” was all I could say.

“I guess so.”

I don’t know if Wade was a natural talker, or if he just had all of his words stored up from when he was alone, waiting to find someone to spill them out to, but he loved to talk. I didn’t mind. He was a good companion, like the older brother I never had. He helped share the load, taking turns pulling the wagon, finding food and firewood, and just being there, which was a huge relief. He even liked Hambone, who, for his part, liked him.

His company made life easier, but that ease came with a price. When I was alone, and even after I found Hambone, I was able to ignore the guilt I had for killing that stranger. His murder was part of my overall feeling of despair and hopelessness. Now, with the hope of finding other survivors, my actions weighed heavily on me.

I began to have bad dreams, sometimes waking in the middle of the night, covered in sweat. Even during the day, if I closed my eyes I could see the man standing there, holding Smokey’s body, as the bullets ripped into his chest, the shocked look on his face as I shot him and he tumbled to the ground.

Hambone noticed that something was wrong and would ask me if I had “heawt huwties”. I don’t know how he picked up on it, but he was convinced I needed hugs, which I rejected. I didn’t want or need his affection. If Wade noticed, he never said anything. Maybe I hid it, or maybe he just didn’t know me that well yet.

Finally I couldn’t hold it in any longer. One night, after we ate and were sitting by the fire, drinking coffee, I told him the story. When I finished, he looked at me over the fire.

“Wow,” he said, “wow. That’s heavy.”

“Am I a bad person? Am I evil?” I asked.

“Dude, you killed a guy.”

“But I didn’t mean to! It just happened. I’m not a killer! I saw him holding Smokey and I…I didn’t mean to!”

He reached over and picked up Hambone and held him in his lap. The fluffy cooed as Wade stroked his mane. “Yeah, but dude, you killed him.”

“I wish I could take it back! I wish that it never happened! I didn’t want to kill him! It just happened!”

The way he looked at me reminded me of the way dad would look at me when I disappointed him. “If you woke up tomorrow and I was out here cooking up Hambone, what would you do?” he asked.

“What?”

“If I decided that I wanted some fluffy for breakfast and was frying him up, would you shoot me?” I noticed that he was holding Hambone’s ears down so he couldn’t hear.

“No! Of course not!”

“What if your dog ran out into the street and got run over? Would you shoot the driver?” he asked.

“No!”

“Then why did you shoot that guy? He was probably starving.”

“Because Smokey wasn't a pet! He was my friend! I loved him! He was the last thing that I ever loved and that guy killed him!” I wasn’t crying, yet, but my face was hot and flushed and I knew tears were coming. “Smokey was all I had left! My family was gone, my dog was gone, my whole life was gone! I was mad, sure, but I didn’t want to kill anyone. It just happened. If I could take it back I would.”

Wade released Hambone’s ears. “No, you’re not a bad person. You aren’t evil. This isn’t the world either of us grew up in. The rules have changed, but, ya know, we can’t forget our basic humanity.”

He paused and sipped his cup of coffee before continuing. “You aren’t absolved of this, though. You’ll carry it with you for the rest of your life, like the mark of Cain. Maybe, someday, you’ll be able to live it down, correct the dharma. If you’re lucky.”

He sat the fluffy down, who ran over to me. “Sam-daddeh nee’ huggies!”

For once, I let him hug me. Just this once.

----------


“Sam-daddeh, dis am bowing”

“I didn’t ask you to come with me, dipshit.”

“Miss Beff say fwuffeh hab tu stay wif ‘ou.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a big boy and I don’t need no shit-rat holding my hand.”

After several days staying off of my sprained ankle, I was feeling better and decided to try my luck fishing in the stream behind the shopping center. It was actually a small river, fairly deep and clear, the banks eroded from flooding. I sat on a camp stool in the shade of a tilted willow and cast my line into the current.

Hambone had a healthy respect for the water and stayed behind me, munching on grass and weeds. I had been at it for an hour or so and I hadn’t had a nibble.

“C’mon, let’s try farther down,” I said, reeling in my line.

Several yards downstream there was a wide spot with an eddy. I hoped that maybe I could catch a catfish or two there. I felt that I needed to contribute something as Beth had been busy since I got hurt.

We now had a working stove in the shed. She had also found some oil drip trays in an auto supply store and nailed them to the wall behind the stove for protection from the heat. We also had a box of paperback books, some games, a few decks of cards and Hambone had some blocks to go with his ball.

She had gone out this morning with the wagon to scavenge firewood from nearby homes. This left me feeling useless, so I thought that having some fresh fish for dinner might assuage my ego. I had to admit that she was a lot stronger than I thought she would be, and a lot more helpful. She seemed to have a real drive to her. I don’t know if she was trying to prove something to me or to herself, but she was doing a great job.

My thoughts were interrupted by a pull on my line. I waited to feel it again and pulled hard to set the hook. The fish fought and after a few minutes I had landed a good sized catfish. I put it in the creel and Hambone cautiously sniffed it.

“Am fishy?”

“Yep, that’s fish without the can.”

“Am nummeh?”

“You bet yer ass. Cat’s good eatin’”

“Po’ fishy!”

“Fine, numbnuts, no fish for you. More for me and Beth,” I told him.

---------


“Were you really going to shoot me? That day you found me.”

I froze and the guilt hit me hard. We were sitting by the fire pit outside of the shed, eating catfish. She kept eating, waiting for my answer.

“No. You were so weak, all I needed to do was give the gun a yank and you would have dropped it.”

“Then why did you threaten to shoot me?”

“Why did you stick your gun in my face?”

“I was scared,” she replied, “why else?”

I nodded. “Maybe I was scared, too.”

“Of a starving little stick of a girl?”

“With a big gun,” I said.

“An unloaded gun.”

“And how was I supposed to know that?”

This time, she nodded. “Fair enough. Man, it’s good to eat something that didn’t come from a can or a pouch.”

“Yeah. I’ll try again tomorrow.”

“The ankle’s okay?”

“Yep.”

Hambone had been busy stacking his blocks, but came over to us. “Fishy nummeh?”

Beth gave him a small piece. He ate it and his eyes lit up. “Das gud!”

“I tried to tell you, dumbass,” I said.

“You know, Sam, I don’t get you. This little fluffy loves you and all you do is give him crap. Why did you even bother saving him if all you do is spit in his eye?”

“Sam-daddeh neba spit in fwuffeh see-pwace,” Hambone said.

Beth patted his head. “That’s just a figure of speech, sweetie.”

I rose and threw my paper plate in the fire. “I have my reasons.”

“Reasons for saving him or reasons for treating him so badly?”

“Both,” I said and walked off into the twilight to take a leak.

----------


The winter came on fast and unlike the previous year, it was cold and harsh. Wade and I really weren’t prepared. We didn’t have enough food, which meant that we had to not only dig through the wreckage to find more, but we had to search under the snow. Our only shelter was our tent and we spent days huddled in our sleeping bags and blankets when storms came through and if the weather permitted, we bunched up close by our fire outside.

Neither of us had decent cold weather clothes at the time. On rare sunny days we went scavenging for food, hoping to find enough to see us through to the next good day. Hambone suffered the most. With his metabolism, he didn’t do well on short rations. It was hard to get him to understand that we knew that he had “tummeh owwies” but there wasn’t much we could do about it.

One snowy day, with the wind whipping around the tent, Wade and I promised each other that next winter would be different, that we would have decent shelter and a stockpile of food.

“Yeah, but we have to get through this one first,” I said.

Our luck changed one day soon after. The sun was out and as we got ready to go looking for food, Wade grabbed my arm and pointed. There, not more than fifty yards away were a herd of deer. I counted at least a dozen.

“Can you hit one from here?” he whispered. I was afraid that if we tried to get closer, we would scare them away.

“I’ll try,” I unslung my rifle and slowly took a kneeling position. I didn’t have a scope on the AR, just iron sights. There was no wind and I sighted on the closest animal, not caring if it was a buck or doe. Hunger made it swim in my sights, but I took a deep breath, held it and squeezed the trigger.

The report made Hambone, who was wrapped in his blanket in the wagon jump and scream. He probably would have shit himself, if he had any shit to give. The herd fled, leaving a dark shape laying on the snowy field.

Wade turned and looked at me, a grin on his drawn, whiskered face. “You got one!”

That night we feasted on roasted venison. Even Hambone got into the act, eating his fill of the rich meat. We never told him where the meat came from and he never asked, he just ate.

The carcass fed us for most of a week and saw us through the worst of the winter. Eventually, the spring thaw came and soon we were able to continue on our way, searching for other survivors.

----------


I stood at the shed door, looking out as the rain sheeted down. The night sky flashed with lightning and boomed with thunder.

Beth put her book down. “You wanna let me beat you at Scrabble again?”

I closed the door and turned towards her, feeling the heat from the stove. “Sure. You want some tea?”

“Is there any more of the Red Zinger?”

I rummaged through the plastic tub. “We have a box and a half left.”

I put the water on to boil as she set up the board. When I finished I took my seat at the table. “Where’s Hambone?”

“In his bed. He doesn’t like the thunder,” she replied.

While she was picking her tiles, I studied her face. She looked very different from when we had first met. Her dark blonde hair was growing out and her face was rounder, no longer pinched and narrow. Her color looked better, less pale and sickly.

She caught me staring at her. “What are you looking at?”

“You,” I said, “you look healthy. It’s good.”

“Yeah, turns out we need food to live. Stop staring at me, it makes me uncomfortable. I mean it.”

“Excuse me. What makes you so sensitive?”

“Like you said, I have my reasons,” she scowled at me, “Now, are we going to play or not?”

I took off my knit cap and rubbed my head. I had no idea what her life was like before we met. At first I didn’t want to know. What was the point of getting to know someone if they were just going to drop dead all of a sudden? But now, I discovered, I was curious to know her story. I had to admit that she intrigued me. My first impressions of her turned out to be totally wrong. Now I wanted to know what made her who she was.

“You know,” I started, “we’ve never learned each other’s stories. Do you feel like talking about it?”

She didn’t answer right away. We sat there for several moments, the only sounds were the rain and the crackling fire.

“Really?” she finally asked.

I nodded. “I’ll go first, if you like.”

She got up and went to her cot, where she sat, cross-legged, holding her tea in both hands. “Go ahead.”

I told her my story, but I was unable to tell her about the man I killed. I told myself that it wasn’t time yet, but in reality, I was afraid of her judgement. I didn’t want her to hate me.

When I finished, she had tears in her eyes. “Oh, Sam. I’m so sorry. So the day you met me you had just lost Wade? That’s so sad.”

“Yeah, but it’s no excuse for the way I’ve treated you.”

“And your father, trying so hard to save his family, just to see them die, one by one.”

“It was terrible to see such a strong man broken like that,” I said, “death was a mercy for him.”

She wiped her eyes. “My story isn’t quite so tragic, but it’s pretty grim. Before I start, I’m going to need some help. Hambone?”

“Yus, Miss Beff?” he said from his bed.

“I need some huggies. Can you help?”

“Am woud munstahs stiww dewe?”

“No, sweetie, they’re gone.”

“Otay, Hambone gib huggies!” he jumped onto her cot and into her arms.

After a long hug, she told her story.


To Be Continued.

Uploader MrBoo,
Tags Beth Hambone author-mrboo end_of_the_world sam wade
Rating safe
Source Unknown
Locked No

Comments


- Reply
MrBoo: Next part. As always,let me know what you think.

- Reply
Ceron: God dammit I wish there was more. This world is so genuinely engrossing. I just kinda don't want anything super shitty to happen to the current 3. I really like the whole survival thing they have going and it would be kinda harsh to have the world screw them over. But I really like the story
- Reply
Anonymous1: Now let them fuck and live happily with many offspring. Disregard the fluffer, story's good without him.

- Reply
BinBarbarian: Yes v. Good
- Reply
Anonymous2: No idea why sam feels guilty. If you walked up on someone who’d just murdered your seven year old for food he’d sure as shit die for it. Same basic principle.
- Reply
Anonymous3: More!
- Reply
Nuuu: Great story.