Part 28 for you. This is the point in writing this story that it felt like the corner was finally turned. We have a way forward now. Something to look toward. It feels like our legs are back under us. Hope you get the same feeling in reading it.
We have just under 4,000 words left in the story. That's probably another month and a half of posts. In case you wanted to mark your calendar.
On with our tale.
Welcome to the End//Part 28:Making Plans
I walk the Midway looking for Bethany and Britt, but I can’t find them at first. Caroline never got specific about where she saw them, so it’s a hunt. The length of the main walk in the Midway is empty, but on my second pass I see them. They aren’t in the main walkway. They are huddled in a bloody pile inside one of the booths set aside for games. A board filled with small bullseye targets is above them.
They died together and went violently. My only hope, even though I didn’t have much use for either of them, is that it was fast, and by all indications, it was. There aren’t defensive wounds on either of them. My guess: the wailers came into Fair Park from the front entrance. They stampeded past what would have been Big Tex and got funneled into the narrow walk that led straight to the Midway. Maggie got caught away from the main crush but obviously was caught by other wailers. Walter put up a fight of some kind, one he had to know was going to be futile. Predictably, it looks like Britt and Bethany ran, although I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. They got a decent distance away, honestly--a few hundred yards.
They must have ducked into one of the game booths hoping to crouch in a corner and go undetected, but wailers aren’t easily fooled. They came in here and cornered themselves. They didn’t stand a chance.
I bend to try and pick them up--they deserve a burial too--but I can’t. They are shredded. Arms. Legs. Torsos. They are all individual pieces at this point. And what is left, on closer inspection, has been picked at. Whatever animals have found their way into Fair Park have gotten to the girls.
I stand over them for a moment, contemplating what to do with them when I hear a voice behind me.
“Just leave them,” Caroline says. “They didn’t care to try and help. Or to fight apparently.”
“I might have run too, considering.”
“No, you wouldn’t.” She turns back for camp, and I follow.
She sits on a milk crate and stares off to the setting sun. I offer her my chair, but she refuses. I sit.
“So, I’ve been thinking,” she begins. “I don’t have much here anymore. Anything, really.”
She pauses, and I wait what feels like forever for the next sentence that I know is coming.
Caroline continues: “Tomorrow, well, maybe not then, but soon, I’m leaving. I’m heading north. I need to try and find my sister. If she’s alive, she’s all I have. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’ll follow I75 north up to McKinney …”
“I’m going to Oklahoma,” I blurt out. It’s the first time I’ve said it outloud. It’s honestly the first time that I’ve really even landed on a positive decision. I’d considered it, but only in fleeting moments. Apparently, I was decided.
She looks at me, and I can’t read her. Is she disappointed? Disapproving?
“Oh.” She pauses. “Then you can come some of the way with me.”
“I suppose so. Yeah. I’m headed toward Oklahoma City, but I can come with you to McKinney. I need to make a left at some point, but there’s plenty of opportunity to do that.”
“Good. I’d like the company.” She stands. “I’ll take the chair now.”