The Gun of Crow
By: Antwan Crump
“It was our code. Before it all fell. Before Crow. We were boys in the thick of life, searching for a purpose. We couldn’t have known – purpose would hunt us down.” , Merlin confides in Susannah – as was his daily ritual- though the two had been sporadically involved , the mutual attraction had proven mute to their emotional connection.
“So, why pulse?” Susannah asks.
Merlin smiles. “It was just a bond among brothers. A word that represented our loyalty. ‘Until there is no more pulse.’ We vowed to hold our word to one another in high priority. We did, until I….”
“Until you what?”
“I shouldn’t have let her leave Sue. He trusted me to protect her. I just let her go” Sue places her hand on his shoulder. ” You did all you could’ve Merlin. We all knew how stubborn Mystic was.”
“How stubborn she could still be.”Merlin answers.
“Merl, you don’t think?”
“It’s not impossible. Regardless of whether or not she is, he’s going to go look for her.” This reality nauseates Merlin.
Susannah’s reassuring smile dips into a frown, “But … we need him here. What about the colony?”
“As long as there’s a chance, there’s nothing I can do.”
The two sit in silence for a few minutes – quietly concocting alternatives.
“What if you made a deal with him?” Susannah suggests. Merlin lifts his head, curious of her proposition. “Tell him you’ll help find her, in exchange for him helping us rebuild.”
Merlin’s doubt is evident. “He’ll kill everyone here if I give him that ultimatum.”
“Make something up. Tell him you expect her back at solstice. Tell him it was a secret plan, or ; anything!”
Merlin toys with the thought in his mind. The doctor assigned to Gun knocks. “Come in!” They say in unison.
The doctor opens the door. Barely leaning into the room, he informs the two that Gun has awoken and exits. Susannah kisses Merlin passionately, “Please don’t let him go. We’ve already lost so much.”
Merlin doesn’t respond, instead lightly grabbing her hand. The two lose themselves in each other’s eyes before Guns echoing profanity prompts Merlin to go to him.
Gun struggles in his bed -gnawing on his binds- intermittently screaming profanities to Merlin.”Show yourself , you limp son of a bitch!” The soldiers giggle at his ranting.
As Merlin approaches, they stand at attention and salute him. Dismissing them he enters the room. “You know, you could bite at those all day, and you still couldn’t get them loose.” Merlin jokes -pulling up a chair beside him.
Unamused by his quip Gun asks “So this is what our bond has become? Strapping me to a dusty mattress?”
“Well, what would you have me do? Let you run amuck on the compound. You’ve lost it Gun. I understand you’re in pain. I get that. But these were once your people too.”
Gun tugs at his restraints one last time, looks away and murmurs “I should kill you.”
“It’s exactly that kind of talk that got you bound”, Merlin says -releasing one of the knots.
Gun calmly reaches for the glass of water placed on the table next to him. “You know I have to go find her. Don’t you?”
Merlin flinches – as Gun places the glass back on the table and continues “We can do this one of two ways Merl. You fill my truck, give me a bag of rations, ammo, and the last direction you saw her go.”
“You know I can’t do that Gun. If I let you leave, then everyone will be asking for the same. That would break everything we’ve built here. We’ve all lost people. This is not the time for heroics. It’s a time for preservation.”
“Alright, option two. The second I get out of here I’m going to string you up (Gun gestures toward the window) to that crane outside, and test out my aim on your corpse.”
Angered, Merlin begins to storm out. Gun screams “We’re supposed to be brothers Merl!” Merlin grips the knob, and freezes, as he thinks of Susannah’s plan.
“Is this how you treat your brother?” Gun antagonizes. Merlin releases the knob -still staring at the door he says, ” what if I told you that this was all part of the plan?”
Curious, Gun sits up “What?”
Merlin turns to Gun and concludes “Mystic and I had an arrangement. Before Crow was attacked. There is a safe house not far from here. We agreed that should we survive, that’s where we’d go to wait for others. It’s my guess that she’s there. About four days out.”
Gun looks out of the window, at the vastness of the desert surrounding the compound “Bullshit” he says. Merlin shrugs and heads back toward the door. Just as he’s about to close it behind him, Gun yell’s “Wait!”.
Knowing that his ruse had worked, Merlin takes a moment to think of the consequences of what he’d begun.
“Wait!” Gun says angered to tears. Merlin re-enters the room and fabricates a story of he and Mystic’s plan.
Travelers log. It’s been weeks since the fall of Crow. I’ve encountered no survivors. At least no “normal” ones. They seem to have learned to mobilize as a group. Food is scarce. I should have enough water to make it to Blood Lake. I’ve discovered a nearby rail -way, that appears recently used. I’ll follow that to the lake . I am by all accounts alone, but still sane. The road is rough, but I have to find him. I know he’s out here. I know that Gun’s alive.
Mystic completes her journal entry and continues to plow the sedan she’d stolen from the colony through, the slews of bodies that had littered the streets.
She looked to her sawed-off shotgun in the passenger seat, then to her wedding ring. Thoughts of Gun in peril-filled her heart with woe but drove her ambition to find him. Her need to see him just once more” outweighed her fear of being captured -by the horde that had been stalking her- since her escape from Crow.
“Three days. Give me three days to get this all together Gun.” Merlin pled. “Then, I’ll help you track her down myself.”
Merlin presents Gun with his weaponry, and a flask -filled with bourbon. Gun takes a gulp from the flask and cuts his binds.
Gun jumps off of the bed and re-arms himself with his various blades and firearms. He walks past Merlin and stops at the door. “I’m gonna need a hat,” he says. Merlin gives him the one atop his own head. Gun puts it on and while exiting states “Show me around”. Merlin follows.