Amber Skies: Part 5

Cover art drawn by Ashley Landers.

Cover art drawn by Ashley Landers.

Mackenzie Pence, Assistant Editor

I wake up in the morning to see the door of the janitor’s closet open. I rush outside to see where Carter is, and find him lying on his stomach, looking at the kitchen knife I gave him when we first met. He hears me burst into the hall and stands up. “Hey,” he says.

“Hey. What are you doing out here?”

“Oh nothing, just waiting for you to get up,” he says, the warm sun streaming through the windows and reflecting off of his blonde hair.

“Okay, well we better get going,” I say. “Let’s head out.”

“Wait. Let’s see if we can find some food first. I’m starved.” I agree with him, and we open up a few apartments and find more soup. I reach for my knife to open a can, only to find that it’s not there. A look of frustration washes over my face, but Carter hands me his kitchen knife. I smile, and butcher the top of the can trying to get it open. I do the same to his, and we basically drink the chicken noodle soup out of the small openings. We share a pouch of Capri Sun and head out the door.

“Good thing you kept that stupid knife,” I say. He smiles and leads the way out of the apartment complex. I step outside and read the sun. It’s almost one o’clock. “I slept until one?” I say, surprised. He just looks at me and shrugs his shoulders.

“Was I supposed to wake you up?”

“Well yeah!” I say, kind of joking and kind of not. It doesn’t give us much time to get to his camp.

“Sorry! I’ll get you up next time,” he says, a boyish smile on his face. I find myself falling more in love with him every step we take.

We walk past the remains of my old house. There is not a lick of evidence that any Morphers were ever there. He sees me staring at it, and pulls me away. He takes my hand and keeps walking along the desolate street. We pass Mr. Johnson’s house, and a few of the other houses we raided. The walk is long to get out of the city, but we eventually do. The broken up asphalt road from the town turns to dirt as we close into the woods. It’s been about an hour and we still haven’t gotten to the cabin. My feet ache, my mouth is dryer than the Sahara, and I still have Molly’s blood on my shirt. At this point, it’s about three o’clock.

“I thought you said this would take an hour?” I say, dragging my feet and holding his hand.

“I was just estimating. Do you want to take a break? I mean, we’re almost there.”

“No, just keep going,” I say. The sooner we get there, the better.

We finally arrive at a dilapidated cabin with no glass in the windows and one door. I get an uneasy feeling as we head inside. There’s one couch in the middle of a wide open living room with a tiny kitchen that has empty cans everywhere. We should have brought more food.

“Are you sure it’s safe here?” I ask, unsure that this was the best idea.

“I think so. We survived three years in this tiny cabin.” I nod and sit on the couch, examining my gun. He takes the matches out of his pocket and sets them on a rotten coffee table, and makes his way over to the couch. He sits beside me and I put my legs on his lap. I scan the room, taking it all in. A few rotten chairs. A couple books lying around, opened and dusty. A stuffed rabbit in the corner.

“Was that Molly’s?” I ask, pointing to the dusty animal lying on its side.

“Yeah. I found it for her when she was about five. It always helped her fall asleep.” He looks at me and gets tears in his eyes. She was like his little sister, and it is obvious to me now. I sit up, hug him and wipe his eyes.

“It’s okay,” I say. “It’ll be okay.” He nods, and I lay my head down in his lap. I hear him breathing and every now and then, he sniffles. I feel sad for him, and I can’t help but tear up a little bit too. This world is so ugly, and the past few events were a testament to that. The last this I see before I fall asleep is that limp stuffed bunny.

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I jolt awake to the sound of a gunshot. Carter lies on the floor of the cabin with a huge scratch on the side of his face, crying out in pain. A dead purple beast lies limp in the window frame. I rush over and look at the claw mark, taking off my jacket to try and stop the bleeding.

“What happened?” I say frantically.

“It was a bear! I panicked!”

I point to the Morpher in the window. “That obviously isn’t a bear!”

“Well it was before I got your gun!” he says, yelling right back. I sense the level of fear in his voice.

“Okay, okay!” I pick him up by the arm and help him onto the couch. He lies there with my jacket on his face, soaking it in blood. “That gunshot is just going to attract more, and all this blood,” I say pointing to my undershirt and his face, “They’re like bloodhounds! They’ll smell us!”

“You think that’s why a whole bunch attacked us at your house?” he says.

“I don’t know, but we don’t have much time.” He sits up at these words and walks over to me, still holding my jacket to his temple.

“Well what are we going to do?” Just as he speaks, I hear a loud howling noise from outside. I pick my gun up off of the floor and peer out the window, only to find a pack of twelve amber-eyed wolves circling around the cabin, their noses in the air. Their eyes lock with mine, and they start to close in, turning into their original shape with every step they take. “We need to get out!” he says in a panicked tone. His voice wavers with fear and confusion.

“No,” I say, and I reach for the matches on the rotten table. I pull one out and hold it close to the striker on the side of the box. “We need to wait.” I throw my gun to him, and he still has a confused look on his face. “Go to the front door and fire the last bullet.”

“Are you crazy?”

I smile and light the match on fire. “Just a little bit.”

He rushes out the door and fires a shot into the darkness. All the Morphers run around to that side of the cabin, charging towards the door. Carter backpedals across the room and waits in front of the window. I wait for the first one to enter the doorway, and throw the match at its feet. It catches on fire, but as Carter crawls out the tiny window, I light another one and throw it on the floor just to be safe. The old, dry wood has no problem eating the tiny flame and producing one big ball of heat and destruction. I threw the match too close, and the fire singes off every single hair on my arms. It quickly wraps around the window, creating a ring of fire for me to get through. I leap out the window, getting many burns on my arms and face, and my skin starts to bubble. Carter is on the other side waiting for me to emerge from the cabin.

“Oh my gosh, your arms!” he exclaims as I meet up with him. He’s not in the best of shape either. My jacket is long gone in the fire, along with my empty gun. I watch as Morphers run away into the forest, and I back away from the massive fire.

“I’ll be fine,” I say. “Just a couple burns.”

We watch the fire burn for a while, and witness it slowly collapse into nothing. Then, something I should have thought of happens. It spreads into the trees.

“Oh no,” I say, backing away slowly. Now we really have to get out.

We run fast. Faster than I have ever run in my life. His hand is clutched tightly in mine, as we run through the woods, my gray undershirt and khaki pants soaked in blood. We have to get out. The surrounding forest burns to the ground. The blisters on my arms burst as we run through thick brush. Sparks of burning wood glow in the nighttime sky. We run into a clearing, and he trips on his own two feet. I quickly collapse on top of him, and roll onto my back, watching the world around us quickly crumple into nothing. We breathe hard. We are safe-for now.

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