Author: Domini Porter PM
AU. In post-apocalyptic Boston, Dr. Maura Isles finds herself defending a group of women and children in the bombed-out remains of an urban hospital while Jane Rizzoli patrols the shattered city, searching for survivors, supplies, and something worth saving. Eventual Rizzles. A zombie story for people who don't even like zombies, that's the word on the street!Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Horror - M. Isles & J. Rizzoli - Chapters: 18 - Words: 56,710 - Reviews: 285 - Favs: 191 - Follows: 190 - Updated: 08-03-12 - Published: 07-16-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8325331
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"It's okay," Maura whispered, reaching out to smooth the girl's bangs. "Don't be afraid, okay? You just have to—" she paused just long enough to let a short spray of bullets ricochet across the courtyard, "you just have to close your eyes, and think about your favorite place in the world. Can you do that for me?"
The girl nodded. Maura smiled, trying to make it reach her eyes, grasping protectively at the girl as a loud explosion sent bits of plaster showering down the walls. "Okay," Maura breathed. "Where is it? Where are you right now?"
"At the park," the girl said, her eyes squeezed tightly shut.
"Oh yeah?" Maura aimed the barrel of the rifle at a cluster of debris in the north end of the courtyard. Movement. Something was moving.
"Yeah," the girl said, rhythmically clutching at the hem of Maura's jacket. "It's hot outside and I'm playing in the fountain."
"That sounds fun," Maura said, only half-listening. Watch, Maura. If it moves, shoot it.
"My little brother is splashing me."
Maura saw something flicker out of the corner of her eye. Without thinking she swiveled and loosed three rounds in rapid succession. The little girl cried out and pressed her face against Maura's hip.
"I'm sorry, honey," she murmured, stroking the girl's hair again. "I'm sorry I scared you. Tell me about your little brother."
"I . . . don't want to," the girl whimpered. "He's . . . gone. And my parents are gone too, and my dog. They're all dead."
Maura didn't think it was possible for her to be affected by individual stories any more, after all she'd seen and heard, but she felt her heart break for the thousandth time as the little girl sniffled into her jacket.
"Oh sweetheart," she whispered, dropping the barrel of the gun to rest on the windowsill. She knelt down and took the girl's face in her hands, brushing away a tear with her thumb. "I'm sorry. You stay with me, all right? I'll protect you, I swear. I swear," she said again, looking gravely into the girl's face. She felt her blood run slightly cold as she said it but she cupped the girl's chin, looked into the girl's eyes with dead certainty. "You stay with me, okay?"
The girl took a deep breath and nodded. Maura saw her struggling to stop her tears, to hide the pain she was feeling. She was at most eight years old.
"I have to keep watching," Maura apologized softly.
"I know," the girl said, her voice still slightly watery. "You kill the bad ones."
Maura's breath caught in her throat. I kill the bad ones.
She had never imagined herself a killer. Not before. She had a physician's commitment to preserving and enriching human life, even though she had specialized in the dead. But these . . . these things she was fighting, that she was killing, they weren't human. Not any more. Not by any measure she held dear.
She thought of Jane, somewhere on the outskirts of the city, searching for supplies, for survivors, for something worth holding on to. She remembered briefly the way Jane had held her close as she'd shown her how to shoot the heavy rifle.
I kill the bad ones.
"Yes," she said grimly. "I do."
"I'm good at seeing things," the girl said after a beat, half-hesitant as though she didn't want to seem like she was bragging. Maura smiled wanly.
"Real good," the girl said, perking up slightly. "I'm the best seeker at hide-and-seek."
"Oh I don't know about that," Maura said, shifting her tone into one of deep seriousness.
"I am! The best!"
"Okay." Maura shifted position so that she was pressed against the right side of the window frame. "Look in that black bag over there, next to the cabinet."
"This one?" the girl darted across the room to the bag, struggling with the zipper.
"That one," Maura said. "In the outside pocket there's a pair of binoculars, can you find them?"
"Yeah," the girl said, her tone a mixture of excitement and studied focus. "These?" She held up a small pair of binoculars, looked at Maura anxiously.
"Those," Maura replied. "Now, what I want you to do is get that chair from over there and pull it up behind me, a little to the left. I want you to sit on it and look out the window and tell me if you see anything, but I need you to sit back so nothing out there sees you, all right?"
The girl nodded. She dragged the chair with a loud squeal over to where Maura was crouched with the rifle, climbing on to it, pulling her knees to her chest and balancing the binoculars on them. Maura smiled, though her brows knitted together with the wrenching tightness of all the agony she'd seen since the darkness had come, all of it reflected in the eyes of a little girl she had deputized to scout for her. A child she had given the task of alerting her as to when and where she should deliver death.
"What's your name?" the girl asked softly after a few minutes had passed. Then, "You're the doctor, right?"
"I'm the doctor, yes," Maura said, her eye still pressed to the rifle's scope. "But you can call me Maura."
"Okay Maura," the girl said. "My name is Carrie and I'm seven and three-quarters years old."
"It's very nice to meet you, Carrie," Maura said, focusing hard on the north end of the courtyard, the place with the weakest defenses.
"It's very nice to meet you too," Carrie replied with a politeness Maura found jarring when echoing off the crumbling, exposed cinderblocks of the badly-damaged hospital walls. "You're pretty."
Maura grinned genuinely for the first time in weeks. "Thank you," she said, "so are you. I like your red hair."
"My brother always said it looked stupid. But my dad called me Strawberry."
"That's a nice name."
"You should call me Carrie, though," Carrie said, sounding a little self-conscious. "Because we're at war and we have to win."
We're at war and we have to win.
The message had been broadcast over the short-wave radios, had been printed on hastily drawn up leaflets, had been spray-painted on every remaining piece of wall large enough to contain the words.
We're at war and we have to win.
This is going to be a whole thing, you guys. I can tell already. Like if Cormac McCarthy and the Road Warrior had a baby that looked runway-ready in a keffiyeh and a Kalashnikov. Are you excited? I AM EXCITED! It's based on a manip I saw on Tumblr and have credited the hell out of over there, done by ranejizzoli (who is someone else here, but aren't we all). If you happen to see it, you should reblog or at the very least like it, because it is my faaaavorite and it's where this story came from!