The U.S. of After Chapter 33

Ethan

My leg hurt so bad.

I didn’t really see that kid at all but then he was on top of me.  I just wanted to get out of there as quick as I could before I ended up on the menu.  I was done with the soldier boy routine, but now I was tied up face down in the mud with my leg soaking this gritty sand with precious fluid.  It felt as if I had a sharp rock in the wound.

I figured I’d start trying to crawl away, so I pushed with my one good leg to slide across the muddy gravel on my chest.  Too bad I didn’t take a knife or something because I could have figured out how to unbind my wrists.  Got tired of scooting along and decided to roll over and sit up.  Surprising how hard it is to do that with your wrists bound behind your back.  I made the mistake of trying to use my bum leg to push myself over and felt as if someone shoved a hot poker in there.  Hardest part was standing up.  I had to bend my knees and cross my ankles in the dirt and then roll forward to get up, then I fell face first and smacked my nose on a rock.

That was when I saw the snake.

It was a big black one and it sat there, head vertical a few inches, its remarkably white mouth open, hissing at me.  I didn’t know what kind of snake it was but it looked dangerous so I lay there as still as I could and tried not to scream.

Then there was gunfire.  First a shot, possibly a high powered rifle then there was automatic fire and screaming and shouting.  I didn’t dare move.  The snake didn’t seem to care that there were bullets whizzing by.  It just sat there with its mouth open, hissing at me not two feet from my face.  A bullet shot through the weeds and kicked up the sand to my left.  This caused me to flinch and close my eyes and then I felt a sting on my neck.

The snake was gone when I opened my eyes but the bullets were still streaking around over my head.  I couldn’t feel my neck but it was throbbing something awful just like my leg and I figured if that snake was poisonous I was probably going to be a corpse soon.

What did I have to lose?  I rolled over again, got my legs in a cross ankled position, bent my knees, and tried to ignore the molten steel feeling of new pain in my thigh.  I rolled forward and sat up enough to see over the tall brown and green grass and all the slowly waving cat tails.

My eyes blinked a few times, clearing away the dust as I saw nearly a hundred tent villagers, many of them carrying their children in their arms, stampeding toward me, and my kneeling body was not going to slow them down one bit.  I only heard the sound of their thunderous feet as they broke over me, crushing me into the gravel, introducing a new kind of pain.

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