Previously on: Parker and Andy managed to escape the VCC and are found by Amie’s group. Unfortunately, Parker finds out this group isn’t quite under the best leadership. Andy gets in another fight.
What’s going to happen to Parker and Andy? Are they going to leave or fight to stay.Click To Reveal Results
Fat icy droplets of rain fell hard from the sky, chilling me to the bone. I sat huddled against a rotting dumpster with Amie, half a block away from a food store.
“You got your backpack?” Amie checked, waiting for the signal from Sam.
I patted the object on my back. “I’m not that stupid,” I replied.
“You got your list?”
I pulled it out of my pocket and checked it one more time. “Yeah, but—”
“There are no buts, Parker. You got it or you don’t.”
“I understand, it’s just…”
“What?” Amie snapped, snatching the list from me.
“I think I was given the wrong one. I’m happy to collect tampons and all, but, I really don’t think I’ll do a very good job.”
“Of course,” Amie muttered pulling out her own list. “Here. Think you can collect protein bars and batteries?”
I nodded my head and stuffed the list into my jacket pocket. A shiver ran through my body. The rain made it hard to see anything further than a few meters and I couldn’t help but expect a flaming arrow to fly through the shadows and pierce my heart at any moment.
To make matters worse, Amie began muttering to herself. Or rather, her imaginary best friend that had died in the tsunami.
“Well, Joy, maybe if you had double checked the lists before handing them out… Yes, I am a feminist… Just because I don’t want a boy in charge of the tampons doesn’t mean I’m not a fem – Joy you’re being unreasonable…”
I tried my best to tune her out.
It still didn’t sit well with me that such an unstable person was leading this group around. I needed Andy back so she could lead. She would be a perfect candidate for the job. I sighed inwardly. It had been three days since we had joined them. The fact they let us stay was proof enough their leader was crazy.
“Time to move,” Amie stated and got up and on her way before checking if I was following.
We hugged the shadows of the building as we made our way to the store. The wind picked up and set icy darts of rain battering against us. I blinked the drops out of my eyes and let Amie lead the way. The store we were aiming for had a shattered
I hoped this shop was empty and actually had food in it so this miserable mission wasn’t a waste of time and energy.
Nic, the rock climbing dude with an accent, was already at the door, shining a light into the store. A few tense moments passed and then he gave us a thumbs up. A small victory.
We shuffled over to the store, keeping an eye out for any eyes on us. Nic made his way in first, followed by Amie and then me. They made their way around the store, checking for any unfriendly visitors, or footprints that suggested we weren’t alone.
“Clear!” Nic called out.
Amie called out the same thing moments later.
I searched outside the window until my eyes landed on Sam, and I gave her a nod. Finally, we had found a food store with food and no crazies.
Leena and I sat together, alone in the warehouse. Rain drummed against the roof, making it seem like at any moment it would collapse down and kill us. I stared at the fire and the makeshift chimney someone had constructed.
“Usually, more of us will stay behind,” Leena explained, stoking the fire. “But we’re running really low on food and have to take longer trips now because all the stores are depleted. It’s riskier, but taking fewer trips is better.” She motioned to her arm that was wrapped up with a dirty bandage. “I broke it in the earthquake – tried to catch someone who didn’t have a head. I’m pretty sure it’s healed just fine… but Amie still refuses to let me out there. I mean, I really don’t want to be out there, but, I need to be with my sister. I can’t stand being stuck in here while she’s out there throwing herself into a viper’s pit.”
Leena had a habit of talking and never stopping. I didn’t mind it, though. Because she talked so much I didn’t need to use my energy to respond.
“But, the great part about being here all alone during a food run? We can have a party!”
Absolutely not. I would much rather sit bundled in a blanket wallowing in my self-pity than do any sort of party thing.
“Hey, wipe that frown off your face,” Leena said in a cheery voice. “It’s a fun two-person party, okay?” She searched through her bag until she pulled out an old battery powered speaker. “I found this a few weeks ago, and the only playlist on it was called Breakup Power or something… it managed to survive the water damage. Also found a mega bag of cheese crackers. Let’s stuff our faces, have a two-person dance party, and forget about how crappy the world is right now.”
She pressed play on the speaker and held out her good hand. I reluctantly took hold of it and was pulled to my feet. After three days of sitting curled up in the same spot, my joints screamed like rusty hinges. I groaned loudly.
“Geez, if I didn’t know better I would think you were the same age as my grandma. But, at least my grandma was a killer dancer.” Leena began dancing to the music. She wasn’t very good, and kind of just bounced around, but it looked like she was enjoying herself greatly. “Come on, don’t you know this song? Everyone loves this song. This was the only good song they played at my senior sail.”
Yes, I did know the song Hey Ya, and I did enjoy it. But didn’t she know the upbeat song was actually rather morbid? That it was about how love couldn’t last forever?
And in the grand scheme of things, nothing lasted forever. The safety of home didn’t last. I did everything I could to make it last and it still hadn’t been enough. What were we doing sitting here like ducks when at any moment this warehouse could be ripped right out from under our feet?
“Come on Andy, dance!” Leena grabbed my hand and pulled me into her dance. My arm jostled like a dead limb, and my feet stayed glued to the concrete.
At any moment a pack, or herd, or whatever the proper term for the crazies was, could barge through the doors and crush this false sense of security everyone in this building had. And it didn’t seem like they cared one bit. They left two people to fend the fort, and one of which just wanted to dance.
Leena pressed pause and stopped her dancing. “Andy, why won’t you dance?”
I didn’t respond. I just gave her the same empty look I’d been giving everyone.
“What are you so worried about? Worrying will get you nowhere.”
I ran my bottom lip through my teeth. “I’m sorry, I just… I’m sorry.”
“Come on and dance.” She held out her hand. I took it. “It’ll make the worry go away for a bit.”
This time, when she played the music, my feet didn’t stay glued to the floor. I started with little movements, a hip sway here and a shoulder dip there, but those movements soon turned into a symphony of jumping and twisting and… smiling. Although the pain of losing my aunt was still prominent, there was a tiny moment of forgetting it all, and it washed over me like a rainstorm in a drought.
We danced through three more songs before breaking into the cheese crackers. The box itself was in bad shape, just like us, but inside were pristine golden squares. We stuffed our faces, not caring how unladylike, or pig-like we were being. The crackers were good, and orange dust was staining our fingers and faces.
We continued to spin and twirl and fly. The beat pulsed through my veins, like the rain on the roof, and then it all froze and crashed to the ground, shattering across the concrete like a broken galaxy. Reality sunk in, and the moment we were having was gone. I stopped dancing. The crackers dropped from my hand.
My aunt was gone. My home was gone. My dog – probably gone. Life was not hot showers and fuzzy socks. It was sleeping on concrete and running from monsters.
It was hard to run from monsters that were inside you.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said to Leena and left before she could respond.
I made the short trek to the grungy bathrooms that amazingly stayed intact during the disaster. My hand closed around the frigid handle. I twisted and pulled, then locked myself in the dark room.
A battery powered lantern was situated on the sink counter as there was no light in here because there was no stupid electricity. I knew that as soon as I turned on that lantern I would come face to face with my reflection in the mirror. I was frightened of what I would see, but I think I was more frightened of not seeing me. Because not seeing me would be further proof that I was no longer me. ‘Me’ did not exist anymore. And I needed to see me
I flicked on the light and stood in front of the mirror, staring at the mess that I was. My hair was disheveled, the bags under my eyes were horrendous. I had an orange ring around my mouth from the cheese crackers, and my chin was greasy. Just the mere appearance of myself made me nauseous.
I should’ve known better. The mirror wouldn’t tie me down to
It made sense, but didn’t all the stories say hell was a fiery place? This hell was full of
My knees buckled and I collapsed in front of the toilet bowl. The contents of my stomach came hurdling out, searing my throat along the way. I cringed at the burning sensation. Not only was my throat sore, but I had leaned too far forward and had gotten some up my nose. My nasal passages burned, and it was hard to breathe.
I flushed the toilet and leaned back against the cool door, wiping the vomit from my mouth with the back of my hand. I reached up and turned the lamp off. I knew if I looked in the mirror I would see a wasted away stranger, closer to death than life.
Angry tears burned a pathway down my cheeks. My life was horrible. This whole trying to feel normal when nothing was normal anymore was exhausting. Every time I tried to feel okay I just fell back to this defeated catatonic state. I couldn't cope with the relentless pattern anymore. I wanted to get out of the endless cycle of feeling nothing then feeling something then feeling so much pain, but it was impossible.
A knock at the door and my little bubble of silence
I closed my eyes and thanked myself for locking the door. Leena continued at the door, but I blocked her out. I let the endless static envelope me and take me under.
I opened my eyes to the sound of a soft palm against the door. “Andy?” a voice said. It was Parker. They must’ve returned from their raid. That was good. The idiot made it.
I shifted in my seat on the ground. My body had grown stiff. How long had it been?
“We’re currently making bean stew. You wouldn’t believe the jackpot we found. Are you going to join us?” he asked.
I sighed inwardly. I didn’t want to at all, but I also didn’t want to compromise our spot in this group. Amie had said it herself after I got in that fight on the first day.
I tear myself from the grips of the strangers that had pulled me from that vile man that almost killed my dog. Rage continues to broil in my body. We stay silent and watch as the leader of this treacherous group makes her way down a staircase.
She walks right towards me. I bite the inside of my cheeks to keep me from saying anything stupid.
“We welcome you into our home, trusting that you wouldn’t attack our people, hoping you would be valuable assets—”
“Amie please,” Parker begs, stupidly interrupting her. “Give us a chance, please. That won't happen ever again, I promise. Andy just is going through a really rough time. That was grief, not her. A grudge actually was what that was, but I swear the real Andy is a wonderful person and strong asset to the Trader Hoes.”
Amie holds up a hand to silence him. “—to the Trader Hoes. Congratulations Andy, you just proved yourself.” She walks
“Uh, yeah. Beans sounds great. I’ll be there in a second,” I tried to say with conviction.
I made no move to get up.
“Andy,” Parker said. “It’s okay if you need a break.”
“No, no it’s fine. Don’t worry. I’ll be okay. I’ve been through this before.”
“Andy. I don’t care how many times you’ve been through this. Death is death and it sucks every time. Just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean you can’t not face it. You’re allowed to not be okay.”
“Andy, some really terrible things happened to you. It’ll take time to heal.”
And then a wave of pain and sadness and hopelessness crashed down on me. I hoped the door was enough to insulate my sobs, but I stuffed a fist in my mouth just in case. My whole body shook with the grief of losing Aunty. “She was the only one I had left,” I said with an unstable voice. “The only one.”
“You have me now.”
For the first time ever, Parker was my grounding. Not thoughts of home, or memories of Aunty, or the soft fur of my dog. It was Parker.
“I’m not ready yet.”
Thankfully he knew I wasn’t talking about dinner.
“You should’ve seen it out there, Andy,” Parker said changing the subject. I internally thanked him for that. “It was raining so hard. The drops were big and icy. We could hardly see each other let alone hear anything. It was spooky, but… we did alright. Amie found this cool robe. It’s pink, and it’s got fur on the ends of the sleeves and on the bottom of it, and along the neck. And it’s like that see through material. Amie looks like a queen that’s about to slay someone in it.”
I could picture her in this robe, standing in the penthouse of a Shangri-La with a glass of scotch in her hand, staring at the world she owned below.
“It was all really well planned out. We were all assigned partners, and we all had backpacks and a short list of a few things we were to collect. I think these are really good people, Andy. They’re going to do something good for Vancouver. Get her back on her feet. Make her better than her former glory. Do whatever our premier isn’t doing for us right now. They’ve got a big plan brewing.”
“It is, but, for some reason, I wouldn’t settle for anything less.”
We sat there in silence for a few moments. So much had happened since the day we met. Long gone were the days where our only worry was getting a silly boyfriend or girlfriend. Now days were spent fighting for a reason to stay until tomorrow.
I knew I needed to get back on my feet, but this spot on the cold hard ground was comforting. Because here I could hide from the horrors of the world for a while. How the hell did Parker make the trip back to Green Lake after losing the woman he loved? How the hell was he okay?
“How do you deal with it, Parker?” I asked, hoping he knew what I was talking about.
“I don’t know. In fact, I don’t really know if I’ve dealt with it at all. My girlfriend got squashed by a building. I can’t remember the last words I said to my family.”
“Funny, how it all slips away in the blink of an eye. Life was slipping so slowly, almost not at all, teetering at the edge of a dark abyss. And now, it has fallen and there’s no way of getting out.”
“Kinda like a fault line?” Parker suggested.
A sharp breath of air passed through my lips that may have been a laugh. “You know, when I graduated, my science teacher wrote in my yearbook that he hoped I would have the chance to use my outstanding geological expertise in the future. But that he hoped I wouldn’t have to use them for a natural disaster. That’s irony isn’t it?”
“He sounds like a man of many words.”
“He spelled weathering with a q once.”
Parker’s laugh hummed through the door.
“This, plan that’s brewing…” Parker said carefully, once again changing the subject. “Are you going to be a part of it?”
I knew exactly what he meant, and regardless of how damaged I was, I couldn’t just stay like this for forever. “Of course I will, Parker. I’m not going to be like this forever.”
Parker hesitated for a few minutes before continuing. “Because they’re thinking of storming the Tomb by the end of the month and taking over the government.”
Reality smacked me across the face, and I stood up unlocked the door and yanked it open. I found Parker on the ground. He must’ve been leaning against the door when I opened it. “Are they insane?” I exclaimed. “Do these people have a death wish? They’re nowhere near strong enough to enter the Tomb let alone overthrow the fricken government. They’re hardly twenty strong. The place is an anthill of military personnel and the like. What is wrong with these people?”
Should Parker and Andy stick with the plan of overthrowing the government or try to change their minds?
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