Wind Walkers: The Ruins

Wind Walkers: The Ruins

A Chapter by J.A. Marquez

Roughly eleven miles from the blazing heat of the desert fortress, the beginnings of decrepit buildings jutted from the ground spilling rubble into the broken and weed infested roads. At a distance, with the sun barely peeking over the cityscape, Bethany marveled at the glistening, shattered windows and towering steel beams. In the sanctuary of morning they followed what remained of the broken down highway. Faded shards of painted metal signs reflected the sunlight, some still hanging from their loosened posts. The rusted frames of abandoned vehicles had sunk into the dirt, telling a disquieting tale of the chaos that had once ensued there. Off to the side of the road, a low rising billboard leaned forward on one side, as if trying to shield its eyes from the horror of the end.

Unease rose in Bethany's throat as they stepped into the shadow of a dilapidated overpass. Chalky dirt supported the paved bridge on either side, bolstered by thick, concrete posts. The air within the brief tunnel was damp and drafty. Echoes of their scattered footsteps reverberated off of the sloped walls. She carried forward timidly, expecting a blood hunter to leap out at her at any moment. The blinding glare of sunlight that met them on the other side stole from each of them a breath of relief.

"It's far bigger up close." Bethany gaped at the desolate urban expanse.

A warm palm rested on her shoulder, and Gomez spoke in a low and stern tone.

"It's important that we stick together."

Ahead of them, Theo walked on just out of ears reach. Bethany looked to him, about to call him back to hear what Gomez had to say. Gomez's hand shot up, pressing a finger to his dry lips.

"Let him go ahead."

Bethany reluctantly fell back, both curious and wary.

"No matter what happens," He continued, "you and I can't split up. This kid - we don't really know him."

An aggravated sigh rushed from Bethany's lungs.

"I didn't really know you a few days ago either." She pointed out.

"Just promise me that if anything happens, you'll stay close to me."

"You guys!"

Theo was leaning up against the bed of a run down truck at the shoulder of the road. There was a discolored palor to his face, easily understood when Bethany caught a whiff of something rotten. She gripped her nose, groaning aloud.

"What is it?" Gomez called back, jogging to see for himself.

Bethany trailed behind with justified hesitation. She knew nothing wholesome was producing the stench. Gomez reached the truck, immediately hopping up into the bed. A deep crease formed between his eyebrows. He reached down, pausing a moment, and grasped something in his hand. As he rose Bethany noted that the smell had worsened. A metalic black object hung between Gomez's fingers, dripping with something thick and syrupy.

"He's been here at least two days." He mumbled, his eyes stuck on whatever was laying in the truck bed.

"Where do you think he came from?" Theo's eyes shot around the horizon, as if seeking an answer.

Bethany reached the two of them, waiting just beyond the nose of the vehicle.

"Was it a blood hunter?"

"It wasn't a mountain lion."

She unenthusiastically approached, her sight just grazing the bloodied pulp that remained of the victim's arm.

"Is the gun loaded?" Theo asked, unphased by the greusome scene.

Gomez checked for bullets.

"Two left." He reported, then he looked back at the mutilated corpse. "Looks like he used one on himself."

Now Bethany came around to where Theo stood, taking in the full sight for herself. It was a man, middle aged with a rotund belly. The top of his scalp was deep red, the few hairs sticking up on end caked with blood. A jagged hole seeped where his eyes belonged, the trajectory of the bullet painfully clear. His left arm was merely scratched, while the right hung from the socket, the torn flesh crawling with maggots. In his shirt there was a large hole, through which Bethany could see the deep gashes where teeth had ripped at him.

"Oh my god!" She wailed, leaping back.

Gomez glanced in her direction.

"He didn't suffer too long."

"You think he had any other guns with him?" Theo asked.

"This is the only one." Gomez confirmed. "I'll hold onto it."

In the rising heat, the foul odor putrified more, filling their nostrils. Bethany stepped away, too shocked to stomach the squalor.

"We should keep going." She suggested, eager to leave behind the stink of death.

Gomez stood, hovering over the body for another moment, his eyes darting around. His lips parted in a shallow breath and Bethany swore she heard the faintest of whispers escape them. He blinked, his eyes squeezed shut for an instant, and then hopped down onto the hard packed earth.

High brick walls stood on either side of the abandoned freeway, thickly draped in heavy green vines. The blossoms of fruit trees peeked over the edge, sending sweet breaths down to the street. Waves of heat rippled off of the cracked blacktop. In her mouth, all moisture evaporated away and Bethany could taste the strange industrial air of the city. On either side of her the buildings seemed to gradually increase in size, some with balconies so high above her head that she had to crane her neck to see them.

© 2015 J.A. Marquez

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Added on June 25, 2015
Last Updated on July 4, 2015
Tags: dystopia, fiction, adventure, coming of age


J.A. Marquez
J.A. Marquez

South Lake Tahoe, CA

If you want to know who I am, read my stories. Many are works in progress, and many are just a few sentences, but each one is a piece of my soul. more..

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