Listen to your gut.
Go on plan ahead; get a lay of things. Remember what you see and make sure you got a plan for the things you don’t. Do all that but above all else listen to that tiny voice in your head. It might save your ass.
Been a spell since the ambush. We kept our heads down, spoke soft… and turned tail whenever we got the slightest whiff of trouble. Worked for us but it was slow goin’ and now we got a little low on food so we’re on the trail again. We were lucky on scrap from our last few scavenging runs so we figured to head out to a trading post and stock up.
There’s a spot – an old farm – far off the trail, near the old bridgeway. Some of us been there in the past and got fair trade all in all. Our scouts looked it over at daybreak and saw markings on the barn door: “dusk, one person, no weapons”. Mark was diffr’nt from the last time we was there but the place was open for trade so that was good enough. Didn’t think nothin’ of it. We loaded June up with scrap – she has a way with people and drew better deals than any of us ever could. I slid a knife in her boot, kissed her, and took up a spot behind some scrub on a hill nearby. If things went south I had a bead on the clearing.
Saw someone pop the barn door from the other side. Didn’t see anything unusual so I flagged June to move up. But somethin’ didn’t feel right. My heart was racing and my throat got all dried up like it does before a fight. I kept swallowin’ until my spit felt like sand. I looked around, listened for anything but all I heard was the wind. June kept walking… felt like forever. Then it hit me. It was too quiet… unnaturally so.
I screamed at June to turn back. She didn’t hesitate. Spun on her heel and lit back towards us, her long legs carrying her across the field faster than I’d ever seen. Then we heard the scream and knew what it was – a Howler. Then gunshots rang out, and more screams – human this time. We turned tail and ran and we didn’t stop until we put a good mile between us and that barn.
We came back the next morning and found the bodies – what was left of them anyway. Could have been us all mixed up in that mess. We scrounged what we could and buried what could still be put in the ground. I don’t never want to press our luck like that again.