Only five minutes into their journey and Kris realized he was in over his head.
He didn’t know Aberdeen, and he hadn’t been paying attention to the path the group took from the RV when they’d first arrived; he had been too busy scanning the horizon for bad guys like the ones now at his back impatiently prodding him along.
Kris slowed and scanned the area. As dusk settled in, lengthening shadows and distorting light, he found the environment completely foreign to him. He didn’t even know which way downtown was, let alone the RV.
“Quit stalling,” Marko said, giving Kris a hearty shove forward. “I got better things to do than follow you around town like some damn dog.”
“W-which way is downtown?” Kris said.
“What was that?” Marko said, leaning forward. Marko was a skinny kid, and the shotgun in his hands looked much too big for him.
“I-I-I don’t know which way downtown is,” Kris said. “We passed through it on our way to your neighborhood.”
“Unbelievable,” Marko muttered to Ed, his chewing louder than his words. “This dumb shit doesn’t have a clue where they left the RV.”
“I-I can find it,” Kris said. “I just have to work my way back from downtown.”
Marko sighed and led Kris through a few backyards until they reached the lackluster strip of brick buildings and cobblestone streets. “There ya go,” he said. “Now get us to the RV and maybe I’ll just shoot ya instead of feeding ya to the zombies.”
“What?” Kris cried, aghast. He looked at Ed’s stone-cold face and back to Marko. “Tony said we could go free after this. That was the deal.”
“Oh, that was the deal, huh?” Marko mocked. “I didn’t realize you and your retarded friends were in a bargaining position. What the fuck are you doing here, anyway? This whole place is abandoned and blocked off. Or was your group too stupid to notice?”
“I-I’m not leading you anywhere until I know we’re gonna be safe after this.” Kris felt like throwing up as soon as he said it and looked away.
Marko stepped closer and stabbed a grubby finger at Kris’s chest. “Listen, buddy. We’re the ones with the guns, not you. That means you don’t make the calls. Capisce?” With that, he spun Kris around and pushed him on.
Kris wandered aimlessly, doing his best to look like he knew where he was going while silently hoping he stumbled upon the RV. All the neighborhoods looked the same. Twice he thought he walked through the same block, but the silence from his captors told him he was in unique territory.
The journey gave him time to think. Kris wasn’t naïve enough to think he and his friends would be spared after the bandits got what they wanted. He needed a way out this situation, and fast.
Then he remembered his hand.
“I-I need to go to the bathroom.”
“You can piss when we get back,” Marko said.
“It’s, uh, an emergency.”
Marko halted and sighed. “Son of a bitch.” He spotted some bushes to left and motioned toward them with his gun. “You can take a leak over there.”
Kris obeyed. He stepped behind a hedge and unbuttoned his pants to relieve himself. He took a deep breath. “Uh, I-I’m surprised no one asked about hand,” Kris called over his shoulder to the two watching men.
“The hell you talkin’ about?” Marko asked.
Kris gave him his best look of confused ignorance. “Didn’t you see my bandage?” He held his injured hand in the air.
Marko laughed. “What’d you do, dumbass? Trip and get a booboo running from the zombies?”
“No,” Kris answered with a gulp. “One of them bit me.”
A chilling silence fell over the group, and the only sound Kris heard was that of his urine splashing in the dirt. He finished, zipped up his pants, and regrouped with the others.
“You’re lying,” Marko said, looking to Ed for confirmation. “That blood is dry.” Marko eyed the bandage again to make sure.
“Of course it is,” Kris said as confidently as he could. “I used the antidote.”
Marko’s eyes widened. Even Ed couldn’t help looking surprised. Marko reached forward and ripped the bandage from Kris’s hand. His mouth fell open when he saw the injury was indeed a days-old bite. “Tell me what the antidote is,” he commanded in a low, shaking voice.
“You mean you don’t know?” Kris asked, feigning ignorance. “How have you survived this long?” It took everything in Kris’s power to not burst out laughing. He had to fight to keep his voice calm and steady.
Marko raised his gun until Kris was staring down the barrel. “Tell me what the fucking antidote is, or I’ll blow your fucking head off!”
“You know,” Kris said, smirking, his hands raised in surrender, “it sounds like I’m in a bargaining position after all.”