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6 posts · 2 characters present · last post 2016-12-21 03:45:56 »

Samantha Lorraine
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.

USA Owner: J.D.