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411 The Hut Under the Bridge, The Race that See Love as Both Treasure and Poison

 Day 70 - 9:17 PM - New Infanta Settlement, Barangay Banugao, Infanta, Quezon

Under the night sky dimly lit by the moonlight, Edzel moved his feet at the side of the street.

He just walked at the street side while staring in front blankly. His mind was filled with thoughts about different things.

As for the direction he was heading to, he was going north.

The man was too mysterious to the point of being creepy. He even vanished in a blink of an eye that could have spooked anyone. There was no reason for him to heed that man's instructions. Yet, he was here intending to go to the location the man mentioned.

There was no reason for him to go other than the strong feeling inside him. It might just be an illusion on his mind. However, the feeling was too strong that he could not help but believe it.

As such, here he was.

He did not care whether there were fewer people as he went further.

He did not mind even there were lesser houses and the place was darker. It was because he was moving further away from the center of the settlement.

Since most of the battles around the settlement happen near the walls, the residential areas and other facilities were built at the center of the settlement. Most of the structures built near the walls were combat-oriented such as bunkers and watchtowers.

Even if there were houses or structures already built before, if the structure was near the walls, most people would not want to live in those. Whether the place looked luxurious or not, most people would rather live in temporary tents at the center of the settlement than stary near the walls.

Only those capable enough would live in those houses like survivor groups with Evolvers and Mutators.

Still, the area north of the settlement was different.

Even those survivor groups would rather stay away from the north and east walls as all attacks of Mutated Animals come from those directions. Compared to the infected, more kinds of Mutated Animals and Insects were capable of bypassing the walls.

That was why in these areas, only soldiers could be seen near the walls patrolling.

\"Boy, are you lost?\"

A voice suddenly called out to him which made Edzel snap back to reality. When he looked behind, there were two soldiers who seemed to be in the middle of their patrol.

\"Um, did you say something. Sorry, I'm not paying attention.\"

That was Edzel's response as he did not hear the soldiers clearly.

The two soldiers looked at each other first before repeating the question.

\"We are wondering if you are lost. There's nothing but the bridge over that direction. The access through the bridge is only open during the day.\"

Everyone was allowed to go in and out of the settlement at any time. Of course, everyone entering that was not part of the military had to undergo some checks during their reentry. The only exception was the Agos Bridge which only allowed exit during the day because there were more Mutated Animals active during the night.

The closure of the bridge during the night was not for the safety of the settlement, but for the safety of the people.

\"Sorry, I just arrived and didn't know about the bridge.\" Edzel scratched his head. \"But, I wonder if there is a hut under the bridge? Someone told me to go there.\"

The two soldiers turned skeptical. The hut did exist, but who would ask a boy like Edzel to go there? However, one of the soldiers caught unto Edzel's reply.

\"You said that you just came here?\" The soldier observed Edzel and saw that not only he was wearing a bulletproof vest but also had guns on him. \"Are you perhaps among the people that arrived from Bay City?\"

Hearing that, Edzel nodded.

\"I do. Oh, I'm not with the survivors. I'm with the escorts.\"

Hearing that, the two soldiers nodded. The group that escorted the soldiers and the scientist from Bay City had special privileges. Thus, one of the soldiers called unto his radio and asked about Edzel's name. Confirming that what Edzel said was true, the two soldiers smiled.

\"There's a hut under the bridge. We don't know why you are looking for the hut, but please don't do anything bad the person that lives there.\"

\"I see thank you.\"

Edzel thanked the two soldiers and turned to continue on his way.

\"We will radio the soldiers on the bridge so just tell them if you need something.\"

One of the soldiers said before they continued on their patrol. Edzel understood those words as normal, not noticing that it also stood as a warning. In fact, there was even a hint of pity on the soldier's faces upon mentioning the hut and the person that lived there. It was just that the darkness of the night hid those expressions.

It did not take long and Edzel reached the bridge.

Since the walls by the riverbank were built where the previous dikes were located, some parts of the bridge go above the walls. It seemed that it allowed the space under the bridge to be used by someone.

The soldiers guarding the bridge saw Edzel because of his flashlight. However, it seemed that the two soldiers he met previously really informed the ones on the bridge as they just left Edzel alone.

Some of the soldiers kept on watching him but no one approached.

Edzel, on the other hand, approached the foot of the bridge.

With his flashlight, he saw some poorly built structures under the bridge. It seemed that whoever built these things were not experienced in it. The thing that stood out the most was the hut directly built by the wall under the bridge.

The hut was really made out of ragged tarpaulin. It was a small hut that could probably only fit a bed and a small table inside. Although it was shaped and looked like a hut, it was more appropriate to call it a shabby tent.

Around the hut was filled with junk. It was not like the place was not being cleaned but it felt more like that the one that did had no experience in cleaning at all.

This scene suddenly reminded him of a certain person. She did her best as things like this. However, she was really bad and always gave up. This sudden thought made him sigh.

Edzel looked around to find any trace of the man that told him to go here. However, he did not see anyone around.

Without any choice, he approached the hut. However, for some reason he could not understand, his heart started to pound loudly and strongly. It was true that his current situation looked like a part of a horror film, but his heart was not pounding like this because of fear.

Through the holes on the tarpaulin, Edzel could tell that there was gaslamp lit inside. It meant that there was someone inside.

\"Hello? Is anyone inside?\"

Edzel called out as it was impossible to knock on the door covered with nothing but tarpaulin.

He suddenly heard sounds coming from inside the hut. It seemed that the person was startled that someone came here in the middle of the night.

The door then opened slightly and a person peeked through the small gap of the door.

\"I-is there something you need from me?\"

The person spoke. The voice was rather hoarse but it was no doubt that the person was a woman.

From the gap, she could be seen wearing a ragged cloak and with one of her hands, she was trying hard to cover her face. Only her eyes could be seen that squinted a bit because of the flashlight Edzel was carrying.

Edzel, however, did not realize that the woman's eyes squinted. It was because he was shocked.

His shock took control of his body and shoved the door open with force. It was too sudden that the woman was pushed back and lost balance. A loud cracking sound was heard as the woman fell on her shabby med made of old bamboo.

The woman was shocked and scared. She stared at the man in front of her with extreme fear.

However, Edzel did not stop. He entered the hut and grabbed the woman's hood. He removed it hastily and pointed his flashlight at the woman's face.

The scared woman could only cover her face ugly face in fear. Because of the flashlight, she could not see the person's face at all. She could not understand why this was happening.

\"Hih!\"

A scared voice scaped out of the woman's mouth as she heard the sound of the man's flashlight being dropped to the ground.

She expected that she was about to get hurt and was about to curl herself in fear.

Then, she was shocked even more.

The man embraced her tightly.

\"Pearl, it's me.\"

The man spoke near her ears.

There was a moment of silence as she finally recognized the man's voice. Tears started to flow from her eyes. These tears were filled with sadness, guilt, and regret. She felt that she was not worthy of this embrace and such, she tried to push Edzel away.

However, Edzel did not budge. He tightly embraced her without any sign of letting go.

\"Edzel, let go of me,\" Pearl begged. \"Please... Let go.\"

\"No.\" Edzel firmly declined. \"No matter how much you reject me, I'm not letting you go anymore.\"

Those words ignited Pearl's guilt even more. Tears overflowed from her eyes.

\"Just let me go! You don't deserve someone like me!\" She sobbed loudly. \"I chose material things over you! My body had already been used by who knows how many men! I became ugly with these scars on my face and body! I'm nothing but a piece of useless trash of a wom-!!!\"

Pearl tried to tell Edzel about the degrading things about her and make him leave her alone. However, she was not able to finish her words. Her eyes opened wide as a kiss without any sense of disgust sealed her lips. Nevertheless, it did not make her happy. She felt even sadder.

She could feel Edzel's feelings from this kiss. His feelings towards her never changed. It would be a lie if she said that she did not like Edzel. However, she chose to be a slut who chose material things and comfort over staying true to her feelings.

Edzel then slowly moved his face away from Pearl. The light from the oil lamp lit up her face showing that ugly scar that went across it. There were also other small scars on her cheeks, chin, and forehead. However, none of those mattered to him as he wiped her tears.

\"No matter what you say, you won't be able to get rid of me.\" Edzel smiled. \"I'm not the same as the past me. This time. I won't let go of you even if I die.\"

Those words made Pearl speechless. She could tell that Edzel was not joking. She could not think anymore as his words pierced her heart.

\"Uwaaahhhh!\"

Pearl started to weep even harder than before. Edzel decided to no do anything but embrace her once more letting her head rest unto his chest.

***

\"Are you really sure about this?\"

Just a distance away from the hut, two silhouettes could be seen talking under the shadow of the bridge. The two were closely watching what was happening.

The two were no other than Mark and Pefile, Edzel's father.

As Mark felt that Pefile appeared before Edzel, he could not help but head out to see what was happening. He did not expect that he would make Edzel and his traitorous girlfriend to reunite.

Mark was against it at first. However, he started to think otherwise as he felt Edzel's genuine feelings towards Pearl.

To Mark's question, Pefile sighed.

\"Sad to say, we are not human. Unlike humans, we live with only a single partner for the rest of our lives. Once we fall for a female, that feeling will stay for the rest of our life. Why do you think that some of us would even abduct females with husbands if we can settle for females without partners? Love is a treasure, but it is also a poison to us. If we fall for a female, we can only be with that female.

Pefile turned to Mark.

\"You know. Love can't always be manipulated. Many of our kind die because of this poison. If I did not do this, my son will die from his own.\"

Mark looked at Pefile with a bit of pity. It seemed that there was more to this story as Pefile's emotions were everywhere as he said his reason.