Like a Girl: Chapter three

It took much longer than expected to make it to the edge of Manhattan. The damage was a lot more extensive than you had anticipated. So we wasted a lot of time climbing over the fuselages of fallen airplanes, walking around mountains of concrete that used to be bridges, and circling around certain blocks that you suspected were dens for the beasts. But after about six hours of travel, we eventually made it to a park on the border of the Harlem River and set up camp as the Sun was setting.
I lay on my back on the grass and rested my head on my backpack as I watched the glowing ball setting the horizon on fire in the distance.
“How could something so beautiful be so dangerous?” I asked you as you sat down next to me.
“That’s the way life is,” you replied. “Get some rest. I’ll keep first watch.”
I nodded and shut my eyes. But I couldn’t sleep. My mind was still racing thinking about the colony we were going to find. How far were we? More importantly, what were these other people like? What did they look like? Were they good fighters like us? What kind of food did they eat? Questions jumbled over and over again in my head, but one climbed out on top and got my attention above all the others.
“Dad?” I asked.
“What is it?”
“Do you think the other girls will like me?”
You turned your head to look at me and I could see you smiling in the moonlight. “They’ll love you.”
I smiled back. “What do they look like? Do they look like me? Or will they have beards like you?”
“All girls look different,” you told me. “And they usually don’t have beards.”
“Do they—”
“Get some rest, Alex,” you interrupted me. “We have a big day tomorrow.”
So I rolled over, shut my eyes and tried to force my thoughts to the back of my mind. It took about an hour before I was finally able to drift off. But almost immediately, you shook me awake and tossed me my pistol.
“Beasts!” you cried, aiming you gun towards the river.
I jumped into action instantly, willing the sleep away from my eyes, and was on my feet in a blink. There were shadows surrounding us everywhere I looked, creeping out of the darkness and towards the light from the lamps around the park. I heard a snarl behind me and turned to see one of the beasts crawling towards me, coming on all fours, mouth drooling with green slime, back arched like a hyena, and eyes wide as baseballs. Its jeans were shredded up to its thighs and its jacket was stained with blood all over its arms and stomach. I aimed at its face and fired once, taking it down in one shot.
But others came, two at a time and three at time, lunging at us and snarling. We fought back, shooting them down one by one, and when we ran out of bullets, we cleared our throats and prepared for the next weapons. Arrows would theoretically kill the rest, but we didn’t want to waste them in case we ran into more beasts down the road. Instead, we pressed our backs against each other, threw our arms down, and waited for the beasts to crawl within jumping distance of us. Then, before they could pounce, we opened our mouths and screamed—loud, deep, bellowing screams from our guts.
The beasts recoiled and we went on screaming, stepping closer as we did. And we kept going until eventually they howled, turned on their heels, and ran off.
“Well done,” you said, clearing your throat next to me. “Let’s head out. They’ll be back with reinforcements soon.”
I nodded, scooped up my backpack, and followed you towards the bridge to cross the river.

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