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Close Call

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Of course, one whole day in their own personal apocalypse couldn’t end without an almost tragedy.

Roberta ran as fast as her legs enabled her as soon as the man dropped, turning her head to make sure that Doc was going after Murphy while she took care of their unexpected little problem.

Reaching the sniper, she turned him on his back, checked for a pulse that turned out to be nonexistent, took note of the blood seeping out from the back of his skull, and then finally sat back on her heels. Roberta had been sure of her shot before she had taken it, but panic could make someone a little unsure at times, especially since she hadn’t known while lining herself up where exactly Murphy had been hit. She stripped the recent dead of his weapons and, unfortunately, nothing much else but a half-chewed pack of bubblegum.

She made her way over to Doc and Murphy quickly.

“What's the situation, Doc? He bleedin’ bad?” Roberta waited a minute, preaching patience, and satisfied herself by watching Murphy carefully, trying to determine if he seemed grayer than he already was. She could see blood already staining Doc’s hands as he shielded Murphy’s shoulder wound from her view. “Doc?” Roberta pressed again, frustrated by how out of breath she sounded.

If it all came down to losing Murphy because of a bullet wound in the shoulder and subsequent blood loss and infection, then she really was done with this world. 

Doc finished his rough examination and then turned to her, relief flooding her face as soon as she recognized it in his. “Bullet went clean through, and the blood loss ain’t too bad. He’ll live.” Roberta flicked a quick glance over at Murphy, who looked anything but grateful, but that was to be expected. He really was the luckiest son of a bitch she had ever met, not that it made her job any easier.

Doc patted Murphy’s injured shoulder before moving away, leading to an exaggerated groan. “Little sympathy here?” They were all used to it by now, and Roberta knew how perfectly fine Murphy was if he was still talking. Doc returned quickly from where he had no doubt been rummaging through his half-assed first aid kit. Roberta hoped there was enough thread and gauze to do the trick, otherwise they’d all be having a long-ass night.

“Got what you need, Doc?”

“Yep,” he tore off a piece of gauze from the thin roll with his teeth. Murphy grimaced though dramatically lay back to endure the upcoming torture. “Though we should think about gettin’ some more next town we stop in. Should have added it to Addy’s list,” he cursed, and Roberta put a calming hand on his shoulder. It seemed to do the trick, and he held up the roll that had just gotten considerably thinner for proof, then motioned toward Murphy, whose eyes were closed. “Bullet magnet here.”

Roberta chuckled at that and stood back, allowing them both some breathing room. She threw a glance back at the sniper who had tried to compromise their mission, despite being assured that he was dead. If Murphy had been shot anywhere else...

She shuddered and brushed the thought away, willing herself to think of the positives. It was a clear, beautiful day and the field they were standing in meant she could see in every direction for miles. Shielding her eyes from the dimming sun, warning her of rapidly approaching nightfall, she spotted a vantage point that would allow her to see even further. “Gonna keep a lookout up on that ridge over there, see if 10K and Addy are on their way back yet. Doc, you keep Murphy here. And Murphy, don't even think about moving ‘till Doc stitches you up.”

“Yeah, then the blood loss will make you really feel like a zombie,” Doc added, though winced in sympathy as the needle bit through Murphy’s skin and he cringed in pain. In response, Murphy took a swig from the bottle in his hand, which Roberta couldn’t help but notice had appeared out of thin air, as if Murphy had called upon the heavens themselves to satiate him.

Doc yanked it away from him mid-swallow. “Hey!”

“Uh uh. I ain’t hearing it, Murphy. You may be in pain, but I’ve gotta keep my hands steady, otherwise your stitches are liable to look like zig zags. If there’s any left by the time I’m through then it’s yours.”

Unless she had something to say about it. Let’s face it, but keeping Murphy’s human-bait ass relatively alive while their own asses were zombie-bait was taxing on a good day and downright unbearable on a bad one. The way she saw it, she deserved some payment up front. “Or mine,” Roberta smirked before walking away.

“And you wonder why I have nothing good to say about any of you!” Murphy’s outrage trailed after her, but at least she didn’t have to take her reluctant charge seriously.

Another day where they’d somehow managed to keep Murphy alive. And tomorrow, Roberta thought bitterly, there’d be a whole new set of challenges to kick in the ass.