One Last Restful Breath

Hunter Skye
Salamanca High School

The world seemed still. Quinn laid on the damp forest floor, while looking up at the night sky. The stars were glistening and the moon illuminated the earth granting her nearly clear vision. The crickets’ chirping all around Quinn reassured her that life continued to exist in these woods. She was resting her head for the few precious moments she had. She had been running from the undead for hours and had finally lost them. The corpses’ rotted flesh stained her clothes and weapons. Her knife was rendered useless after the undead’s blood coated the entirety of the weapon (including the handle) making it slip out of her hands. One unfortunate slip caused her to slice her own hand. The rainstorm that swept through the area earlier that day did nothing to help her hygiene either. Blood and chunks of flesh still stuck to her face and now she was in a constant chill because her clothes were soaked. Her golden hair (pulled back into a high ponytail) was crusted with dirt and corpse grim baked into it. She had slain hundreds of walking corpses within a matter of hours but it all seemed in vain. She had little food, no shelter, and reeked of death. Quinn had no fall back plan, so she laid there and enjoyed the simple mercy of silence.

Quinn shut her eyes, took one last restful breath, and sat up. She bandaged her wound, took her leather jacket off to dry it on a branch, and laid her tools of mass destruction out in front of her. She was equipped with a handgun, a knife, and a longbow. She pulled out a dish rag and began to scrape the muck off of her knife. It was far more valuable for its ability to quickly eliminate the dead with little to no sound, so she prioritized its upkeep. Each weapon was damaged after the day’s battle, but only the bow proved to be irreparable. She studied the cracked limb of the bow. The wood appeared to be bleeding from the splinter. Quinn smiled. She remembered the moment the bow cracked.

Four corpses were shambling towards Quinn, while she was cornered in a tight alleyway. She performed two quick shots that eliminated two of her undead attackers. The other two came too close and she had to switch to close combat. She lunged forward knocking one down, temporarily, with a swift kick. The other undead took the opportunity to grab her by the shoulders. His cold grip pulled her back so his blood stained teeth could taste her sweet human flesh. Quinn, however, predicted his attack and whirled away, breaking his grip and sending him tumbling to the ground. This exchange reset the field of battle allowing Quinn to put an arrow through the milky lifeless eye of one of the zombies; eliminating it. The other re-engaged into close combat.

This time the corpse grabbed her neck and squeezed it like a bottle of toothpaste. Quinn used the bow to restrain the undead’s face by pushing up under its chin. The zombie’s grip tightened to force the life out of Quinn. She attempted to gasp for air but the oxygen did not complete its journey to her lungs. Quinn gathered her remaining strength to place her right foot in the corpses stomach and pushed off. The two fell backwards. The undead tripped over his comrades and tumbled to the ground, while Quinn coughed the death out of her to create room for life once again. The corpse recovered from its fall and shuffled towards her. Quinn narrowed her vision. She gripped the lower limb of her bow and swung it over to her right side. When the corpse came into range she whacked him across the jaw causing a loud crack to echo throughout the alleyway. The strike whipped his head around and his feeble neck snapped under the pressure. The body crashed to the ground, while its head (now separated from the rest of the corpse) hovered in the air like a toy helicopter. The head spewed blood all across the alleyway, showering Quinn in a satisfying rain of death, then fell to the ground with a splat.

Quinn sighed at the loss of her bow and tossed it aside. A quick chill ran up her spine, so she went to retrieve her jacket. The crickets’ chirping was dying down and the rain was making its return. Quinn wasn’t sure whether to embrace the weather change or to curse it, but she needed to continue her maintenance of her weapons. She disassembled her handgun for a proper inspection. The gun was salvageable but needed time to wipe off the recently dry blood. Quinn started to scrape the gunk off, when she noticed the crickets stopped chirping. Quinn listened for any alarming sound. A slight moan followed by the crunching of leaves, being crushed by uncoordinated footsteps, could be heard in the distance. She shrugged it off but knew she would have continue her journey soon. She shoved the gun parts into her bag and swung the bag over her shoulder. She picked up her knife and admired the long missed shine to it. The crunching was coming closer. Quinn clenched the handle of her knife and closed her eyes. She took one last restful breath. Time for the world to move again.

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