Monday, July 15, 2013

Stayed Behind, Part Two

Moving through the crowd and out of the crater, I smirk as several leatherworkers rush past me, tools in hand. Someone would have some new supplies to create a variety of things, most likely armor for the hunters the village has. I don’t really care as I already have my own set of demon-hide armor, one that I’ve worn well for years now.

Moving through the twists and turns of the small wooden huts making up our village, I stop and scan the darkened night sky, part of me hoping to see another Byakhee just lurking about, ready to swoop down and provide for me another challenge, another chance to fight. But alas, the skies are clear and safe for the time being. I make my way back to my hut, pulling back on the sheet that acts as a door, announcing my presence to the only other inhabitant.
“Evening lover,” says a cool, light hearted voice as a sleek form glides up from the fur-laden bed. She strikes a match along the side drawer, lighting a candle to shed light over our one-room home.
I drink in the sheer perfection that Christina presents to me, her alabaster skin glowing in the dim light of the candle, with nothing but a bear pelt held up over her bared chest. Her slanted eyes and page-boy haircut add an air of mystery to her that I’ve always found intoxicating, just like her natural scent. Zachary is quick to declare our love an abomination, but not enough people listen to that zealot to make him much of a threat.
“Hey baby, just some late night work, sorry about this.” I say quickly, knowing how much she dislikes my line of work and what I do.
“I don’t want that… thing in my house lover, you know that.” Christina coolly states, rising from the bed and padding across the wooden floor towards me.
“I need it, well, its teeth at any rate. It won’t take long, just an hour or so with the pliers.” I say, trying to stop the argument already brewing behind her eyes. She’s extra sensitive to the stench the demons give off, and claims that the smell can’t be dismissed for days after I do any of my work.
“I’ve seen one of those before…” She says, changing the subject suddenly. She moves around to get a better look at the head hanging beneath my arm.
“Yeah, it’s a Byakhee; one of the fliers that come from the pit every once in a while.” I say, turning so that she can look at the head a little closer. “They’re pretty rare, especially alone. They move in great flocks, reanimating the dead.”
“So you think they’re might be some zombies around? Close to the village?” She asks, suddenly afraid. Her parents had been consumed by zombies, as had the band of people she’d traveled from the ruins of Chicago from when my group had come across her.
God… I think to myself, a slight smile coming to my face, that’s been over nine years now… and only four where we’ve been a couple.
“Yeah, yeah there might be.” I reply with a moment’s pause. There were a couple potter’s fields within a few days travel, where we buried our dead before we started to burn them. I look over at my work table and wordlessly walk over to it to dump the head onto the rough wood. I look back at Christina, “Get my tools, would you?”
She nods and moves back to the bed, dropping into a crouch and dragging out a toolbox from beneath the furs and frame. She hefts it up with a grunt and walks it over to my table, dropping it down with a gasp as the head’s mouth opens, hissing.
“Don’t worry, they do that.” I say with a grimace as she shoots me an ugly look, as if it were my fault. “They remain… animate for a while after they’re dead. Sometimes they moan, or bite at the air. I saw one that even had its eyes open, and followed you as you moved around the room.”
“Creepy…” Christina shudders as she hands me a pair of rusty pliers. “Just do this fast and don’t get blood everywhere.”
“I’ll try baby,” I say, moving close to her to give her a deep kiss, one she matches with equal fervor, “Just go to bed and get some sleep.”
“Alright,” She says, cupping the back of my neck as she leans her forehead against mine. “I was kind of hoping we could have an us night, but I know how important your work is.”
“Thank you,” I say, giving her another kiss before slapping her on the ass, earning a squeal and a series of giggles from the both of us. She sashays back to bed, swinging her hips a bit more than she needed to before climbing into bed, into the shadows that unfortunately hid her better attributes.
I shake my head before turning to the head, pulling up a stool to sit on while grabbing the Byakhee by one long ear, twisting the head back to get better access to its teeth. It’s jaw moves slowly up and down before I grip it, pulling the mandible down as far as I can.
I spend the next ten minutes plucking the long, narrow teeth from the creatures head, cursing to myself gently every time I cracked one, or broke one in half. Over the course of an hour, I rendered the skull down, removing all of the fangs and leaving them in a small ceramic bowl, some fifty odd teeth.
I smile at them, knowing how hard it will be to set them into arrows over the next few days. I’ve always had a hard time setting the teeth into the shafts, as it requires a steady hand and perfect concentration.
Thankfully Christina was able to do so for me, as she worked as a fletcher for the village. Almost all of us used bows or crossbows of some sort, and her job was one that was in high demand. She worked out of the house, taking orders from other hunters as often as he can. I imagine we’ll all be needing her services in the coming days, especially if Christina’s fear is true: if the Byakhee had located one of those mass graves we’d have a good deal of wandering dead that very well might be heading our way.  

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