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Samantha Lorrain

Student Of The Macabre

0 · 220 views · located in USA

a character in “Leave It All Behind”, as played by J.D.

Description

Image
...............Samantha
...........................Sammy Bird

Light up the way for me.
I'm scared of the dark.
Illuminate the blackest road
With the brightest spark.

Light up my mind
When I'm feeling low.
Help me keep the dark thoughts away,
And make my mind glow.

Light up my world
With your beautiful, carefree smile.
Keep away everything that's evil,
Everything that's scary and vile.

Light up my candle
When I'm out to wander and roam,
So no matter how far I am,
I may always return home.
- Soumyanetra Pal



How Can We Determine The Existence Of A Soul?



ImageSammy Bird
American Origin
Film Student
Curious Temperment
Samantha Lorrain
24 Years Of Age
Female
Bisexual

.
....................................."Liz & Beth
.....................................Sisters
.....................................Half-Sister & Biological
.....................................26 & 27”

..........Image.Image



Look into the eyes...




ImageIn Depth

Imagine a cliché college student and amplify that by a thousand, okay, so maybe she isn't that bad. Sam has always been what you would call the mom-friend of any given group. A charitable girl at heart with a soft, warm smile and a way of drawing others in. People naturally gravitate towards her, and her passive nature has never really allowed her to blow up. Besides petty fights and small spats with her sisters she's almost never been truly angry. Now, when it comes to her friends and people hurting them she can become extremely protective. Possessive even over them, which, as earlier stated has given her the mom-friend title.

EDITING




ImageLife & Times[/font]

The last born child of Eddie Lorrain and Romana Lorrain, a product of a marriage once broken and brought back together. She grew up among two older sisters, one full blooded sister and a half-sister whom lived with them and was adopted by their mother before she even turned two years old. Hilariously, the child that her father had bore with another woman shared a namesake with his eldest child. Two Elizabeth in the family, half sisters sharing a father. Albeit their half-sister was named after the crack head mother whom gave her up a year after birth. While she grew up alongside "Liz" and "Beth" the age gap between her and her elder sister left her lagging behind a bit.

She had a simple childhood, grew up in a relatively nice suburban home and spent a lot of time trailing behind her sisters. And while they had separate friend groups they intermingled enough to be close, despite all the fights they've had over the years. Eventually Sam figured out her goal in life and ran towards it blindly. Chose to change to an art based school for middle school onwards, costing her parents a fortune. But a fortune that paid off in the end when Samantha graduated honor roll, 4.0 GPA and went on the be accepted to a fantastic film school on full scholarship after winning a short film contest.

Her family split off a bit at the start of college, Beth and Liz were already off in college living in dorms and she was staying in an apartment with a friend and driving back and forth from there to campus everyday. Eventually her situation turned bad, the friend that she was staying with had invited her boyfriend to move in, further decreasing the amount of space. Sam didn't quite know this guy well, so it came as extra shocking when he flipped a lid one night, on a drunken bender and beat the shit out of her friend and ended up knocking Sam around when she tried to defend her friend. Later that night the both of them ended up in the hospital.


And peer upon the soul.


So begins...

Samantha Lorrain's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jena Gutierrez Character Portrait: Samantha Lorrain

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wiley
Jena Gutierrez
Image
The Prelude To
"When it rains...it fucking pours."







Two days, twelve hours, forty-five minutes.
Two days, twelve hours, forty-six minutes.
Two days, twelve hours, forty –.

Knock, knock, knock.
Two days, twelve hours…fuck.


Hands reach to the sky, muscles burning with the use at long last movement within the small room. Eyes scan the horizon, crawl up the wall to the clock. Hands ticking slow, stable despite the feeling that it shouldn’t be working anymore. Should be just as broken as the corpse at the end of the room. The stench of rot cloying heavy in the room. The rain pounding against the window driving her mad, each drip sliding down the glass magnified by the weight of her own messed up head.

Two days, twelve hours, fifty-one minutes.

Jenna is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode when she moves from the gurney to the door, movements so quick her atrophying ligaments barely have the time to catch up with her. Ankles twisting, arms splayed on the wall to catch herself. Carefully tugging at the skin of her lip with teeth turned red from biting too hard. Her fingers clutch the door handle with fervor, twist and twist until she can’t anymore. Its locked, it’s always been locked. Something jammed up against the door to keep her in – to keep them out.




” They can’t get in,” The nurse assured. Weary but smiling, despite the gaping hole in his abdomen. Red blossoming over blue scrubs. Pants soiled but he must not realize this yet, hasn’t taken in the stench of piss, blood, and sweat. He can’t feel it, she thinks, because if he could he would be screaming in blind agony. Curled up and writhing just like her, only from pain and not from the gnawing feeling of loss jamming up her organs. Jenna is stifling cries against her fist, teeth clenched so hard around her knuckles she thinks she might actually break teeth or bone. “It’ll be okay.” He says, gurgling now on blood, spit up from his gullet. Drowning in it, she wonders what’ll kill him first the asphyxiation from thick clots or the viscera slowly spilling out. Either way, he’s fucking dead and she’ll be stuck in a room locked from the outside with a rotting corpse as her only companion.

“It’ll be o- “One slash was all it took, throat exposed and bloody raw she can see the relief there behind dull brown eyes. Feels the weight lift from her body as she tosses aside the broken glass shard taken from the man’s own hand. When did she realize he was holding it? Her brain was bogged down by a dozen thoughts all demanding her attention at once. Holds her hands to her face and watches his blood slide thick between her fingers. There’s something hypnotic about the slow slide and drip that has her reaching forward to paint her extremities in liquid red before pulling back in a disgusting snap back to reality. The delirious haze is from the fever, rationalizes the temporary insanity with half-truths and lies until she believes every word she speaks to herself, in the mirror. Smiles, because it’s all she can do to stop the sobbing.





Its hours after the fact when she finally comes to with the realization that she’s wasting away here. Slid down against the locked door with hands raw from pounding against it. Already losing count on the day, doesn’t know how much time has passed between the everlasting minutes. Even the clock face has no secrets for her now, blank without context. Long unplugged from its socket in the fray. She stutters out a breath that hitches tight at the last second, sobs spill forth even as she draws herself together. Limbs coiled tight as springs ready to bounce away and apart at any second. The television stopped working yesterday – or maybe the day before that? No more news of what’s going on outside but every now and again the artillery fire reaches her ears and draws more ragged breaths out. How many people were dying out there right now? While she cries like a child lost in a store…

Too many; she decides and pulls back up, stands on shaking legs and moves to the corpse with a haste that curls her gut with nausea. Her head is pounding with pressure, throat dry and eyes burning still – dehydration, starvation, it’s only been two days but the human body can’t wait long without water and she isn’t quite prepared yet for the alternate. Not till the last minute. Digs through the pockets on the scrubs, not completely sure what she’s searching for until she finds it. A cellphone. She hadn’t come into the OR with one – mainly because she had been unconscious at the time.




”Mrs. Gutierrez do you remember what happened?" A blonde EMT is shining a flashlight in her eyes back and forth in slow motion. His voice is too loud, echoing in her head to the beat of her pulse. She tries to follow but her eyes roll back into her skull, the darkness calmer than the light burning her retinas. She doesn’t speak but groans in long drawn out syllables, all a different measure of the pounding headache that’s rocketing her pulse. She feels something sticky wet dripping like sweat from her temple.




She tries her mom first, shaking and scared and reverting back to the primal instinct of wanting her mother’s warm protective embrace. Longing for days spent in a rocking chair watching crappy sci-fi horror movies and believing that nothing like that could ever happen. Even if her father was but a distant memory of a memory she would always have her mother there to guide her way. Several rings lead to several more desperate attempts and finally, to despairing resolution. The phone rings, startling her to the point of almost dropping it until she clenches tighter, suddenly holding it to her ear as if it were something precious to cherish. It isn’t her mother who answers, but the voice is young and feminine with a chirpy tone.

Oh thank god I thought nobody was going to answer…” A beat of silence. “Marcus?” Jena hitches on a drawn breath, making a squeaking noise that she isn’t proud of. “I, no I’m sorry, no.” She pauses for a heavy second, “I…I guess I have his phone, I was trying to call my mom – “she hates how young she sounds, halfway to the loony bin and utterly hating herself in that moment. “Your mom? How old are you?” Concern edges into that chirpy voice and Jena is glad that the other person can’t see the flush to her face. “22.” She doesn’t want to say it in such a deadened tone but that’s how it comes out.

“Oh,” the voice says as if mulling that over, “Okay, that’s okay, are you with Marcus?” the voice is speaking to itself more than to her. Jena looks to the dead nurse, fighting back the explosion of emotion threatening to bubble over the top. A volcano ready to erupt. Only it’ll be tears instead of lava that spews forth. She’s so tired of crying. Too dried up from the lack of water and with all this talking she is starting to notice the rough scratch to her voice.

“Is Marcus a nurse?” A pause, Jena imagines the voice nodding, confirms it when a noise of affirmative follows suit. Jena doesn’t know how to say it tactfully so she just comes out and says it, “I’m so, so sorry.” The sound of dry sobbing is all too familiar to her ears, she clutches the phone tight against her ear, the noise of it driving her insane. “Okay,” the voice says for what feels like the thousandth time, calmer now than before. Jena imagines this person must be very level headed to recover so quickly. As suddenly as the call comes it feels as if its drawing to a quick end, causing a thunderstorm of emotions to pass in quick succession, heart thudding with the thought of being left alone again.

“Wait – “ Jena almost shouts into the receiver, feeling her breath stop all at once. “Don’t hang up yet please,” She’s been alone in here for god knows how long her heart can’t take it anymore. Isolation has to be worse than whatever it is out there. “I’m stuck in this room, at the hospital, something barred the door – if I stay in here I’ll die. I won’t ask a lot of you but please, please don’t let me die here...”

In the silence that follows Jena is afraid that the voice will hang up and her fears of living out the rest of her days here will actually come true. Isolated in a chamber of her own madness, no food, no water – not unless she chooses to dispose of Marcus and she couldn’t bring herself to do that. Almost retches at the mere thought.

“Mercy Hospital is a ten-minute drive, the roads are blocked and…there are things out there that nobody should have to ever see.” The voice lets out a heavy sigh, and somehow, something in the tone makes Jena relax. Shoulders sagging with relief as her knees fold forward, bringing her forehead to the slick tile and the phone to rest just beneath her chin. She can still hear the voice, and still speak into the phone. “Ill try and get to you, I don’t want another body on my conscious.”

"Thankyouohthankgod...." Her words run together in a string of incomprehensible babbling. Tuning out the stranger until brought back by her own thoughts. "My name is Jena, I'm in room 213 - or it should be 213." She isn't sure, but she vaguely remembers seeing the sign when they wheeled her in so long ago.




The light is too bright in her eyes, the noise too loud. A steady beeping and the dull throbbing in her head a constant reminder of the tubes hooked into her veins. Feeding her the poisons she begged to be away from. The Dilaudid scaring away the aches and pains that would have otherwise crippled her. It feels like forever before she is on the move again, out of surgery and back to the recovery suite and though she is barely conscious her brain a puddle of mud trampled under the booted feet of children she can make out the barely legible sign above the door reading 2-1-3.




"I'm Sam."

Click. Thunk.

The phone clatters against the tile and Jena heaves from the relief of it all, body giving out from exhaustion but at least she knows – she knows that she isn’t going to die here. If the voice manages to get here in time she will survive this. She will survive. Like everything else in her life, she will survive.



Second Half Of Post Done In Collaboration With JD



Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jena Gutierrez Character Portrait: Samantha Lorrain

0.00 INK

#, as written by J.D.
Samantha Lorraine
Image
Stillness Of Motion
“I don't cry, I get angry.”





There are times when the world feels as if its dropping out from beneath her. Chipping away at all those dark insecurities inside and she swears that the tremors beneath her feet are real enough to shake her to the core. It’s as if the earth itself wanted to swallow her whole; maybe it does. In that moment, staring at her balled fist smashed against the black granite counter top she wonders just how much more she can take of this.

Not a whole damn lot.

She contemplates the idea of staying home, locked away behind boarded up windows and doors. Huddles beneath her blankets as she listened to the last remaining radio broadcasts speak of all the ‘amazing,’ things the Military is doing in this time of need. Sam owes nothing to anybody, even the world itself could mock her every step but she has nothing to hide from it. Her priority should be to herself, and herself alone. And yet she couldn’t accept that now could she? If she turned away now she’d be killing Jena herself and that, above everything else left her hollow at the thought.

She couldn’t, wouldn’t have another body on her hands.



”Take the car, I’m going to see how many people I can evacuate without raising the alarm.” Sam stared openly, alarmed to say the least. Felt her heart thud angrily, brain working a mile a minute just to catch up with whatever idiotic brainwave his mind had to be on. “Marcus, no,” if she could only dig in her heels and make him see how this would end. Those things were here already, not even an hour after the first news broadcast and one had already gotten in – the military forces were posted up at the entrance, escorting new patients in and old patients out when they could do it without alarming the rest of the people inside. Sam herself wouldn’t have known a single damn thing if she hadn’t been waylaid by Marcus on her way to get her hand bandaged.

“Samantha, yes,” Marcus scowled, he could be just as stubborn as her if he really put his mind to it. She both hated and loved him for it. And she knew that this would not be an argument won. He had no reason to follow after her besides a half formed relationship and a ghost of a promise hanging from her neck. Fear crept up her spine and shone from her eyes, targeting his with laser precision. Wanting, pleading, begging for him to understand the incredible danger that staying behind would put him in. If the Military thought this was threat enough to deploy troops in major cities than he had to know the consequences of playing the tragic hero.

Yet he still reflected nothing but charitable stupidity and a hero-like mindset that had drawn her to him in the first place. He placed a hand on the side of her head, ran fingers through wavy red hair and she could have punched him right there for pretending that this was a simple goodbye. She had no expectations that he would be coming back to her, not after this. “I’ll come back to you Sammy Bird,” his words betrayed a lie, a simple unconscious twitch of uncertainty. He doesn’t know, just as much as she could be sure.

“Yeah,” She bit off a sigh. “Okay.”


Crying is weak, burdening, and most certainly a force to behold when coming from the anti-crier herself. Sam hates tears, could never stand whining even if it came from children. Hated it even more when she couldn’t stop herself from doing it, but the burning wouldn’t go away and at this point the tears were more reminiscent of frustration than sadness. What should she be feeling in that moment anyway? She had known Marcus for two-fucking-months, two months and while their ’romance had been based on a mutual love for one another they had barely escaped the friendship stage. She could see from an outside view how the two of them could have fit together but the chance of ever getting that far was long gone and she saw nothing but red when she thought about him.

What was the term for people like him? tragic hero. Ordinary people have no place in the land of fantasy and Marcus just couldn’t see that.

Even if she knew the outcome before his goodbye she had almost hoped that he would have stayed true to his word. Sam checked the time, eleven thirty AM, if she went now she’d be there and back in enough time to figure out what she’s going to do next. She had been planning on heading east, towards the countryside where Marcus had sorted out a space for them with his parents until they could figure out just who had survived the first wave of attacks. There goes that plan – she chucks her coat to the side, unsure if the sweltering heat is from her own frantic stress or from the sun itself. The rain had stopped long ago. Whatever the case sweat molds her hair to the back of her neck and makes every inch of fabric stick to her skin.

Seconds after locking up and hoping to the gods above that no looters get in while she’s out she slides into the driver’s side of the damned car that Marcus had practically begged her to leave in. Adjusts the rear-view mirror and catches sight of the miniature photo of them tucked into one corner of it. Stops for a moment and slams her hand down against the wheel, over and over until the skin around her palms is sore and aching with the knowledge of futility, her knuckles busted up from two nights ago still and she’s barely aware of the pulsing ache in her skull though her black eye has begun to fade green as it heals. “You asshole,” she laughs out, eyes turned skywards to the peeling tan fabric of the interior roof.

“You were supposed to come back.” Maybe its shock, wasn’t that what happened during tragic events? As with everything, doubt beget common sense, free of charge. Hands clench tight to the steering wheel as she starts the car and peels off, too quick to avoid the neighbor’s mailbox and for lack of care decides not to stop and fix it, they didn’t need it anymore, mailboxes were obsolete in a world that was quickly consumed by every child’s worst nightmare.

She hit the first roadblock within a few minutes, a splattering of cars and corpses along the main road leading into the inner city. A haphazard pile of people pushed off to the sides in an abandoned burning attempt. It smells of rot. From here on she’ll have to go on foot. Burdened by the weight of seeing the trail of bodies left in the wake of pure evil. Those creatures were devil incarnate as far as she was concerned, something that should have never been allowed to form and yet they had and nobody knew how or why. Speculation at first had gone towards mutation, science gone wrong, everything that conflicted with Sams own view. Some said Aliens, it’s funny how it wouldn’t surprise her now if that were true yet weeks ago she would have laughed at the idea.

Sam calls it karma. Unnamed creatures infiltrate society and tear it up from the inside out, and do it all without anyone knowing that they were there to begin with. One could only assume this was judgment, and perhaps this was a work of divinity, if one could even bring themselves to believe that. Whatever the case Sam knew that she would have to figure something out before her future came to a grinding halt. Getting that girl out of the hospital room would be a start, she could only imagine the confusion that Jena must be suffering if she’s been locked away this whole time. Pity takes hold, deep and aching and she picks up the pace despite her weariness. Eyes scanning the flatlands beyond the major road and catch on the various signs of destruction.

In a way this felt surreal, as if she were shooting a movie. She could picture every angle in her head, focusing on the contrast of the sun and the shadows, cast from stalled or wrecked cars. Suitcases, purses, backpacks, spilled out from looters. Cars with their doors wide open, gutted, save for the people hanging limp from seatbelts. She stops, peers into one and reels back the second her eyes land on a bright pink car seat, too colorful, too out of place. Horrifying contents churning her stomach as she teeters away on the legs of a newborn deer. Suffocated by her own retch as it lumps in her throat. Christ, she’s losing time, stumbling forward on and on now only stopping when she reaches the shade of buildings and starts inching to a crawl. It’s quiet, unusually so – gun fire in the distance doesn’t constitute as a break in silence as its constant presence gives hope that somehow those fuckers are being thinned out.

She tugs her jacket closer and steps into the shadows of a nearby building, slow as can be inching forward, feeling as if she isn’t moving at all. Save for the sounds of her own body all is quiet. Unassuming. Nobody goes out on the streets these days, she’s crazy to even be attempting this. But Mercy is just a few blocks north now and its fear that’s driving her onward now. Panic settled deep in her chest as she sticks to the dark to move. Of course, if she were thinking clearly she would have just as soon realized that the dark has never stopped them before.

Buzz. Buzz.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” Sam bites her tongue hard, steps deeper into an alleyway and hunkers between an overturned trashcan and a stack of wood pallets formed into what looks to be a makeshift bed. Whoever was here before isn’t any more by the looks of the dark blood spatter coating the brick wall opposite of the bed. Her phone buzzes twice more, spiking her pulse instantly. She almost doesn’t answer but for one blinding second as she looks at the caller ID the hope in her stifles the memory that Marcus is dead. Only too quickly, reality cuts all vestiges of hope from her chest as she remembers and berates herself for ever letting her hope stifle rationality.

Relief follows silence for the first few seconds, Sam doesn’t know just how well those things can hear.

”…Sam?” Jena is tentative sounding, if Sam knew her better she would say there was worry in her voice as well. ”I’m sorry, I got worried.” An understatement it sounds like. Sam could see how Jena could get worried though, when your only tie to the outside world is a voice on a phone and a thin promise of rescue. Sam isn’t a hero, has spent however long now berating her dead boyfriend for being one and here she is attempting it all the same. What a hypocrite. ”Hello?” Sam realizes she’s let the silence draw on.

“I’m almost there, it’s not easy to move around out here.” Sam almost snaps, can feel the pressure in her head form with a headache. Wants to be angry at the stranger but she can’t when this is starting to feel like her fault anyway. ”Oh. Sams never been one to invest in deep conversations over the phone, barely has the patience for small talk in real life either. “Just hang tight, I’m not going to leave you there.” As if that could negate any fears that Jena has.

”Okay…Okay I trust you.” Christ. Now if that didn’t help make Sam feel any less guilty for contemplating leaving her there in the first place. This girl was proving to be an enigma, Naïve from what she can tell but at the same time she’s still alive so Sam can’t fault her for that. Still, Sam can’t let the comment go. “Don’t trust so easy.” And hangs up less than a second later. Cutting off whatever Jena was going to say next. She didn’t have the time to dilly dally on the phone all day, not if she wanted to get home safe and quickly.

Getting to Mercy was proving a bit difficult with the amount of dodging she had to do, the deeper into the city she went the more people she started to see and while she knew some were out there looting, trading, and fighting there was just as much of a chance of them being disguises. Winding side roads were starting to take her off path and several times she nearly had a heart attack cutting through yards and going over fences only to be faced with fearful residents and at one point a group of militants that watched her too closely for comfort. Afternoon was setting in, as far as she could tell by the suns position and she knew it would be tough making it back home now. If anything she could hunker down in the hospital.

Even if she hated the place she could tolerate it for a night. She could remember clearly the last time she had been there, and the memories associated with it left her exhausted to even think about. Emotionally drained from head to toe.



”It’s a mad house out there Livvy." Tom paced the length of the kitchen once before settling into the chair he had almost busted up the day before. His features wild, eyes wide and rimmed red and the stink of alcohol reached Sam where she sat perched on the countertops. Watching him talk to Liv with weary eyes. She had been rooming with Olivia for a long time now, and only recently had Tom come to stay with him. And it wasn’t that Sam minded the lack of extra space, she just simply didn’t like Tom himself. He was a bastard, an abuser even if only by words and as of late he had gotten worse and worse.

Even now he was arguing, angry words spit from yellow teeth and Sam wanted nothing more but to knock his head off. But she couldn’t act now, waited and watched the way he tensed and relaxed rapidly. Head bobbing a bit, his movement sloppy and words slurred. Inebriation had always been his excuse in the past. Half spoken promises of never hurting Olivia again and yet those promise kept getting broken the same night as he drunk his sorrows and took it all out on her. Sam hadn’t escaped being a secondary victim, Tom had called her every name in the book and then some but he knew after the first time that Sam called the police that she meant business when it came to her friends.

This time though, there was no way to call for help. Police were out in force, too busy with the situation to bother with a domestic dispute no matter the intensity. Sam knew that this time was different, more tense. The stress was getting to all of them and she herself had felt the craving to smash her fists against something – though she would have preferred Tom follow her lead and take it out on the wall. No, instead he paced and shouted and turned to Sam with fury in his eyes every once in a while. Olivia took it all, the same way she normally did with her head lowered and gaze flitting to the clock as if the time to sober up would stop this madness.

It didn’t, and that first swing Tom took on Olivia was his last. Sam didn’t fight, but she knew how to throw a punch even if it wasn’t exceptionally strong or anything compared to his. Honestly, it had been a spur of the moment action to protect her friend, and it ended with her sprawled on the ground holding a hand over her eye. Lip busted and knuckles aching from her own thrown punches. Goddamn, she had never been punched in the face before. Sam wouldn’t lie and say she took it like a champ, it had hurt, a lot and in that first few seconds her brain could barely catch up with what was happening.

Not until she could hear Marcus pulling into the drive, had she called him? She couldn’t remember now, everything about that morning was lost to her. If she had…well, she simply couldn’t remember in that moment. Dizzy as she pulled herself up by the counter. Tom was done fighting, arms at his side and mouth hanging open. In his eyes there was repentance, like usual, but Sam wouldn’t fall for that like Olivia would. “Jesus, Sammy I didn’t mean to,” He tried, but she grimaced and pushed him aside. Stopped momentarily to look at Olivia, babbling through tears as she tracked Sams movements with her eyes. “Don’t leave, don’t leave.”

“Come with me then,” Sams offer was met with stony silence. That was all the answer she needed. Can’t help the ones who won’t help themselves. She grabbed her bag on the way out, storming towards Marcus in an attempt to combat her own emotions. “Christ,” She heard Marcus utter as she slammed the car door, uncaring of the way her head hurt like hell. It was evident that he was pissed off, threatening to go back in there and it took forever to convince him to stay the hell out of it.
Sams battles are only for her to fight.




The hospital stood tall and proud against the backdrop of a ruined city. Sam would almost laugh at how picturesque it was with the sunlight glinting from a dozen windows. But fear that something would hear her outweighed the amusement. Quickly she ducked through the front doors, pausing for a heavy moment to survey the area. The lobby was a mess and smelled like no other. The heat trapped in here had caused the smell to intensify, thick in the air and she had to cover her nose to even bear it.

While she knew sort of where the room was she lingered in the lobby for a long time, knowing that being this close meant that she would soon be faced with Marcus again and that was something she feared more so than the threat of dying. If she were a better person she would have rushed up immediately, but Sam feared for what this would to her. Wondered if what little sanity she had left would be erased by seeing him one last time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jena Gutierrez Character Portrait: Samantha Lorrain

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wiley
Jena Gutierrez
Image
Acid Rain
"Hours become days, fade into nights left wide awake."




“Don’t trust so easy.”

Thats what this all comes down to now, isn't it? Malformed trust in a situation that can't possibly call for anything else. Whole hearted and blind. Stupid, is what it is but when has she ever laid claim to functioning brain cells? Jena has debated this before, had whole conversations situated around blind faith. Religion calls for it really, and maybe her own brand of masochistic religion is a little different in essence but all the same in the end. A self-hating individual following the laws laid down by a being long gone being. Okay, maybe the situation isn't that dire. She's the type to go on and on about this sort of thing and never really make sense of it. Where she begins, only ends in making things twice as muddled and far less appealing. This, isn't unusual.

At first, she tries to keep calm. Ignores earlier spoken words in favor of keeping that trust tucked beside her heart. She isn't sure what she'll d without it, hope, trust, maybe a little bit of stupidity sprinkled on top to keep her sane. If she were a more pessimistic person she'd be dead already - knows this in a way she can't explain.




"Do you remember anything," the first words to grace her ears in hours now. She's still fuzzy, head lit up with a number of sparkling thoughts. And well, if half the words she speaks next come out a garbled mess it isn't exactly her fault. She remembers enough to know that she was in an accident. She can't assess the damage as numb as she is but she knows from sight alone that her body is broken. Cut, scraped, hollowed out by pain that still reaches her through the steady flow of drugs to her system. They gave her one of those push to pump things to regulate the stream of morphine. She hasn't used it yet. Doesn't want to lose her coherency yet.

"No." She answers, because its easier than saying yes and having to explain. Doesn't know if she could even begin to put into words the night she had. And even, would anyone believe her if she spoke it aloud. Theres a large gap between what could be and what was, and it feels miles long when laying on her tongue. No amount of internal rehearsing could give her the ability to say one single word. The nurse, to his credit only looks half skeptical. He suggest then, that she may have been in a wreck. Her mangled body found a few miles away from some wreckage on a stretch of country road thats rarely traveled; but whether its true or not is speculation.

Only she knows the truth of it.




Somewhere between thought A and B she starts to drift. Lost in the land between Lucidity and Sleep, body dragged down by the weight of it. Feels wrong in a way, her body that is. As if she's too much, spread everywhere and nowhere. Packed tight into a shell that gives no room to move. Her limbs are stiff but her skin sags in a way that feels like hot wax slowly sliding down the shaft of a candle. Her eyes, peel open in slow motion. Blink once. Then twice. and settle on a fixed point just above her. Mumbling prayer under her breath in the form of half self pity and half end it all cruelty. Is this what it feels like to be delirious? Lost in her own head.

Stops thinking altogether when sound reaches her ears, for the first time in days not her own rambling thoughts. But a scraping, scratching sound that hurts her ears. She grits her teeth hard and screws her eyes shut. Feels like its a missed chance seconds later when the door swings open. She picks up the sound of a gasping breath, almost inaudible hitched sobs, before there is someone invading her space. Hands on her shoulders and hair brushing her cheek. Almost a hug, but when she's being dragged up it becomes something much more hurried and panicked. "Hey what the hell, come on!" Sams voice is louder in person. Jena forces her eyes opened to come face to face with her. Relief flooding her at the sight of a perfectly normal, healthy human being staring right back at her. "Jena, I get it, but now really isn't the time," there is panic in the others voice. Finally drawing Jena to the here and now.

"Whats going on?" She half whispers, feeling claustrophobic all of a sudden with Sam dominating her space. But Sam has gone quiet, so still she may as well be a statue. Jena doesn't know when their hands became linked but now she tugs against the pillar of stone in hopes of getting her breath. "Whats going - " She stops, voice dying as a distinctive growl finally reaches her ears. Several noises assault her at once. The growls of one of those things, the clicking of claws against cold tile and the sound of snuffling as it tries to find them. Jena looks to Sam, eyes mirroring the horror that horror that chills her blood.

It'll sniff them out sooner or later. Jena has observes them enough from the window to know. Has seen them stalk their prey. It feels like god is laughing at them right now. Laughing at Jena for having a single ounce of hope in her. "What do we do?" Jena trembles, she's never seen one face to face. Doesn't ever want to see one up close. Sams heart thuds, loud enough that she wonders if Jena can hear it too. Knows that the other is scared by the way her hand is being crushed, bones grinding together in a way that makes her grit her teeth together. She takes a deep, faltering breath.

"We have to run."


And they do.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jena Gutierrez Character Portrait: Samantha Lorrain

0.00 INK

#, as written by J.D.
Samantha Lorraine
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The Hand
"For whatever its worth, I'm glad I won't die alone."




Running isn't exactly what Sam would call it.

She's doing her best to keep the both of them on their feet. Out the door and through the long winding corridors of the hospital. With the amount of noise they are making she has no doubts that the monster has already heard them. Is probably hot on their tails but Sam doesn't stop long enough to dwell on it. She knows every twist and turn of this place, has visited the various nooks and hide aways with Marcus enough to be capable of mapping out a plan of action. Between keeping Jena on her feet, practically dragging her along beside her, and staying one step ahead of the monster she can't even think. Can't wrap her head around where to go except she has to keep fucking running.

"Sam, Sam! I can't," Jena chokes on the breath she's trying to catch. Lung aflame, heart pounding so fast she thinks it may be trying to escape her body altogether. "I can't keep going!" She manages, feeling light headed but sharply aware all at the same time. Sam knows. Feels bad because she can see Jena isn't in the shape to be moving at all but can't stop. Not when the growls pursuing them grow louder by the second. Sam doesn't boast strength. Lifting anything heavier than a sack of potatoes at the super market always gave her trouble. And yet somehow, she's holding both her own and almost the entirety of Jena's weight. Why is she going this far for a stranger? She should have cut her losses the moment she realized those things were in there with them. Fuck her guilty conscious. Always, always ruining her life.

"Just a little further," Sam breathes hard.

"Where," Jena wheezes. As if Sam has an answer. She doesn't, just an inkling of a feeling and a hell of a bad plan starting to form in her head. Damn it all. She takes a sharp right, nearly dragging Jena into a wall before the both of them straighten out. She's starting to falter in step, legs burning with the exertion. She should have never quit the high school track team. Another sharp right takes them to a set of options. Keep going straight to the parking garage access doors; and hope to god the security locks aren't on, or make their way down the stairs. In the end Sam decides its better to risk the stairs than be caught at a dead end. For what its worth, she's glad she won't be dying alone.

The stairs slow their pace, gives her too much time to feel the exhaustion chipping away at her resolve. Jena is just as unsteady and twice as hard to keep moving but Sam doesn't let go of her hand so theres no choice in the matter. Keep moving or be dragged along in a more painful way. She sort of hates herself for it but dammit, she's come this far now and if one of them is gonna die in this hospital she figures it ought to be both of them. She may not believe in god or heaven, but theres always going to be that small part of her that tells her the moment she dies she'll see Marcus again. Maybe not alive, but whole in a way that only memories can show her now.




Loitering in the lobby was the worst idea she ever had. By the time she made up her mind to get moving she realized that the feeling of paranoia creeping up her spine wasn't just a feeling. There was something watching her. Stalking her from the shadows. felt it in the pit of her stomach even before she heard the sound of it. She didn't let on that she knew it was there, that would incite a chase and she needed to save her energy. Maybe it would get bored, go away - she doubted it. By the time she slipped from its sight and found herself at the room Jena was in she knew that it was only a matter of time before it came back.

Theres a gurney wedged between the door and the opposite end of the hallway. Probably why Jena was having issues getting the door open. Sam avoided looking at the sheet covered body on top. There isn't much left of whoever it was. She had no doubts about what had killed them. Instead she braces herself as she starts to move the gurney, its wheels locking up, giving her enough trouble that she decides to just hop over and pull it from the other side. The resulting noise, she's sure, is enough to alert the thing that followed her in the lobby. She can hear it, no mistaking it now.

The breath is punched out of her at the sight of Marcus, even if there are more pressing matters she can't help the sudden force of emotions that overtake her. Long enough to get her eyes misty. She wants to puke, to scream, to cry. But she doesn't. Tears her eyes from his body with an urgency she's surprised she can even muster and catches sight of the person she's here for. Later, she'll try and come back for Marcus. But in that moment, they need to get the fuck out of dodge.






"Where are we going?" Jena forces her attention. Grateful for the distraction of hushed conversation, but at the same time utterly exhausted at the thought of keeping it together while dragging ass down three flights of stairs. She chooses to mumble something about 'to safety' and calls it a day on that front. Thank god they weren't on the top floor. They reach the halfway point, and it must register to Jena then where they are going. Even if Sam hasn't said it aloud just yet. Winces at the look of panic that alights in the revelation. "Seriously?"

Sam ignores her for the time being. Focused on taking one step at a time. The stairway is wide enough that they can walk side by side but only one of them gets the railing to hold onto. She let Jena take that side, since she's got the most injuries to worry about but regrets that choice when the brunette digs in her heels and wraps her arm so tightly around the rail that it takes all fight out of Sam. They come to a halt, one flight above their destination. The growls are distant now - when did they fade? But Sam can only imagine its a matter of time before the beast comes barreling towards them.

"The Morgue? Are you kidding me?" Sam pinches the bridge of her nose, huffing wildly. They can't be doing this right now, they need to move. But dammit, Jena isn't budging no matter how hard Sam tries. She laughs, a cross between incredulous and terrified. "We don't have time to argue this," Sam tries for gentle but ends up the snarling beast she knows herself to be. "It won't smell us down there."

"And you know this how?" In hindsight it isn't like Jena has room to argue. But the very idea of hiding among piles of bodies in the morgue doesn't exactly strike her as a good plan. Of course, she had to end up saving someone annoying. Karma. But fuck it right? "Do you think anybody had time to get the formaldehyde out and juice up all those bodies down there? Huh? Cause as far as I know, they barely even had the time to drop them off down there. So yes, it won't smell us over the stench of rotting fucking bodies." That seems to shut up Jena. Sam only feels a little bad. She doesn't owe Jena anything, if anything, the debt is in her hands now. If they make it out of this alive she'll call it square but at that moment all she cares about is getting the hell down to body city and waiting this thing out.

The growls reach them again, closer than before. Its enough to loosen Jena from the railing. Sam throws caution to the wind and barrels them both down the stairs, half falling. Barely catching themselves before they take the plunge down. A fall now would probably kill one or both of them. Sam's always hated these stupid concrete stairs. They won't reach the Morgue undetected but once there they'll figure something out. Its close enough now that Sam swears she can feel hot breath on her neck. The smell of putrid meat clogging up her nose. Makes her last meal bubble up in her throat. No time to stop. No time to breathe. Jena is gasping and wheezing so hard that Sam starts to worry if the other is asthmatic.

Wouldn't that just be grand, get Jena to safety only to watch her die from asphyxiation.

The last stretch of stairs nearly kills her, they barrel through the double doors just in time for Sam to feel the hard scrape of a claw against her back. Tearing at her skin, but the both of them combined manage to shut the doors tight in time for the thing to get a face full of hardwood and metal. Serves it right. But it won't keep it down for long. Sam knows they can open doors just fine so its only a matter of time before it shakes off its injuries and starts after them again. She's glad she didn't look at it. She'd probably recognize the face it stole.

"What do we do now?" Jena seethes. "We're practically trapped at a dead end here." Sam knows. Feels like being a little petulant until the smell hits her again. God dammit, its worse than a sewer in here. She can't stop herself from throwing up then. A conglomeration of yellow browns that just makes it worse. Grunts against her hand as she wipes the residue away and looks at Jena again. They have a few minutes maybe to work something out but Sam still feels rushed. "Your gonna hate me for suggesting this," Sam starts, mouth sticky and gross. "I don't think I can get any angrier at this point." Jena, to her credit has managed to catch her breath. Painful as it is to take deep breaths. Her chest feels constricted, or maybe crushed, she can't tell the difference.

Sam faces the interior of the room, takes in the sight of stacked up bodies. Too many to even keep on the tables, she doesn't even want to think about the overflow in the freezers. Its sad really, to see so many lives strewn about without a care. She won't blame the people who work in the Morgue for it. She wouldn't be able to handle it either. Sam is morbidly thankful for it in the least, as it'll keep them hidden long enough to wait the thing out and be on their merry way. "We need to hide." She inclines her head to the tables, stacked high with the dead. Jena stares, not comprehending at all really. "Where?" And Sam grimaces, feels her mouth stick together at the slightest thought of voicing her thoughts aloud.

"I - we, need to hide...with the bodies." Sam counts the seconds of silence before Jena is choking again. "Oh my god, will that even work? I'm pretty sure these things have working brains." Sam can't deny that at all. But then again, what other hope do they have? "From what I know," Sam stresses, "They rely on their senses. Even if their brains work most of them only use it long enough to trick their prey. I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure we can just wait it out."

"Now drawer or pile."

"Wait it - " Hah. "Wait it out!" Jena is almost positive she's only standing right now due to the sheer force of stupidity in this situation. "Christ, and what happens when this plan doesn't work, huh?" Maybe she's being a little ungrateful here. She's seen enough daytime television to know that this is a half baked plan and almost mirrors the kind of ridiculous thing she'd see there. Theres no real choice here now. If they go out the emergency doors theres a chance that the alarms would go and she's not ready for that hell. "Fine," Jena hates herself the second she marches towards the piles; she isn't fond of the idea of being shoved into a drawer, she's claustrophobic enough. Sam is there at her side in an instant, equally as disgusted as she drags one of the bodies from a table. "It'll work better if...if it can't see you." She might as well be making this shit up now but hey, if it works out in the end she'll call it a win. Jena only looks at her for a brief moment before allowing Sam to help her down onto the pile. Groans as the body from the table is dragged awkwardly over her. Sam is amazed she can even manage it. Blames the adrenaline for it. "What about you?" Jena asks, worry lacing her tone.

Sam shrugs, "I'll slip into a drawer." She's halfway across the room when the door handles start jiggling. Counts her lucky stars for the divider between rooms that gives her an extra few seconds to shove herself into an open drawer, alongside a body thats laying half on the drawers table and half splayed on the floor. She doesn't have the time to straighten it out so she simply shoves straight to the back and curls up as tight as she can. Hoping she isn't visible.

Hoping this all works out.



Major Collaborative Post.



Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jena Gutierrez Character Portrait: Samantha Lorrain

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wiley
Jena Gutierrez
Image



It feels like days have passed, laying beneath the corpse among a pile of the dead. Ages, that she waits with bated breath for the creature to discover them there. All it would take, all it does take, is a single harsh gush of air to grab its attention. Not from Jena, of course, she is injured but she can keep quiet but Sam does not fare the same in her hiding place. Smashed into a box, probably feeling as if death truly is upon her. The creature had followed them into the room only moments after they got hidden, but it had been drawn near immediately to the places they had last stood.

From observation, and for the sake of keeping tabs on what exactly these things can and can't do, she can see that they aren't lacking in intelligence. Not, like Jena had previously thought. No, there is something decidedly smart as it works through the room, tongue lolled out from one corner of its mouth as blackened gunk seeps from its lips. She can just barely make out jagged teeth and skin stretched so tight over a hunched over figure that it may as well be ready to burst at the literal seams. Its eyes are hollowed pits, she notes that it doesn't seem to be looking in any specific direction - blind maybe, or perhaps it see's in another way.

Whatever the case, when Sam makes a noise barely a hair over too loud it snaps its attention to the room divider. Long, clawed fingers flexing as it takes oddly jerky steps. Its entire body seems as if its rebelling, like the creature does not belong within the skin it wears. Jena knows that it doesn't. Thats one of their ploys, mask themselves among the humans using their own bodies. But the disguise only lasts so long before its true shape began to show through. Jena had seen it, from her window, and she did not want to believe it then. She does now, as she looks at the truth herself.

Sams going to die if she doesn't do something. Jena's weak, and the corpse laying length wise on her is heavy as hell. she doesn't know how Sam managed to drag it, even with an adrenaline boost keeping her going. The moment she starts shifting it the creatures attention is back on her. Somehow she manages to crawl from beneath it and move before the thing sinks its claws into the pile. That gives her a few seconds at least, she isn't sure for what.

Theres no plan, no method to her madness when she slips into the other room. Feet sliding on the tiled floor, just barely ahead of the monster when Sam comes barreling out of the drawer. Wheezing and coughing like the air just won't stay in her lungs long enough to breathe. The two of them together have more of a fighting chance but Jena has a better idea, sudden and marvelous.

She grabs Sams hand as she makes the split second decision to whirl around and face the beast. Taunting it forward at full tilt. The shelves are behind them, and with any luck -

Jena pushes away from Sam as it leaps for them, sending the beast careening wildly towards the shelves with nowhere else to go. It shrieks awfully as it impacts. Awful black liquid spraying from its misshapen nose and mouth. One half of its head caves, as if it were nothing but a ceramic mask covering the quivering mass of muscle beneath it. The hollowed eye beneath it swallowed by the newly formed hole. It roars, awful and loud but staggers when it stands.

Its not dead yet, but wounded considerably. It doesn't run at them, its head waving back and forth in a way that suggests that its too dazed to move. Thats all they need to know its safe to bolt.

"We almost died." Sam barks, laughing wildly as they dash from the morgue. Covered in gunk and goo. She hasn't stopped yet to take a proper breath, the memory of being cased in by the drawer giving her a case of post-panic wheezing. God, why the hell had she chosen to stuff herself in a drawer. "Shut up." Jena doesn't feel quite out of the woods yet. They don't know how long it'll take for the beast to get itself back together. Until then, she's content to push past her ailments until they're out of the goddamn hospital.

"We need to find somewhere to rest," Sam suggests, but Jena doesn't want to stop yet. They need to get out of there, into open air before she decides whats going to happen and where she's going to rest. "I'm not waiting for that thing to catch up with us." Jena grits her teeth, pushing past the pain. A runners stitch lancing her left side the longer they stay in motion.

"Fine by me," Sam agree's whole heartedly, despite being less than thrilled about being in the open again. That little trick they pulled down in the morgue is the exact kind of shit that would get them killed outside. There are no metal shelves for the monsters to crack their skulls on out here. They'd have to rely on themselves alone. They move in relative silence from then on. Jena lets Sam take the lead, the other seeming to know the hospitals layout better. It doesn't take them long to find the emergency exit, but they do move slower with both of them injured and winded.

Once Jena is out in the open, capable of filling her lungs with fresh air she lets go of her tension. Relaxing against the wall, boneless as she slides to the ground. Looking skyward, without the barrier of a window for the first time in a long, long while. Sam looks on worriedly, checking their surrounding frequently. As if at any moment somethings going to come charging out from the shadows to tear them to pieces. She doesn't blame Jena for wanting to enjoy the moment but this isn't the time to get all sentimental. Whether Jena is coming with her or not, Sam has to move. She wants to get back home where she can gather supplies and figure out where to go from there.

And, she really needs a place to break the hell down without the constant fear of being stalked like prey.

"Jena," Sam nudges the other with her shoe. Feeling like an asshole already. "Jena I'm going home."


"Home?" Jena repeats, a little lost. She moves her gaze from the sky to Sam, a bit overwhelmed at the sudden overload.

"Yeah." Sam feels more nervous than anything now. Paranoia wedged deep in her spine as she twists and turns to look all around her. She wants to safety of four walls and a bed. She wants to curl beneath her comforter and forget this exists, if only for a few hours while she sorts out the fact that Marcus is dead, and she's suddenly become the hero of some strange girl.

"Home." Jena says again, like the word is so foreign she can't even wrap her head around the meaning. She's out of her depth here, and Sam seems to have adopted the personality of a feral cat. She climbs back to her feet, a little shaky but otherwise whole. She doesn't know if Sam is implying that Jena is welcome to join her or not. The edge in her tone is enough to assume otherwise but after all this time she'd hate to die on the side of the road.

"Um - ""I don't mind, if you...wanna come with me?" Jena frowns at how unsure Sam sounds. But, she can understand really. The fear that comes with bringing a stranger into your house is a general one, something everyone can understand. Bring monsters, and the fall of society itself into the equation and it suddenly turns from good natured reservation to full blown paranoia. Jena has nowhere else to go though. She's sure that her home is gone. Her mother would never have survived something like this on her own.

"Are you sure?" Jena doesn't want to impose, even though, yeah, she really, really does. Sam is nice in a prickly way and for the first time in a long time Jena doesn't have to rely on herself. She wants to believe that Sam is the answer to her problems. If only so that there is someone else for her to shoulder the guilt with in the end.

"Yeah," No. Sam isn't sure but she isn't going to turn her away. Theres so few people left in this world that she doesn't want to contribute to the death toll. Besides, after all the fucking work getting her out, Jena better survive this. If that means brushing the crippling fear of dying away for just a moment then so be it. She can suffer through the socialization.

"I have some bandages and shit there, get you cleaned up and looking human again." God knows they both need it.


"Hopefully some painkillers too?" Jena grins. Sam returns it twofold.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jena Gutierrez Character Portrait: Samantha Lorrain

0.00 INK

#, as written by J.D.
Samantha Lorraine
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Sleeping Giants
"We'll be okay."



Two Weeks Later


Days bleed tragedy across the world. A cycle ever turning - Sam rarely turns the radio on anymore. Theres nothing but static and the random news casts still running after two weeks of mayhem. She hates hearing about the ongoing war and deaths. Body counts rising day by day and barely any new information on the creatures themselves. Sometimes, she'll catch the tail end of an informational speech regarding the safe zones set up around the cities and country lands. She thinks its stupid to gather so many people in one place.

Its hard enough to keep supplies for two let alone a dozen or more.

But what does she know? She hasn't stepped foot outside her ramshackle little house since she brought Jena back from the hospital.The other is doing remarkably well, all things considered. Sam's found herself almost lulled by the cheerful demeanor and if not for her own cynicism would have had no issue playing along. Both of their injuries have healed, though some not fully the bruises have faded and the superficial cuts mostly gone. Jena seems undeterred by having spent days starving - she makes up for the food now by eating more than Sam on a regular basis.

Their concept of time has improved somewhat and lately the only threats to their safety have come on the tail end of military caravans chasing 'packs' (thats what they're calling large groups of the creatures) across the borders. Its only been two weeks, and nobody in their right mind would get excited about that but two weeks without any close calls is a hell of a lot longer than most people get to boast about these days.

Sam toys with the idea of joining the call to arms. Joining the citizens army is a suicide mission at best, but theres no better way to get a steady supply of food, clean water, and weapons of mass destruction. Jena won't hear it though. The attachment is almost appalling, if Sam didn't half expect early childhood trauma to be half the reason Jena acts the way she does she would be more annoyed. Two weeks might make them friends, but that doesn't mean Sam's going to let Jena make anything more of that. She can't let her make anything more of it.

From inside the house she can see Jena out on the porch, head against the windowpane and legs swinging back and forth beneath her. The heatwave is causing disgusting things to happen to the both of them, the smell alone putrid enough that Sam's glad for the well water for once in her life - at least they can boil and wash themselves with that every once in a while. She can only imagine that Jena is turning into a mental puddle of goo being outside, letting the sun beat down on her still too pale skin. Sam pretends she isn't ogling by returning to the task in hand - dishes.

There aren't many, they don't have cooked meals often enough for any piles to have stacked up. But every once in a while it feels better to lay out stale bread and canned peaches on a plate, just to pretend that its anywhere close to a regular dinner. She tries to ignore the fact that the water is leftover from dishes three days ago. They can't afford to waste anything. Hopefully neither of them contract brain eating amoebas.

It becomes twice as hard not to stare when Jena starts humming loudly enough to be heard through the glass. It isn't a tune she knows, and its discordant melody likely belongs only to a song within Jena's own head. Sam is creeped out by it more than she should be. Something about it, the noises Jena makes to create the tune, its all very unreal. Disruptive even. Especially when she starts humming at fuck-o'clock in the morning. Thats when it starts to border on making Sam extremely paranoid.




"This is a shit plan." Jena isn't happy, in fact she's so beyond angry that she feels entirely too calm. She doesn't get this way often, it isn't a trait that exists in her memory banks. But, it feels natural to hate and disagree with this plan entirely. Sam just huffs, impatiently planting her hands on her hips. She wants to argue but, well, it is a shit plan. But Jena doesn't need to say anything about it when its Sam who has been getting her ass out of trouble since the second they met.

"Then don't come with me," Sam remarks, her own temper flaring in comparison. Crisper than Jena's half flame, burning much brighter in the shadows of the buildings they stick close to. Jena makes a sound of disgust in reply, its a little late to turn back now. Sam takes that as agreement as she wades through a car graveyard and out into an oddly busy street.

Despite all thats happened it isn't strange to see people. Its more disconcerting to wonder whether they're actually people or creatures in disguise. Besides, humans can be monsters all the same. She keeps a weary eye on them, knowing that their scars are a shining beacon of weakness in this dismal place. Jena being even worse off could easily be snatched right off the street. They're both in actual danger of being mugged.

But everyone kept their eyes averted or sky cast as they passed by. As if fearing an altercation with two young woman half their height with about 220 lbs to share between them, if even that. An old man laying in the shadow of an abandoned Lincoln watches them with blind eyes as they pass. His gaze sliding over their direction, incapable of pinpointing them. It freaks Sam out enough to interlock her hand with Jenas and pull her closer.

God only knows the depravity of survivors.

"We're being followed." Jena contemplates how or why she can pinpoint this exactly. Blames it on the heightened awareness that adrenaline affords her but also on the edge of paranoia that Sam's rubbed off on her these past few weeks. Sam turns her head, casually as she can. Checking their surroundings isn't odd behavior here but she doesn't want to give off any indication of panic.

"I don't see anyone." Sam shrugs, but that doesn't mean anything. Its a busy street, and both of them are high on anticipation. Ready for the other shoe to drop at any minute. "But let's cut down some side roads anyway." She doesn't like being on the main street, even if it is the quickest path to the nearest trade station.

It becomes abundantly clear the moment they start down the quieter, less occupied streets that, yes, they are being followed. Soft footfalls echo theirs, not too far behind but not close enough that Sam or Jena can get a good look. Whoever it is, they aren't afraid of being heard. Theres plenty of noise, from breathing to shoe scuffing.

"Aren't we going to do anything about it?" Jena herself doesn't want to get in a fight, but two on one is better than someone stabbing them in the back. Or worse yet, trapping them in a corner.

"No." Sam replies, striding further ahead. Theres a strained pinch to her eyes, but otherwise her stress is mostly manifesting in the cold sweat sliding down her neck. Good god, why does everything have to be so anxiety inducing in the apocalypse. The footsteps get closer with every turn they take. Sam is mentally calculating what roads they could dodge down to slow their pursuer. But chances are this person knows the streets just as well as she does.

She sighs, physically burdened by the thought of confronting someone but theres really nothing else to do. They're at an impasse, either the person's going to come after then or trail them all the way to the trade station - and possibly even all the way home after that. Sam won't stand for it.

They stop in the middle of the side street, Sam still with her fingers tightened around Jenas. Theres an undercurrent of fear there, like if she looks away for too long Jena's going to wander off or get snatched up like a child - Sam hates herself for it. More than she could ever try and hate Jena.

"Christ." Jena says, in a way that she's creepily adopted from Sam. A lot of her mannerisms and speech in fact have molded around Sam. She doesn't know if thats a good or bad thing. What matters really is that their follower is peeking from behind the shadow of a trashcan. Too small and frail to be anything but a little kid. Face smudged with dirt and eyes ringed with the kind of dark circles she'd expect from an overworked college student and not a little boy.

Sam isn't in the habit of adopting strays. No fucking way. And yet she still picked up Jena, and now she can't physically stop herself from crouching down to the kids level. far enough away that she won't startle the poor thing. He looks feral, teeth bared. And that - well, thats when Sam realizes that he's not human. Because kids are a lot of things, but they don't usually have rows of sharp teeth and claws to boot.

Jena shares a look with Sam that can only be described as bewilderment. It hasn't attacked them yet, but at the same time it has been following them. So maybe it has plans to - but then again, she'd never seen one do anything but kill on sight. Its disconcerting, and scary as hell.

"Should we be running?" Jena gnaws her lower lip. "Or, I dunno, killing it..." She really, really doesn't think she could.
Sam doesn't either, because lets face it. Even with claws and fangs it looks like a child, and its body is still human enough that it could almost pass for normal. She's curious why its following them, and she's almost afraid to know how it possibly managed to take on a child form.

Well, mostly curious. Until its fangs and teeth slide back into skin and gum, suddenly looking a dozen times more human, before turning tail and fleeing in the other direction. Sam gets the distinct feeling they haven't seen the last of it; no, this was just re-con. They'd have to be more careful from then on out, cover their tracks better.

"Lets just get to the Trade Station," Maybe hot gossip will be spreading around there about the freaky new addition to the creatures ranks. She didn't imagine children's bodies would make good disguises - and yet it makes perfect sense all the same.




The Trade Stations were first set up less than a week ago but the idea is fairly simple. With stores out of commission and most people hiding out in holes in the ground theres plenty of call for some sort of social infrastructure to rise up in the ashes. A mock market and community center isn't the worst of ideas and the guards are rotated enough that nobody slacks on the job. Theres a fence built up around the perimeter, topped with the kind of barbed wire you'd see in a prison. Sam has to wonder exactly where it came from - but she doesn't actually care.

Its not safe, nothing is safe these days. But its as close as they can get to normal without having to watch their backs 24/7. Theres a vetting process at the gate. It makes Sam nervous but she isn't the only one if anything can be told my how hard Jena clenches her hand.

Nothing like holding open your mouth while some guy prods around with an orange stick and a flash light. Sam blinks against the temporary blind spot in her eye caused by the significantly too bright flashlight being shined in it, and finally, when they deem that she's not suddenly going to sprout claws they let her pass. She waits for Jena, determined to keep sight of her until the both of them are through the gate. Theres a smaller barricade set up along the perimeter, but its far less intensive.

The plaza is set up like a market square, with vendors balancing goods wherever they can, on stands, in their arms, on the ground. Money isn't the only thing passing hands here. Illegality aside, theres plenty of trade and barter for normal things as well. Jena, for the most part tries not to be too blatant with her staring. She hasn't seen this many people gathered in one place in a long time. It makes her a little claustrophobic. She tugs her hand away from Sam, she wants to explore.

"I wanna check it out, we can meet in the Station later." And just like that, Jena is off faster than Sam can start forming a way to say that its a bad idea to split up. Even in a crowd thats made up of mostly people who just want to get by peacefully.


All annoyance aside this makes it easier for Sam in the long run, she has people to find and things to barter.




A half hour in has Sam feeling shaky with nerves. Theres no news on the creatures and only a faint hint of gossip circulating about the latest Military run-offs. Raids have been happening more and more, and some people are scared shitless that the tentative community they built here won't last. Sam doesn't have the heart to say anything aloud, but this is the kind of thing that won't work in the long run. Its nice for now, but sooner or later someone will slip up and shit will get messy. A week is a generous amount of time for someone to get complacent.

But thats an issue for another day. Her current one lays in food, water purifying tablets, and goddamn Adam Lowendes. Among the people that Sam really doesn't want to see its Adam, but its funny how shit works out these days. Hell, she wouldn't even be seeking the nut case out if she hadn't heard his voice on the radio that morning. Broadcasting the shit out of what the northern states currently look like.

Sam's family is up there, and whether or not they are alive she thinks its still a good idea to check out the option of going there. Dragging Jena along doesn't sound half bad either. Knowing her own shit luck she'd get killed on the road. Then what would her curiously naive companion do. But she needs to know whats its like up North first, right from the horses mouth.


Of course, Adam is set up in the inner Station, the actual namesake of this odd hub. There are dozens of train stations, interconnecting across the city. And most of them have been taken up as refuge for the vagrants. But this one has been cleaned up, resembling a camping grounds more so than anything. She sifts through the sleeping bags, tents, and oddly placed burning barrels - yikes, fire hazards everywhere - and towards what used to be the ticket booths.

Theres a man in his late forties, sporting a nasty facial scar manning the booth. He only looks mildly perturbed as she approaches. she doesn't miss the way his eyes sweep over her. She's gotten used to it by now.

"I'm looking for the guy who was doing broadcasts this morning," Sam, out of courtesy and a little bit as payment as well slips a bag of dehydrated apricots on the counter. Better than peaches at least. The man grumbles but grabs the bag, seemingly satisfied.

"That asshole is camped out on the tracks - good luck with that one, he's a smarmy fuck." Lord does she already know it. But she wouldn't be resorting to this if she had any other option to go on. Besides, Adams a stupid asshole but he never intentionally pissed her off in this life or the last. Situational perspective dictates that she has to at least give him the benefit of the doubt.





Adams more of a sorry sight than she remembers, disheveled and wearing rags that he would have previously rather of died than be seen in. His hair has grown a bit, its greasy shine reminding her of the fact that she hasn't had a brother cleansing in a few days now. And he actually managed to grow scruff, impressive. It didn't subtract from the ridiculously smug grin, nor the way he held himself high as if enough confidence would make him seem more important than he is.

That would have worked once upon a time, back when they were still freshman and lacking proper world views. Now, he's more than pathetic. Sam almost feels for him. But she knows him.

"You look pathetic." Sam says, watching his gaze swing up to hers. His hands stop fiddling with the device in his hands - a walkie talkie - and gives her a long look twice over before breaking into a grin. "Fuck, I could say the same about you Sammy Bird." God, she hates hearing that nickname in his mouth.

"Didn't think I'd ever see a familiar face," He says, his full attention on her now, "So what brings you to the Station?" He continues, placing a hand beneath his chin as he motions with the other to the free milk crates stacked up to his left. Clearly intending her to sit, and she begrudgingly does so. Best not to let him see too much annoyance though, he feeds off it like a shark in chummed waters.

"You," Sam bites out, not willing to beat around the bush. Not with him at least. "I need information on the North."

Adams only tell is the way his jaw ticks, but she could easily see his sudden disinterest as he returned to the Walkie Talkie. "Everyones dead up there, most places got bombed - the ones that didn't were swarmed..." His jaw ticks again, he's leaving something out. But she doesn't think she should press it. Not yet.

"And?" Sam presses, biting her lip anxiously. Her lips are already ragged and torn from being dry but the pain doesn't stop her from doing so. Adam briefly glances her way with a scowl. "Nobody is alive out there." He hurls the words at her, worse than any insult. "Not even the fucking monsters."

Hearing it face to face doesn't hurt any less than hearing it on the radio. Sam should have known better, there is no lie in the shake to Adams voice. The emotion there that she shares because god damn it all, they both had family up North. Even if Sam doesn't like Adam they still spent four years in the same damn school together. That has to count for something even if its only a mutually beneficial cry fest together.

Then again, he is omitting something.

"Everyone?" She presses, leaning forward ever so slightly to crowd his space. If he's uncomfortable at all he doesn't mention it, by word or by body. Seemingly realizing that he's going to get nowhere with beating around the bush - Sam always has been a persistent person, long before there was a reason for it - he begins to tell her everything he knows for certain about the Northern states.

Sam felt sick by the end of it, but somewhere in the pit of her stomach that sickness coiled tight around a sliver of hope. Despite the trouble that awaits her, she knows without a doubt that they have to go. Get themselves out of here before this city is burned to the ground beneath the militants feet, and most importantly. Find the secret that Adam spoke to her about with clenched teeth - but first; Jena.

She doesn't know how much time has passed, whether its been minutes or hours. It makes a nervous tingle crawl up her spine, anxiety digging in with its nasty claws. Sam hadn't realized how dependent she'd become on Jena these past two weeks, wrapped up in her own survival and the vehement denial of fondness for the other that continued to rage against her skull each day.

Whatever the case Jena isn't here yet, and thats an issue.

One that she hopes doesn't mean trouble - its supposed to be safe here but that meant nothing to Sam.

Nothing could ever be safe in this world.