The body falls and he watches the woman fall beside it, frightened as can be over aim, he moved closer. “Well what’s got you out here, Margy?” he asked, trying a common name against his frayed nerves, he moved closer trying for eyes, but the little lady scrunched herself away while he did so.
As he moved closer he did make clear what it was, there’d been something seen falling, a boon in the face of apocalypse if them Walkabouts were to be believed, but as he looked down at her…
“oh, you're somebody else.”, as he took a closer gander at her form. An alien. One of them things holding up the sky.
“Sorry about that.” The thing said, her voice much too careful, and he thought maybe it understands its worth to a man brought low like him. “Why were you shooting?” it asked, and he’s certain.
“Well, there was a zombie behind ya. Didn’t seem fair to leave it a meal.” He smiled and gestured over to the revenant.
“You are not the best shot,” it paused to read the tag on his jumpsuit, too careful, nearsighted. “Chuck.”
“The names Jared.” he corrected, he could’ve never fit in…
“Your name tag says Chuck.” It corrects back, those soft false tones of a woman bearing down. He thinks of a friend, of hunger like he’d never believed, like the world ending long before the monster rose and the rich hid, and flew and left all others to suffer.
“Does it?”, is all he could say.
“Well I’ll be, we were the same size weren’t we?” he asked himself, like he wasn’t quietly heavy for much of his life, like he hadn’t forgotten to read off a dead friend's tags before wearing his suit.
Like earlier that day wasn’t the first he’d seen of anyone really living in almost three years. Folks ain’t meant for that. He looks down at the body before him, and at the once person he’d killed and he was much too certain of too many things.
That body, this thing he’d mistaken for a woman, was not so impertinent as to look him in the eye knowing what it was. Wasn’t such a fool to run from an armed and lonely man.
But he looks down farther to find its eyes, wrong shaped and a bit too large, and much too lost, and he wants to believe for a moment that all these new monsters had at least the audacity of guilt.
“Do Ya need somewhere to stay?” he says, seeing the exact moment of regret. Regret for what he wasn’t so certain, but if it had anything to do with his gun.
It looks down at the zombie, fell proof of what could be done to her- it, and he knows.
“If you’re offering.” she says, only tilting its head up enough to see his hand, so he smiles with the offer thinking for a moment how strange it is, how easy it was to confuse its worth.
It helps all it can, with short sturdy legs weakened by whatever wreck it escaped, however far it walked. It doesn’t cling to him, like he expected of the little body, he almost wants to carry it all the way for the slow pace he was forced to take.
“Not to be presumptuous but, how’d you end up alone?” he asked, curious since the road was long. He could wonder why it was lost to his mercy, but he couldn’t think the best of earth’s conquerors.
“It was-” a crash, it doesn’t say, replacing the statement with something it probably thought was honest, ”It was a long time ago. The zombies have changed nothing.”
“It is what it is.” it says, throat crowded out by whatever awful thought it held.
He wants to forego all false sympathies, but he wonders at the rustling of her obedience, the duplicity of her acquiescence, though for all the judgment he could muster, he doesn’t imagine innocence or privilege in it.
“I’m sorry for what you’ve been through.” he says, though it doesn’t respond at all, preferring to hold in line with the path he leads her on. Like he were someone to be trusted.
They walk for hours at a slow pace as noon carries over with a boiling heat, the sun strict above them as their shadows mingled. He hears her stop for too long a moment, seeming to feel each foot fall with new purpose as her gaze bore into his back.
She stops again and regains a more placid tempo, which makes him very concerned before he points out, “You’re not very talkative.”
“Sorry,” She says, still looking about, “People do a lot to tame that inclination.”
“Ya talk to yourself?” Jared asks, knowing the trouble of being alone. They’d walked a whiles and she made no such impression
“Not much.” She says, repositioning her cargo, and while he’s certain there was nothing so sensible as supplies in there he’d stopped thinking of her like an enemy. It was disturbing.
“Wel Ah do, don’t be bothered. Margy.” he counts on the impromptu name.
“That’s alright.” she says without even a look at his rifle.
They walk into town, on the path he alone had used for the last three years, between homes no one could afford for long. Places he’d raided and watched get raided, and lived in on the nights he wanted to, and he feels a bit silly for assuming that the things that would revive their dead just to ruin what was left would ever have cared for their own.
“You feel you can make your way from here?” Jared asked, thinking for a moment that he should let her be. She was one sorry lost cell of the monster eating earth, her life alone wasn’t gonna make or break anything.
Looking back at her there's a pause as if he’d not offered such hospitality, like such wasn’t a cover.
She looks around disconnected. “No. I’d rather not.”
“Good one Margy. Ya almost admitted to not listening.” he said, as if he’d made conversation when she wasn’t aware.
“I wasn’t.” She said with a dull voice.
“Good.” Jared said, “Ya shouldn’t listen in when people mumble to themselves.” finding his pockets with some concern to the open space of town. He needed his keys, and it would be rather silly to die like that.
“Were ya hoping to stay?” He asked, Jared didn’t like the notion of leaving her to wonder. She might look human from a distance, but he held no illusions in regards to what anyone else would do to her.
For a moment her cargo seemed incredibly heavy across her back, maybe she’ll see herself away from him, whatever risk that was. He wasn’t exactly beyond passive to her, and he wasn’t without threat.
Whatever else was in her head, “I don’t have anywhere else to be.”
For a moment he thinks he’s better than he’s been, more than just one future corpse, “Ah. good. I’ll set ya up with me then, if it ain’t no difference.”