She watched me collect wood and pile it alongside the pit I dug and surrounded with large stones. After gathering dried leaves and twigs, I took out her prison shift and used a knife to rip it into strips. When done, the snap lighter ignited the cloth, which lit the leaves and twigs. Before I expected it, we had a nice fire burning.
“Wonder what kind or wild animals live here?” she asked.
“I suspect we will learn that during the night. We should sleep in the truck, the armor will protect us if the enemy discovers our hiding place, and from any carnivorous animals hungry and hunting.”
As we sat eating, Margaret said, between bites, “They told me you were an assassin who enjoyed killing too much so you were supposed to be executed, but instead escaped.”
I was nodding as she spoke. Reached for blades of tall grass next to me and pulled several free so I had an object to keep my hands occupied.
“Truth is I turned on them like you did, but I had more opportunity then you maybe. I didn’t have trouble doing as trained, because that was part of the training, and they used a method of chemical brainwashing that altered emotions enough to make me think without the need to deal with their burden.” I suddenly felt as weary as she looked and suggested we try sleeping. I really did not want to talk about the past. Nothing I said or did changed anything about it.
After I got her settled in the truck, I cleaned up and put out the fire, climbed in behind Margaret and sealed up in for the night. Or so I hoped.
Odd the way things happen sometimes. About 3am I awoke to the sound of someone or some animal at the front of the truck. I crawled forward and read the dash panel using the dim lighting of the LEDs that remained lit even when the truck was shut off. Not certain what I expected to find, but did see a switch marked front arming portals left and right.
Thinking about it I concluded they were either weapons, or portals through which weapons could be used. With an internal shrug, I flipped the switch on for the right side portal, heard a quiet whine and then a small red light marked ready to fire lit.
When whatever was in front of the truck jumped onto the hood I fired the weapon. A scream told me of its success. Now I lit the outside with all the lighting available, saw two human figures running into the tree line, grabbed my laser rifle, and exited.
The dead man was draped over the heavy metal bumper. It appeared he stood exactly before the portal so took the full blast in the chest.
I listened for Margaret, didn’t hear her so dragged the body into the forest far enough she wouldn’t see or even smell him. Then I spent the remainder of the night awake and on guard. It seemed by then that the ring world was extremely hostile and I wondered why.
The final refuge for the tattered remains of a dying species. I guess it’s likely that the men and woman brought to the ring world would be determined to succeed and survive regardless of what effort that required.
As the sun rose slowly Margaret became restless, and joined me before full light. She looked beautiful in the lighting and in her disheveled state. I brushed hair off her face, leaned and kissed her.
She smiled almost shyly. “Good morning.”
“You too,” I said. I thought briefly about telling her what occurred in the middle of the night, but decided against it. Instead, I went through what was needed to get us moving again and felt greatly relived once we were. Although by that time I had less idea where we might go and more the need to get us to a place with people who didn’t want us dead.
But does such a place exist here?I thought and knew I had no answer yet.