“Put down your gun and step away.”
The Last Man froze. As he scanned the horizon in front of him, and paid close attention to what was in his peripheral, dozens of thoughts raced in his mind. Where did they come from? How many were there? How long had they been following him and WHY hadn’t he heard or seen them before?
“He said put your fucking gun down!”
Male voice. Different from the first voice. Higher pitched. Younger.
“Okay,” Last Man said. “I’m going to move real slow and set the rifle down.”
It was foggy. Visibility was poor. Is that why he hadn’t seen them? Was he losing his edge—after all, he hadn’t seen another living person in years—or were they that good?
In front of him were hills and valleys of rubble for the next quarter mile. Nothing but bombed wasteland. Concrete and rebar made it dangerous to move through the terrain quickly.
If the two people behind him wanted to kill him, they would’ve done it by now. Shoot first, loot later. Their hesitance told him volumes. Last Man bent down and set down his rifle, then rose slowly with his arms above his head.
“Ok. Uh…Now…” the second voice said. “Tom, what do we do?”
“Fuck, I don’t know.”
“Screw Dad for not teaching us…”
The captors conferred in whispers. Last Man took the opportunity to shift his head just left enough to see behind him.
They were twenty feet away. Teenagers. Both boys were rail thin. Their jackets hung off bony shoulders and they both looked like they’d topple over if a slight breeze hit them. One held a shotgun.
“I don’t know what you plan to do here, but whatever it is, we can all walk away alive,” Last Man said. He kept his tone clear and emotionless.
“Shut up!” the shotgun-wielder yelled. “Take off your pack and gear and leave it by your gun.”
There was a shake in their voices beneath the bravado. They were afraid. Last Man didn’t care to guess what they’d been through or who they’d lost. He didn’t want to kill them, but would if he couldn’t talk them down.
“Listen to my brother, you fu—”
The boy was cut off as an arrow pierced his right eye. He stumbled back one step, then fell. His brother dropped to his knees, scanning for whoever did it while screaming for his lost kin.
Last Man grabbed his rifle and scanned the immediate area for cover and the attacker. All he could see was fog and a sea of concrete.
The remaining boy’s screams turned to gurgles. Last Man glanced over and saw him grasping at the arrow in his throat. He ripped it out. Blood spurted across the rubble and gushed down his skin, soaking his flimsy shirt.
Last Man stayed low and began moving away from the scene, still scanning for the sniper. He managed to find a large slab of concrete and set his back against it. He took a deep breath and peeked over the edge of the slab.
The figure standing two feet away from him was dressed in grays and black. A thin layer of dust coated their entire body. They blended into the rubble wasteland perfectly. Last Man could almost see his own reflection in the gas mask the archer wore.
They wielded a compound bow and an arrow was pointed right at Last Man’s head.
He heard a long, high pitched screech in the distance. Soon it was met with a dozen others and Last Man knew the archer was the least of his worries.