(This is part 2 of Shielding a Dying Light, if you haven’t yet read part 1)
The girl scrambled back, terror on her face. She zipped up her jacket, and pulling away from Kord into the corner and its shadows.
“Wait,” he said, putting his hands out, and his palms up. He had no weapons on him. Creb’s knife still lay where it had fallen.
She paused for a moment, looked at his grimy face and at Creb’s corpse. Then she scurried further away pressing herself up against the join in the two walls.
“I’m not going to hurt you!” he shouted stepping toward her. She froze.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” He said more softly, slumping against the wall to his left.
He pressed his hand hard against his side. He was losing a lot of blood. He knew vaguely that he needed to do something about that. He began fumbling frantically with his free hand, trying to tear his shirt to bandage his wound. The girl watched his efforts and the life oozing out of him. He looked down at the growing stain, it was black in this light.
He had saved her life. He hadn’t needed to. But he had and he still didn’t know why. He found himself looking at her again.
“Hold on,” the girl said moving toward him, he continued trying to tear his shirt, biting at the fabric to rip it.
“Hold on! Save your strength before you bleed out all over the place,” she scolded him.
She picked up Creb’s knife and sliced through the bloodied shirt, the sharp blade easily cutting it. Kord flinched when it neared his throat. But her steady gaze kept him from moving. As he held her gaze a light bloomed in her eyes. Faintly at first and then it was stronger seeming to spread to her face. Making her stand out in the dark.
He was captivated, he grew calmer and his breathing slowed. It occurred to him suddenly that he cared more for her than anyone he had ever known. That sudden thought shocked him. He thought of his family, and although it galled him, he knew it was true. That sent fear coursing through him. Fear for her. He cast his glance around the alley. His awareness of the dangers of this place grew. The dangers to her.
“Why?” She whispered.
Kord simply shrugged, he did not know why. He had simply done what was right.
Why had he even cared what was right?
He stared at her as she wrapped the filthy fabric around his ribs to staunch the bleeding. She tied it tightly around his chest, her hands firm and confident as she worked but her touch gentle and light.
“Thank you,” his murmur tinged with surprise, “You’ve probably just saved my life.”
“Fair is fair,” she said with a smile that didn’t last, “and I haven’t saved your life yet, just postponed your death. We’re gonna need to find you something for that wound, or it’s just going to get worse.”
She looked away and moved to search Creb’s body. The junkie had nothing of use but the knife. The girl tossed the Boost aside, the pills falling amongst the rubble. Kord’s addicted mind thought to retrieve them, to keep them just in case. But then she took the shirt off the body, checked it for blood, and threw it to -
“What’s your name?” she said suspicious, the knife visibly between them, “ I’ve never seen you before.”
“Kord,” he said as he pulled the shirt on gingerly. “I’m not from here, been moving south for days. I’ve been headed this way since…” He trailed off, looking away from her, his eyes burned as the tears welled. He blinked them away, squeezing down on his rage, locking it away.
“I’m Eva,” She said thrusting out her hand. He took it, and shook it firmly, his eyes locking with hers. Again he saw it.
“There’s something about you, Eva,” Kord said.
She looked away, but he couldn’t tell if she was blushing.
“We better move on,” Eva said nodding toward the dead body.
“Scavengers?” Kord asked, panic a hair’s breadth from his voice.
“If we’re lucky,” she said, “gangers if we’re not. Can you walk?”
He nodded, extending a hand toward her. Eva helped him up. He was steadier. They had slowed the blood loss enough for now.
“Where do we go to?” Kord asked, waving his arm to the burning world around them.
“North to the Black Forest,” said Eva.
“Why? I know this place. It is not a good place. It is a wild place, full of animals. Some of these animals are… wrong,” protested Kord, even as he knew she would go, and that he would follow her.
“I’m tired of running and fighting for scraps. I want to stop for a time. I want to find a place without smoke, rubble and gangers. I want a place of my own. Not some scratched out dust heap,” Eva said, “All that I know is, the Black Forest is north, and it is free of this.” Eva looked around at the still smoking ruins of the town that once was.
There was a howl in the distance. It sent an icy chill down Kord’s spine, as he realised he would have to face that again. All too soon.
“Let us move, the place we go is far,” he said, “and the darkness will keep us safe enough for now.”
Eva looked at him, as if making a final judgement, and then offered him her shoulder for support. Kord nodded and took the knife in his right hand. The pair set off into the darkness, as another howl was cast at the red sickle moon and a cry pierced the night.