Dry. My mouth. Feels like sand's been poured in it. And pain. Fuck, the pain! It throbs in my stomach, a dull, oozing pain. And then rememberance. The memory of what happened... a few hours ago? A day ago? I don't know. I can feel the hot desert sand pressing against my face, warming the skin uncomfortably. My arms are at an awkward angle, the right one pinned under my chest, the left splayed out away from my body. I pull my left arm close to my body and push my body away from the sand, supporting myself with my right elbow, the blood flowing back into it causing painful pins and needles to spike into my limb. As I lift my head up, the blood rushes into it, dizziness making me slump back to the ground, the vibration making my wound scream. I let the rush of pain take me over, letting sleep seep back into my mind.

Some way away...

"So, you've returned. What did you find?"

Liz heaved the heavy bags off her back, opening them up. The memory-of the gun jumping in her hand, the bang, and then the look of surprise on his face as the blood flowered up and he fell to the floor-blossomed in her head, but she felt no remorse.

"I found some antibiotics and antiseptic, clean bandages, alcohol we can use for sterilizing scalpels and bandages, a gun and ammunition, and several packages of preserved food"

She allowed the fatigue to flow into her limbs and fell into a chair, taking a long drag on her cigarette.

"There was a guy, too"

"What happened to him? You didn't bring him here did you?" Lawrence Chard, the town's supply manager, couldn't hide the small note of alarm that leaped into his voice. "You know all too well we can't have newcomers here"

Liz rolled her eyes "No of course not Laurie, I'm not a fuckhead" She paused, blowing out a thin stream of dirty grey smoke "I put a bullet in him about an hours walk from here and left him in the dust. He's dead"

Raising his hands defensively, Laurie sighed "Alright, alright! I'm sorry, it's just... You know what happened last time" He sat down and took a parcel of wrapped food from his coat and began to eat it.

"Yeah yeah Laurie, whatever" Liz flicked her cigarette out and stood up. "I'm gonna get some sleep. It's been a long couple of days" She walked off towards the centre of the town, a small hitch in her stride as the wound still healed slowly.

About an hours walk away...

I sat up slowly, consciousness slowly returning to me along with logic, wit, and the pain in my stomach. Looking around me I could see... Nothing. Apart from Rust, a few feet away from me, his sides rising and falling slowly as he napped. Thank fuck, that bitch didn't shoot him too. Just my luck, that the first person I meet who actually wants to help, brings me within eyesight of a safe haven and then fucking shoots me in the gut. I glanced down at my wound, wincing at what I saw. The blood had dried some time ago, sand and clotting crusting the edges of it. Luckily I had fallen onto my front and the pressure of my jacket and the sand pressing against me had stopped the bleeding, otherwise I would've probably died. Which will most likely happen anyway, I thought, looking around and seeing my bag gone. Panic suddenly setting in, I patted my pockets, finding them empty and bare. She'd obviously got cocky, thought I was a goner for sure and left me out here . I mean, she didn't strike me as the type to leave a living man anything let alone a dead one. I took my jacket of gingerly, my movements slow and cautious, being careful not to agitate the bullet wound any further. I removed my shirt, and took a corner between my teeth, clamping down hard and yanking sharply, ripping a long strip out of it to bind my wound. Next, I hauled my stinking, near-dead carcass to it's feet and hobbled over to a stunted tree, clutching my stomach. Breaking off the largest branch to use as a crutch, the dry wood yielding easily to my weak and pathetic attempts at snapping it, I grasped it as firmly as my shaking fingers would allow and tottered off into the distance like an old man who'd lost his dentures.