Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 4:17 pm

And then there were two

We came in contact with the remnants of another group this afternoon. ‘Remnants’ because there were only two of them left, and from what they told us, there used to be more.

They came sprinting down the street so loudly that we had plenty of time to duck into the shadows. We watched them come, breathless and pounding away with terror on their faces. They kept glancing back over their shoulders and one of them tripped and sprawled, skidding painfully across the concrete. There was a noise down the street, the distant rumble of an engine, and the taller one grabbed up his companion and dived into one of the buildings.

Of course, they chose the storefront where Thorpe, Dillon and Nugget were hiding out. The rest of us listened for their pursuit, and when there was no sign of it, we piled in to join the fuss. There was no way that we were leaving three of our number in the lone hands of strangers.

The two of them were spent and shaking, and so scared of us that they hardly knew who to look at first. I don’t like being scary, but it was good not to be the one feeling like that for a change. I shooed most of the others towards the back of the store to give the strangers some room to catch their breaths and waited for them to get ready to speak.

The first thing that they said was, “We don’t have anything to give you.”

I was surprised and looked at Ben and Thorpe, who didn’t echo my sentiment. Clearly, they’re more used to this whole ‘might means we take everything’ thing. I was disappointed to be put into that category.

“We don’t want anything from you,” I told them.

They looked doubtful, but that far-off engine noise sounded again and we all hunkered down until it went away. When it was quiet again and we were breathing easier, I asked the scraggly pair what happened. They didn’t seem hurt, but they were definitely badly shaken by whatever it was they had seen.

“The Pride happened,” the taller one said. They said that they had been forced into the Pride’s zone by a maddened woman who wouldn’t leave them alone. She had chased them for two days and killed one of their younger group members.

He told us that their group had been six then, when they had strayed into the Pride’s territory. Things had gone badly, and two of their number had been staked out in the rain. Of all the things to do to someone, on purpose, I struggle to think of anything worse. I wouldn’t wish the rain’s kiss on anyone.

The survivors didn’t say what happened to the other two members of their group, just that they had managed to get away and were running for their lives. And they intended to keep on running.

They didn’t stick around to chat with us. They tugged themselves up as soon as they had the strength and excused themselves warily. They had no interest in sticking with us, not with the direction we were headed in.

It didn’t make us any happier about our path. We’re skirting out wider around the Pride’s territory now, watching for those little telltale tags they’ve left behind on the buildings. The tags are stylised around the image of a lion’s head – it’s no doubt what they’re modelling themselves after. We’re trying not to become even more paranoid than before. I think that’s a losing battle.