This morning I could smell the ocean on the breeze, and it sent a thrill through me. A man named Alexi caught the scent as well, and before any of us could stop him, he took off at a run from our camp.
Several of the others laughed and called for us to leave him be, that he would return soon enough, and, like any of us, he would not wander far.
I was surprised. Had we not already learned that we didn’t have to wander far to find death in the Hollow?
I got to my feet, and as I strapped on my guns, the crack of a rifle rang out through the air, shattering the peace of the morning.
Before any of the others reacted, I raced towards the sound. Unlike my comrades, I was able to heal quickly from injuries, and so I took it upon myself to find Alexi.
It took far longer than it should have to find the source of the rifle shot, but find it I did.
A small home with a thatched roof stood off to one side of a narrow road while fields divided by split-rail fences stretched out around it. I saw a family seated at a table, one man playing a small balalaika while another served tea from a samovar.
The wind shifted, and I smell strong tea and cooking meat, and I knew what had happened to Alexi.
The barrel of a rifle appeared from the window, and I drew my Colts and the fight that followed was short and brutal, and I gut shot the survivors as I passed them by.
I entered the house and found Alexi on his back. He had been gutted, and a section of his haunches was missing while a pot boiled over a fire. I gathered what material I deemed salvageable and then set fire to the home.
As I walked away from the burning building, I realized I would need to reload the brass shells for my Colts.
I paused a short distance away as the wind shifted, bringing me the scent of the ocean once again. Behind me, the house burned, and the wounded screamed.
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