Another Shot at Altruism
I laid there after I woke up with my eyes closed, just listening and meditating. Mac was already up, of course, and I heard him talking. To Gar, probably, and a second after the thought I heard Gar’s gruff and gravely voice. It sounded like Gar was leading the conversation with his three topics of choice: booze, sports, and women. Typical of a big dumb oaf. I blocked out the sounds and meditated a little bit longer.
I opened my eyes to see Mac and Gar playing cards near the campfire. Jagged pieces of concrete and debris poked me in the back while I was lying down, so it was time to get up. I rose slowly.
“Look who’s up!” Mac beamed.
“C’mon over here,” Gar said, pulling up a makeshift seat consisting of a slab of concrete. I was groggy and tired. I felt like shit, but I reluctantly shuffled over and sat down.
“Time is it?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.
Mac looked at the sky.
“It’s about three-thirty,” Mac replied, “You’ve only been asleep for an hour or so.”
Great, so now we’ve got about five hours till sundown. I figured we had better get moving, but I said ‘what the hell’ and played a few games of rummy with the boys.
Mac looked up at the sky after we played a few games. I lost most of the games. Mac and Gar were hardcore cutthroat and played competitively the whole time.
“Four-thirty, we gotta get going,” Mac said aloud. He got up and started packing up all his gear. Five minutes later we were ready to hike. I pulled myself up while Mac and Gar were already standing tall. Gar looked much better after the treatment. I, however, felt like total crap.
As we walked west, I couldn’t help but try to remember what happened. The past ten years had been a blur to me. I had no real job, nothing that was satisfying anyway. The economy was in shambles and slowly was rebuilding. Right now we were ‘halfway recovered’ according to the news. Now, everything was destroyed. None of that mattered now, so I forgot about it. These days, survival was king.
“Shhhh,” Mac whispered, “I hear something behind that wall.” He pointed at a crumbled building wall about a hundred feet in the distance. I heard it too, it was like crying or something. It sounded like a female voice.
Man oh man had it been a long time since any of us had even laid eyes on the opposite sex. This would be interesting to see. I knew Gar would act a fool. I preferred the gentleman approach. Mac, I had no idea.
“Lets check it out,” Mac suggested. We followed him to the wall.
Behind the wall there were two women, about thirty or so years old, and yes, they were crying.
“What’s the matter?” Mac asked.
None of the words that came out of their mouths sounded like words. They were crying too much. I could make out something about one or both of them being sick, but everything else sounded like sob.
“Did you get bit?” Mac asked. The women became more visible. One of them was tall and had coffee-dark hair. The other was a bit shorter, larger chested, and had light-brown locks. Coffee dark shook her head.
None of them were sick, so why were they crying?
Light-brown sat against the wall, holding a dirty piece of fabric against her calf. Coffee dark began to rise, drying off the tears and finally calming down.
“Hi,” she said softly, still trying to normalize herself, “I’m T,” she cleared the snot out of her nose, “and she’s D. D’s got a gash on her leg and now we’re stuck here.”
You could tell they weren’t thinking straight or didn’t know what the hell survival was. Probably the latter since they both were wearing shorts and tank tops. They both looked beat up and dirty. We all looked that way actually.
“Take that cloth off,” Mac said, pointing at the cloth. She removed the cloth to reveal a disgusting looking festering wound. It was infected, and bad. Mac surely had something that would do the trick.
“How long has the wound been there?” Mac asked.
“About a day I think,” T said, unsure.
“Hmmmm,” Mac dug around in his pack, “this should help.” He took out a bottle of something and a tin of salve. Now this wasn’t the same salve we used before.
“Let me make sure she’s not bit,” Mac said to the girls. He checked her neck, her legs and her arms and nothing appeared to be bitten. A sharp piece of debris was probably responsible for this one.
“Looks good,” Mac said, “Take these,” Mac handed T some pills to give to D, “And apply this often,” he said as he handed T the salve.
“The pills are an antibiotic and the salve will help heal as well,” Mac explained.
“Thank you,” T said. She gave the pills to D. She swallowed them quickly. T then rubbed some of the salve onto D’s wound. She twitched and cringed due to the pain.
This was just too weird. We had been walking for two hours and we run into these two. These women would slow us down if they wanted to travel with us for sure. I mean, they were good looking, sure, but they acted dumb as rocks. They’d do us no good. I decided to converse a bit with them, seeing as both were calm and relaxed.
“So, where are you two headed?” I asked
“Going back to my sister’s apartment,” T replied.
“It’s crumbled to the ground most likely,” I said.
“Oh no. It isn’t like that kind of apartment. Its like, more of a shelter,” T said, making it sound like a question.
“Oh. Well we probably could get you back there if it’s close,” I offered.
“It is. I can almost see it from here. It’s like, over there,” T said as she pointed off to the North.
“Okay lets get there before sundown then,” Mac said looking at the sky.
I wasn’t sure why I had offered to be nice to these women. Probably because I felt bad for them because of their misfortune. As I thought about it more and more, I realized what a mistake this could be. What if her sister is some crazy bitch that would kill us? What if these two were lying and set up the whole infected wound scenario to lure in some poor old saps like us? I trusted my instinct though, hoping it still was working properly. I had a feeling something was up, but I didn’t feel threatened by it, so I left it alone.