Haven Page 25


“This isn’t a romance,” he said, looking angry.


I shrugged. “I’m still a girl.” This was my last ditch effort. Humanity! Going once! Going twice! …


“Yeah. Don’t I know it.”


Gone!


He pulled me hard towards him, giving me exactly what I was looking for.


I put my arms out as if to wrap them around him, and as soon as he reached out to grab one of my boobs with his nasty, blood-stained fingers, I brought my leg up sharply. I put everything I had into the kick, catching him square in the balls.


He leaned forward in slow motion, and I grabbed his shoulders, guiding him slowly to the ground at my feet.


I laughed to cover the sound of his one and only groan. “Oh, you’re so funny!” I exclaimed, loud enough so his friend would hear.


He landed on the ground and rolled over on his back, staring up at me while his face turned white with pain. His mouth opened and closed, but no sound was coming out anymore.


I bent over until I was close to his face and whispered in his ear. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you raping girls isn’t nice?” I reached into the side of my boot and pulled out the small blade I always kept there. I stared him in the eyes and gave him my last words. “This is for killing my friend, the chief of the Miccosukee tribe.” I flipped him onto his side and slit his throat where he lay. I stepped back and kicked him over so he’d bleed into the ground.


“Oh, yes! Oh my god!” I yelled in an enthusiastic voice, wiping my blade off on his back. “You’re so amazing! Yes! Yes!” A quick glance towards the path told me we were still being left alone so my new boyfriend could accomplish his raping and pillaging.


He moved a little at first, but within seconds went still.


I made sure he was covered with plant material and then went to stand by the tree that kept us hidden from view.


“Oh man, that was amazing. Why don’t you go down to the water to clean up, and I’ll start with your friend.” I turned my voice towards the hut. “Excuse me! I’m sorry, I don’t know your name, but I’m ready for you!”


***


I hid behind a smaller tree that was next to and slightly behind the bigger one. I didn’t want to waste any time playing games with this guy. There was too much of a chance that he’d find his dead friend and raise the alarm.


I took several deep breaths to steady my racing pulse and trembling limbs. Killing was a nasty business, and I was sick that it was my business right now and that I’d been forced into it by these monsters. I worried as I stood there that I was transforming into one of them.


As the canner entered the place where he expected to find me, I walked out from my hiding spot to stand behind him. He didn’t hear a thing.


“Where are you?” he asked, looking left and right.


With only a moment’s hesitation, I punched my knife into his back and through his lung.


My foot came up next, slamming into his balls from behind.


My blood was rushing so fast and so strong I could hear it in my head, like a giant storm of waves crushing over me, again and again in a horrible, regular rhythm.


Two murders in the space of five minutes. Surely I would be going to hell now and would never get to see my father in the afterlife. Will he ever forgive me?


The canner fell into a heap where he stood, the only sound coming from him a slight wheeze of pain. A hunting knife fell out of his hand and into the leaves next to his right foot.


“Sorry,” I said, though feeling a little less regret now that I knew he’d come here to not only rape me but possibly stab me, too. I removed my blade from his back and did the same thing to him that I had done to his friend. I pushed his shoulder into the dead leaves so he’d bleed out into the earth.


“You planned to rape me and cut me, and I can’t leave you here to do that to another girl. No room for sadists in the new world.” Please don’t let me be a sadist for killing these two guys. Please.


I stood and visibly shook myself, trying to get rid of the guilt and emotional agony I was suffering over the choices I’d just made. I couldn’t entertain the illusion even for a second that this guy could possibly be a good person - someone to be spared. He’d lost whatever humanity he might have had, sacrificing it in the name of domination and torture of other kids.


It was time for me to stop being so naive, expecting people like this to have good in them when they had the same freedom to be bad as I did and yet took full advantage of it in the worst ways possible. I never chose to eat kids, murder kids in cold blood, or take from others what they wouldn’t willingly give. But these guys had.


It was black and white for me: people left on this earth were either canners or not canners. They either ate people or they didn’t, period. That was the dividing line for me - respect for human life or a complete lack thereof. Those with respect were safe from me. Those who didn’t … weren’t.


I looked down at the two dead bodies, kids whose lives I had ended with the training my father had given me and the knife I held in my hand - a gift from the Miccosukee. I probably should have felt terrible. I probably should have been crying. But all I felt was determined now. If we were ever going to live in Haven or anywhere else peacefully, we had to get rid of those who lived to prey on others.


Once a canner, always a canner; and once a canner, always a rapist, murderer, and thief. There would be no mercy for the wicked.


I walked away from the scene of my almost-rape. Now I had to figure out a way to get Bodo out of the trap he’d gotten himself into and then locate our friends. Hopefully, we’d find them alive and not suffering at the hands of monsters.


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***


I crept back to the hut, my eyes flicking back and forth across the spaces around me, hoping to catch any movements or colors that were out of place - advance warnings that attackers were nearby.


All the way up the path I panicked, worrying I was about to get shot or jumped. But I reached the end unscathed, and now was just around the corner from the place where we used to share meals with our Miccosukee and Creek friends.


It was dead silent.


Why can’t I hear Bodo? He’s always talking. He’d know to talk and let me know where he is.


I dropped down low, hoping that if the remaining canners were looking for someone to arrive from the path, they’d look up at head level. Down on my stomach, I army-crawled the last few feet until I could see the inside of the hut.


It was empty. And the bodies of the last canners were on the ground, blooms of red spread out across the back of their t-shirts.


I got up on my hands and knees and moved farther on. A quick scan of the area told me the hut was completely empty, and if anyone was standing outside it, he was well-hidden.


I stood, walking as quietly as possibly into the hut.


I stepped over the dead canners who’d dropped earlier during our shootout, and stopped when I reached the one who’d been the ringleader, the one who’d been holding Bodo captive the last time I was here.


Pushing him over onto his back, I nearly screamed at what I saw. His whole abdomen had been slit open, and his intestines and other things were sliding out. Everything was pooling next him as it fell into the huge puddle of arterial blood that had emptied him of life. His sightless eyes stared out toward a spot behind me.


Even though I knew he wasn’t staring at anything back there, I had to turn around and look behind me anyway, just because it was so creepy. No one was there now, but someone had been. No way had Bodo done this. He wasn’t this savage.


Words from a girl I’d hoped to never see again as long as I lived haunted my mind.


“I’ll gut you like a fish.”


Coli had said that to me once. I’d heard her say it to Winky, too.


I looked down at the canner and put it all together. Pieces of a scary puzzle were falling into place. He’d definitely been gutted.


Did Coli do this? I stepped back from the gore, my hand resting lightly on my own stomach. It was threatening to turn itself inside out. I tried not to look at him again, but it was impossible. All that blood … all that stuff that was supposed to be inside was now out, lying on the floor of the ceremonial hut … And that one last look was my undoing.


I stumbled over to the side of the hut and vomited into the bushes next to it. Holding onto the railing, I waited until the spasms stopped pushing me practically inside out before I bothered to try and think straight again.


By the time I was done, I was lightheaded and my mouth was so sour I could hardly swallow without being sick again; but at least I could put two words together in my head and make a little sense about what I had to do next.


Must find Bodo.


I didn’t dare risk looking at the dead canner-leader again. I focused instead on the area around him, searching for clues of where Coli had gone and where she’d taken Bodo. There was no doubt in my mind that Bodo was still captive somewhere. No matter how mad he was at me, I really didn’t believe that he would just leave me to be raped by canners. He wasn’t that kind of guy. Immature? Maybe. Inhumane? Never.


I noticed some wide leaves that were broken near a path I knew well. It led to my old hut, the one that I had shared with Bodo, Peter, and Buster. It seemed like it had been so long ago, but it had been less than a month.


I smiled grimly as I moved towards the path, thinking how Coli liked to say we white kids were like buffalo crashing through the swamp. Bodo was definitely a buffalo, and I was glad for it. He was giving me a sign.


I tiptoed around the pools of blood, ignoring the high-pitched whine of flies and mosquitos that were converging on the blood-feast, focusing instead on the sounds of possible travelers and the broken leaves and piles of disturbed debris at my feet.


I walked for five minutes before I finally heard voices.


“Dat’s a problem. Do you hear me? Dat’s a bigk problem!” Bodo’s voice was hoarse. “You can’t do dat. Dat’s not right. Kowi would not like dat.”


“Shut up, idiot. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Kowi’s … Kowi’s …” And then the sound of crying came next - agonized emotional pain. “Don’t you get it?! Kowi. Is. Gone! Everyone’s gone! And you are all I have left and now you’re going to be with me! Not Bryn!”


“But I don’t want to be with you. And Bryn is still alife! She is alife!”


“No, she’s not! She’s dead, too. Everyone is dead except you and me.” Her voice went from weepy to matter-of-fact. “You came back for me, I know you did. You came back so I wouldn’t be alone. And now we’re going to live together here and be happy. You and me. Together. We’ll hunt together and fish together and maybe we’ll even have children together. We’ll be great parents.”


“But you don’t even like me.”


Bodo sounded sad now, like he pitied Coli. I know I did. She had clearly lost it. She was crying and yelling half the time and sounding like she was utterly convinced the next. And she was making no attempt at being quiet like she usually did. She must have found him and taken care of those canners all by herself. I wasn’t sure now if I was in a better position or a worse one with Coli as Bodo’s captor.


“You’re right,” she agreed. “I don’t like you very much. I don’t like you at all actually, because you have terrible taste in girls and you’re immature and stupid. But you’re here, you’re strong, and you’re all I’ve got, so we’ll just have to make do.”


“Wait a minute. I’m not all dat bad.”


I shook my head. Leave it to Bodo to get all offended at a lunatic’s ravings. Maybe if he focused on convincing her she was wrong, it could be enough of a distraction for me to get in there and get him away from her.


I wasn’t sure what to do about her, though. I couldn’t very well take her with us if I had to worry about being gutted around every corner. But could I leave her out here all by herself? I didn’t think I could do that either. My father’s words echoed in my head.

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