Clip closed the door slowly, he wanted to catch a glimpse of the first blow to Bob. When it hit, the sound of mallet on muscle and bone snuck into the building giving Janice another taste of fear and bringing a small grin to Jacko. Clip chuckled as he finally closed the door enough for the latch to catch.
The bears had surrounded the fox, broken him, and were likely going to eat him. the violence of this world came to Buffalo, came to Bob’s outpost, and he was not ready for it. Neither Bob, nor Janice, nor Kevin spent enough time imagining the possible cruelty of their fellow Man. The notion of such behavior was so abhorrent to them that anytime the thought of it occurred it was stricken from their minds. Such is the way that people become complacent and ripe from the plucking by a violent aggressor.
Had they given their minds the freedom to explore the horrors of the new world, at the very least in their imaginations and dreams, they would have prepared. The bar would have been fortified, it would have had a panic room, some escape routes, weapons, and booby traps.
It might not have made a difference for Bob and his friends. They may very well have been killed all the same, and eaten. But it would have improved their chances of survival against an aggressor like The Dragon, for much like Bob and Janice and Kevin, they too were becoming complacent. They expected people to cower in fear, or to fight back with just what they have on hand, and as individuals. Had they encountered an equal force of men ready to battle with cunning and familiar surroundings, they might not be such dominant conquerors.
They didn’t encounter such resistance from Bob and his friends. They encountered a people more focused on comfort, a people lazy of mind. The Dragon despised their complacency. To them, Kevin’s fingers had no value, not even to him. Breaking them was not a horror in any way, it was merely destroying a worthless set of things attached to a worthless man.
Jacko, Oz, and Clip stood over their prey like a pride of housecats over some nearly dead mice. “What about the helicopter, Janice?” Oz asked. “What about the flying man. He’s been here, probably more than once. Did he go west too?”
Janice understood that she and Kevin were already dead and that any more information given up would do nothing to prevent it. But she couldn’t bear the thought of watching them break more of her Kevin. What did it matter to the helicopter pilot if she told them or not, they would eventually find out what they wanted to know by torturing someone else. Once she realized this, that they would keep hurting people to get the information, her conscience freed her to tell them everything, and she did. She told them how the two women came into town with nothing but the last bits of water in their bags, how they traded medical services for provisions and a safe route west. She told them about the outposts along the way where they likely stopped for supplies, and told them where they likely ended up, at least for awhile. She went on to tell them how the helicopter used to make frequent stops in Buffalo, and how it flew west as well, one last time, and never came back.
She told them this so that they would stop mutilating Kevin, and so that they would kill him quickly. Once she started singing Oz’s demeanor softened. He could see plainly what she wanted in exchange for everything she was saying. He grabbed Jacko and Clip by their necks and pulled them close, whispering in their ears. They nodded in agreement.
With Oz standing between the predators and prey, Janice and Kevin couldn’t see them brandishing their clubs, though she did see them wind up for the swings. She had just enough time to close her eyes and tell Kevin that she loved him. Kevin didn’t have time to form any words. The shock of what was about to happen only gave his mind time to flash panic and horror across his face, and inhale deeply one last breath into his lungs.
* * *
They ate well that night in Buffalo, and they smoked the rest of the meat overnight to soften it up. Bob had quite the kitchen, it turned out. It was all burned as they departed, moving west. Even though they weren’t taking the city, the small part they were able to tear down was fully torn down. No new tenants would take up residence in The Last Bar in Buffalo.