Guadalupe Abril had done her best in her thirty or so years of life. Not that it amounted to much with the way the world turned out. All that money she hoarded to pave the way for her little sister’s success meant absolutely nothing when freshly risen corpses started walking around and eating people.
She’d never exactly been enthusiastic about her given options. The universe offered Lupe a quick and relatively painful lesson, but she learned it well a long time ago. Die or kill. Since she flat out refused to die on her sister, nor let her precious ass die, Lupe’s decision was kill. It wasn’t stop, slow, or negotiate, it was kill. She never let it take two steps if it could take one. Her sister never shied away from the necessity either. Though the elder did her best to suffice so she wouldn’t need to.
“¡Anda A Cagar!”snaps Alma, the previously mentioned sister, twelve years Lupe’s junior. “Can you be any louder right now?”
Lupe rolls her eyes and steps more carefully as they navigate the forest surrounding what used to be Waldorf, Virginia. They’d steadily trekked all around these southern parts, having started near Manassas. They traveled smart after so long on the road together, their movements limited to dawn and dusk. A time when lights weren’t required, but it’s generally too inconvenient for most people keeping their activity to daylight hours.
During their meandering survival trip, they ride in their dad’s mid-nineties forest green truck. It’s the only thing they both know how to keep going, scavenging parts and gas along the way. They find camouflage in the forest since the old clunker literally blended the hell right in. They often left it hidden while they camped, scoping out an area for supplies and safety, hanging out for a while, then moving on. They sleep on the bench seats together in the cab. They would sleep in the trunk with the camper cover, but they usually kept that for supplies and it was generally pretty full. There is the added benefit of being immediately available for quick get aways. That’s basically a bi-weekly occurrence in the apocalypse.
Alma and Lupe are out for a jaunty stroll after finding a decent spot to camp at dawn. Hunting through the thick woods, Alma spots what might have been deer tracks. She looks back at her sister with a big grin and says, “You ever had venison?”
Lupe frowns at Alma first, then glances out thoughtfully at the woods around her. “I mean maybe on one of my fancy work nights in D.C. but I can’t fucking remember. Why? You finally catch the trail, pequeñita?”
Alma smiles a wicked grin. “I might have, gordita.”
Lupe rolls her eyes. “Mira wey, that’s a bullshit nickname and you know I don’t like it. At least yours is cute and sweet.”
Huffing petulantly, Alma rolls her eyes in response, but there is affection somewhere in her dark brown depths. She flips a long black braid over her shoulder and steadies a .308 bolt action rifle and silencer on the other. “Yeah, I found the trail.”
“Okay…” Lupe clicks her tongue against her teeth. “Qué vamos a hacer con a fucking deer though?”
Alma turns back fast, already scowling. “It ain’t gonna matter cause you’re so fucking loud you’re gonna scare the deer away!”
Lupe growls, “You ever skinned a deer? How we gonna treat the meat? How we gonna store the meat?” That shut Alma up. Lupe smiles at her tightly. “As I recall, we’ve been mostly surviving off of scavenging supplies, fish, and fowl. Neither of us wanted to dare eating a rodent, so we’ve never dealt with fur and skin!”
Alma scowls further at the surrounding forest, her thick brows almost meeting the tops of her round cheeks. She grumbles, “Pinche pendeja…”
“I heard that bitch…” Lupe replies in sing song, pointer finger to her ear like Christina Aguilera.
Alma snorts and finally loses her concentration on the woods. “We’re never gonna find that fucking thing anyway.”
Lupe laughs. “Fuck it, we got refried beans and shit. Plus we got masa and water, I can make those wannabe tortillas again.”
Alma sighed, long and wistful. “I really wanted to bag a damn deer.”
“Querida,” Lupe pontificates with a hand at her chest and another raised with two fingers, looking like holy painting, “we wouldn’t know what the hell to do with it.” Her arms flap to her sides. “Maybe we can find some shit on it in the next town we pass, but let’s just head back to camp. I wanna prep some extra water.”
“Water, water, water. We have gallons in the back,” Alma complains as she falls into step next to her sister.
“Stay hydrated, even in the apocalypse.” Lupe reaches for her canteen and hands it off to Alma. “Especially in the apocalypse! You see a goddamn pimple anywhere on this face, pajera?”
Alma rolls her eyes, but accepts the water with a little laugh. After her long sip, she asks, “So, medicine is good. Food is good. Water is good. Hows the bag-o-bullets?” She handed it back to her sister and Lupe drank quickly.
“Still baggy with bullets.” Lupe grins and Alma punches her in the arm, making her water slosh. They make their way back to their little camp, bickering endlessly about the water; and sometimes wether the rifle or the shot gun was more fun to shoot.
They hadn’t reached a consensus. Even as they started in on washing their laundry and hanging it up to dry, they still couldn’t agree on nearly anything. Once they had their packs empty, Alma started in on arranging stuff for lunch while Lupe headed towards the nearby stream on the map and started filling up the five gallon jug. She’d purify it in increments through the day while they started in on their chores for completing their camp. They’d set a perimeter with traps and clear out any dead in the surrounding mile in the process, using hidden corpses to mask their smell. They’d gotten a good amount of their shit done quick, checking inventory and rationing for the day too. They weren’t running low on anything yet, but it paid to be vigilant.
Lupe shoulders the giant bottle and starts back to camp. She isn’t minding the mild sun of the day. Summer is coming and looking to be particularly miserable, just humid as hell with a baking heat. The air is starting to have the consistency of being stuffed in a crockpot of butter most days. Today though, things seemed to be quite serene.
It should have been the first sign that something was amiss. It never takes the universe very long to remember it hadn’t fucked Lupe over in a while. The second sign was the voices rustling on top of the leaves. The laughing.
Lupe just about dies on the spot when she hears Alma scream at the top of her lungs. She starts sprinting through the forest, dodging trees and skipping over roots. Nothing was going to stop her from getting to her sister. They both agreed that they’d scream when they were in danger. Not only would it be an easy to signal one another, but it might draw walkers. Sometimes, walkers could be useful. Especially when traipsing upon unsuspecting attackers and allowing an opportunity for escape. The thought only made Lupe run faster.
Lupe sees the trucks in the clearing first, peaking through the trees with their blues, blacks, and whites. Next she sees the men, dressed in black, like stretching shadows, stomping through her and her sister’s shared space and turning their camp inside out. The last thing she sees is her sister, a back drop of black metal and canvas behind her. One of the men grasps her arm. Licking his lips, he holds her out, leering and shaking her like a trophy.
Lupe didn’t stop her momentum despite the water bottle still weighing heavily on her shoulder. As she runs into the clearing, she plants her feet with a twist of her waist and hurls the heavy plastic jug with a hammer throw. The small group of four leather clad men gathered was her target. Feet up on a log, they congregated around hanging clothing, snickering at the girls’ underwear. It hits the tree next to them with a loud crackling explosion of plastic and water. She doesn’t stop. She doesn’t even miss a step with her spinning momentum as she turns back to her goal. She doesn’t care about the roaring confusion and men tripping over themselves. She has to incapacitate them. She needs to kill them. It doesn’t matter how. She won’t stop until each and every one of them were dead. Before that, she has to get Alma to safety.
Without a sound, Lupe tackles the man holding Alma, right into the reinforced-steel sided truck. She had jumped at the last second, sending her momentum sideways and down. With the extreme force, their attacker’s head hit at the desired angle, snapping his neck instantly. She stumbles off of the falling corpse and turns. Alma had grabbed the rifle the man had taken from her, she hands off his assault rifle to Lupe. The men she hit with the water bottle are scrambling and cursing as they get to their feet, sopping wet in every single way. Lupe unloads some bullets in their direction, but she isn’t immediately used to the gun. It takes a second for her aim to right. She manages to hit two of them, one in the side and one in the leg, right before they fall behind trees.
An eruption of bullets comes from behind them. Lupe hisses at her inattention, thinking these men would be alone. The sisters might need to abandon their camp. Luckily, it doesn’t look like these assholes had figured out the rocky formation they camped by had one too many moss covered boulders. Her and Alma could still reach the car and get out.
Alma fires back several shots as Lupe covers her in the other direction. They tuck underneath the giant black truck, hiding behind wheels that the intruders probably won’t want shot out.
“¿Puedes llegar a camión?” Lupe asks quickly.
Alma looks around, careful and calm. “No se. Veo cuatro mas. They’re hiding in the trees and I can’t get a clean —,” the huff of her rifle firing interrupts her sentence, “scratch that, one more down. Three I can see over here.”
“Four on mine, but I think I injured two of them. Looking at the ground it seems they bled a lot.” Lupe holds her aim, waiting for one of the men to peek out. A pale balding head shines in the sun so she fires off a shot. It pings off the tree, but it hits right at the edge of the bark next to his head. The tree splinters right into his face. Lupe grins. “Three shooting on my side, but I’ll run out ammo soon. Llegar a camión, y yo —,”
Gun shots pepper the ground between them, thundering beneath the undercarriage and squealing off metal. The sisters curve further under the truck’s wheels.
“Shit!” Alma curses.
“You hit?” A broiling panic starts to consume Lupe when Alma doesn’t reply automatically. She fires back at the gunman hiding behind a log and hits him square through the eye not on his scope. Probably more than a lucky shot, but it doesn’t matter if luck keeps them alive.
“Not hit. These fuckers came out of nowhere! I’m just fucking pissed and scared.” Alma admits and it isn’t shameful. They’re often too honest with each other in these moments, but it helps.
“Me too. ¿¡Que chingadas?! Right?” She keeps firing to keep the shadows at bay. “Fuck it, get to the car and get the hell out of here. I’m gonna hold them off and I’ll meet you at the last place, yeah?” They exchange a nervous look. Something they shared too many times before in situations similar to these, with people who didn’t deserve to survive. That’s why Lupe would stay behind. She’d make sure none of them could follow. “I’ll cover you and I’ll find you. ¡Prometo!”
They nod once and immediately assume their positions. Lupe exhales tightly to try and control the terror taking over her body. She hated leaving her sister, but they can’t risk a chase and more firefight. She has to end it. She fires at the men behind the trees near their laundry, to get them ducking. Thankfully, she cleared the back way after nailing the one behind the log. The others hiding in the forest would be blocked by the vehicle and wouldn’t be able to see Alma running.
Lupe continues to fire until she runs out of bullets, but she never hears the car start. She keeps a hold on her gun and scrambles under the truck to the other side. Jumping up she sprints away, ignoring the men shouting behind the trees. She rounds the corner where their car is parked and slides to a stop. Her chest heaves and her entire body runs cold at the sight of the three men that were supposed to be on the other side of the truck. Her and Alma had been flanked. One of them has a hold on her little sister, who is stone faced and silent, despite the gun aimed lazily in her direction.
“NO!” Lupe screams and it shocks the men in front of her so much that they all jolt. It gives Alma the opportunity to duck and kick out the knees of the one holding her. Lupe launches her empty gun right at the one on the other side of Alma. The butt end expertly hits the guy right in the face and he crumples like his strings were cut. Lupe tackles the next one in the following movement and punches until he stops struggling. Getting to her feet, she grabs Alma, who just incapacitated the other one with a CIF match winning kick right into his crotch.
Lupe pulls her away just as she hears the sound of guns cocking behind them. She turns slowly, keeping Alma behind her as she takes in her surroundings. Three men lay at her feet, unconscious or writhing in disjointed agony. At least three other men had been killed in the firefight. One or two might be bleeding out somewhere, but there are five more in front of her. All holding high powered rifles aimed directly at her and Alma.
“Carajo…” Lupe hisses. Two from the water bottle group stumble over and aim slippery weapons at them as well. She didn’t have enough time to take a proper assessment. She didn’t realize so many of these fuckers would come out of the woods. “Lo siento hermana,” she whispers over her shoulder.
“¡Cállate!” Alma hisses back. Her hands grip at the back of Lupe’s shirt. “Te quiero.”
“Put your hands up and back away from the other girl!” says a man with a hideous brown mustache that must have usurped some hair from atop his balding head. Lupe and Alma just hold onto each other tighter, refusing to listen. This obviously riles the pale, beady eyed man. Covered in sweat, water, bark, and blood, he bellows, “Let go of her and step away!”
Lupe almost lunged. She eyes his water logged weapon and contemplates her chances. She glares around at the group, all looking slightly worse for wear. She might be able to do this if she can manage to rattle them enough. She can split up from Alma, lead them away, and kill them in the forest. Alma can get their car and disable all the others before escaping.
Lupe’s reply comes out just as fierce, “¡Me cago en tu madre! The only way I’m letting go of her is if you shoot me in the head! So you better not miss you mustachioed bitch!”
All of the guns waver for just a second at her reply. There might have been a snicker. Lupe is just about to make her move when she suddenly hears…