Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 8:"The Walker"
Red was a weathered old paramedic. He had been doing it for 30 years now. Like his father before him he enlisted in the military as soon as the government would take him. His brother Richard Lighten choose the easier path to the disappointment and estrangement of his father.
“These kids now-a-days haven’t seen nothing,” Red slurred to the man next to him at the Rooster bar responding to his unasked question. Red Lighten was gruff, and sometimes a difficult man. Like a child that really never got over not getting what he wanted for Christmas
“I mean come on, this one newbie almost puked trying to take this guys pulse tonight,” the man next to him, wallowing in his own problems, mumbled a quite agreement. “When I was his age I was pulling shrapnel out of people’s chests, holding children’s innards and intestines and then ate a full breakfast…pish… kids… no stomach,” as Red mumbled other accusations against the new E.M.T. the bar door opened with a slow and annoying scratching sound also letting in the cold and with it a man who seemed to be wrapped in the dark of night.
“Shut the door! Man alive” yelled a now belligerent Red to the mysterious man in the door way. “Kids today don’t even know how to close doors… no stomach…born in a barn.” Red continued to mumble and stutter other grievances.
The walker moved with precise and purposed steps from the door to a seat at a table four feet from the drunken paramedic. Though Red gave no consideration or showed any concern for the Walker presence. However, the others in the bar became immediately uncomfortable with the strangers overshadowing presence. The walker said nothing to the waitress who asked for his order; glad to be done with her duty she hurried away to the back to retrieve more beers for the now quite customers. Dressed like some demon cowboy with a used cowboy hat that masked his face, he wore a heavy coat that hung to his body like sin. The only noise that escaped the shroud of darkness that covered his face was the heavy breathing of unforeseen dread, like air itself was trying to get away for fear of being swallowed by the walker. With unseeing eyes he slowly turned to the paramedic only feet from him.
“Lighten?” the sound of his voice was like crude oil slipping down a smooth pipe. If the bar was silent before he spoke it was now utterly catatonic now. To the people around him he sounded like death himself, as if with a single word he could call down evil to do his bidding.
“What? Whhhho..? I’m a veteran!” not knowing to whom to address he spoke more to the whole bar than to anyone specific. in the silent bar he was taken aback by how loud he sounded. “What in the desert hare is going on,” starting to realize his surroundings, he sobered quickly.
“Lighten?” again the walker spoke but this time emphasizing his want for a reply.
Finally seeing who was addressing him he could feel a cold hand clawing down his throat reaching for his very heart. A chill from the bottom of his conscience to the top of mind struck him and an unwanted shudder took him. “YYesss,” replied the frightened man, “what yuu waughnt.” Without further announcement or conversation the walker slowly, methodically got up from his chair and walked to the door with a slow look over his shoulder.
As the walker’s weapons systems fixed on poor Red as he walked slowly home, he proceeded to follow him out of town. As he climbed deftly over the rim of the ditch he had been hiding in, he heard the last dying breath of the young man he found earlier that night. Without meaning to kill the boy, who claimed to be a healer or medic or something, the walker had removed his legs to ensure he would go nowhere. Apparently human’s can die with the removal of limbs. The now legless horse appeared to have died hours before, suffering from the same apparent lack of blood the man did.
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