I stooped over and ran my hand along the moss covered rail. The faint indention confirmed my suspicion. Their trail followed these tracks. I hiked my gear further up my back, and set forth to follow the tracks.
I wasn’t sure who I was tracking. They had come swiftly in the night, and I was barely alerted before they made off with Ben. I woke to see him, eyes wide in terror, as he was dragged out of our shelter. The shadowy figure held his hand over Ben’s mouth, and his muffled yelps barely reached my ears. I snapped to attention and had just moved to grab my bow when my skull was met with a flat object, and I lost consciousness.
That was two days ago. Rubbing that spot on my head now, I brushed my greasy blonde hair out of my eyes. Unlike their tracks, I had no way of following their intention. Why my son? And for what purpose? It was hard enough escaping the gangs and raiders of the city, but now this kidnapping…I tried so hard to make things easy for Ben. I thought a life outside the crumbling city would remove him from danger, from trauma. We could build our shelter, live off the land, and make a life for ourselves.
I would find Ben staring at the watch Chris had left him, for hours on end. It was obvious that he missed his father, possibly more than I did. He dismissed any notion of talking about it, which brought me further into a depression. My own son, and he couldn’t open up to me. The Outskirts were supposed to help him, help me even…cope with what had happened to Chris. Instead, all I had was a shadowy figure and some tracks to follow. Again, I felt powerless to save the ones I loved.
I rested for but a moment against the thick trunk of a tree. In two days, I had only stopped for enough water to keep my strength. I hadn’t slept, and it was beginning to catch up to me. Was he even still alive? I refused to believe otherwise. He had lost his father. I was not about to lose him.
The tracks made a bend around a mossy hill, and it was then that I heard voices. Drawing my bow, I dropped into a crouch, and crept forward along the hill. The tracks straightened out, and I could see a station up ahead. Resting my hand on the damp, sponge like moss, I surveyed the area. I could see two figures, projected against the green backdrop. And then…Ben! He had a bag over his head, hands tied, but there was no mistaking Ben’s affinity for striped clothing.
I could have played it cautious, but I had been patient enough. Regardless of if there were more around, I had to take these two down, now, and get my life back on track. I readied an arrow, jumped up out of my crouch, and set out at a steady jog. Waiting til I was close, bow drawn, I let the first arrow fly, directly into the first man’s back, with a solid THWACK. Slinging the bow over my shoulder, I drew my blade from my belt and sprinted towards the other sentry, who had just now been alerted by my presence. He had enough time to turn and look me in the eyes before I was upon him, blade buried to the hilt in the cavity right below his rib cage, angled up and twisting. The life left his eyes before he hit the ground. Breathing heavily, I took a step towards Ben before the cold hard steel of a gun jabbed into my temple.
“Don’t move, bitch.”