Surfacing with the Croc…Submerging Again

Sitting on the side of the blackened trail, an exhausted Horia watched Pol Pot chewing on —-‘s charred torso and could do nothing about it.

“Doesn’t he taste like charcoal now, though?” he asked the massive beast. Seeing almost all of its body above the water, realizing he could fit inside of it several times over, would have been awe-inspiring if he hadn’t just fought the Predator. If he wasn’t so thirsty.

Pol Pot didn’t reply. It just kept opening its jaws and closing them, teeth clacking together on —–‘s bones. The smell of the dead man was masked by the charred scent in the air. The sky had a strange yellow tint to it.

“I’d kill you if I had a weapon,” he said, conversationally. Or maybe I wouldn’t.

Right now it felt like he and Pol Pot were fellow survivors. Maybe the only survivors. Horia had a burn down his spine where he’d just managed to wallow in the shallow water, faster enough, and another on his stomach when he’d turned over to breath and his shirt had been caught in the green-gold light. He had no idea how serious the injuries were, but they hurt like the fucking devil. And as they said in Romania, “What doesn’t kill you now may kill you next time.”

“Maybe I should go back into training. Maybe I need to lose a few pounds,” he admitted to Pol Pot.

The croc hadn’t come out of the experience untouched. The crenellations above its eyes had been burned black and one eye had turned such a milky white Horia doubted the animal could still see through it. There was also a shocking pink wound where a divot of flesh had been scooped out half-way up the right side of its snout. As it chewed on —-, the raw mark made it look like Pol Pot was sneering at Horia.

Horia had the feeling you could chop off Pol Pot’s legs and head and it would keep coming, so in some ways, he was absurdly grateful to —— for keeping the croc occupied. He couldn’t have tried to escape its jaws at more than a leisurely crawl right now, given how sore he felt.

As he sat there, a keen sense of sadness stole over him unexpectedly. —– and —— had annoyed him, it was true, and they hadn’t been dependable, but he had thrown in his lot with them and he didn’t think they’d deserved to die like this. Who did, except maybe Hitler or the crazed madman who’d ruled from Bucharest and whose name was never spoken.

“So, what should I do now, Pol Pot?”

Still tenderizing —-, the croc seemed to say, You don’t even know where you are.

True. I should try to find my way back to the lodge or something.

There’s nothing for you back at the lodge.

Then where should I go?

Out of this place, for sure. Maybe to Rath’s bunker.

I don’t trust Rath.

He’s always been good to me.

Yeah, well. Maybe that proves my point.

I eat whatever comes my way. I’ve always been honest about that. Anything.

I’ll give you that one.

You’re nowhere near Romania, Horia Ursu.

—— was a good man.

No, he wasn’t. He’s not much better dead, either.

I’m a good man, aren’t I? I deserve to live, don’t I?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horia…

Then, with a swish of its muscular tail, Pol Pot submerged, taking part of —- with him, and Horia was alone again.

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