Flash Fiction Challenge – Wolf and Fox
Yep, another challenge, this time a “fairy tales remix”. So here’s the fairy tale of the wolf and the fox, told after the zombie apocalypse.
“This better pay off, squirt,” Wolf said, yanking his leash hard. “It ain’t ending well for you if you keep leading me to empty houses.”
Fox tugged at the leather dog collar Wolf made him wear. He could have just cuffed him or something, but oh no, he wanted this extra bit of humiliation. Wolf was a total fuckhead.
Wolf didn’t need any of this. Not only would three of Fox make one of Wolf, but he was about two hundred pounds of solid muscle. Before Z-Day, he was probably some gym bunny ‘roidhead, who still managed somehow to keep from turning to complete jelly when his steroid supplies dried up. Hell, maybe he still had some with him.
He had just about everything else. He bristled with weaponry, from shotguns to hatchets tied to his upper legs, and big hunting knives in sheaths strapped on his forearms. Honestly, he looked ridiculous, but also completely fucking dangerous. And not just to zees either.
Wolf caught him outside the safe zone on the edge of town, after killing his friends while Fox was away on a supply run. Wolf claimed he had been “ambushed”, but there was no way in hell Casey ever would have ambushed someone so big and well armed. He made it clear he was keeping Fox alive only because he needed a guide through this city. He was an outlander, where Fox assumed he killed people and took their weapons. It would explain why he had so many of them. He was also a flaming asshole. Fox figured he’d kill him as soon as Wolf had no further use for him.
“This place has the best stuff,” Fox said. “A group of survivalists used to camp out there.”
“They killed each other,” Fox told him. “Two of ‘em argued over leadership and they all had guns, so nature took its course.”
Wolf snickered, and yanked on the leash, just to remind him who was boss. “That’s why I don’t like groups. People get shit in their head.”
Fox almost made a comment about that, but held his tongue. It was better if Wolf thought he was completely docile. Besides, you just never knew with psychos, did you?
The sun was going down, and there was movement in the long shadows, as the zees finally started rousing. They could be out in the day time, but mostly they were active at night. Mira thought it was because sunlight and heat hastened their decay, but there was no way to really know. How the zees knew it since they didn’t seem to have functioning brains was a total mystery.
Fox led the way inside the long building, which had a partially caved in roof but was otherwise intact. It smelled bad, like rotting garbage, and Wolf made a noise of disgust. “Why the reek?”
“This was an old paper mill,” Fox explained. “The kind responsible for the Tacoma aroma. After all this time, it still hangs on.”
Wolf grunted. “No wonder the zees didn’t come here.”
A staircase missing the safety rails but otherwise intact led down to a dark basement space, where the old gang’s supplies sat waiting. Military MREs sat in stacked footlockers, besides open crates of guns and ammunition. Fox lit a hurricane lantern that sat on the bottom step, and in its meager light, you could see the dark splashes of blood if you knew where to look.
Wolf gasped at seeing the bounty, and headed right for the Uzis, which Fox figured he might. “How the hell has no one found this shit?” Wolf asked, picking up one of the automatic weapons.
“The smell scares a lot of people off,” Fox said, retreating into the shadows, beside stacked up crates of bottled water. Fox was one of a few people who knew this cache was down here, and would come by and take what they needed. But no one ever tried to take it all. Because there was no way to leave in one piece if you did.
The old penknife was wedged between the crates, and Fox was glad he remembered it. He used it to slice through the collar, but held on to it so Wolf wouldn’t notice the slackened leash. Wolf laughed as he dug through the crates and started loading weapons. Maybe because of that, he dropped the leash. “Why the fuck ain’t you usin’ this stuff, boy? God, you’re stupider than I thought.”
Wolf was making so much noise, he couldn’t hear the shifting around him, or notice the shadows moving, as Fox slipped behind the crates.
He’d deliberately left out how the surviving members of the gang were overwhelmed by zees, who liked the dark coolness of the basement. It really wasn’t an old paper mill. The reek was from all the zees who clustered in the shadows, crammed together like old shirts in an overstuffed closet. The only way to get anything out of here was to be really fast, and do it in daylight. The zees were pretty docile, until they heard noise.
Behind the stack of water bottles was a gap where a window used to be. It was small, and the only way out of the basement if it wasn’t daytime. ‘Cause if it was daytime, sunlight shone through the broken roof, and discouraged them. There weren’t just zees downstairs.
Fox was half way through the window when he heard Wolf say, “Hey, where are – fuck!” He heard the loud bang of gunfire, as Wolf opened up on the zees.
Once he was outside, Fox crossed to a building with an outside staircase. It would be safe up there until morning, as zees never quite mastered climbing up stairs. The noise of gunshots continued, but then fell silent as Wolf began to scream. The problem with automatic weapons was, while they sprayed out a lot of bullets, they ran out even faster.
And sometimes, you just didn’t have time to reload.