A Chance to Rest

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A Chance to Rest

Post  Garrity on Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:54 am


Josh drove slowly up a residential street in what looked like it might once have been an affluent part of town. After contemplating the houses for several long moments, he pulled into a driveway and parked.

"We know, we know," Zack growled. "Wait here."

Josh rolled his eyes as he pulled out his weapon, closing the door to the SUV and hurrying toward the house, hoping that just this once, Lia would decide to stay put too.

Seabay sighed, running his hand over Marta's head, absently petting the large dog. "So... where's 'here' this time?" he drawled.

With a sigh, Lia exited the vehicle. "I don't know why he insists..." she grumbled, though she remained next to the car and began stretching her aching muscles. Having Marta on your feet made the ride much less comfortable than it had been. "Not sure. Some houses. Looks like we might be staying for awhile," she answered Sebastian.

"He's tired," Zack grumbled. "That's why he messed up back there. He's too tired." He pouted a moment before admitting, "It's my fault. He hasn't been waking me up for my turn to take watch. I been sleeping through it..." He looked back at them. "Been three days since I sat one." At Seb's question, Zack replied, "Big ole two story house. Three car garage. Nice enough." He looked over at Hattie and shook his head. "She's still doing that...staring...thing..."

The blind teen shrugged. "You may want to aks him if he intends to be a team player, or just wear himself into uselessness first. Then he and I can trade places. It'll be fun to try driving the SUV again," Seb chuckled, smirking.

"Not your fault, Pip, it's his own if he's taking up someone else's work without telling them," Lia answered. "So, what, put you behind the wheel and point you in a direction and tell you to go... hope for the best?" she then teased Sebastian. "No offense, but no... Though I can drive us sometimes too."

Seb smirked and grinned mischievously. "How bad can it be? It's not like the roads are in decent shape. May as well go off-roading in the right general direction... Might be faster, really."

"I told him I could learn to drive too. He's got to teach me eventually, right?" Zack added.

Zack watched the door, tapping his foot nervously. After several long moments, he hissed, "What's taking him so long?" but resisted the urge to go in looking for him. He hadn't heard any shouts or shots and knew that going in after his brother before being called really irritated him.

"I can send Marta, if you want. Have her try dragging him back?" Seabay offered, opening his door. The dog lifted her head and sighed.

"Maybe he fell asleep on the kitchen counter," Lia suggested at Zack's impatience. "Can't you do that psychic thing you guys do to check on him?"

Finally Josh returned to the car and opened the hatch, gathering packs.

"I doubt it'd be faster to go through whatever construction is left standing than around it, Seb. Sorry to burst your bubble," she laughed, though she began gathering her own packs. "So, fearless mute leader, care to fill us in on what the plan is?"

"We can stay here." Zack told them. "There's rooms for everyone to have their own right now, and even hot running water."

Josh sighed and shook his head, but that seemed to be all the response he had for Lia as he finished gathering all he could possibly hope to carry and heading back into the house.

"He's not mute," Zack reminded her yet again, though he actually smiled in spite of himself.

"Hot water? Can I buy the place?" Seabay quipped, gesturing for Marta to get out. Once the dog moved, he carefully levered himself stiffly out of the SUV. "Mute sounds about right. Hell, he's talked more to the mutants lately than us..."

Lia nodded in agreement with Seabay. "Last words I heard him say were to Hattie when we picked her up. I'm starting to think he just doesn't like us enough to talk to us," the dancer said with mock indignation. "Should we just head off on our own, Seb? We're not wanted here. I call dibs on the shower, by the way. Ladies first and all that!" she then called.

"He just told us about...." Zack began, then stopped with a sigh. "Never mind," he mumbled, watching his brother return again and gather up the still staring child to carry her back into the house. Josh stopped long enough to look at Lia, a somewhat stunned expression on his face, then Zack added, "He does too like you. Both of you. He thought you knew that already."

"I don't know... how well do you drive?" Sebay returned to Lia with a conniving wink. "Still, honestly... the occasional sound might be nice. I don't even have a clue half the time what he's doing. Blind, remember? You guys at least have that nice benefit to clue you in."

"Yeah, sure," Lia continued, maintaining her charade of striking out into the world. Besides, who was she kidding? She might have made it as long as she did on her own, but there was no way she would have lasted this long. Besides, the idea of actually being out there again alone didn't sit well. Still, it was fun to tease. "I'll believe it when I hear it from his own mouth. For all I know he's really just thinking about an elephant in a pink bikini... Zack might be the one actually giving the orders."

"That might take a few years, and you piecing the parts together," Seabay explained to Lia, shaking his head. "So, where's my stuff? I think I need help finding it if I'm going to grab it." A snort. "Zack'd probably be pretty good at that, I think, so you may be onto something..."

"There's three and a half bathrooms, so more than one can shower now," Zack told Lia, then exclaimed, "No kidding? Three?" He elicited a nod from his brother, who then, albeit reluctantly, said, "I like you both," before walking quickly into the house with the still staring child.

"Sure...I'd totally decide to stop at a run down Target for frilly crap," Zack sighed as he followed. He laughed at Josh's admission, though. "There you go. Can you stop messing with him now, please?"

Eyebrows arched, and Seabay laughed. "He speaks! Though that's nice... I'm going to otherwise forget what he sounds like... Thanks, Josh."

Lia was reaching for one of Sebastian's packs when Josh actually spoke up. She froze and blinked in surprise. "Wow... Four words," she grinned, though she admittedly felt a little warmed at the words. "LOVE YOU TOO JOSH!" she called out loudly, wishing she could see whether he blushed.

Josh blushed bright red, though he hid it well behind dark curls that badly wanted cutting and a long stride that took him quickly ahead of the others.


"Man, now you've got him all baffled. An elephant in a bikini? Really?" Zack whispered to Lia.

"Siblings mess with each other, right Pipsqueak?" she winked as she handed Seabay one of his lighter packs and set another of his on her own back.

Seabay took his pack and slung it on a shoulder. "I think there's two more. One more like this and a bigger," he told Lia. "Say, do you think we need the bazooka along, Zack?"

"I doubt we'll need it," Zack answered Seb. "We'll be here in a nice, warm, mutant free house."

Josh hurried upstairs with the child, mildly surprised to find she was heavier than she looked, and tucked her into one of the beds before heading back downstairs. He intercepted Zack, who was carrying some of his tools, and retrieved them from him, taking them back out to the car.

"I've got 'em," Lia answered non-chalantly. She was a much wider load than she was used to with her packs and some of Sebastian's, but it was better than making him carry them. Without waiting for a response, she was off toward the house, dreams of a hot shower already filling her head.

"Hey!" Seb protested after Lia, frowning. "I'm not helpless, you know!" he called in her wake.

"Man, I'm gonna soak in the hot water till there isn't anymore," Zack said before shouting a surprised, "HEY," in protest of his brother's actions. "They might get swiped out there."


Josh came back in, rifling through pack a moment to fill his pockets with some of its contents before heading once again for the door. "Lock up," he told Seb as he passed, closing the door behind him.

"We'll need what?" Sebay asked Zack as he brought his pack inside. Marta came up to brush against his free hand, to give him a guide. "You'll have to tell me where's my room, though, or Marta and I'll be lost here."

Lia unceremoniously dumped the pack onto a still-serviceable kitchen table. In fact, other than some dust and a few broken itmes here or there, the place looked almost pristine. Untouched. "Wow. Nice find."

"The bazooka," Zack answered, his tone filled with disbelief as he heard the SUV start again and pull away. "Come on," he told Seb, "Josh said to put you in the master bedroom. It's on the first floor and has a bathroom attached to it."

The sound of the car perked Lia's ears. "Where's he going?" she asked to no one in particular as she watched the SUV drive off through the front window. "Hey, why does Seb get the Master?" Lia teased. "I know! Maybe we can share it!"

"Ah, okay," the blind teen acquiesced, following Zack. "How the heck would I know? He doesn't tell me anything," Seb quipped to Lia as they passed. "Only if you want dog drool on you all night," he added slyly.

"Looking for a shop where he can convert the SUV," Zack answered. "Said for us to get comfy and he'd be back as soon as he was done. And he told you to lock up, remember?" he corrected glumly, moving to make sure that the place was securely locked down as directed.

Seabay snorted. "He's giving taht order to the one person who has yet to find the door."

"How exactly does he plan on getting in if it's locked up?" Lia asked Zack. "He'd have to make noise to get our attention."

"Don't worry," Zack sighed. "I got it." To Lia, he just shrugged. "I guess he'd knock...or honk...or let me know he was here..." He began opening and closing the cupboards as he grumbled, "He knows how to make noise."

"Marta can sleep on the floor," Lia insisted, once that was done, nudging Sebastian gently. "Come on, I promise I don't snore much."

Seb set his pack down on the bed and grimaced at the dust that floated up. "Do you drool? I know you dream some weird stuff, though. Not sure I want to be mistaken for... what was it? Purple toothpaste monkeys? Thanks, Zack. Yeah, I suppose he can always try to doorbell. No mutant would do that."

"Exactly," Zack muttered, his voice sounding unusually thick as he wiped a hand across his face.

"Har. I told you then and I still say it now, you guys have got to stop with the sleeptalking jokes. You're making it up," Lia huffed as she moved Seabay's packs to his room. "But fine, see if I want to keep you warm tonight if you're going to try to pull my leg," she grimaced. "What's up, Pip?" Lia asked Zack, noting a change in his demeanor.

Frowning slightly at Zack's odd tone, Seabay turned in the boy's direction. "Is something wrong?" he asked. "And who'd make up that kind of crazy stuff? If I was that good, I'd be a sci-fi writer by now."

Lia bit back her retort that no one was a sci-fi writer by now in favor of gathering her own stuff to move to a room suitable for her, all the while glancing at Zack to make sure he was alright.

"Thanks for the help," Seabay added as Lia moved to the door.

Zack finished opening and closing the cabinets, then stood there, back to both of them for several more moments before answering in a voice nearly as quiet as his brother's typical tones. "He just left me ... not like the wait a few minutes while I check it out...he drove away without me..."

The blind teen used a hand to guide himself into the kitchen and over to where Zack stood, then just patted the boy's shoulder. "Hey, well, guess he was in a hurry so he could get back sooner..."

Zack shook his head and grabbed his pack, running up the stairs as fast as he could and slamming a door behind him.

Lia looked at Sebastian, and called after Zack, "And it probably means he trusts that you'll take good care of us..." Then, more quietly, "Or something." She wrinkled her nose. "I should go find my room, too," she stated. "You need anything before I go check it out?"

Zack grabbed clothes and moved across the hall into one of the two upstairs bathrooms, again slamming the door behind himself.

The blind teen shook his head. "Nah, I think I'll figure stuff out down here with Marta. Thanks, though. And while you test the hot water, I can try cleaning this place a bit... Well, maybe new linens, at least. I'll see what we can find there." Hearing the slam, he sighed. "Well, maybe while you both test it."

"Clean sheets?" Lia asked, blinking. "Oh, the notion. I'm in heaven just thinking about having a bed."
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Garrity

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Re: A Chance to Rest

Post  Garrity on Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:06 am

Zack came down the stairs, hair stuck to his head and neck in thick, wet, blonde ringlets. "I'm gonna make some food. Who wants some?" he announced, opening and closing cupboards again. "We've got all the stuff we had in the packs, plus hecka cans of gravy, turkey chunks, lots of veggies, and imported beer. Lots of it. Who's in?"

Lia, who was freshly showered and changed herself, and had even raided the upstairs closet for some changes of clothes, looked at Zack dubiously. "No beer." Josh would kill them if they let Zack get drunk again.

Zack looked at her, his jaw set in defiance, reached into the cupboard, popped one and chugged it. "You were saying?" he asked then as if daring her to say it again.

Seabay had finished cleaning his bedroom up some, fresh linens and even the floor wiped down with a swiffer he'd found. Then he took over the kitchen and dining room with the swiffer and a clean towel. The result was a reasonably clean place for them to eat in, with only the faintest hint of Pinesol. The worst dust was gone. Marta had curled up on a rug he'd shaken out outside, and the blind teen was eyeing a glass of water dubiously. "Anyone know how safe the water here is?" he asked, holding it up. "It doesn't smell like sludge... And Zack, she's got a point. Pass me one, though."

"Wow. Mature," Lia rolled her eyes. "I will now fawn over you and your caveman-like ways. Seriously, Zack, chill out. Whatever you're upset about, Josh is just trying to protect us all, including you."

He turned back to the cupboard, took out another can and passed it to Seabay, then grabbed another one for himself.

"Mostly you," Lia amended, rethinking her statement. She had no illusions - she was a passenger on Josh and Zack's train, not that they didn't make her feel welcome. Heck, Josh had even admitted to liking them. But if it came to it, she knew the choice would always be Zack. "Water looks good, Seb, but it might be a good idea to boil it first anyways," she suggested. It was never really possible to tell with the naked eye whether water was safe.

"He's not here, though, is he?" Zack snapped. "Even if he's paying attention...which I don't think he is, since he's doing that white noise thing right, he's not going to stop working to come back for me tonight. He doesn't do that."


"Zack," Seabay warned, setting the glass on the counter. "Getting drunk doesn't solve anything. Take the word of someone who tried it. Trust me..." He took the can and reached to shut the cupboard with his hand and hold it shut. "I suggest we just get what we need done. That seems to be cooking, so... since I've no idea what's where, I can see what else needs doing and best leave it to you two before I burn a finger or set the place on fire."

"We've got plenty of water pouches. the big red camp bag is full of them. Now who wants turkey casserole? I think we got the stuff to make one..." Zack asked.

Lia sat heavily on a chair looking at Zack pointedly. "That's what you're upset over? That he left? You're going to throw a tantrum because he took off?" She sighed and leaned back. "Look, I have my issues with Josh taking off, too, but mostly because I'm worried he's going to get himself into a situation. He made sure this was a safe place for us first, though. I'm not sure what else you expected him to do."

"And I don't plan on getting drunk...I plan on getting SMASHED... and yeah...I'm upset he left me behind. See, there's this thing called a promise....you know, those things you make and DON'T BREAK..." Zack answered her. Zack spat, "And when you break them, guess what? People get upset!"

"Turkey casserole sounds great," Lia then took up the distraction and stood to join him in the preparation process. "You're right, Seabay, maybe you should just let those of us who are good in the kitchen do it. Now, erm... what's this thing called again?" she asked, holding up an odd-looking kitchen utensil. "He's coming back," the dancer prompted, still clearly confused by Zack's over-the-top response. "It's not like he's gone forever."

Zack snatched the sifter from Lia. "It's a sifter. And I've got this. I been cooking since I was six. I'm sure I can handle a freakin' casserole."

"Yeesh, relax Hulkinator. I was just trying to help." Lia stepped out of the kitchen, rolling her eyes and came to stand next to Sebastian instead. "Look out, Seabay, we've got a live one here."

"You don't get it. When we separate, we get hurt. Every time. That's how it works. Him and me. When he esca...." he paused, realizing he was about to share too much, then shrugged. "Screw it. When he ESCAPED from TAGGERT's people and found me at the Patterson's and we ran away, he promised he wouldn't leave me again. We lived hanging out in freaking Denny's and hiding behind dumpsters so nobody'd find us, and he got run down and almost killed, and we still NEVER left each other. No matter what. We survived because we wouldn't leave each other. Get it?" He kept putting things together in a bowl as he ranted, mixing them together as he preheated the oven. "... It doesn't matter that he's coming back. That's not the point. The point is, he left." Zack concluded more quietly.

Seabay glared at Zack. "You're not getting drunk OR smashed with me here. I don't give a crap why. Just because you're mad at him is no reason to take it out on the rest of us by making us watch over you as you do something stupid. Save that for when he's around if you're mad at him, but not with us here." He kept his hand on the door to deny further access. "He broke a promise. We get it. So ream into him when he gets back. I agree, he's being stupid right now, but yelling'll have to wait."

"Fine...I'm not getting drunk. Or smashed. I'm just making casserole. Okay?" Zack answered.

Lia grinned at Seabay. "Yeah, I'm definitely not cleaning up your puke. Or holding your hair. Seb's right, it'd be making me pay for what Josh did." She then nudged the blind teen gently in acknowledgement of his apparent superior tact than hers. "Casserole it is... You want help?" she asked, more gently.

A soft tapping began at the back door. A few moments later, another began at the front door as well. Within moments, the arrhythmic tap tap tapping was sounding all the way around the house, as if a hundred people surrounded the house...

Sighing, the blind teen nodded. "Yeah. He promised not to, and he's also risking himself stupidly. But we can only yell at him about it all when he gets back." He smiled wryly. "Casserole'll be fine. I don't care much about what I eat. It beats rat on a stick." But he leaned against the cupboard anyway. As he rested there, he added at the floor, "I know a lot about broken promises..."

Marta's ears perked, and she got up... She began to growl, hackles rising.

"Is it raining?" Lia asked, already knowing the likeliest answer. Her stomach dropped at the new sound.


"It doesn't rain anymore..." Zack replied glumly.

Seabay frowned, and turned to dart back into his room. "Get some weapons, guys... That's not rain."

A fluttering sound could be heard from somewhere inside the fireplace...

Zack didn't need to be told twice, drawing the weapon from his waistband and moving toward the packs, relieved and slightly alarmed to discover that Josh had left almost all the ammunition there with them. "What is it?" he asked, eyes on the fireplace.

Halfway to his room, the blind teen froze. "Hell... They might be small somethings...!" Ducking under the kitchen sink instead, he grabbed a can and moved for the fireplace. "Zack, got a lighter?"

"Um....Yeah..." Zack dug around in his pocket for a moment, then pressed the requested item into the blind teen's hand.

Lia's mouth dried. "I left my gun upstairs," she informed them, trying to decide if it was worth making an attempt at it. After a moment's hesitation, she decided it was. She was off as quickly as her legs allowed, taking the stairs two at a time.

Marta barked at the fireplace, then at the doors, the windows... then whined uneasily, tail curling between her legs.

"Grab another from the pack before you try going up there," Zack suggested to Lia. "Josh left most of them here." He frowned, noting her rush up the stairs. "Lia..." he called out in exasperation. "Dangit...does she try to be frustrating?"

"Get it fast, though I'm not sure if guns'll work against small critters..." Seabay flicked the lighter to test it and was satisfied by the sound of flame. Kneeling at the fireplace, he shook the can in hand vigorously, then reached in and sprayed thickly and quickly flashed the lighter just under the canister...

WHOOOSH! The flammable fumes rose up the chimney in a flash of fire, making Seabay roll back out of the way with a grumble.

"How small?' Zack asked, before the fluttering sound worked it's way down the chimney and flew straight at Marta's head, red eyes glowing in the darkness.

Several of the creatures squawked loudly, falling down the chimney, burning brightly

"HOLY CRAP!" Zack cried, taking aim at the one heading for the canine.

The clatter upstairs was three times as bad as it was downstairs, and Lia actually covered her ears as she dashed for her pack. Truth be told, it wasn't just the weapon she wanted to retrieve, but the whole pack. There were things of sentimental value in there, and she wanted the bag nearby should they need to make a run for it. Not that she knew how they'd make it outside in all of this. "Got it," she called down, running back down the stairs to see Sebastian's antics.

"Any of that answer your question?" Seb returned, quickly moving to send another fireball up. "Can we plug this somehow? I bet they're trying to get in any way they can find!"

Marta crouched and bared fangs, snapping at the flying thing.

Zack fired at the diving bird, missing, but diverting it's attention.

Lia looked around desperately, then ran for the nearby living room. She coughed as she collected two of the large, dusty couch cushions and returned for the fireplace. "Can we stuff these up there? She had just enough time to swing one of the cushions and smash the bird that was headed toward Zack. "Eek!" she squealed. "Gross!"

Coughing on the very fumes he was using, Seabay gave the can another shake and sprayed the fireplace chimney again, lighting it once more. "Only you can tell! But I hope it does!"

Zack hurried to help her, ducking as the bird dove at him and missed, slamming instead into the faux brick facing of the fireplace, propelled by the cushion that had struck it squarely in the head. "Okay, Seb...step back...we're gonna plug the hole..." Zack said. He began helping Lia stuff the cushions up the flue.

"You're gonna have to move. Cushions burn," Lia told Seabay, nudging him gently aside with her hip as she began stuffing the first of the cushions into the chimney. It might not be full-proof or last forever, but she hoped it would at least buy them some time.

Seabay retreated, and shook the can with a sigh. "Just as well. Not much Lysol left."

They could feel the slamming of one bird after another into the cushions even as they pushed it up the fireplace. "Crap, they want in..." Zack hissed.

The tapping sound increased all the way around the house, getting louder and louder. Stronger and more insistent.

"And we want them out. Battle of the wills," Lia said wryly. "Too bad for them I'm so stubborn. Get the second cushion," she told Zack. They were going to have to find a way to keep their makeshift barrier in place.

A howling sound came from just outside the door. Followed by another slightly farther away. And another...

"The hell is that?" Lia asked, freezing as she supported the cushion with her back.

Marta growled again, eyeing the door uneasily.

Seabay made a face, pushing loose hair from his face with a hand, then hurried to his room to get his gun, cocking it. "It sounds like more trouble... I vote we come up with a plan, and soon."

"I don't know," Zack replied. He ran and got the broom, stuffing it up the fireplace to brace the cushions. "Make sure you've got plenty of ammo," he told them. "I'm gonna see if Josh is listening at all...."

"Like what? Make a run for it? NO way we're making it out there like this, especially not without a working car at our disposal." Had Lia known then what she knew now, she would have joined in Zack's temper tantrum over Josh leaving. She released the cushions, put a chair under them to help support them further than the broomstick, and went for her gun as well. "I wonder if one of us can risk a peek outside to find out what this is?" That was, if they could see anything. The added darkness in the room gave the impression that the windows were rather blacked out.

"I'm going to go either wake up or carry down sleeping beauty. You guys just make sure you've got plenty of ammunition in your guns,okay? If he's paying any attention to us at all, he'll figure out we need his help and do something," Zack said, suddenly strangely calm. He reloaded his own weapons and stuffed his pockets with ammo before running up the stairs as quickly as he could.

"I would, but my 'peeking' doesn't do any good," Seabay snorted, trying to joke. "And I don't know about Josh, but heck do you want him to run that gauntlet to get in here? Tell him to keep his ass outside this mess unless he finds a tank. Maybe we can hole up until this lot gives up."

Lia stuck her tongue out at Sebastian, for all the good it did her. With Zack gone to get the girl, the task of peeking out fell on her. She moved to the front door, and carefully keeping the majority of her body out of sight, slowly moved her eyes so that she could look out the windows along the side of the entrance.

A swarm of birds were bashing themselves one after another against the window. When one finally fell, bleeding, to the ground, another was there to take its place.

Zack came down, carrying the tiny but alarmingly heavy little girl. "If he shows up, he'll draw them away. He'll make sure we're safe. Then he'll come back for us. That's what Josh does."

"Guess sleeping beauty is still sleeping," the blind teen observed, a bit incredulously--and enviously. "Probably just as well," he huffed. "Josh makes great mutant-bait? What about maybe finding a way to roast some more of these things? Though I'm telling you now, after this, anything but turkey."

In the distance, a shadow far too large to be a dog despite it's shape paced back and forth, with others doing the same behind it. The lead one howled again. the others answered.

"He's not mutant bait. He just draws them away so he can kill them, then comes back," Zack answered, placing the sleeping/staring child into the center of the room and standing guard above her.

"Uh, guys, I don't know that that's such a good idea," the dancer said, backing away. She wasn't sure which part wasn't a great idea, but none of it seemed like it would work. "There's something big out there. Or rather, lots of something bigs."

"So? Let's do the same. Lure birds into a trap somehow. We got the fireplace, right? Let's use it and find a way to kill as they get in." Marta paced around the room, growling quietly as she considered all their exits. All were dangerous...

Seabay waved a hand and smiled wryly. "One problem at a time, I guess. Small stuff'll be harder to kill, I think. Big stuff at least is easier to hit."

"What kind of somethings?" Zack asked, sounding less confident.

Suddenly something occurred to Zack. "Did we check the breaker box to see if we had any sort of power at all? Or a generator? I mean, we've got hot water, right? Maybe some lights would scare them away?"

"I don't know. All I saw were eyes," Lia answered Zack, then turned to Seabay. "So you're suggesting Thermopylae for us, Seb? I guess it worked for the Spartans..."

Seabay arched a brow at Zack's idea. "You mean we haven't tried the lights yet?" he asked.

"Or lights might attract them to us, confirm that we're here," Lia answered Zack.

"They already know we're here, Lia. They've got us surrounded--Marta's confirmed it," Sebastian answered.

Zack ran out into the garage, seeking the breaker box. After several long moments, he found it, flipped the master switch off and back on and....

The lights in the kitchen all came on at once, along with the garbage disposal, the television which displayed only snow, the radio with played only white noise

Lia covered her ears at the sudden onslaught of noise, then quickly ran to turn off the television.

Zack sprang for the garbage disposal, turning it off, then running toward the front door. "Where're the outside light switches?" he asked Lia.

"Holy Sh**!" Seabay swore, covering his ears and ducking, almost curling up at the audible onslaught.

"How should I know?" Lia asked, lunging for the radio. "Try over by the door."

Finding the one for the front of the house, Zack flipped it on. The squawking and cawing was deafening for a few minutes, then faded, though it continued around the rest of the house.

A loud, long howl echoed into the darkness.

Marta barked back in defiance.

The howling became louder still as more of the great beasts joined in.

Straightening, Seb called, "It sounds like the lights are working--the small ones are gone from where you are!"

"Out of the pan and into the fire," Lia breathed. "Nice work, though, Zack. At least that's one thing."

Zack turned on the backyard light, prompting more loud, long squawking.

"Get ready for something bigger, Seb," Lia warned. "Did we bring the bazooka in?"

The tapping and thudding on the sides of the house grew more and more insistent.

"They're /that/ big?" Seabay countered, surprised. "I don't know--you two carried most of the stuff. Though I think it's still in the car, with Josh."

"We didn't think we'd need the bazooka," Zack said. "I didn't think we would. We were supposed to be safe." His voice rose, though whether in anger or panic. "He said we were safe."

Lia ran to the bedrooms at the opposite end of the house and turned the lights on in there, then did the same upstairs to try to clear that side.

"How the hell would he know?" Seb snorted. "Is he psychic, too? Let's get the princess back upstairs, and be ready to retreat while shooting. We have a better chance against bigger targets."

"Upstairs she's at greater risk from the birds. Down here we can run if necessary," Zack argued. "And I'm not sure. He says no, but his reflexes are sometimes faster than even I understand.

"Turn on the lights in whatever room you set her in," Lia answered. "Whatever those things out there are, I think they're a bigger threat than the birds."

The sounds on thudding diminished as the lights went on around the house

Slowly but surely the tap, tap, tapping faded away, leaving only the howling, and even it seemed to have moved back, as if the lights were somehow a deterrent to them as well.

"Seems they also don't like light," Seabay observed, frowning slightly.

"The question is, how long do we have before they figure out to destroy the light bulbs?" Lia asked.

"You think they might?" Zack asked, his brow furrowing.


"I hope not," Lia said curtly, running to the cabinets in the kitchen to try to locate flashlights.

"Well, it bought us some time. Think the generator'll hold up?" Seabay asked.

Zack nodded. "Me too," he replied, moving to work on the casserole again, though he set the turkey aside, opting for tuna instead. "It should. It's old and beat up, but it seems to have enough gas left for at least a night or two, assuming there aren't any leaks."

Lia looked at Zack incredulously. "Dinner? You're going back to making dinner?"

"You still have to eat," Zack answered quietly as the world around them quieted.

Seabay set the safety back on his gun and tucked it into his belt, kicking around until he found a chair. Marta had stopped growling and whined softly instead. "I guess it's as good an idea as any. Easier to think up about tomorrow on a full stomach. Like if we want to leave."

"Not if Josh isn't back yet," Zack answered. "I'm not going somewhere he can't find me. Not again."

"Boys and their stomachs," Lia sighed as she sat at the table. "We might not have much choice, Zack. Besides, he found you then, right? He'd find you again," she assured him.

"We can leave him a sign of some kind if we have to move," the blind teen suggested. "I'm not saying we go far, but maybe somewhere more defensible."

Zack's eyes teared up as he shook his head and repeated thickly. "I'm not going somewhere he can't find me. You guys can go if you want. I thought we were family, but that's up to you. You've got to watch out for yourself. I get it. But I'm not leaving until my brother comes for me." He put the casserole into the oven and went to load the extra weapons as if preparing to make his last stand.

"Hello? That is where he can still find you, silly," Seb chuckled. Yeesh, I'm not saying we just up and go..."

Lia nodded. "Seb's right. I don't want to leave him, but we might have to move somewhere nearby so we can defend ourselves, and defend him when he gets back. He might not know what he's walking, or, rather, driving into."

"He said a day or two. Maybe three. He could be back tomorrow. We just have to make it tonight, maybe," Zack protested. "They used to say that. Don't worry, you'll see each other again. It's only until he's better. But they didn't mean it. They kept moving me and moving me so he wouldn't find me, saying they were sending him addresses, but they weren't. "

"Maybe," the dancer agreed. "For now, though, let's focus on us and staying alive so that Josh has someone to actually come back to. Hearing him explain his fear further, she sighed. "That's terrible, Pip."

Seabay arched an eyebrow at Zack. "Do we look like those guys who said that or something? Because this is a lot different, I think," he pointed out. "We need to look at our options and see if we can last until he comes. Here, there, or anywhere."
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Garrity

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Re: A Chance to Rest

Post  Naitachel on Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:31 am

The rest of the night passed with few interruptions. The occasional tapping. The distant howl. But it seemed that whatever had been so determined to enter only moments before had moved off to a safer distance to contemplate the newcomers to their town.

Seabay slept on and off as was his wont in the master bedroom, Marta curled up beside him. Now and then he felt her stir, even once get up, but the rest of the time she was quiet...

Zack sat with his back to the others, his gun in his lap and his eyes on the windows, waiting for the sun to rise.

Lia merely huddled in a corner of the room under a blanket she had collected from the linen closet, where the linens had seemed clean. She had dozed, but had awakened several times startled at apparently nothing.

As the darkness gave way to light, Zack rose and went into the kitchen after collecting the necessary materials to start a pot of coffee. "Do you guys want breakfast?" he asked tiredly. "I can make you guys breakfast."

Lia rubbed at her eyes, though she remained huddled under the blanket. "I'm not really hungry," she answered thickly.

"Yeah," Zack sighed, seating himself on a stool at the center island. "Me either."

Seabay yawned as he padded into the room with Marta at his heels. "That time of day already? Huh. Well, if you guys aren't really hungry, I vote we just un-can something and nibble. I'm not much of one for big meals anyway, and cooking seems a big effort for something small."

Zack nodded and went to the pack for some of the fruit cocktail. It's not like Josh was here for the mixed medley of fruit to bother him, he thought, so he might as well. "Here you go," he said, pushing the open can and a spoon toward Seabay.

Stiffly, Lia stood, allowing the blanket to drop to the ground, then stretched. Not a dancer's stretches, however. Just the regular, run-of-the-mill stretches everyone did when they woke. It had, in fact, been quite a while since she had done any of her more complex stretches, or practiced dancing for that matter. "I'm gonna go check on Hattie," she mumbled, then set off toward the stairs.

The blind teen sat on a stool at the kitchen bar and scooped a few bites from the can. "So, any ideas for a plan? Marta hasn't heard those things again in the immediate area, but that doesn't mean they're gone or gave up yet."

"They howled off and on for a while, but yeah... they'll probably be back tonight," Zack replied. "Hopefully," he stopped, drawing a breath, almost afraid to say it out loud for fear it wouldn't come true. "Hopefully Josh'll be back before then and we can just go."

"And if he needs another day to finish the SUV? That's a lot of work we were talking about on that thing, for one guy..." Seb said.

Lia was gone a few moments before she reappeared and shrugged. "Same old," she announced, then sat on the nearest couch, disturbing a puff of dust. "Then we'll have to keep all the lights turned on... again," she answered Seabay. "You said the generator should hold off for a while, right?'

Zack looked toward the room where Lia had just returned. "Three days normal use. Keeping everything on all night wasn't quite what I figured on, though," he admitted. He rose and began to pace. "Think maybe we should go find some more gas," he said after a few moments.

"Or maybe somewhere else to hole up?" Lia countered. "I know you want to stay for Josh, but we might not have another choice, if we can't find gas."

"Do we have a basement? Maybe they kept some just in case..." Seabay suggested. "Yeah, the alternative is another house and just leave Josh some kinda sign where we are, like a map."

Zack looked stunned by the question. "I don't know," he admitted. "I didn't look for one." He ran toward the front door, unbolting the locks swiftly.

The dancer stood and began opening doors that they had left unopened, wondering if one perhaps had stairs that led downwards.

"I wasn't about to open every door to check because I could fall into one," Seb admitted ruefully. "Hey, where are you going?"

"Out back... if there's a basement, there's usually an outside entrance, right?" Zack replied excitedly.

The next door the dancer opened lead down into darkness.

"Bingo," Lia called before Zack could step outside. "Some entrances to basements are indoors." Without waiting for them, she began to step down the stairs one by one, feeling along the walls for a light switch.

"No," Seabay told him. "You're thinking like what Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz had. This isn't Kansas. You may want to lock that back up if we're exploring," the blind teen added, trying not to laugh.

"Really? We had an outside entrance..." Zack replied incredulously. "I thought they all did." Still, he locked the door back and moved to follow Lia down. "Find anything?" he called.

"Some do... most have inside, though, so you don't have to get wet to check on canned food and boxes kept there." Seabay continued munching on the canned fruit.

"We weren't supposed to go down there. Daddy sometimes took Da... Josh... down there... but I wasn't ever allowed." He shuddered at the thought. "I never wanted to, either," he admitted.

"I don't know. I can't see anything," Lia called up just as she ran face-first into a hanging chain of some sort. She initially yelped, thinking she'd just run into a spider web, before realizing what it was, then tugged on it soundly.

The light came on immediately, illuminating shelves well filled with emergency supplies.

"Wow. You guys should come down here," Lia called up, immediately beginning to scan the shelves for extra canisters of gas.

Finishing his can, Seabay went and tossed it in the wastebasket. "Whatcha find?" he called.

Extra water, dehydrated foods, and extra fuel were there in abundance. Even things like crank radios and flashlights, rechargeable batteries, 2 laptops and plenty of dvds.

"Salvation." Lia knew that was rather dramatic a statement, but at the moment it certainly felt like it.

"Whoa..." Zack breathed, looking around the room. "We could totally just live here if we can get rid of the red eyed things outside. Look at all this! There's plenty of EVERYTHING down here," he called up to Seabay. "We can keep the lights on for a couple weeks at least with all this, I think."

Seabay came cautiously to the door to the basement. "Any wood down there, nails and the like? Because maybe we can board off the windows and fireplace to help fortify the joint. Then maybe we /can/ stay here a couple weeks, enjoy hot water and comfort, then consider moving on."

"So, what, that changes the plan, then?" she asked, picking up one of the heavy gas containers. "At least now we get time to figure out how to get rid of the howlers."

Zack looked around, then smiled. "How about wooden dog crates? We can take them apart and use the wood from those, right?" He looked around for tools, knowing Josh had taken his with him, and was relieved to find a well filled and organized red metal toolbox off in the corner.

"No plywood or two-by-fours? Maybe we have those in the garage, then," the blind teen mused. I'd rather have big pieces than small if we're boarding up. Keep the little creatures out, too."

"Picky picky, Seb," Lia answered the blind teen. "Beggars can't be choosers." She picked up a second gas canister, nearly stumbling under its weight.

"Right... okay... maybe there's some outside, too. Who knows what's in the backyard." Zack moved to help Lia carry the gas canister up the stairs. "You're gonna fall," he cautioned. Knowing it's what Josh would say... well, if Josh said anything... "Should go one at a time."

"I'm fine," Lia answered, shifting her weight slightly. "We're going to have a few trips to make, anyways, with the crates to bring up."

"Gonna see if I can find some bigger pieces first," Zack answered. "Seb's right. They'd be better for what we need. Maybe there's a wood fence out back we can rob or something." He looked out the windows as they went up, clearly searching for any sign of his brother.

"'Scuse me," Lia said, nudging Sebastian so he would let her pass back into the main floor of the house.

"If you can fill a big bag, maybe Marta can carry some stuff up," Seb suggested, moving back into the kitchen to hunt under the sink for one. He pulled it out. "Marta... carry, okay?" The blind boy himself didn't like the idea of navigating stairs and his hands being full. Not the safest idea, he knew. Though he wished he could help more.

"Where do these go?" she asked Zack once on the top of the stairs.

Zack helped put it down then looked again. "Maybe you could help refill the..." He realized then how dangerous that could be. Josh never even let him do it. He always did it himself for them. "Never mind... I got it. There's good. I'll take care of them from here," he answered Lia.

"Are the generators below, too? Like the hot water heater?" Seabay asked.

"They're in the garage," Zack answered. "Same place as the fuse box. The ones downstairs only power the basement itself, it looks like."

"Ah." Seb glanced at Lia. "Where does what go?"

"The gas cans," Zack answered, picking them up and heading for the garage. "I need to go fill the generator with them. Be right back."

"The gas cans," Lia answered Seabay as she set down the canisters. "I'll go with Marta to fill up some of the bags with food. Do we have any particular requests?"

"Nah," Seabay answered with a wave of his hand. "No requests from me. While you two deal with that, maybe I can go take a bath. Unless you've anything I can help with?"

Zack hurried into the garage to fill the generator. A few moments later a quiet tap tap tap on the front door sounded.

"You got it," Lia answered Seabay, and unthinkingly kissed his cheek. She stopped, as stunned as he likely was at what she had just done, and blushed brightly. She found her escape by ducking down the stairs just as the tapping came on the door.

The blind teen blushed at that kiss to his cheek, and reached a hand to touch the spot, surprised. He turned to go get fresh clothes for the bathroom when he heard the tapping...

A young woman in her late teens peered into the window, then tapped again.

Marta whined, then barked... then whined...

Seabay froze. "Hell... What does /that/ mean?" he asked the dog uneasily. After all, it was similar to her reaction to Hattie...

Lia returned upstairs with a half-filled bag of cans. She peered around the corner and asked, "What's going on?"

Marta padded to the door, and growled, but didn't bare her teeth. Oddly, it was a protective behavior, but not quite all-out.

"Is someone at the door?" Seabay asked Lia. "Marta's acting weird..." Setting his clothes down and aside, he moved to join his dog by the door, but of course he couldn't see.

"Hello?" the woman called, tapping on the door again.

Lia dropped the cans to the floor unceremoniously and moved toward it, though she crouched low as she did so. She repeated the move she had done the previous night, keeping her body out of sight as she peered out the window, hoping to avoid detection while seeing what was outside.

"It's okay," the young woman called. "I know you're in there. We just wanted to welcome you to town. We've got some things for you." She held up a gas can and what looked to be torches. "Just in case you need them."

"Town?" Seabay murmured, glancing over at Lia.

Zack came in from the garage wiping his hands on his jeans. "There, that should..." He noticed then the young woman peering in the window. "Um... who’s that...?"

Lia looked back at Sebastian and Zack. "There are people out there," she whispered loudly. "Lots of them. With... things. Should we open the door?" she asked, unsure.

"Um... I guess so?" Zack answered uncertainly. Normally that'd be a Josh decision... not his.

Seb shrugged. "I don't know. Marta's... suspicious. So I'm not sure. They might be ordinary people but... something's off if she's not acting right. Then again, she was the same with Hattie, so... Then again, she was the same with Hattie, so..."

"I'm not sure I trust them. For them to just show up like this? People nowadays don't just..." Lia frowned, trying not to think about what happened last time she had come across such a large band of people like this out of nowhere. That was when she'd lost her mother, after all.

"Maybe you guys should grab your weapons. Just in case," Zack warned. "I'll open the door. You guys stay back."

"Or I open and you stand at the ready," Lia answered. "You're a better shot than me."

"Just give Marta lots of room, and stay to the side to shut it fast again," Seabay suggested to Zack quietly. "Let her handle it. She can take down a person, too, not just monsters."

Zack considered that a moment, then drew his weapon, nodding. "Okay. I could do that. Okay," he said to Seb as well. "I'll be over here. I've got a clean shot if I need one... and so does she. Go ahead, Lia."

Seb slid a hand into his pocket and took a firm grip on his knife... just in case.

Lia nodded at Sebastian's instructions, then stood and moved to unlock the door. She stood to the side as she unlocked it, then slowly allowed it to open, but only part of the way to limit the woman's chances at getting in should she try anything. "Yes?" she asked, blinking suspiciously at the woman outside.

Marta growled warningly at the strange woman.

"Hi, I'm Abby." The young woman smiled. "We just wanted to welcome you to Albright. I noticed you had some unwelcomed visitors last night, and we thought we'd try to help you keep them out tonight. It's so hard to rest with all that tapping and pecking, isn't it?" Abby looked at Marta and cocked her head. "Wow. A regular dog, right? We haven't seen one of those since the last days."

Seabay frowned slightly. "Nice to meet you, Abby... but... who's 'we'? And yeah, but then... what's been doing the howling?"

Abby nodded back to the men with the large pieces of plywood and the hammers. "Linc and Butler thought maybe they could help close off the fireplaces and things. You really don't want those open unless you've got a ROARING fire in them, you know?"

"Nice to meet you," Lia echoed Sebastian hesitantly. "We kind of figured out the chimney was a liability last night... we plugged it up with cushions... and what about the other things out there?"

"Sorry, we are your neighbors. That's Linc Johansson. Butler Preston. Those are the Moodys, Frank, Todd, and Anders. Those are... well, heck, you're not going to remember all our names at once, are you?" Abby considered that a moment. "Those birds carry something. It's like an illness. It isn't deadly... it's just... well, contagious. Those other things are the results, I guess." She paused, a sad haunted look in her eyes. "Tell you what. Let's get you settled in safely first, then I'll tell you all about them if you really want to know. I doubt you'll believe me... but I'll tell you... okay?"

Seabay smirked slightly. "We might. You, Linc, Butler, Frank, Todd, and Anders..." Yeah, he couldn't visually memorize, after all.

An unseeing glance at the others, and the blind teen shrugged. Marta still growled, but softly...

Lia looked at Zack questioningly. Should they let them in?

Abby laughed. "Okay, you might at that. I'll make sure you're introduced to everyone right proper once you're settled in safe, then. Just want to make sure we do that before the sun goes down, you know?"

Zack tried again to reach for his brother, then frowned when he didn't even get the white noise he was so used to in return. Not wanting to alarm the others, he shrugged as his brother often did, then nodded.

"Maybe if your friends could help with the outside boarding, and leave us the inside stuff? Marta's not good with strangers," Seb suggested, waving at his dog. "Better only one of you is inside, then."

Lia slowly backed away, opening the door further as she did so. "Uh, come in, I guess," she said, still not quite comfortable with this. Marta's reactions weren't helping.

"Okay, sure," Abby answered. Turning to the others, she called out, "Start with the windows, guys. I'm gonna go in and visit a bit. If you hear screams come save me." She winked at them, then stepped inside. She carried in the gas cans, passing the torches to Lia first. Linc and Butler moved forward with their plywood, hammer and nails and held them out to Lia as well.

"You sure you don't want me to board them up for you, missy? It won't take but a minute, I promise," the taller, slightly balding man who'd been introduced as Linc asked in a voice that sounded extremely gentle.

Lia accepted the torches, then set them down quickly in favor of collecting the plywood and supplies. "Right, then. Thanks." She grimaced, trying to balance the whole. "No, I think we've got it," she assured him, turning back toward the inside of the house.

The tall man nodded and stepped back, followed by the burly Butler.

Seabay gestured for Marta to stay back, but not for her to stop her reaction, not liking how much a puzzle these folk were. "I think we can manage," he told them. "Thanks, though. Don't want Marta biting anyone, right?"

"That wouldn't be good, no," Abby agreed, her voice taking on that odd sad tone again. "Not for them or her, I think." She reached out to help Lia with the plywood from Lia, letting her keep the hammer and nails. "Let me give you a hand getting this up there. Maybe then you can put your cushions back on your sofa and get comfy, right?"

"Why wouldn't it be good for her?" Zack asked, not liking how that had sounded at all.

Lia allowed the woman, Abby, to take some of the plywood rom her while she herself bent to collect the torches. "I'm not too worried about comfort, so long as we survive whatever this is," she answered tartly.

Yeah, Abby's turn of phrase wasn't promising. Especially to a young man who'd skydived with real vampires and heard from them about real angels and other creatures. "What exactly does that mean?" he asked warily.

Abby moved quickly, pulling the cushions out of the flue and putting up the plywood so Lia could affix it there. "It could make her sick," she answered as if that should have been obvious. "Do you guys have enough water here? I've got enough for thirty at my house if you want me to have someone bring some over here. I don't know if Mitch and Leona provisioned very well here. They didn't last long after it all happened and, other than just trying to dust up here and there in case someone new found their way here we haven't done too much with the place. Not ours to do, you understand. "

"You... aren't vampires, are you?" the blind teen murmured. "Marta'd know /that/ scent... So why would an 'ordinary' person make her sick? Unless you aren't 'ordinary'..." His hand clenched on his knife in his pocket.

"What are you talking about?" Lia asked Seabay in a hushed voice. "Ordinary? You mean mutants?"

"Not exactly mutants, either," Seb told Lia quietly. "There's stranger out there."

"The birds don't have the illness exactly. It affects them, but not like it does people. They're just carriers," she told them as she helped Lia with the boards. "Most animals don't survive getting it. It drives them mad and they attack each other. You end up putting them down or they kill each other." She didn't want to answer Seb’s question, but she knew it was only fair. "No, we're not vampires. Never met one of those. And we're not ordinary."

Lia snorted loudly. "Vampires? Seriously guys, what did you put in that canned fruit?"

"So what are you, then?" Seabay asked. "It matters, just so you know." He flashed Lia a wry smile. "Yeah, I thought so, too, until I made a friend who was 'allergic' to sunlight. Turned out to be more than that. Yeah, I was slow to believe, too... but it's kinda hard not to when you see the fangs when he's necking a girl. Then I met the rest of the family... Seems my parents already knew about it, too."

The blind teen snorted. "They'd even odder friends and family, but you wouldn't believe me about those if I tried."

Lia's eyebrow arched. "Right. And I talk in my sleep about refrigerator's hats," she answered, crossing her arms.

"It's... a blood borne illness..." Abby answered slowly. "It doesn't affect us most of the time. Not during the daytime at all." She looked nervously from one to the next. "It's not going to get to you... not if we can help it. Just don't take evening visitors, okay? You'll be fine as long as you remember that."

"You really are a sci-fi novelist," Lia said.

"He's not telling stories," Zack told them. "I knew a family who were allergic to sunlight once... back before everything happened..." He looked at Abby. "What happens if we take visitors at night?" he asked her.

"We tend not to open doors at night, don't worry," Lia answered Abby, though she sighed and shook her head at Zack. Allergic to sunlight could mean a lot of things. It didn't have to mean vampirism.

"Hey, if Michael Prince's still alive, I'll ask him to take you on a date to prove it," Seb told Lia with a grimace. "Would you have believed mutants before all this, too?" He arched a brow at Abby. "Yeah, well, which 'illness'? And don't worry--we don't do much visiting normally anyway. Sometimes the 'ordinary' people can be worse than the mutants."

Abby blanched at that. "We're not mutants. Not really. Just... infected," she told him quietly. "The howling animals last night..." she began. "That's how we knew you were here." She hoped they'd understand without need for further explanation.

"Aw, Seb, I'm hurt. You'd give me away to another man without a fight?" Lia asked snidely, though her brow furrowed. "Prince? Like Dragon Inc. Prince?" She didn't know why she should be surprised. Sebastian himself had belonged to the upper echelons of society, after all. Still, it was doubtful anyone in the media spotlight could keep being a /vampire/ secret. Either way, she didn't feel like arguing about it anymore, in front of Abby. The fact of the matter was, she still didn't believe them. "Infected with what?" she asked instead.

"The blood born infectious agent that causes certain... changes..." Abby sighed, then shook her head. "Look, you're not going to believe it but fine. The howling last night... that was us. WE were the animals outside last night. We can't control our actions in that state... but we do remember them."

"So... like werewolves, then?" Seb asked with a smirk. "Guess we keep the doors locked, then. And just so you know, no, Marta's not exactly ordinary herself, but she's not like you, either." A shrug. "I believe it. Knew far stranger than that, actually... So, you're all infected, then? And the birds carry it?"

"So you're werewolves," Zack hissed. "Great."

A gesture at Marta, and a soft command. "Stand down, Marta..." Whining, the big dog obeyed.

"Were..." Lia's eyebrows once again shot up, then she shook her head in defeat. "So some sort of mutated dog got the birds infected who then infected you and you became mutants yourselves, essentially. Tough, man, that's terrible," she said with genuine sympathy. "So you guys are dangerous, then, in that state."

"Yes, we are," Abby answered honestly. "That's why we came to make sure you were protected. From the birds... and from us."

"Well, then, let's finish boarding up. How good are you at getting into places when like that?" Seb asked Abby as he reached for some plywood.

"Are you guys making sure anyone else is safe today?" Zack ventured, hoping maybe she could assure him that his brother was safe.

Abby eyed it critically. "I think maybe a few more nails. Just in case," she answered honestly. "And I hadn't heard about anyone but you guys. Is there someone else we should be looking for?"

"Zack's brother's off doing stuff," Seabay answered vaguely. "He should be rejoining us soon, though."

Lia, who had set herself to work on some of the boards, stopped at Zack's question. "We're not sure how far he's gone, though. He might be safe," Lia offered, hoping it was true.

"What sort of stuff? Maybe if I knew that I'd know where to have someone look," Abby asked, sounding genuinely concerned. "How long has he been gone?"

Seb shrugged. "About a day, but he's kind of shy, so... he might avoid you."

Still holding the hammer, Lia gestured towards the windows. "Not sure. He just sort of took off," she said. "Told Zack he'd be back in a few days."

The blind teen felt out where to hammer in extra nails, and set to efficiently for someone who couldn't see. "What do you guys eat? And do you stick to your own homes, or stay together?"

"He was going to beef up the SUV. Make it more efficient and safer," Zack told her, noting the activity outside as the other visitors boarded up the windows and vents. "He'll be pretty focused on what he's doing. He gets that way sometimes."

"Just how far out do these birds go?" Lia asked, frowning. "And how far out do /you/ guys wander?"

"I'm partial to chocolate, personally," Abby laughed. "Though not in that other form. It's toxic in that form. We have our own homes, but we tend to get together often. We did before, too, though." Abby answered. "The birds... I don't know. I don't think they go too far out, but I can't be sure. They're basically infected carrion. They probably ate infected flesh and became carriers. We don't wander too far. I don't think I've ever been outside of Albright, actually. I don't think any of us have."

"Note to self, wave chocolate at werewolves," Seabay muttered mischievously. "Why not go and try eradicating the birds, then? Make some kind of bird-trap to get rid of them and stop any spread?" He finished with the fireplace and straightened. "That should hold. Unless one of you come down the chimney, which, if you can get that thin, you deserve some reward."

Another tap on the door prevented her answering another question.

Lia pouted. "I'd rather keep the chocolate for myself, thanks," she answered. "Especially now that I don't need to worry about my figure as much, and all. Who's that?"

Seabay flashed Lia a grin. "You never have to worry about your figure around me. I'll just always think of you as a slim and graceful ballerina... even when you talk about blue toothpaste and singing refrigerators in your sleep," he teased.

Not everyone infected is as anxious to stop the spread as we are," Abby told them, going to the door. Linc was there with large box of supplies. "Thanks," She told him gently, taking it from him and closing the door again. "There's food, water, juice mix... canned milk..." She began naming off the contents.

"Gee. Thanks, Sebastian. You know how to warm a girl’s heart," she rejoined, throwing a nearby paper she had wadded up at him. Lia listened as Abby listed off the supplies being handed over. "We have stuff of our own, you know." She didn't want to leave them rather destitute, either.

She laughed when she reached the last item. "Also canned dog food and foil wrapped dental treats for Marta. Linc must like her." She looked at Lia and shrugged. "Like I said, we didn't know what Mitch and Leona had here. We just wanted to make sure you were settled okay."

The blind teen chuckled as he was pelted, having no defense or ability to dodge but also no remorse. "Yeah, the previous people here were pretty set up. But thanks. And who's that bunch, that we should watch out for? By the way, there's ways to set up traps--or taint food--to kill those birds. But I think that's your best course of action. Don't want more of those things spreading to other parts of the country, when you know how rough it is to survive that stuff."

"We appreciate it," Lia answered Abby. "It's not that we don't. I just don't want to take all your stuff either." Besides, it wasn't like they were planning on staying that long, considering Josh should be back anytime now.

"I agree." Abby sighed. "There are a few families, though, that embrace this. They like the strength... the heightened senses... the feeling of abandon. They feel as if we are somehow better for all of this, but..." She stopped, looking at them. "There aren't many of them. They're looking for others... strong, healthy people they can... turn. For their side."

"So they're building an army," Lia commented thoughtfully.

Seb shrugged and grinned. "Well, I'm automatically off their list," he offered with dark humor. "Tell them that Josh is weird, Zack's tiny, and Lia too feisty, and they should leave us alone."

"They want to breed in new stock. Strengthen their family. Eventually, I think..." Abby shuddered to think of it. "...I think they want to turn everyone. They think we're better this way..."

Lia laughed at Sebastian's descriptions. "Glad you have such a high opinion of our lot, Seb."

"You all seem fine to me," Abby countered, "but yeah... they wouldn't want anyone with a disability. If they've found your friend..." She looked from Zack to Lia. "We'll try to find him before they do."

"He really is kind of weird," Zack told her. "I mean... he's got his own disability. He was diagnosed..." He looked at the floor, unable to stand the taste of the words in his mouth. "Autistic. They said he had Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s not... social... like most people. And he's got... quirks. Tell them that. They won't want to do anything to him if they know that... right?"

"Hey, she said 'healthy'. I kinda doubt any of us are, or we wouldn't be alive still. Just look at Hattie." Seb grimaced. "Yeah, if you could, then. Dunno if they'd want a 'mute', though." He winked a blind eye at Zack.

"Yes, well, you and Lia might want to stay with us or here inside. Small isn't a problem, I don't think, and I’m pretty sure they'd like feisty."

Abby cautioned. "He’s mute? That could dissuade them... they wouldn't want someone unable to speak."

"So I get to be a shut-in." Lia shrugged defeatedly. "What else is new, these days, right?"

"Hey, we're his friends and Zack's his family, and he says maybe one word a month," Seabay explained. "That's to us. Imagine anyone else... So yeah, just say he's got his own issues they'd not wanna deal with."

"And I doubt anyone survived all this without damage... but I don't think they're taking those sort of scars into account." She looked around one last time, then sighed. "I guess I should let you guys settle in. Um... there's a portable ham radio in the box. We're on channel 4. Don't talk on channel two no matter what. I think that's theirs. If you need anything, just let us know." To Lia, she smiled. "Not a shut in... just properly chaperoned... blame it on being in West Virginia... you know how the southerners are, right?" She winked. "I'm going to go now, though. It was nice meeting you all. Welcome to Albright."

"I'm hardly a proper southern lady," Lia answered wryly. "After all, I'm traveling with three non-related males, aren't I?" She smirked and shook her head, then grabbed the box of supplies brought over and took it toward the kitchen to put away.

Abby looked stunned. "You mean you're not all related?" she asked, surprised. "I assumed, given how you looked out for each other..."

"Nope. These boys just all fell for my irresistible charm," Lia announced, swaying her hips playfully, before grimacing at her own poor joke.

"Nope," Seb admitted. "More like what Lia said," he added, grinning.

Abby laughed. "I bet there's a few who would. I know Scott noticed you right off."

"Right, everybody loves Gumby," Zack quipped weakly.

"Gumby?" Abby laughed harder. "Why Gumby?"

"Scott?" Lia asked, genuinely startled. "Uh, sure..." She laughed at the question of who Gumby was, but simply set to putting the supplies away.

"Because she's a contortionist," Zack answered. "She has cartilage where her bones are supposed to be. Honest."

"Who's Scott?" Seb asked, eyebrow arching. "He wasn't one of those you mentioned..."

Lia shook her head and sighed. "I'm a /dancer/," she corrected, "and I honestly haven't done much to stretch my muscles in a while, so I doubt I could move all that well anymore."

Abby looked at Lia, amusement lighting her features. She was actually quite pretty. Her light brown hair framed her heart shaped face perfectly. "Scott is my little brother. He noticed her last night. And I didn't let him come. I figured the last thing you all needed was someone coming in hitting on one of you right off."

"Is he cute?" Lia asked, appearing intrigued.

The blind teen flashed Lia a wry look. "Why Lia, you like fur at night? I'd invite you to join Marta and me more often, then."

Lia laughed. "Hey, I offered to keep you company last night in the master suite. You refused, remember?"

Abby laughed. "Are you two a couple then? Or are you with the missing one?"

"To save you the dog drool," Seb returned with a laugh. "I don't know about my own, either." He shrugged at Abby's question. "Not that I know of..."

The dancer flushed brightly at Abby's question, and suddenly seemed twice as interested in putting away the food. "No, not... no."

"You'd think you'd know," Zack groaned. "But no... She’s more like our sister. We're like family. "

"I kinda miss some messages," Seabay admitted. "The whole blind stuff, you know."

"Sounds like a good arrangement." She winked at Lia as she added. "I'll let Scotty know it's okay to talk to you, then." Reaching the door, she paused long enough to wave. "Don't forget to lock this behind me, okay? It was nice meeting you all." She exited then without waiting for replies, to let them finish settling in for what would, hopefully, be a more peaceful night than the last had been.

Lia's face remained buried in the box, red to the ears. "Thanks," she called after Abby, not looking up. Truth be told, she wasn't sure how she felt about the idea of having another boy talking to her at all, or about the question of whether she was with someone, either.

"Bye! And thanks!" Seabay called after Abby. "Not sure you'd want to encourage that, though, Lia," he murmured once she was gone. "He could easily get you infected, too. Sounds like it transmits like AIDS, but this time, who knows if air kills it...?"

"I don't think we want to test that. I mean, I know Josh would be all 'let's look at it more closely, maybe we could help them find a cure', but honestly I'm not that interested in science anymore, and I don't want to research it. I just want to avoid it. Okay? So no dating infected people. Got it?" Zack insisted.

Lia stopped what she was doing and rounded on Sebastian, suddenly irrationally angry. "I wouldn't be screwing him, Sebastian, just talking to him," she said, fists clenching. "What, am I not allowed to even do that?" She groaned and sighed, pushing the rest of the box away gently. "I'm going to take a shower," she then announced before stalking off toward the stairs.

"Hey, I just meant a kiss might be kinda dangerous, is all," Seb shot back. "Sorry if I don't want you howling at night and running around all furry, then!"

"Might be an improvement," Zack quipped, looking at everything Abby and the others brought. "If she gets too out of line, we can swat her with rolled up newspaper, right?"

"I dunno, but it's sounding like a nice idea right now," Seabay grumbled, grabbing his clean clothes again. "I call dibs on the other shower. I didn't get one yesterday."

"No problem. I'm gonna go ahead and inventory the stuff downstairs. Just in case," Zack replied.
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