Chapter 7:

The Riders (1)

Don't Die, Will

About a year ago, a gang named "The Riders" laid their eyes on Rust. An outlaw motorcycle club leaded by a guy named Arnold. They demanded half of the percentage of the food that Rust's collects every month in exchange of not attacking the community. When the leader of Rust, Jack, first refused the offer, Arnold and his gang killed a few people from the community as a warning. So, he had no other choice but to take the deal. Since then, they started to come at the end of the months to collect their share. If the correct amount wasn't provided, they would take a woman with them. As for the record, the whole process was done without letting anyone being awared.


David was sitting on a chair a bit away from Jack. He listened to Jack's story without interfering. When Jack finished his story, he felt a bit relieved. Grace was still frozen in her place. She didn't say a word. She found herself frightened of David.

David took a deep breath and let it out. He rubbed his face and leaned forward.

"So you're saying. You've been keeping this a secret from the others for a year."

Jack didn't say anything to defend himself. There was nothing that he could use to say back. That's when Grace stood up for her husband.

"We didn't have a choice. Our people aren't strong enough to fight. It's better to share the amount and keep peace." Grace tried to clear their points, "We also don't have enough supplies such as weapons, ammo, medical support etc so if we did fight against them, people would've lost their families."

Jack looked at her wife. He felt a bit happy that he married her.

"Bullshit." David stood up from his seat.

"Excuse me?" She wasn't sure if she heard it right.

"How many people do they have, Jack?"

"Around... 2 dozens or so."

"How many people does this place has?" He pointed at the ground.

"More than 50. Maybe more."

"You see, Jack." He slowly approached him, "The problem isn't about the number. Do you know what the problem is?"


He stood up close to Jack and looked in his eyes. 

He put his finger on Jack's chest and tapped it hard, "The problem is that you're a coward."

Though he was the leader of the community, he was really shook by David.

He looked at the ground and said, "I-i am not a coward."

"Yes, you are."

"I am not."

"Yes, you are."

"I said, I AM NOT."

"YES, YOU ARE!" The voice of David really scared the hell out of Grace and he fell on chair.

The room got quiet after that. Nobody moved for a while. Grace placed her glasses properly. Jack moved his eyes from the ground and tried to look at David's eyes. It felt like his eyes were burning like flames. Jack realized, David was not a person someone should mess with. That angry face of the beast gave him cold shivers.

David backed off. He scratched his back of the head and massaged his forehand.

"I ahh...I am sorry about that. I went a little overboard there."

Jack looked at the ground, "I-it's okay."

The beast exhaled, "Listen, you're not a coward. But this isn't right. Today they are coming for half the amount. Tomorrow, they will come for more. You can't let this keep going on."

"I know. But what do you suppose me to do?"

"You gotta fight. Fight for the rights." It sounded a bit dramatic.

"But how?"

David put his hand on his beard and patted it for a while.

"Here is what we will do," He explained the plan, "We'll sneak into their territory, take them out one by one. Since we have the advantage in numbers, it will be a lot easier than you think. We might even don't have to use the weapons if it goes right."

"What do you mean 'if' it goes right?"

"We get spotted, we fight."

"N-no no, I can't take any chances."

"Listen, Jack. To get something, you gotta lose something. That's how it is. Or would you want to live in fear for the rest of your life?"

Jack said nothing. He knew David was right. But he couldn't agree.

David came closer to Jack, "I came here thinking that this place would be safer for my family. If something happens to them, I will put the blame on you. You hear that?"

He nodded, "I understand."

"Good. So are we doing this my way or yours?"

Jack was afraid. He made a fist with his left hand and looked at his wife. She was frightened and helpless.

For the family. He thought.

He closed his eyes tight and pursed his lips. After taking out a deep breath, he said, "Your way."


"You wanna give it a try?" Nolan forwarded his bow to Will.

"I'd love to." He took it.

"Stand upright with feet shoulder width apart, and feet at 90 degrees to the target." Nolan gave him instruction, "Keep a relaxed grip."

He did the way Nolan instructed, "Now what?"

"Place the finger position as I showed you."

"Is this okay?"



"Use your back muscles to pull the string."

He slowly pulled the string.

"Use your dominant eye. Look down the arrow and align it with the target."


"Now, release."

Will released the arrow and it hit the target. The shot wasn't accurate but it was good for his first time. 

"How was it?"

"Umm...Not bad for your fi-"

Nolan couldn't finish his sentence as a arrow from behind them came like the wind and hit the target so hard that it broke in half. Will and Nolan looked back to see who made the shot.

"It was easy." Olivia lowered her bow.

"It was just a fluke. Don't mind her, Will."

"Fluke, huh?" Olivia asked, "Then why don't we have a match?"


"Why? You're scared?"

"I don't want to ruin the day for you."

"We'll see about that."

"All right. Don't blame me later for making you cry."

"Ha ha, very funny."

As they were having their duel, Will stepped back a little and sat on a chair near him. He had no doubt that Nolan was a better shooter. But for some reason, he found himself rooting for Olivia. He can't be blamed. She was beautiful. Her appearance and clothing made her similar to Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. The game, not the movie.

But why am I thinking about that?

He shook his head. He felt like something was wrong with him.

"Thinking about your old man?" Nolan said to him while aiming.

"Why would I be thinking about my dad?"

"You don't know?" He released his hand. The arrow direct hit the target, "Jack and your father went hunting along with some people."

Now he noticed that, he hadn't seen his father since he woke up.

"But how do you know? I woke up before you. If they went out, I would've seen."

"I didn't see them. Grace told me."


He found it a bit strange how his father went hunting without letting him know. They've been travelling for 3 years together. And they just got here yesterday.

Why didn't he tell me?

Olivia's last shot missed the target.

"My win." Nolan picked up the arrows.

"Yeah yeah, you won because I let you win."

"Since when did you get so kind?"

"S-shut up."

Nolan took out a pocket watch from his back pocket. It was still 6:45 in the morning. Nobody woke up except them. Nobody from their generation.

"Why don't we go hunting?" Nolan suggested, "To kill some time, we might even catch something good for dinner."

Olivia spitted out her chewing gum, "Fine by me."

"What about you, Will?"

"I-i don't mind."

"All right then. Pack your things. I'll go inform Grace."

"I am coming too." Someone yawned from behind.

"Ethan, you woke up early today."


David always liked the sound of a horse walking. But he couldn't believe that he was riding one. The one who was riding the horse was Jack. There were 3 more horses with people on them. Rodriguez was leading the way. He was introduced as Jack's right hand. A woman named Synthia was riding with him. David looked right. If he remembered correctly, the riders of the right horse was Peter and Katie. Those were the names David could remember. The people who took part in this operation, were the most trusted ones. That was what Jack told him.

"Hey David, why did you decided to do this today? It's too early. We just discussed about it yesterday."

"You told that they come to collect the foods at the end of the month, right?"

"Yeah, they always come on 29th of the month."

"today is 28th July. It's already too late. I don't want them come any closer to my family. And also we should attack them while we still have the chance."

Jack couldn't argue with that. He had points.

It was already too late. A whole year late. He thought.

"So how long will it take us to reach there?" It seemed like David was a bit impatient.

"Takes half a day to reach on a walking horse."

"Then make it run."


"Why can't I ride with Olive!" Ethan Shouted.

"Shut up, Ethan. They might hear you. Do you wanna die a virgin?" Olivia asked.

"I am not a virgin."

"Yeah, right." Olivia shook her head.

Olivia was riding a horse with Will behind him. And the other horse was being rode by Nolan and Ethan. Both Ethan and Will didn't know how to ride a horse. So, they had to ride with separately. She wouldn't ride with Ethan as she described to be a pervert. Which was not actually a lie. Ethan had a personality of a degenerate person. He always tried to look Emma from behind, Olivia from front. He even had pick up lines that he used all the time. So, he was a bit of a annoying person among the girls.

"Can I please ride with you? I won't do anything."

"No." She refused immediately, "No one will agree to ride with a pervert like you."

"Nolan, make her understand."

"Shut up, Ethan."

"This one isn't a less of a creep either." She mumbled.

Will knew she was talking about him. He couldn't blame her for calling him a creep. He felt like he was. He was riding a horse with a girl for the very first time. There wasn't a very much gap between them and since he never rode a horse before, he had to struggle maintaining his balance. He was afraid that he might even touch her while maintaining stability. He tried to put his hands on the horse. That worked, for the time being. Will was never this up close to a girl before. Her butt was almost touching his crotch area. He could even see her bra underline. But he didn't stop looking.

Yeah, I am a creep.


The horses were running like the wind. They were tired too. David tried to hid himself behind Jack to escape cold breeze.

"How Long! It's getting dark!" He had to yell as it was windy.

"We are almost there! Just a mile or so!" Jack yelled.

It was just a matter of time to reach there. David was feeling a bit anxious but he tried to calm himself down by taking some deep breath. For some reason, his mind was calling out Ruth. He started to think how they met, the time they spent, all the argument they had, the family trips. He also remembered how Ruth used to get mad if he forget their anniversary and the other important days. He smiled a little thinking about it. He felt like crying but forced himself not to. He wished he could see her again. Even just once would be fine. But it wasn't a part of reality. Never was.

After fifteen minutes or so, they reached the end of the line.

"Hold your horses!" Rodriguez made the stop sign with his hand, "We'll walk from here."

Everybody got off their horses.

"Keep the horses here." Rodriguez said, "Katie, you stay here."

She nodded.

Katie stayed and the rest of them walked a bit far and lied down on the ground to avoid getting spotted. They could see a abandoned factory. It was surrounded by couple of guards wearing black jackets. Some of them were wearing sun glasses and headbands. Rodriguez counted. There were exactly 11 people outside. David observed their positions and the weapons they were carrying.

"When do we attack?" Synthia asked.

"Not till it's dark. We gotta wait for them to let their guard down." David replied.

"We gotta take the guards to clear the path."

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking too." David said.

"What's the plan then?" It was Jack this time.

"Lemme think." David put his hand on his beard. He tried to think for a way in for a while. At last, he came up with a plan, "How many of you are better archers?"

"I am." Synthia replied.

"Me too." One of the guys said. David didn't remember his name.

"Listen, Synthia and you..." He pointed at the guy, "Will stay here and cover us while we go stealth through. Don't go kill anyone when it's not the right time. Wait for my signal."

They both nodded.

When it got a bit dark, they carried on with their plan. Synthia and the guy named Russell stayed with bows and arrows while the others tried to sneak in. They killed those who were a bit far away from the others with knives. The rest of them were shot by Synthia and Russell. That succeed. When the entrance got cleared, they gathered around.

"Now, we split up." David said.

"Split up?" Rodriguez questioned, "Why?"

"This way, if some of us get caught, others would be able help them. And, not everyone is gonna die."

Rodriguez understood the point.

"All right." David said, "Me and Jack."

"Synthia will join me." Rodriguez looked at her.

"And the rest of you make a 3rd team." David pointed at Peter, Russell and the guy named Mitchell.

They all split up and entered the building. The factory was a two-story building. Each floor had different sections. And the length of the building was a bit too long. So it was a time consuming mission to find the gang members and take them down. But the real target here was Arnold, the boss. If they could take him out, it would be an instant win.

David, Jack, Rodriguez and Synthia took the stairs. Other guys decided to clear the first floor. The second floor was divided in many sections. David and Jack went the opposite direction of the path Rodriguez and Synthia chose. Since it was dark and there was no electricity, it was hard for them to look ahead. But David and Jack managed to stealth through and take down some gang members.

"We almost checked all the sections." David whispered.

"Yeah, but we still couldn't find Arnold."

"We'll find him. How does he look anyway?"

"He's bald and have a Mexican mustache."

"That will do."

They came to the last section. They could see a little with the help of the moonlight which was coming from the broken windows.

"Jack, you see that guy?" David pointed with his eyes.

Jack looked ahead. A bald guy was sitting on a chair facing his back against them. He was eating or maybe reading something. His head was down a bit so it seemed like.

"This must be Arnold." Jack said.

"I am gonna get this son of a bitch." He clenched his jaw.

"No one is in the room."

"Now is the chance." David crouched, "You stay here and keep a look."

David took small steps and tried to not make any noise. As he was approaching him, he heard some Mexican music coming from the room and he was mumbling with it. He was also dancing a bit with his shoulders.

This guy.

David came as close as possible to him. He took out his knife and grabbed it hard with a killing intent. As soon as he was about to make a jump, something hit him hard on the right side of his head from the back. He lost his sense.


David regained his sense but not entirely. He could hear some noises.

"Jack Jack Jack." A voice said, "What have you done?"

David tried to open his eyes. His vision was blurry. But he could see some movements. He shook his head.

"Boss, he's awake." Another voice said from behind.

"Oh, the new birdie finally woke up from sleep." A hand touched David's face softly, "Good for him."

"Where am I?" David cleared his vision.

"You're in hell, sweetheart." The person said.

David tried to look. A bald man with a mustache were standing in front of him with a gun in his hand.



Jack's voice?

David looked ahead. Jack was tied up with a chair all beaten up.

"He's not a loyal dog anymore." Arnold said while looking at Jack.

"Arnold." The beast was raising, "You son of a bitch."

David tried to move. But he discovered himself in the same situation as Jack.

"Oh my, oh my." Arnold pulled a chair in front of David and sat, "You already know my name? How popular I am!"

"Boss, we found these rats" A black man brought two person in the room.

Rodriguez! Synthia!

They were all beaten up.

"Throw them on the ground." Arnold ordered.

The black beast did as he was told, "There were three others. We killed 'em."

"Good job." Arnold said, "Now leave."

Arnold looked at David. He was smiling.

"Look at you." He was smiling like a creep, "How beautiful you are!"

David said nothing. He kept glaring at him. 

"Do you know what pleasures me the most?" He leaned forward.

David was as silent as ever.

"No, it's not sex." He put his pistol on David's chin and started to slide it up, "Nothing thrills me more than torturing a person. I mean it."

He kept sliding the gun up and stopped when he reached his forehead. Then he stood up. He gave that creepy smile of his.

"But oh boy, oh boy. You're not that lucky. You'll get an instant dead ticket."

David looked in his eyes. He was feeling it coming. Death.

"Any last wish, sweetheart?"

David spitted on his face.

"Fuck you."

He didn't even move. But he stopped smiling.

"Now you made me angry."

Arnold slowly triggered his gun. David closed his eyes.

I wish I could see them again for the last time.