Orchid listened to the sound of dripping water. A chill shivered through her. She opened her eyes and saw the underside of a massive bridge. Parts of it were in ruin. A trailer truck hung over the edge of it, vacant, headlights peering down at her like giant eyes.
Orchid jumped with a start. “What happened?”
“You collapsed once you cleared the destruction of the school,” Cesar replied.
“Did we stop it?”
“We’re not sure.”
She felt pain wash through her entire body, the worst of it in her arm. Her head ached, she felt dried blood on her face. She looked at Cesar. “I took quite a beating didn’t I?” She said with a grin.
“You sure did. For a second I thought you weren’t going to make it out.”
“I think my arm is broken.”
Cesar placed one of his hands on Orchid’s head and the other on her arm. He closed his eyes. Orchid felt a tingling sensation surge through her arm, spread through her body and flood her head. Moments later her pain was gone.
“My arm…it feels fine.” She said, not quite believing it. “My head stopped aching too.”
“Your arm is no longer broken.” Cesar said.
“You can heal,” Orchid said. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?”
“I didn’t want people think I could heal everything. I can’t heal myself and it used to be only cuts and bruises but with you here, I can do much more.”
“I only use it when I need to. I just don’t want people thinking I can cure cancer or bring back the dead or something…”
Orchid looked over Cesar’s shoulder and saw Lila sitting alone, her head down. Ghost the wolf laid beside her.
“Where are we?”
“Under the North Bridge. It was far enough away and shelters all of us. There’s a line of trees all around us. Anything that comes through it shouldn’t be able to sneak up this time We’d hear it.”
“Yeah, we’ll want to find something inside and restock some food and water.”
“Already working on that.”
“I should see if Lila is ok.” Orchid stood up and walked over to the silent woman.
She sat down beside Lila, glimpsed the wolf briefly then glanced over Lila again. “I’m so sorry about Cameron. He was a good man.”
Lila lifted her head. Her eyes were red from crying. “He was about to be a father. Now he’ll never get the chance to meet his child.”
“I don’t have the words…”
“It’s my fault. I wanted to come to the city. He always thought it was too dangerous. He said it again and again. He was right. He’s dead because of me.”
“No, Cameron wanted to come here. He knew there were more like him. He felt us out here, just like the others that came to us. It was the right thing to do. We are the path to rebuilding.”
“Rebuilding? We’re all gonna die. That thing won’t stop until we’re all dead. There is no rebuilding. We should have stayed in the mountains. That’s where I should go. Have my baby there.”
“It’s safer with us here.”
“Yes, Lila. I know it seems darker than ever but it will change. That’s why Cameron was given his gift.”
“He passed it to me.”
“That’s right, he passed it to me. Ghost hears my thoughts, I hear his and he obeys me now.”
“I-I didn’t even know that was possible.” Strange and new revelations were discovered every day. Orchid took hold of Lila’s hand. “Your husband gave you so much. Don’t give up now.”
The cyborg’s laser beam hit the masked killer in the head. He tumbled over, his face smoldered. The cyborg followed up, stomping over to the prone killer. He hoisted him up with his cybernetic arm and hurled him through the air.
The killer slammed back down in heap of the school building’s remains. He rolled over onto his belly and forced himself onto his knees.
The cyborg leapt through the air with the propulsion of his robotic legs and slammed down beside the killer, delivering a kick to his ribs. The killer was launched again, into a tree this time and cutting it in half.
Luana’s cackling echoed throughout the area.
The masked one let the tree fall over him and to the ground. The cyborg stalked him. When he was within range, the killer opened his eyes, scooped up the broken tree and swung it hard.
The cyborg was hit with a wallop, flying backwards and into the school’s chain link fence. The masked killer jumped up and raced for the cyborg. The two titans collided, falling onto the ground with a thunderous boom. Each traded fists and jabs, the killer driving the cyborg’s face into asphalt, the cyborg clasping his metal hand around the killer’s throat.
The two got to their feet again. The cyborg aimed his laser cannon but the killer tore it off his shoulder and crushed it in his hand.
The cyborg watched the pieces sprinkle to the floor. The killer laughed then took another swing at him but the cyborg jumped into the air.He came down on the other side of an empty school bus and grabbed hold of it with both hands. The windows shattered as he lifted the vehicle and hurled it at the killer.
The bus came crashing down on its side, burying the masked man.
The cyborg waited, listened. Luana’s laughter worked its way into a frenzy. She followed her laughing with clapping which died suddenly.
The side of the bus burst open, metal screeching, and the killer hurled himself out, perching on top of it.
The cyborg shook its head and jumped into the air again. He landed face to face with the masked man, curled his fist and caught him with an uppercut to chin. The killer fell from the bus and landed on his back.
The cyborg soared below, driving his boot down at full strength. The killer rolled out of the way as the boot came down hard on the asphalt, fissures splintering everywhere. The killer took advantage of the misstep and swiped his leg across the cyborg’s, sending him down. The killer picked the robotic horror up with one hand and tossed him. The cyborg soared into the school bus, bashed through the other side and rolled across the parking lot.
The shambling collection of salvaged parts shook his head and climbed to his feet. The masked killer stormed toward him and he followed suit. The two crashed into each other again, locking hands in a test of strength, pushing one against the other, grimacing, grunting, enraged at each other.
The cyborg landed a kick in the killer’s gut but it didn’t seem to faze him. They continued their face-off, strength against strength, evil against evil until finally the killer broke the deadlock and with one vicious swipe, took the cyborg’s head clean off.
A crackle of static and sparks erupted as the head ripped through the air, a cluster of wires and gears dangling from it, and plopped to the ground.
The killer watched the cyborg’s body crumple to his feet then turned to see Luana watching from the woods. Her face aghast, a forked tongue sticking out at him. She turned and fled out of sight.
“So, what did you do before, you know, the world came to an end?” Jack asked Cesar as the group sat sharing the little bit of food they still had. Dusk was calling and they debated whether or not to start a fire.
“I used to be a registered nurse,” Cesar said. “Worked for the city hospital.”
“Huh, that’s cool,” Jack said putting his arm around Justin.
Orchid noted that it was interesting he was a nurse and his power was healing. She wanted to pursue her theory. “And what did you do Jack?” she asked.
“Ah, it was boring. I worked for an insurance company. Investigating arson claims, making sure they weren’t fraudulent.”
“Arson claims,” Orchid muttered. His power is pyrokinesis.
“Cameron was a veterinarian,” Lila volunteered, her eyes welling. “He loved animals. I was his assistant. We used to own our own practice before we headed to the mountains.”
“It’s remarkable,” Cesar said. “There’s some sort of connection to all of our powers.”
“All I ever wanted to be in school was invisible,” Kyle said to everyone. “Now looks like I got my wish. How about you?” Kyle turned to Sam.
“I was about to open a New Age shop. Meditation, crystals, astral…”
“Projection?” Orchid finished her sentence. She looked over at Morganna who just nodded in return. There was so much revealed lately, so many more questions.
“What about you, Orchid,” Jack asked. “What did you do?”
“I…I don’t know. I don’t remember anything about myself. My memories seem to only start in that old house. I woke up and the world was gone. It was raining and…I stopped the storm. I don’t even know if that was really my bedroom. I don’t know where my family is, what happened to my mom or dad. Just bits and pieces …. Bits…and… why can’t I.” Orchid paused in awkward silence. She felt everyone staring at her. “Why can’t I remember anything about myself?” She glared at Morganna then got up and walked off.
Cesar followed her. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “Not everyone remembers right away. Some of us went through some horrible things to survive and some things are just blocked. It’s not important what our past was, just our future.”
“Thank you,” Orchid said, giving him a peck on the cheek.
“So, everyone,” Cesar turned back and addressed the group. “We need to find some more food and water and a safe place to set up base again. Any suggestions?”
“”I might know,” Kyle spoke up. “I know the rich streets with these big ass houses. Tons of dried food and supplies. We just gotta be careful of mutants. They roam the houses looking for people to eat.”
Jack covered his son’s ears. “Watch it around the kids.”
“Ok, let’s get a recon team together,” Cesar said. “Have Kyle take us there and stock up.”
Lila began to get up, Orchid stopped her. “Lila, I think you should stay here this time.”
“I want to help. I have power now.”
“I know, but you need to learn how to use it. It might get too dangerous.”
“Cesar and I will stay with her and the others,” Morganna said. “I can show her how to talk to much more than just the wolf. I can show her how to summon.”
“Ok, Kyle, Jack and Sam are with me,” Orchid said.
“Be careful,” Cesar said. “Try to avoid trouble. Get in and get out. The neighborhoods are just as dangerous as the city streets.”
Orchid gave him a wave as she followed Kyle under the bridge and out in to the trees.