Redemption A Defiance Novel Online - Stephanie Tyler

Chapter One

Got a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind

Mathias

You ever think about what you’d put on your tombstone? I signed to Bish as George Thorogood and the Destroyers sang in the background from the portable CD player.

He answered without blinking an eye. “You think we’d have tombstones?”

It’s a hypothetical conversation, Bish.

“Fine. All right...how about, ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil because I’m the evilest motherfucker in the valley.’”

Not bad.

“Your turn.”

Sniper. Tattoo artist. Superstitious bastard.

“I’d date you,” Bish offered.

It’s a tombstone, not a dating profile, man. Besides, you’re not my type.

“Don’t sell me short. You never know when we’ll be the last two left on earth.”

Fine, but you’ll carry the babies.

Bish laughed. He didn’t often, but, hell, it was a good sound. “I’d keep the same thing for my dating profile but I’d add big feet.”

I laughed silently. Definitely a good addition for any grave.

“Nothing more needs to be said. Except the fact that we don’t need tombstones yet. And fuck dating.”

Bish and I’d turned twenty within a month of each other, Aries and Pisces, respectively, and I felt much older, but how the hell did older feel? What was twenty supposed to feel like?

“I’m thinking most twenty-year-olds haven’t killed as many people as we have,” Bish said thoughtfully, because I’d been talking without realizing it, my hands signing a hundred miles an hour. I swear, half the time Bish read my mind instead of my hands, which isn’t that odd considering I could pretty much do the same to him.

Not like we did it for sport.

“No?” Bish asked, caught the look on my face and said, “No. Right. Definitely not.”

Fucking psycho.

“Do I have to remind you again that burning the bones was your special psychotic touch?”

They always did it on Supernatural. Keeps the bad luck away.

Bish nodded. Whether he believed my superstitions or not, he went along with it, because we’d lived like brothers since we were eight years old. “We haven’t killed anyone in a month.”

That’s a good thing, Bish.

He furrowed his brow like he was trying to decide if I was making a joke. People sometimes thought Bish was born without a conscience. I know they’re wrong, or else I wouldn’t be alive, because I’ve annoyed the piss out of the man more times than I could count. Just say, right, Bish.

“Right, Bish.”

I closed my eyes and went back to absorbing as much sun as I could.

“Mathias?”

Yes?

“You know I’m lying, right?”

Right.

“Just checking.”

Based on shit like that, most people wouldn’t realize that Bish was as much my keeper as I was his.

The rocks under my back were warm. I was nearly dry from our last jump in the lake that was freezing cold but not as murky as it should be. Ever since the Chaos happened, the world as we knew it was pretty fucked. The sun was still out for its bimonthly showing, already twenty minutes over its two-hour allotment for this part of the country. The satellite that punched a hole in the atmosphere was strong—supposedly developed by scientists who’d feared this happening but hell, we wouldn’t know for sure—and I figured that maybe constant use and the fact that three years had gone by since the Chaos hit was clearing the atmosphere of unwanted debris that made it seem like night was the only flavor in town.

Bish and I had run off and joined the military at sixteen after we’d lost everything in the Chaos. Bish’d never had a lot of tolerance for cowards and, in this brave new world, there was no room for them. Bish and I took action, sometimes more than we should’ve. So far, it had only helped us.

I rested my arms over my head, trying not to appear as restless as I felt. All day, I’d been fighting off a hinky feeling, but I hadn’t said anything. I didn’t want to ruin my day—our day—in the goddamned sun.

So far, it hadn’t. Our clothes were spread out around us, our weapons near—Bish’s rifle was actually hanging off his neck to the side—“So I don’t get tan lines,” he’d explained—and our van was parked in the trees, close by but camouflaged.

Once the atmosphere swallowed the sun again, the chill would hit quickly, and the darkness would shadow everything here. We were nearly three hours from Defiance—three hours post-Chaos was really an hour trip pre-Chaos, but the state of the roads and the dearth of lights and gasoline didn’t make for easy road trips