Too fast. Everything was happening too fast. Her legs carried her swiftly across the pavement and overgrown brush. Her form allowed her to weave in and out of obstacles walkers couldn’t. Speed and agility granted her the ability to dash and dodge and leap. The power in her legs continued to propel her forward, away from the mindless creatures intent on her destruction, but there were too many of them…
Noah dashed to the left frantically, dodging walkers who kept blocking her exits. Back to the right as three more stumbled into her path, hands shaking, salivating without control, eyes wide and dilated but hollow, lacking lucidity. A whine tore its way out of her throat as she ran, almost in circles, trying to find a way out. Teeth bared and hackles raised, she struck forward at the only opening she had.
Canines tore into mottled flesh as she battled her way through a small throng of walkers. Their blood was disgusting, foul, like something rotten had taken residence where it didn’t belong. She fought through the pain, the small tufts of hair ripped from her hide as they desperately clawed at her, trying to stop her, eat her…
With a burst of speed and power she didn’t know she was capable of, Noah broke free from the throng, launching herself forward. What came next happened too fast for her to process until suddenly, she was thrown violently into the earth, head spinning from the impact. Whining, urging her legs to move, Noah, glanced upwards, to the sloping wall that surrounded the depression she’d fallen into. Already walkers were falling in, careening into each other as they descended. And yet some hung near the lip of the depression, impaled by rods of metal extending from what was once beneath the ground.
She’d been spared for the most part, except for the gouge across her left side. Her back leg gave out the moment she put pressure on it, but she refused to die like this, like an animal trapped in a cage. Broken walkers ambled their way towards her, shaken but insistent.
I can’t die like this!
A growl, bubbling from deep within her chest erupted and with it, strength from god knows where. She was able to stand and with a few shaky steps forward, favoring her left side, Noah continued on. Every step was a battle, but she climbed up the sloping wall, and just barely made it over the lip before her leg gave out again.
But there was no time, no time to catch her breath, no time to steady her racing heart. And so, one paw at a time, Noah continued. A few walkers had managed to climb up after her, but she was nearly running now and there was nothing to block her path.
Too fast. She was running too fast. If she didn’t slow down her wound would tear even wider. But she had to keep running… she had to keep going. She had to get out of the city limits. Had to get word back to her tribe… Suddenly, the world shifted and her legs tangled themselves beneath her, catapulting her forward. Noah could taste the dirt, the blood, could feel cool metal against her hide. And then she could feel nothing as oblivion took hold.
He would wake up to the sun peeking through the folds of the tent he lived in. From the corner of the room, tugging at the corners of his mind, Mickey would pull his metal prosthetic and latch it on. He didn't need much to keep himself upright. It had become like breathing now; he didn't have to think hard on it. It was just another part of his everyday.
He'd get up and he'd check the food supply. If there was enough for breakfast, he'd have breakfast. If there wasn't, it'd be a scavenging day. After a grumble of discontent solidified the fact that that there was no food for breakfast, Mickey pulled his jacket on and headed outside to face the sun.
It'd normally be hot and he'd get bored pretty quick. Pick up a few pieces of scrap metal for his collection and maybe find a can of food or two, if he was lucky. Some days he went hungry, and some days he had to run from walkers. It all felt a little pointless in the end. It was lonely. He went hungry too often, and for what? Just to do it all again the next day?
But here he was, hobbling along. He'd already rummaged through a few piles of junk but nothing came out of it except for a cool bandanna which he wrapped around his ankle. For style, of course.
After a couple hours he came across a car. Mickey usually took them apart, salvaged the metal, peeked around for the keys just in case, but he could see the moving shilouettes of people behind it. Well, not people. Walkers. Empty shells of human beings, hungry for anything they could chew and swallow. Sometimes, good ol' normal food. Sometimes, human flesh.
A convoy of walkers was not really something he would care to deal with on a normal day, but they were all desperately reaching for something underneath the car. Food. Mickey grinned. This would be easy as pie.
He cracked his neck and then he cracked his knuckles. No walker even cared to notice; they did have a one track mind. Sucks for them. Mickey raised his palm, a clear bracelet made of metal along his wrist.
"So long, suckers." He said with a smile, and shoved the car in all of their faces.
The car's tires skidded against the earth as it was shoved forward, smashing into all of the walker's faces and then crushing them under it's weight as the car stopped a good length away. Chuckling to himself, Mickey hopped over the mound of dirt that separated him from the walkers and his new tasty --
Fuck, it was a dog! Mickey recoiled with disgust. He could tell from the rise and fall of it's matted chest. Fur was picked out in lumps, and it had a nasty wound on it's left side. Mickey leaned in to examine it further. The walkers must have chased it for a damn long time. On one hand, if he took the dog back, killed it and skinned it properly, it could be food for weeks. He could dry out the meat in the sun and have it for as long as it lasted. But did he really want to mess with a dog the walkers had clawed at? What if it was infected or something?
With a sigh, Mickey reached his arm out once more and a piece of metal ripped itself from the car. He slid it under the dog and curved it upward, like a little gurney.
Then he dragged it back home, the metal gurney floating in the air behind him. Maybe it wasn't that slow after all.
Time trickled by as Noah wove between consciousness and the darkness that laid beyond. Whenever lucidity came she trembled beneath a weight of pain that cradled her right back into oblivion. She floated, in all of her forms, all at once… Confusing up for down and dream from reality. When the pain lifted by an inch the process would repeat itself, until finally her eyes were able to flutter open. After a few woozy blinks, they managed to stay open.
Whining, realizing then that she was stuck in this form, Noah tried to move, tried to pick herself up and see where she was. Racking her brain, trying to remember what happened after she climbed over the precipice of that depression, Noah came up with nothing and panicked. She didn’t recognize the tent she was in either.
A hesitant growl bubbled from deep within Noah’s chest and as she struggled to her feet, let it free. Unfortunately, it was followed by a yelp as her legs collapsed beneath her weight. Frantic, she glanced about as best she could, surveying the surroundings.
The first thing she noticed was the smell of smoke, of decades old debris burning somewhere not too far away. Within the confines of the tent the scent was nearly overwhelming, and yet she craved to drag herself closer to the warmth. But glancing around she was met with a makeshift bed, a rather large pile of metal off to the side of the room, acting almost as a divider between this space and whatever laid beyond.
Curiously, she could hear nothing except the soft crackle of fire and her own ragged breathing, and somehow it made her all the more nervous. Noah tried to stand once more, realizing just how much danger she was in. Forcing the shake in all four of her legs to still and pushing herself up…
Noah immediately collapsed into a heap. Her backside unable to bear any weight. Distraught, furious with herself, and aching in pain, Noah howled, a deep, resonant, heartbreaking howl.
It did not take him long to realize he didn't have the heart to kill the dog. He'd started up the fire and left her in a comfortable position when he headed to his cabinets and kitchen to prepare medicine for the wound. At first, he was nervous, but as he ground herbs together and pulled out bandages, he realized there wasn't much to be nervous for. It would be nice to have some company.. a dog actually sounded nice. He needed the distraction. He needed something to do. And he didn't mind caring for a wound. Perhaps he was not entirely guided by his morals. Frankly, he was lonely.
He collected a few herbs from his small garden outside, but as he headed back in he could hear a sudden howl. It was a gut wrenching noise, one that made Mickey stop what he was doing entirely. Suddenly, he realized it might not be such an easy task. When the dog was unconscious, it looked simple and easy. A clean job with no emotional connection.. that wasn't exactly a possibility anymore.
He burst back into the tent, arms full of leaves and stems of assorted plants. He'd already cleaned the wound but he hadn't yet bandaged it. It was important she didn't try and move too much, but by the tone of that howl he assumed she had to have tried.
"H-hey hey hey," He mumbled, gently entering the section of the room he had left her in. His eyes were wide and he realized he had hardly even spoken a word aloud in a long time. He cleared his throat and started again. "Don't be afraid, I'm gonna fix you up." He rustled the leaves in his arms. "See? Herbs for your wound. I'm making medicine. D-don't move, okay? It'll only aggravate the wound."
Damn this tail and these fuckin' jaws! UGH. AND DAMN YOU, STRANGER!
Who do you think you are, huh?! If my hip wasn't cut up I'd bite into yours.
And just WHAT kind of herbs are those? For all I know those are your favorite spices. Well, hate to break it to ya' buddy,
but if you eat me, you'd be no better than them walkers.
All the stranger could hear, however, were a stream of deep growls, barking stanzas, and the rumble in her chest as she bared her canines. This continued for a minute or two, until finally she quieted and the hackles along her spine fell. She was still wary, watching the stranger's every move intently.. but the throb in her side took precedence over her paranoia.
Moving her eyes to focus on the leaves and roots clutched within his grasp, and recognizing a few, mainly by scent, felt her defenses collapse in defeat. If she was hurt bad enough to get stuck in one of her animal forms, then she knew ..even if she didn't want to admit it.. that she needed help.
The first few yaps had him flinching away in fear. He was not looking for a bite.. but he knew this had to be done one way or another. Waiting until the dog finally realized, and gave that one, clear, bark of approval, Mickey smiled in relief.
"Atta girl," He hummed, bending down on his knees, and bringing his hand up, a mortar and pestle levitated over. Of course, made of metal. As Mickey plucked leaves from the bunches of herbs, the pestle began to grind all on its own. Well, not quite on its own, of course.
"This is going to hurt a bit." He said sadly, as if she would understand. Once it had all been ground up he began to apply it, spreading the mixture evenly across the wound with a strange amount of practiced precision. It would burn at first, but then become incredibly soothing, diminishing the pain greatly.
He put an arm under her to pull her up and start the bandaging, handling every movement with the gentlest touches. "All done." He finally hummed, sealing the bandages and smiling at her, patting her head. "My parents taught me a lot of this stuff.. Don't worry, you're in good hands. I'll change the bandages tomorrow.. we'll have to keep a close eye on that wound.. Walkers got cha bad, huh?"
He shook his head and returned to the salve he'd made, now patting it into some of her smaller wounds and scratches. "You'll be up and at 'em in no time."
The burning sensation faded into something cool and comforting and all at once the shake in her limbs stilled, allowing her to take one of many deep breaths. As the boy wrapped her midsection with bandages she contemplated on his purposeful and precise hand movements, the way his metal pestle had floated in midair, the way her eyes would land on something metal no matter where she looked...
Shivering, chills crawled up her spine as she realized that she had been kidnapped (or perhaps, was in the care of...) by a powerful meta. She'd only met two others in her lifetime, only friendly and one not. Both encounters had changed her, for better or for worse.
Noah could only hope that this man would turn out to be like the former.
...thank you..for saving me...
A strange feeling overcame Noah moments before exhaustion took her. The stranger's grey-blue eyes were the last thing she saw before her own fluttered closed.
It could have been days, weeks even, when Noah came too. Her entire being ached and before she even opened her eyes she could tell she was still in her animal form. She groaned--which came out as a high-pitched whine and shifted in her make-shift bed. Her stomach growled angrily and she shifted once more, surprised to find that although it hurt, she could put most of her weight upon her legs.
Applying with salve with great care, Mickey continued to murmur soft reassurances as the dog whimpered under his touch. “I’m sorry, I know it hurts. Over in a minute.” He murmured, petting her fur with one hand, only realizing now she’d drifted into the realm of unconsciousness. With his brows furrowed in concentration, Mickey finished bandaging and caring for the wounds. He pulled together his blankets (okay, his only blanket) and tried to pull her on top of it as comfortably as possible.
For the first time in a long, long time, Mickey had a purpose. To have a dog would be wonderful. A companion. That’s what he’d been lacking.
The rest of the time Mickey spent checking her round the clock, making sure he could still clearly see the rise and fall of her chest, changing bandages, and reapplying salve. Realizing he still hadn’t gone out to get food, Mickey dipped into his emergency reserves. He flicked he top off an ancient can of soup labeled Campbell’s with his powers.
He was standing over the boiling pot of soup when he heard the dog’s long howl. Mickey scrambled to meet her, hands up as his brows creased with worry. “Hey, no no no! You’ll tear the bandages… reopen the wounds!” He whimpered.
“Listen.. lay back down.” With a flick of his wrist Mickey beckoned a metal cup of water from a shelf, and once it landed near Noah’s mouth, Mickey opened his palm, and with a lowering motion, the metal cup turned into a bowl easy for her to drink out of.
“Drink. I’m boiling soup. I gotta redo the bandages in a bit. Also, you need a name, dontcha?” Mickey paused, and grinned. “I’m gonna rattle off names, and you bark once for yes and twice for no.” Mickey scratched his chin. “Uh…..Jessica. No, uh… Melody. Katara. Dunno. Any suggestions?”