Last Man fired two more rounds. The first tore through the monster’s neck, the second its jaw. It staggered and went to its knees. Still, it wasn’t dead.
The Archer let loose an arrow that embedded itself through the hollow of one of the things cheeks. Its tentacle arm reached up and jerked the arrow free, unfazed. The arrow clattered before falling between the chunks of rubble.
Then each of the standing mutants circled their downed comrade. Last Man realized they were taking a defensive position around it. Instead of resuming fire, he waited. He had three rounds left in the 30-30. It would not be enough.
One of the things raised its face to the sky and released a series of short yelps. They held their ground.
Tentatively, Last Man took a step backward, his sight still locked onto his target. The mutants didn’t react. He moved farther and the Archer followed his lead. Step by step they put more distance between them and the tentacled monsters until the creatures were nothing more than vague shapes in the fog.
It was only then that Last Man began to run.
He twisted his ankle on the rubble. His lungs burned.
He kept going.
Eventually they cleared the wasteland. The terrain became easier to navigate and their line of sight increased. As the adrenaline faded in his body, Last Man’s thoughts wandered. If he’d managed to kill that creature—if it was even possible—he had a feeling the other three would’ve ripped him apart.
The Archer stopped. The stood in the center of a road Last Man was unfamiliar with. Brick buildings crumbled around them. Overhead a flock of birds silently flew by.
The hair on the back of Last Man’s neck prickled. He hadn’t forgotten how the Archer killed those two boys then pointed an arrow at his head. His grip on the 30-30 tightened, but he didn’t raise it. The Archer still held their bow in hand, though an arrow wasn’t pulled back.
“I’m not much for a sentimental goodbye,” Last Man said, keeping his voice neutral. “So why don’t we go our separate ways and hope we never run into those things again.”
Without missing a beat—still silent—they walked past Last Man and didn’t look back once.
It wasn’t the last time he’d see the Archer.