Fall of the Risen – Week 13 – Clark
I didn’t sleep. Not even for a minute. I was about to be walled. My friends were planning a secret rescue, but I knew almost nothing about the plan. I hated not knowing, but at least it gave me some perspective into how Jack felt whenever I pulled him into one of my crazy ideas.
Light began to leak into the garage around the doorframe. It seemed a lifetime between seeing the first bit of light and Jansen and Marshall coming for me.
They opened the door to my cage and I felt an overwhelming urge to fight, or run, or…something. I had faith in Jack, but in the face of potential death the mind’s ability for logic is impaired by pure instinct.
Jansen started wrapping a length of rope around my hands and the urge increased.
“Leave it,” Marshall said. “He’s going to need his hands to climb the ladder.”
“He could do it with his hands tied,” Jansen said with a smirk.
“I told you to leave it.”
Jansen and Marshall faced off in a battle of glares, which I had never seen happen before. They usually agreed with a scary consistency, but the few times they hadn’t Marshall’s word was law.
With a huff to make a five-year-old would proud, Jansen tucked the rope away into a pocket and shoved me toward the garage exit.
My breathing turned shallow and fast. Each step increased fear’s grip on me. It was a short walk down the street, and a left-turn to get to the gate; and the wall. That’s when saw it.
At the end of the street we were walking down was the pick-up Jack and I used on our runs. It faced me, like it was watching us. The lights came on and the engine roared to life.
“What the?” said Marshall.
The truck surged forward. It would reach us within seconds. I felt a smile grow on my face that I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to.
My freedom was mere yards away when another car came into view. Gianni’s black 2-door came out from a nearby garage and stopped in the truck’s path. The pickup’s tires squealed as it came to a halt.
I was so distracted by my own doom that I didn’t question why it was only Jansen and Marshall escorting me. Normally the rest of the security team would have been there, too; unless they had something else to do.
Those same security goons appeared out of nowhere, rushing to the sides of the truck, pulling Jack and Dawn out of the vehicle. The thought of being walled had worried me, but this brought my panic to a new level. Marshall was probably going to make my friends line up right behind me.
“Nothing happens around here without me knowing about it,” Marshall said.
“What are you going to do with them?” I asked, a tone of begging cutting my words. “It wasn’t right, but it was a small offence. Not worth the same punishment as me, right?”
Marshall looked at me for a long time, studied me. Probably thinking of the response that would upset me the most.
“I’m not going to decide now. Either way, it won’t be anything you’ll need to worry about, will it?”
That brought laughter from Jansen and I was urged forward by a boot in my back. The rest of the security team fell in behind us, Dawn and Jack still in their possession as prisoners. We marched to the wall as a group.
“Thanks for trying,” I said without looking back.
“Quiet,” Jansen barked.
A ladder stood propped against the wall. Near the top was the small platform that reminded everyone not to step too far out of line. Days like today increased the power it held over the people of Sisco.
I stood at the bottom of the ladder and tried to push the fear away. I had seen others stand in the same spot and beg for their lives. Down on their knees, sobbing in the dirt, the result always the same.
It would be over shortly. Prolonging it only made it worse on myself. I grabbed a rung and started to climb. Not quickly, but not at a slug’s pace either.
People can look at a situation a hundred times and think they know it intimately, until they’re the ones in the situation and then everything seems vastly different. Stepping foot on the platform was one of those times for me. The ground looked farther from the platform than the platform had looked from the ground. The noise from the dead from below sounded like it was from millions instead of hundreds. They had gone into a bit of a frenzy when I started climbing the ladder. Almost like they knew it was time for breakfast.
The platform itself wasn’t much bigger than a coffee table. Not enough space for someone to lie down, though I had seen people try. People got up here and had all kinds of crazy thoughts. Some of them just jumped back into Sisco, sometimes breaking a leg in the fall. But they’re quickly deposited back on the platform, broken leg and all.
One man tried to live on the platform. He wouldn’t have lasted long without water, but the rumor said he rolled off the platform while trying to sleep.
The whole concept of being walled was that Marshall wasn’t killing anyone. In his mind, people had a choice once they were up there. Like choosing between a poisonous spider and a venomous snake. If they died, he could claim it wasn’t by his hand. No one bought his crap, but no one had been willing to do anything about it.
That was the one freeing thing about being up on that platform. I didn’t have to be afraid of Marshall’s wrath. What more could he do to me?
“Hey, Marshall,” I called, not even needing to fear using the nickname. “This remind you of anything? Of anyone? When’s the last time we did this whole thing?”
“The prisoner will be quiet!” Marshall shouted.
My walling was the first since Amy. She had been Marshall’s girlfriend for a short time. It didn’t work out and suddenly she was being punished every few days. Small things at first, until she started fighting back. But that only snowballed into worse punishments.
On the day she was walled she stood on the very same platform I stood on now and laughed at him.
“I’m going to hell, and I’m taking your baby with me,” she had screamed just before throwing herself into the army of dead. Her laughs had quickly turned to screams.
There was an unusually long term between that walling and mine. Some people began to hope there would never be another, but most of us knew better.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “No need to bring up the past. I wouldn’t want you feeling any guilt on the day I die.”
He had no response, but I saw his face go red far below me.
I looked at Dawn and Jack and gave them a wink, hoping they couldn’t see the tear rolling down my cheek. A bit of movement from the corner of my eye made me glance over at Daffodil. He was waving at me. When our eyes locked, he awkwardly pointed to the bottom of his shoe. Then he pointed to his chest and mimed raising something above his head. Then, again, he pointed underneath of his shoe.
When I didn’t move, he pointed to me, and then again under his shoe. I looked down at my own shoes, but there was nothing beneath them except the platform. If there was anything underneath me, it would have to be under the platform. My eyes widened. Daffodil put something under the platform.
I nearly dove onto my stomach reaching and arm underneath the platform and feeling around. Wood, wood, wood, then something else. Duct tape? I felt along the line of tape. There was definitely something there. A few inches further I grasped a very familiar handle. With a heave, I ripped free my machete and held it high for everyone to see.
“What the hell?” I heard Marshall asking those around him. “How did that get up there? Who put that there?”
Daffodil was still pointed under his shoe. My knife! I felt around more until I found the hunting knife as well and pulled it free. The sneaky little dress-wearing ninja had found them!
“Stop him,” Marshall said. “Do something!”
Part of me wanted to jump right on top of Marshall. I would die, but maybe I’d have enough time to take him with me.
I looked at the horde of zombies. Their jaws were snapping, they were reaching for me. My chances were dog shit, and still slightly better than jumping back into Sisco. I jumped.
I always thought a fall to my death would turn all slow motion, like in the movies. Seconds stretching to minutes to give me time to regret my decision along with every bad decision I had made my whole life. Jumping from the wall wasn’t like that at all. It was quick, and my life didn’t flash before my eyes. I found that to be encouraging.
The landing was soft enough, I guess. Without landing on corpses, the fall would have killed me. The instant I made contact I turned into a dust devil with blades. I didn’t even look at what I was slashing. I flailed my arms and pushed like I was on the defensive line.
I felt fingers constantly grasping at me. Grabbing hold and then slipping away as I turned again and again. My body grew numb, but I refused to stop. If I hadn’t already been bit, stopping would guarantee it.
After what felt like an hour, I broke through the ring of dead surrounding the walls. I was covered in blood, filled with adrenaline and unsure if I had been bitten. There wasn’t time to check.
I ran and ran until I was surrounded by trees and an eerie quiet that left me with no doubt that I was completely and utterly alone.