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Annabelle Marie Richards

"I'm not the type of person who survives something like this."

0 · 311 views · located in Post-Apocalyptic America

a character in “Bullets and Brains”, as played by krashby

Description

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"I'm not the type of person who survives things like this... and I know everyone knows it."




The Basics




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Full Name: Annabelle Marie Richards

Nicknames: Anna

Gender: Female

Age: 20

Ethnicity/Race: Caucasian (mostly German and Dutch)

Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual

Prior Occupation: Full-Time Student

Current Occupation: Scavenger




What's on the Outside




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Hair Color: Blonde

Eye Color: Blue

Height: 5'3"

Weight: 130lb

Tattoos and Piercings:
She has a small owl tattoo on her ankle, which she got for her 18th birthday, and a heart on her wrist that she got in honor of her third year anniversary with her boyfriend. She has one regular piercing in each ear and no others.

Scars:
She has a deep scar on her right elbow from a childhood fall.

Character Color: #5c1873

Description:
Anna has always been a "pretty girl". She knows it, those around her know it, and for much of her life she exhausted great effort into maintaining her looks. In a word, she was vain. Her hair is a long, natural blonde which falls down in soft waves when styled. Her most notable feature is her eyes, which are large on her face and a striking crystal blue. She often arranged her makeup and the colors of her clothes carefully as to best flatter and bring out her eyes. She is slightly shorter than average with a small, slim frame. Her legs are strong with lean muscles from both running on her high school track team and jogging as a hobby. She is hourglass shaped with a small waist and wide hips. Her hands are delicate and soft, having been well cared and manicured for years. She has fought with a minor acne problem with a variety of expensive skin care products, and any imperfection that did pop through was immediately covered with makeup.

Since the start of the apocalypse, pressing matters of survival have forced appearance down to the bottom of Anna's priorities. Her hair, which before had been carefully curled and pinned every day, is now most often tied back into a messy bun or ponytail. Heels have been exchanged for a pair of running shoes, and dresses have been exchanged for t-shirts and jeans. A small line of pimples have begun to form along her jaw line. From her work in the group, callouses and painful blisters are forming on her hands and dirt is often embedded under her chipped fingernails.




What's on the Inside




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Personality:
{Compassionate , Naive, Unsure, Ignorant, Pretender}
Anna has spent her entire life trying to fit into a box. The way she looked, pressure from her family, and her desire to fit in and be accepted by others set an image of who she was expected to be. Everything she did, from the way she dressed to the magazines she read, was an effort to fit that image. On the outside, she was bubbly and sociable and fun to be around. She mastered the art of faking a smile at every right moment, of always making a joke that was sure to make everyone laugh but never speaking so much that she became annoying, and of hiding every short-coming in her personality behind the ruse of a pretty giggling blonde. In short, she became a master at playing pretend.

Now everything she knew and everyone she was trying to impress is gone, and Anna has been thrown into a situation in which she is forced to realize she does not know who she is. She grew up in a pampered, sheltered lifestyle that has made her naive to the harsh realities of the world. Her biggest virtue is her compassion, valuing all people and living things. However, she is ignorant and finds it challenging to understand people different than what she is used to and the struggles faced by those less privileged than her. She is a follower, not a leader, and is perfectly content to have others running the group.

Hobbies:
Playing guitar/ Singing/ Listening to music/ Jogging

Habits:
Constantly messing with her hair, touching it, twirling it, particularly when she's nervous
Chewing on the inside of her cheek
Has to have something to do with her hands and rarely keeps them still

Oddities:
She is allergic to shellfish and soy, but her reactions are minor and manageable. Also, her doctors believe that she was born without an appendix.

Likes/Loves:
Music, particularly guitar playing which is her passion/ Funnel cakes/ Being kissed on the neck/ Watching sappy chick flicks in pajamas/ The rain

Dislikes/Hates
Being rejected or feeling as though she doesn't belong/ Pain, for which she has a low tolerance/ Arguments between people she knows/ Snakes



[center][font=Bell MT]What Makes Us Special




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Strengths and Weaknesses


Character Skills/Talents:
She is young and healthy with a history of athletics. She is a particularity fast runner and has no issues keeping up with the group.
Surprisingly, she's not too bad with a gun. She sometimes went with her father to the shooting range and has decent aim. The question is whether she's able to use one on something living.
Playing guitar and singing


Character Flaws/Weaknesses:
[*]One month ago, right before the apocalypse began, Anna discovered she was pregnant. She's kept it a secret from the group in fear that they will deem her a liability and make her leave.
[*]Her previous lifestyle has made her unaccustomed to this level of struggle and hardship. She has found it difficult to adapt and accept the new reality of the world she's living in.
[*]She often allows her emotions to get the best of her when faced with difficult decisions.[/center]

Secrets:
Her pregnancy
At 13 she had an experimental relationship with another girl.

Fears/Phobias:
That the group will discover her pregnancy and kick her out
Rejection[/font]
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What's Done Is Done




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Biography

Place Of Origin: San Francisco, California

Birth Date: August 23,

History:
Annabelle Richards grew up in a well off family. She was raised in a beach house on the coast, and as the only child of two successful doctors was ensured that she would never want for anything. Her parents loved her dearly, but they were script, holding her to high expectations of achievement. As much as they loved her, they did not love each other. Try as they might to keep their issues a secret from their daughter, Anna could remember waking up at night to hear them screaming at each other in the other side of the house. When Anna was 13, her mother filed for divorce. From then on she was shipped back and forth between the two, splitting holidays and weekends. In anything she became even more spoiled from the divorce, each parent fighting to gain her favor, but she would have returned every gift with no hesitation to just see her parents happy again. Eventually her mother remarried and had a son.

Anna was the stereotypically pretty popular girl throughout high school. On the outside anyways. As confident as she made herself out to be, inside she felt uncomfortable in her own skin and always frightened that everyone would see right through her. She found her solitude in music. Any free time she had was spent with her guitar, and with the music all of the lies and pretending washed away, and she could finally be herself. If only for a moment. Music became her passion, and when she was 15 she told her parents she wanted to be a professional musician. Naturally they protested, persisting that she pursue a more practical path. For the first time Anna stood up for herself and refused to yield. After graduating high school she left to study music at university.

Anna was at her freshman orientation when she met Daniel. He was her group’s guide, and the connection between them was instant. They exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up as soon as she was enrolled. Never before had Anna felt so natural and comfortable with someone. He made her feel as though she didn’t have to hide anymore, and for that she fell in love with him. They stayed together for three years and agreed to marry as soon as she was graduated. A month ago Anna began to feel sick and discovered she was pregnant. She had little time to register the news. That night Daniel came lumbering into her dorm room with a strange bite mark on his hand. “Run,” he had muttered to her, and then she had been forced to watch in terror as he transformed before her eyes.

She barely survived the first day. Looking back, she can’t even remember how she did. By the time she met up with the group, she had nearly lost all hope. She knows she’s weak and unprepared for survival, and every day she lives in fear of the day that the group realizes that she’s nothing more than a liability and leaves her behind. She stands no chance on her own.

Family Tree
Father: Cliford Richards, 52, unknown.
Mother: Marie Bell, 50, unknown.
Half-Brother: Markus Bell, 12, unknown.
Boyfriend: Daniel Morris, 22, Deceased.


Happiest Memory:
Anna’s happiest memory is the night when she first slept with her boyfriend. It isn’t the sex itself that she remembers, but the moment afterwards when they simply lay together in each other’s arms. There she was, naked and exposed, body and mind for him to see. It was the first time in her life she allowed someone to truly see her. It was also the moment when she first fell in love with him.

Saddest Memory:
Watching the love of her life disappear and turn into a monster.



So begins...

Annabelle Marie Richards's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Layton Bates

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#, as written by krashby
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The most unsettling part of this whole thing may have been the silence. A once bustling and lively world fallen to stillness, hushed. Should one have stood still and listen, they could almost hear the sound of their own heartbeat. Anna didn't like it. The silence set her on edge. All her life she lived in cities, raised to be comfortable with the constant cry of the car horns and the bang of gunshots in the distance. Even on the calmest nights of her childhood, there had always been the rush of water and crash of waves outside her doorstep.

This level of silence... this was unnatural. And the most unsettling part was that silence was so easily shattered.

A chilled breeze brushed past the nape of Anna's neck. The chill rolled up and off her shoulders, carrying with it wisps of blonde hair which rose into the air for a moment before falling softly, peacefully down. A shiver began at the top of her spine and traveled deliberately down, through both arms to the tips of each finger, down to her stomach, her legs, her toes. Pale skin tightened and drew goosebumps to every surface of her body. Hastily she drew her arms across her chest to pull tighter the jacket she wore. It was a faded grey, light, cheaply-made thing that did little good in keeping out the cold. But it was the only one she had. And anyways, there was nothing to be done about the chill that rested within her.

It was hard to say if anyone who had known Annabelle Richards -- in the before that is -- would be able to recognize her as she stood now. She had been praised for her beauty since, well... since as long as she could remember. But now, in the after, there hardly seemed anything remarkable in her appearance. Her skin was pale and bland, sickly almost. Even her eyes, bright blues which used to shine like light through crystal, even they seemed to have sucked in the grey and lifelessness of the world she now found herself living in. Along with her grey jacket, she wore running shoes trimmed with purple and dark jeans which hugged snugly but not uncomfortably on her legs. Her hair was pulled back in a hastily-make bun, loose strands falling down on either side of her face. A silver heart-shaped locket hung from a chain around her neck.

Leaves crunched under her shoes with every step. She followed at near the back of the group, just ahead of Aspen and Layton. In the weeks that had passed since this whole horrible thing started, Anna had not become any more accustomed to the anticipation and fear that came with wandering into the unknown. She appeared as though to have some sort of nervous tick, the way she glanced back over her shoulder every other moment. With one hand she tugged nervously at a loose wisp of hair. In the other she tightly grasped the handle of a pistol. So far, she had yet to be forced to pull the trigger, but it was only a matter of time before that changed.

"... last thing I need is someone getting bitten for a fucking pair of cute flip flops or something." She had been hardly listening as Nate spoke, but she jerked her head up at that part, her attention refocused. He wasn't looking at her, of course he wasn't, and yet... She couldn't help the suspicion that him saying that was directed at least partly at her. Maybe she was crazy, very likely in was all in her head, she was sure that was it... and yet since arriving in the group she had been unable to shake the feeling that the others saw her as a joke. But then, could she blame them if they did? The previously pampered rich girl was ill suited to the stresses of survival, and though she put in her full effort to contribute all that she was capable, she simply lacked the skills the others possessed. More often than not she felt that all she could accomplish was getting in the way.

Slowly the group began to disperse, and Anna felt a sudden twist in her gut. She placed a hand over her abdomen. She closed her eyes and stood still waiting for the moment to pass over. Oh god, not now, please not right now... It was no use. Anna sprinted suddenly from her spot, ducking behind a nearby building. A flagpole waving no flags stuck out from the ground, and she grabbed on for support as she hunched over and heaved. With a sickening splash the contents of her meager breakfast spilled out onto the grass below her. When it was done, she closed her eyes, desperately attempting to spit the horrid taste from her lips. "Look," she whispered under her breath. "Baby, fetus, whatever you are right now... If this thing is going to work out between us, you can't do that so much. At least wait until other people aren't around."

Finally she straightened back up, sighing. Just look at me, she thought bitterly. I'm trying to reason with a fetus. Jesus...

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Layton Bates Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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Tugging her threadbare jacket close Kat knew that one of the things she’d be on the lookout for would be a coat to guard against the coming cold. The days seemed to be flying by now that winter was on the way and Kat didn’t seem to find the chill in the air particularly bracing. Give her tropical breezes and warm sunshine any day of the week. The idea of an island vacation made the twenty-nine year old smile dreamily. She could see it now; she’d finally get a tan and drink something blue with an umbrella in it while sitting on white sand.

Startled back to the reality of their situation by Nate’s declaration she shook her head wryly. “Flip flops, really? Now a good pair of boots, that would be a whole different story.” Kat couldn’t help but tease as she listened to Nate’s orders. Of course she’d do as she was told, at least for the most part. While Kat might possess a smart mouth she still preferred surviving to anything else and the second in command was usually right more than he was wrong. Lifting a hand to check the revolver at her waist she moved to grab the hunting knife she always carried.

Watching Aspen and Layton pair up and set off Kat girded her loins and followed Nate, Milo and the good doctor into the supermarket, assuming that Annabelle wouldn’t be too far behind. The smell in the abandoned market was nearly more than Kat could bear; the rotting meat and produce were nearly gag inducing. The thin brunette remained silent as she trailed behind the group, her gaze lingering on torn magazines with headlines that no longer mattered and celebrities who were in all likelihood dead. It was surreal and the urge to giggle was quickly suppressed by the presence of a horde of zombies.

Kat, taken over by adrenaline, grabbed her revolver and prepared to defend herself from the onslaught of the dead. There were at present count only the four of them and while Milo was a badass he was still a kid. The odds didn't seem to be in their favor but Kat was a reasonably good shot thanks to her father, a surge of confidence flooded her mind as she steadied herself and prepared for the worse. “So have we decided if this is going to be a fight or a flight situation?” Kat asked, her voice low and raspy as she aimed her revolver at the horde.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Michael Fairaday Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Layton Bates Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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Michael:

Michael was unsure about how the groups split. Two people seemed to immediately disregard it, and Nate had for some reason or another chosen to bring Milo with him. Michael was very cautious and very concerned for the younger members of the group, same as Robyn. And he was fairly certain they shared a special worry regarding Milo. The boy could barely speak without causing himself intense pain. Granted, he seemed good with a pistol or a hunting rifle, but he was still worried about sending a boy so young out on these trips.

Of course, if they didn't, he would just sneak off on his own. Milo hated be treated like a kid, even though he was one. Michael just wanted to keep him safe, a residual influence of what he did in the NYPD. Saving people. And he had...concerns...about Nate. He was worried he might be abusive, or a pedophile. Michael couldn't help it, the NYPD and his High School had taught him to constantly be aware of dangers.

However, he knew he couldn't talk Milo out of it. He hated being babied, and as far as he knew, Nate babied no one. That, and he had to admit Milo has certain skills. He seemed like he was the only one, or at least the best, at sneaking past zombies. He didn't have NYPD weapons training though.

Hoping Milo would be safe with Nate, he turned his attention to the rest of the group. He noticed Annabelle running off behind a building. He decided to follow her, and make sure she was okay. When he caught up to her, he noticed a pile of puke nearby. 'Are you okay? You are not sick right? I could walk you back if you are" he said, asking with his usual kind and polite voice.

In truth though, he knew he felt worse. He had a nightmare last night, about his fiancée, and his unborn son. Perhaps that is why he was so protective of Milo. But then again, Michael cared about anyone he believed to be innocent or a part of their group. Didn't matter how useful they are, all life is precious in his eyes. "you going to get sick again?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Michael Fairaday Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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The quiet was eerie. Without realizing it, one grows very used to the sounds of the hustle and bustle that is bound to be produced by cities during everyday monotony. The sounds of cars, engines revving and horns honking, and the presence of others. Distant laughing, shouts, or talking just gets tuned out after so long of just living life, just white noise that no one really notices. But, now, when it's completely absent, one starts to miss it. Even nature seemed to have lulled itself into a quiet state from the shift of the norm, the trees no longer sounding as loud as swift breezes blew through their branches and the birds didn't sing their songs with the same vigor as before. At least, that was how it felt to Cyan. Like the world was slowly walling itself away, receding into a dormant state. The only sound he could hear now was sneaker soles scraping against the pavement.

Cyan kept himself near the front of the group's small herd. Tucking himself in the interior, just behind their temporary leader, Nathan, and little Milo, but in front of the good doctor and Kat. With his shoulders hunched up to his ears, the hood's drawstrings pulled taunt, and his arms pulled inside his hoodie's bulk, Cyan looked a bit odd as he kept pace with the rest. The mute looked odd most of the time, both lanky and pale, without much substance to his body at all, and generally looking like a bully's prime target, but he had a real reason as of now.

He hated the cold with a -- Ahem -- fiery passion. If the weather so far as dipped anywhere below 70 degrees, he was absolutely miserable. The teen cursed himself for not staying back at 'Home' with their true, yet unofficial, leader and the others, where he could of at least cocooned himself in blankets as he worked. But, alas, he guessed he was a tad more useful out here than back at base, more eyes to look for supplies and more hands to carry it. His own miserable state was no excuse for being lazy.

With his head in the clouds, Cyan heard nothing of the orders barked at them from Nathan, nor the witty but rather unnecessary comment about cute flip flops. He had just continued walking along at his same pace looking at the scenery, unaware that the group was splitting itself up and going it's separate ways until reality started to seep back in, and he realized he was alone. Pausing his walk, a small burst of panic seizing in his chest, he took a moment to free his arms from his jacket, turning in slow circles to try and find a familiar face.

Being alone was dangerous for the mute. He couldn't cry out if he needed help, and he wasn't fit enough to fight off any unpleasantness that might come his way. Cyan didn't carry a gun like the rest, either. He was a terrible shot, wouldn't even be able to hit a target at point-blank range, and would do more harm than help if one was placed in his possession. So, to stop any friendly fire and avoid casualties, he steered away from firearms. The only means of protection he carried on his person was a crude bat, the head of it being a mess of two-inch nails for 'effectiveness', clipped to his belt.

Seeing a wisp of a jacket disappear into a doorway, Cyan broke into a light jog toward a large supermarket building. They must have went inside when he wasn't looking. Thank the heavens that they hadn't up and left him while he daydreamed, because then he would be in some serious trouble.

Stepping carefully over a rotting pumpkin that held the sliding doors ajar, he nearly knocked into Adam as the doctor recoiled. Pursing his lips in dismay, Cyan moved out from behind the other man, not wanting to get pushed back into the moldy holiday decor. The room was dark, and the teen found himself squinting to try and make anything out.. There were only a few (And rather weak) light sources. One being the door Cyan had just entered from, and the other being the flashlight crudely duct-taped to Nathan's rifle. Following the beam of light with his eyes, and the tense muttering of his group mates, he, too, spotted the horde. The teen sucked in a breath through his teeth, eyes blown wide in fear. Cyan's hand dropped down to his belt, fumbling blindly to unhook his bat, not being able to tear his gaze away. Whatever may happen next was most likely not going to be pretty.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Michael Fairaday Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards

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#, as written by krashby
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The crunch of leaves warned Anna of a presence behind her. Member of the group or one of the undead, she could not be certain. What she did know is that she had been foolish to go off alone from the group. She spun herself on the spot, raising her pistol to meet the level of whatever had followed her.

It was only Michael. Hastily she lowered the gun back to her side. Relief washed over, and she let out a breath she didn't even know she was holding. "Sorry," she mumbled, eyes fluttering uncertainly between him and the ground. "I didn't know if you were one of those... things." Though if it had been a zombie, she was unsure of whether she would have actually pulled the trigger. Perhaps she would have simply frozen in place, the way she had when she saw Daniel that final time. Those warm brown eyes she knew by heart widen in panic and fear as he screamed at her to flee, that look of utter terror forever etched in Anna's memory, and still she had not moved. Only after he had become transformed into something less than human right before her eyes had she ran.

She shivered, shaking the memory away as she pulled her jacket tighter around her. Little good that did. "I'm fine," she replied, avoiding looking Michael in the eye, least he see through her. Michael, now, Anna saw him as a survivor. He had that kind of look in his eyes. A former police officer, Anna thought of him as tough, enduring, good with firearms. Before realizing how kind and protective he was, she had actually been a little frightened upon meeting him. But what Anna found most remarkable about him was his attitude in this whole situation. Constantly he made the effort to pull together the moral of the group and hold them together. He made jokes, for Christ's sake. Constantly. Anna couldn't imagine how he did it. Surely he had lost someone. Everyone had lost someone, and that as well could be seen in the eyes. Anna certainly hadn't been cracking any jokes since losing Daniel.

But than again, perhaps she just wasn't that kind of person. Perhaps she wasn't as strong.

"I think something I ate disagreed with me," she continued. She twirled a piece of hair between her fingers. "That's all, really. I don't need you to take me back; that would only waste two pairs of hands." A pause. "Thank you, though." She looked around the side of the building. Mostly everyone had scattered, disappearing into this building or that for supplies. She felt a sudden rush of gratitude for Michael for lingering behind and ensuring that Anna wasn't left alone. "We don't have much time. Let's search together." Confidence growing, if only a little bit, she lifted her head to finally make eye contact. "I know that Nate said food and medicine are most important, and they are, but I was thinking about clothes. Coats and jackets, I mean," she added quickly in fear of judgement. "If we have the chance. We're never going to make the winter with what we have."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Michael Fairaday Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Layton Bates Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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#, as written by Felilla
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There was something about the silence that Layton Bates found disturbing. He had lived in the city his entire life, so he was accustomed to the bustle of everyday life. It felt strange to be in a world where everything was an eerie silence. Well, not completely silent. He could hear the scuff of people's shoes against the pavement and if he tried hard enough, he could hear the breathing of the others. Layton adjusted his brown coat, wishing for something a bit warmer. He could remember better days, when all of this was some delusional theory he had thought up. He never imagined he'd be living it. Aspen let out a silent sigh next to him. She had changed drastically in the past month, but then again everyone had. When things were simpler, Layton would tease his sister for wearing so much makeup. It was odd seeing her without anything but the occasional dirt smudge on her pale face. Layton could feel a stubble on his chin. The other males in the group had long since given up shaving, but it was a small comfort for the teenager.

He hiked his old backpack up, the one he had kept since the beginning of this entire thing. It was almost empty, save for a granola bar or two ad his dad's wrench, so he knew he'd have to fill it up to the brim. He only had to hope that wherever Aspen decided they were going would still have food and medicine, as well as some gum. It was his sister's routine to go to simple places like gas stations and small, family owned stores before hitting the houses. She, unlike the others in the group, would avoid grocery stores (or any large store for that matter). She had told him about her theory, and he was kind of starting to believe her. He ran a hand through his brown hair as Nathan barked out orders. Layton was kind of glad he decided to not join the military. He hated being told what to do.

Aspen glanced over at him and he nodded back. It was not unlike the two of them to have some unspoken communication. They were closer than most siblings, even before the outbreak. The past month had bonded them closer together than Layton thought possible. He figured if they could live through escaping New York City, they could live through this winter. Secretly, he wished they could've brought a car. It would be so much easier to carry things, stuff as much as possible into the vehicle then drive away. That way, they could get warmer clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, whatever was needed to survive a harsh winter without the comfort of indoor heating. However, he also knew that cars were too loud. They would attract zombies left and right if they brought one.

The Bates siblings separated from the rest of the group. They had survived two weeks on their own, they knew what to look for. Aspen swung her rifle onto her shoulder. In the past month, layton had also noticed that she was getting very comfortable with weapons. She was a hunter, but she had always seemed reluctant about holding a gun. "Look for ammunition, too. We'll check the gas station first. Zombies seem to avoid them."

It was like Aspen to notice things that others seemed to disregard. She probably had some theory about why zombies avoided gas stations too, but she never really talked about her theories unless she was sure they were true. Layton walked backwards as his sister walked normally. The two of them had become comfortable with doing things like this. A zombie could easily sneak up on you, so could a trigger happy human. Their boxer pup Lila Belle walked between them, treading almost silently. When they approached the gas station, Layton swung his flashlight around. He didn't see anything, so he nodded to Aspen. The two of them entered the abandoned building as their dog waited outside. Aspen ducked behind the counter to looked for medicine while Layton started moving through the aisles.

He started by finding some toilet paper before getting any canned foods. The gas station must not have been very popular when the world was normal, because most of the stuff was still in place. He left the refrigerated aisles alone, knowing that anything in them would've already gone bad. Honestly, he would kill a man for a bowl of ice cream. When his bag was almost full, he made his way over to Aspen, meaning to ask if they were checking out the houses next. He bent over the counter, nearly giving her a heart attack. "Don't do that! Find anything good?" she stood up, grabbing baby wipes and hand sanitizer off the counter.

"Course I did. Do expect me to not find anything?"

Aspen rolled her eyes as she did a look over. "Let's move."

"Where we going next?"

The older Bates sibling looked at her watch, "It's already been fifteen minutes. We should probably head back."

Layton nodded and the two of them left the gas station.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Michael Fairaday Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Layton Bates Character Portrait: Elias Grant Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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|| Outfit ||
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Silence had long since befallen the world. No longer were there honking horns, laughing children, or large planes zooming above head. There were often dying and fearful screams here or there, mingled with the sounds of Mother Nature, whom had reclaimed her lands. But the most prominent, ruling, and horrifying sounds were the groans. Not the kind you hear coming from your parents' and older siblings' rooms late at night when they think you're sleeping tight, all snug as a bug. The groans of corpses, walking and rotting and looking for flesh to devour. It had been some time since the living dead (and not the sexy ones with fangs that Hollywood and lonely female writers pushed to the unwashed masses) had overtaken the world. Those that didn't join their ranks either ran or died trying. Art was one of those who ran. If it weren't for her Kela and Robyn and Nate, she figured she might have died after a month. Art was agile, flexible, strong, intuitive, and she knew how to survive in the wild. But there had been more than a situation or two where running wasn't an option and her hunting knife wouldn't have been enough to save her. Despite this, she still volunteered to go alone while some others headed in a group to ransack a ghost town (zombie town?) for supplies. Nate and Robyn, of course, insisted that she go with the group but she decided otherwise and left fifteen minutes ahead of them.

The silence around the town was not quite so...silent in her neck of the woods. As out of place as could be was the Mission Impossible theme. She was humming as she darted around, crawling under cars, twirling around corners with watchful eyes. Her Timberwolf/Husky padded playfully around with her, her tongue lolling out of her maw and dripping with saliva. To others, it may seem as neither of them took the situation seriously or simply didn't care. The fact was, she was confident. She hadn't seen signs of any hoardes and figured she'd be able to escape easily, whether she had to drop some stuff or not. Her target was not the grocery store. It was the local Dollar General. Her trusty GPS lead the way and she was quick to heft her empty backpack, tightening her grip on the straps. “Kela. No room for failure. No barking. Understand? No ladridos.” The blue and gold eyed dog gave a low snort in response. It had taken a month for her to train Kela to respond to her new commands and it was well worth it. She was the perfect companion for keeping watch, her species heightening her senses and her training and wolf blood heightening her instincts and reactions. The canine was strapped into her harness once used for farmers market trips, prepared for transporting the necessities when Art had a little red wagon.

If there was one thing that Art would absolutely not put up with, it was funk. Toothpaste, extra toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, rags, and various other toiletries were put into the bags that went into the cart before she set out to fill her own backpack, constantly sidestepping to avoid fallen merchandise with the flashlight of her phone strapped to her thigh lighting up the place. Candy was the first on her list. She needed her sugar and would not do without. She had stocked up on stuff and was headed out when she spotted a cute jacket and squealed just a bit, snatching it up quickly. She figured she might as well grab some more clothes. Winter was coming and not to mention, washing clothes had become a luxury. And poor Joshamee and Isabelle were growing like weeds. She stuffed every bit of clothing that she could into a black thirty gallon trash bag, hauling it over her shoulder and finally leaving. No signs of the undead. While her backpack wasn't quite heavy, the clothes had caused her to walk hunched with knees a bit bent; She didn't want it to tear. Sucking it up, she braved the nippy air and maneuvered her way back towards "home". It wasn't too far of a jog but she had to walk this time around.

And then she heard it.

The sound of feet dragging against grass and concrete, groaning and moaning. She wasn't even a mile away but running wasn't an option. Kela lowered her head and issued and low growl, her lips pulling back to reveal a nice set of sharp teeth. “Estable. Maniobras evasivas.” She didn't need to bring her finger to her lips to hush her pal - and she couldn't - to send the message. “Ir a Robyn,” she whispered. Kela gave a light nod of understanding as her human companion set down her black bag of clothes into the wagon before pulling out a notebook she had gotten for Cyan, writing quickly.

Clothes & stuff in big bag. Lots of hygiene products. Few games for the kids. Snacks too. Found zombies and I'm going to go check on the others. Robyn, write my story if I don't make it back. And take care of Kela. I love you guys.


P.S. Bury me in the powder blue jacket with the white faux fur lining the hood. It's fabulous.
♡Art♡


The dog took off at a careful trot down the street with perked ears, towing her wagon with her. Taking a deep breath and telling herself that everything was going to be fine, she headed off towards the sounds. There weren't many, just four. But where there were four, there were more. She only prayed that they were all in small groups and not traveling like a pack of wolves. The idea of killing them made her stomach turn and she could feel tears well up in her eyes. Don't see it as killing them. You're liberating them. If, God forbid, you were to become one of them... Would you want me to let you roam around, rotting and looking for humans to eat? Or would you want me to end your suffering? It isn't cruelty, but now the greatest kindness you can do someone.
Nate was right. Drawing out one of her bowie hunting knives, she whistled loudly and drew their attention. Moaning and groaning, they shuffled towards her and she walked towards them. Crying the whole time, she jammed her knife into each of their faces, using as much force as she could muster. Rotted flesh and blood that was almost tar covered her hand as the bodies fell. Her vomit wasn't too far behind, making the stench all the more terrible. If she lived then she would definitely down some Listerine. Painfully swallowing the disgusting aftermath, she headed out, taking more careful steps.

The others might need her help. She wasn't quite as useful as the others; She was a decent shot with a bow and arrow but she didn't have the equipment and using her knife made her vomit. She wasn't just going to abandon them though. Her creeping turned into a jog as she followed Nate's previously given directions, finding that they weren't too far away. The pumpkin wedged between the automatic doors gave away their presence and it made her heart clench. What if they were in there and dead.... Or dying. Taking a breath that tasted of vomit, she grimaced and headed in. “Olly olly oxenfree,” she whisper shouted. It didn't take her long to spot them. She maneuvered her way to Nate's side, excusing herself silently. Seeing what they were all staring at caused her to puff up her cheeks, heart dropping. “I got stuff, babe. Kela is on her way back to base now... We could run.” It was a futile attempt, she knew. She knew Nate would probably prefer to take down the zombies now.

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The cart was heavy but she was strong. She couldn't let down Art. Nose to the air, Kela trotted past vehicles with zombies trapped inside, abandoned homes, and decapitated and decaying bodies in the streets. Her wagon pulled smoothly behind her as she headed to the outskirts of town. There was no pep in her step until she saw home. A small farm house encircled by vehicles, the grounds littered with tents for those switching out for guard duty or those who simply didn't want to sleep indoors. She gave a long, low pitched howl as she stopped before taking off. She barked at Elias as she passed him but didn't stop until she reached the steps of the house. She howled and barked more, vying for Robyn's attention. Joshamee and Isabelle were the first to reach her, removing the harness and freeing her from the wagon. “Robyn! Robyn!” While Izzy had been holding the antsy canine in an attempt to calm her down, Josh had gotten Art's note and began screaming for Robyn.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Michael Fairaday Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by krashby
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Michael had not yet responded when Annabelle had the sudden feeling that something was amiss. She peered back around the side of the building. Aspen and Layton had emerged from the gas station and now headed towards the supermarket. Anna could remember many of the others going to that same place. Why had they not yet emerged? Nate had been very specific about the time restraint of this scavenger hunt, and even he was no where to be seen. Anna's stomach sank. What was happening in that supermarket?

Before she could further contemplate or investigate, a figure emerged from around the corner of the supermarket. It was too far to make up clearly or distinguish gender or age, but Anna could see the gore which covered it. One of the undead. But, no... it couldn't be. The figure was moving too quickly, and in it's hand it held some kind of club or bat. Anna's knowledge was limited, but even she knew that zombies were not nearly coordinated enough to lift objects and carry them for any amount of time. This was a human, another survivor, though not one Anna recognized.

It was well known in these days to be wary of outsiders. Outlaws and bandits were free to roam the streets, willing to kill you without so much as a bat of the eye for a granola bar. Anna had seen it herself. Worse yet, she had experienced it. Five days after Daniel's death and her narrow escape from the undead-filled university, after the whole world had gone to hell, a desperate and starved Anna had been scavenging a ransacked drug store for supplies. The search was in vain, and she stepped outside empty handed. She was immediately ambushed and seized by two thuggish men who held a knife to her throat and told her to give them everything she had. "Please," she had begged them, tears stinging her eyes. Droplets of blood had formed where the knife pressed into her skin. "I don't have anything, I have no food... good God, let me go. Please." But even after they searched her and found her to be speaking the truth, they did not leave her be. They told her to give them her jacket, her shoes, her clothes, even the locket which hung around her neck. Everything. And with the way their eyes had hung to her curves and their hands had lingered over certain areas, she feared that they truly wanted everything. And even if she gave it she knew they were going to kill her anyways.

Her savior had been, ironically, the zombies. When the men proceeded to try to force Anna's clothes off, she had let out a bloodcurdling cry of terror. The sound summoned the hoards. With the undead upon them, Anna's assailants ignored their victim as they turned to defend themselves, allowing her a moment of chaos through which she could slip away and escape. As she fled into the trees and ran, she hoped that the bastards were killed. She didn't dare look back to she if it was so.

Strangers were dangerous; few could be trusted. But even if Anna was no stronger, she at least had numbers on her side now. The group protected each other. This stranger was alone. And judging from the blood, possibly injured. Anna felt her compassion rush through her, and without saying a word to Michael, she took off suddenly to follow the stranger. They -- she, Anna realized as she come closer into view -- entered the supermarket, Anna following at a distance behind. She paled at the sounds from inside. She heard Nate's voice and shattering glass and the rush of movement and clash of chaos... and the undeniable moan of zombies. Had she been a braver person, Anna might have pulled her gun out and rushed inside to help. But instead she became frozen just outside of the doorway. The dark-haired stranger in front of her (was that blue in her hair?) did not move any further inside either.

Anna swallowed hard as she worked up for courage. She gripped the handle of her pistol firmer, just in case. The stranger was putting out a cigarette, simply watching the chaos inside. Finally Anna spoke. "Hello," she said. She had meant for her voice to be strong, unafraid, but instead it came out as little more than a mumble. She dared not raise her voice long enough to draw attention of the zombies within. "Are you okay? Are you injured?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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"In the sun, in the sun~ I stand as one, in the sun." She murmured so softly that it may have been more true to life to call it mouthing. She sighed, wondering what exactly to do next... She didn't like people not at all. They can all burn in hell for all she cared, she was on the verge of turning around when she heard a voice. "Hello?" Esther twitched away, dropping her cricket bat and tripping over her own combat boots, falling away from the girl.

She had looked like a fool, she scurried to her feat, looking the girls in the eyes disdainfully. "Are you okay? Are you injured?" She'd meant to do that. 'She's having a blast.' Esther thought for a moment. 'No, that's ridiculous... Stop.' The battles of insecurity and reason shot back and forth while her own rebuttals were particularly absent. She stared at the woman for a while, her gaze shifted from frustrated to confused before she finally spoke. "I'm fine... Wh-What do you want?" She said defensively as she reached for the cricket bat on the floor. Just then she patted her pocket habitually... Something was missing. She looked down, her Zippo. She hadn't refastened the plackets. Her Zippo must've fallen out. She was clearly distracted with her pocket before after a moment drawing her attention back to the woman disdainfully.

She wiped at her jaw, unbeknownst to her, it was covered in blood, as well as her neck. All originating from the open wound on her lip that was gushing blood.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by krashby
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The woman looked to be near the same age as Anna, give or take a couple years, but that is where the similarities ceased. In better light Anna could confirm the blue hair, fading away into the woman's natural color from a month's lack of upkeep. Metal studs gleamed from eyebrow and nose. Along with splattered blood that clearly came from someone or something else, her lip was busted open something awful and bleeding profusely onto herself. At first glance it seemed to have resulted from a blow of sorts, but as Anna looked closer she realized it was more of a rip, as though something had been torn out. Another piercing, she realized, and the thought made Anna stomach turn. The whole look made her take an involuntary step backwards, and for a moment she was struck speechless.

Only for a moment. Though Anna's apprehension of being found alone with a stranger such as this was great, her concern for the well being of this injured woman won out. She stood still in place, too cautious to move any closer but the longing to help fighting against her instinct to flee. "I-I'm sorry," she finally sputtered out. "I didn't mean to startle you." Nerves rising and with nothing else to do with her hands, she fiddled with her loose wisps of hair, finally pushing them back behind her ears. She found it nauseating to look at the blood for too long. The thing growing in her gut already made one guest appearance today, and Anna had to turn her glance away to avoid another.

There was something off about this woman. Definitely off... She was fidgety, with eyes which glanced this way and that and changed expressions in the instance. Anna had no experience with this kind of behavior and couldn't for the life of her know what to make of it, much less how to proceed. The woman began to reach for her bat, and Anna raised her hands in front of her, fingers well away from the pistol's trigger. "I'm friendly," she said hastily. "I won't hurt you. My name is Annabelle... Anna."

Without warning the woman's attention was redirected, lowering her guard as she appeared to be searching for something. Anna blinked, mouth open in the middle of a frozen word. She stood like that until the woman seemed to remember her again.

"You're bleeding," Anna blurted. It came to her that the woman might be unaware of the fact. "It's dangerous here. I can take you somewhere safe. We have a doctor who can fix your lip... and a place to rest," she added as an afterthought. The woman looked utterly exhausted.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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She stared at the woman, still with scorn. Ann had to avert her gaze... 'She had to look away. She had to look away from you.' It echoed in her head. Why did she have to notice, why did this minor detail suddenly dominate her thoughts? She couldn't get her mind off of it. 'She had to look away from you.' She stuffed her thoughts back, hopefully still appearing minorly sane to the woman. Ann was talking about something, but Esther wasn't listening. She was still fighting her insecurities. That's what she called them in her mind. Insecurity. Not voices because that made her feel crazy. And she wasn't crazy.

After what felt like a blend between a bad high and a head rush, she snapped out of her thoughts. "-gerous here. I can take you somewhere safe. We have a doctor who can fix your lip... And a place to rest." Esther hadn't slept in what seemed like days, and her caffeine was running off. She felt like she was lapsing into unconsciousness just by staring in the same place for too long. What inevitably followed was a jolt back to the real world as her body realized that it was trying to sleep, which terrified her. That momentary feeling, that terror... Helplessness and weakness bit her heart every time she was startled.

Her poor excuse for social cues told her that it might be a good idea to actually respond, rather than stand there looking like an illiterate. "W-why would... You... Help me?" Her words drenched in condescending hesitation, as well as almost being chattery. Explainable by the cold, but Esther knew that temperature wasn't the problem. As a matter of fact, she noticed that the chattering... Persisted through her whole body. She was shaking. Her cargo pants and coat, while baggy, still revealed her worryingly small frame lightly convulsing, barely noticeable.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by krashby
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Anna bit her lip. She wasn't entirely sure if this woman was hearing a word she spoke. She appeared otherwise preoccupied, but with what, Anna could only guess.

What Anna did know was the longer they both just stood there, the more danger they were in. She looked to the doorway of the supermarket. Aside from occasional movement it was difficult to make out what was happening within, but the sounds... Anna shuttered with every clash and bang and moan that reached her ears. Behind the woman's head she could see some kind of strange light, and the smell of something... burning? Was that fire? All Anna could think was that so close to her someone she knew could be injured, or bitten, or dying. She knew for a fact Nate was in there, and last she saw little Milo had been following close behind...

There's nothing you can do, Anna told herself. Those people in there know how to fight, not you. They know how to take care of themselves. Besides, this woman needs help. I can help her. The rest can take care of themselves...

That's what she told herself, anyways.

Anna's attention snapped back when the woman in front of her seemed to... convulse a bit, like someone being suddenly awoken. Anna couldn't be sure, she hadn't been watching very closely. But now that she looked closely she could see that the woman's whole body seemed to be shivering. Shaking. Anna wasn't sure which was the better word. Either way, she leaned down slowly to place her pistol on the floor, and then she used her free hands to unzip her grey lightweight jacket and pull it off of her, revealing underneath nothing more than a simple purple tank top. The small black outline of a heart could be seen tattooed on her wrist. A chilly breeze brushed upon her newly exposed flesh, but she ignored it, taking a step forward and than another, moving just slightly out of arm's reach of the woman.

"W-why would... You... Help me?" the woman had said.

"Because," Anna replied, reaching her arm out to offer the extra jacket. She met the woman's eyes, blue to blue, each set haunted by separate demons. "There aren't that many of us left. We have to look out for each other... or else none of us survive."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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She stared at the woman for several long seconds, suspicion and contempt in her eyes... Before her gaze lifted slightly. She straightened her back, painfully. She was just taller than the woman. Her legs were wobbling slightly.

"I'm not cold... I-..."

She looked off, realizing that she didn't want to finish that sentence. She returned her focus to Anna

"...Keep it. I'm fine." She reached down and picked up the gun, using her other hand's pointer and middle finger to arm the safety (An amateur way to do so.) And handed it back to her, forcing a half-smile. Maybe this woman could help her. For now. 'Don't trust her Esther. Don't trust her.' For once they were right. She looked at the woman with what was her best resassurance, eyebrows raised, and something that resembled what she remembered to be a 'smile.' Forced, completely.

"It... It's not cold."

She held out the paddle for the woman to hold it (Ready to snatch it back if need be.) and (Presuming she takes it.) She yanked on her sleeve and the Velcro came undone. In one 'RIP' the sleeve was in her hand, she rolled it up tightly in a matter of seconds and jammed it into her pocket, fastening the placket this time. Her arm was tattooed in black with names, notes and musicians from shoulder to fingertip. And her veins had small circles on them that looked like bruises. On the top of her shoulder, she had the face of a man with long hair, and as it went down , straight lines circled her arm with musical notes, all the way down to the bottom where an 'A' was on her wrist with chains wrapped around it, circling her whole wrist. "Stayley" was tattooed on her palm, and "Layne" on the outside of her hand. A bass cleft in front of her fingers on both sides of her hand, and her fingers contained the notes to two different songs using her fingers as the lines to a bar. Her note tattoos around her ear and down her neck the only other visible ones. She smiles another forced smile at the woman.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by krashby
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The hand holding Anna's offer fell lamely back down to her side. Slowly she pulled her jacket back over her, chilled skin thanking her for the slight comfort it provided. All the while she watched the woman carefully. When she began to reach for the gun left on the floor, Anna tensed and froze. She'd let her guard down. Should she try to turn and run? Should she try to grab the gun back. Her hesitation was too long; if the woman wanted to put a bullet in Anna's head, she easily had the time.

But she didn't. Anna's mouth hung open slightly as the safety was put on the pistol and then returned to her. Even more surprisingly, the woman released her one of her own weapons to her. The smile on her face was, well... less than convincing. Anna returned one just as weakly. This woman seemed very unstable, which in these days meant nothing but danger, and the lack of trust between the two strangers was obvious. And yet the woman released her weapon. Anna took the bat in her free hand, tilting her head slightly in confusion.

The next part was the strangest of the entire exchange. Anna shuttered at the rip of velcro, looking through the doorway immediately in fear that the noise would attract the undead. But of course, the commotion within was more than enough of a distraction to keep all the zombies occupied. At first Anna thought that the woman was simply trying to show her tattoos, but Anna couldn't understand why. Especially in a situation like this. "Those are... nice," Anna said anxiously. Reason told her to flee now, but she seemed to be glued in place. She looked at the arm. As an aspiring musician, Anna had spent years listening to and studying a wide variety of music and could recognize most of the musicians tattooed into the woman's skin... though admittedly, most of it wasn't exactly her first choice in music. It was only after she looked closely did she see the bruises. They looked like... injection marks... "Oh," Anna said. She felt dumb for not realizing sooner.

Gunshots. Anna jumped in place. They were far enough away for her to be safe, for now, but she had been in this group long enough to know that gunshots were only used in desperate situations. "We need to go," she said, attention snapping back to the present situation. She could smell the fire burning. Inside, she could see figures emerging to the exit. She could only hope everyone made it. "If you want help, follow. If not..." Anna handed the woman back her bat, and then she turned to head back to safety.

The rest of the group was emerging from the building. Anna did a hasty count in her head to try to figure out if anyone was missing. There seemed to be an injury or two, but nobody looked to be, well... dead. Thank goodness. Anna scanned for who she was looking for and found him quickly. "Adam," she called, jogging over to the doctor. Kat was limping on his arm but appeared otherwise unharmed. "What happened?" she asked once her reached them. Stupid question. Zombies happened, that's what. "Is everyone alright? I found a girl over there, by the supermarket. Not one of us. Her lip is busted over and bleeding quite a bit, and she might have other injuries but I'm not sure. But... I think something else is wrong with her..." Anna looked back to see if the woman had followed.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by girlwt
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Shanti followed behind Robyn, who took off when she saw the others. Shanti figured they would have to leave quickly to avoid the undead that would be attracted by the noise. Lizzy came back after seeing the others come from the building, which yes had been set on fire.

Shanti looked at it What a waste she thought to herself. Nate's need to cause destruction had struck again. Yet she hung back, knowing full well that she was in for a lecture one way or another. She had to smile though at Art's antics, smiled then roll her eyes. The others followed out, and it didn't look like they lost anyone to whatever was inside the building. She looked over at the Doc who was helping Kat, but she was also looking out for more undead. Anna came over and talked about finding another woman, Shanti glanced in the newcomer's direction...yeah something else was more of an accurate assumption.

The girl looked away and down the street, either the majority of the undead had been in the store, or they were hiding. She only saw a handful lumbering their way, "Can we play reunion back at base," she said to no one in particular. She didn't want to be wasting anymore time inside the town, which was creeping her out as it was. She shivered slightly even though she had an extra layer on from that morning. She had changed weapons figuring distance would be a better option at the moment. Risking a glance at Nate, she said nothing else, positive that mouthing off wasn't a good idea anyways.

"I am sure the kids are worried about you," this time her comment was to Art, she would have admitted that she was a little worried herself, but Shanti kept the face without expression. She gave the actress one of her small smiles instead after a minute, "good think you got big feet, or would have never found the trail leading here."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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She took her paddle back enthusiastically, letting go of a troubled breath.

"If you want help, follow. If not..."

The woman spoke before trotting off. Esther took a deep breath in before walking after the woman, more nervous than she'd been in the last month. She knew she couldn't survive on her own. Not by a long shot. The woman trotted about taking roll, and Esther simply fell into the middle of the group, standing awkwardly by herself. Deja vu. She spied Art from the corner of her view, noting her grey Nirvana T-shirt. 'Say something. Seem normal. Approach her.' All ideas. Ideas she wanted to fulfill. None of them came close to reality.

She saw the woman that had spooked her earlier had stopped and was talking with two people, one of them a man and the other a woman. She slowly walked over to the three, paddle idly swinging at her side, eyes at the floor. She became anxious on her way over. 'Turn around. You can still leave. Go. GO. GET AWAY!' she suddenly became fearful, and anxious and filled with terror. All these people, the smoke venting from the front door... The chatter... The crowd. She was suddenly mortally terrified by the prospect of a single being's attention resting on her.

She stood behind Anna, frozen. Anxious beyond expression. Her palms were sweating, her mind wouldn't keep straight and she could feel her heart beating out of her chest. What if they talked to her? What did they think of her? She was a freak. She looked at her inked arm without changing the direction of her head from the ground, just her eyes shifting uncomfortably. She didn't want to move. She didn't want to attract attention. She didn't want to exist. But she did. She looked up from the asphalt for one moment... A moment too long, her eyes met Anne as she turned around, and she froze. Terrified in fear that she may be forced to open her mouth.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by mich22
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Adam exited the building with a rough cough to clear his lungs. The only regret, perhaps, would be the waste of supplies they had caused with their little light show. They hadn’t even taken a small fraction of what that store contained, and now anyone else that came would only be disappointed by ashes and dust. It may not be their problem in the future, but it may cause trouble for others in the future.

He noted that the group was already abuzz with chatter and seemed to be in good spirits. He gazed softened admiringly. The fight for survival, as much as you’d think would tear people apart, had actually brought them all closer together. Though, he couldn’t quite say he’d compare them to family just yet, they were dear to him, in some way. One would never be able to tell that they just came out of a burning building. Robyn and Shanti had even come to join the party. It was so rare to see the founder of their group stray so far from the children back at camp. Art and Nathan were up to their usual dramatics again. Sometimes he really wondered if they were--he quirked an eyebrow at Art’s announcement to Robyn. Oh good for them. The obvious fluster and confusion on Nathan’s face almost brought a smile to his lips. He did hope they’d invite him to the wedding.

His head snapped up at the call of his name. Oh goodness, he’d been completely lost in his thoughts again. He hoped Kat hadn’t noticed. Had she been speaking to him? A little blonde was jogging over to them—ah Annabelle. A flood of questions came soon after. ”Our plans went a little awry.” The cause of that seemed obvious enough, ”Yes, we’re all more or less in one piece, not to worry.” He shot Anna a quizzical look however, when she informed them that her scavenging had resulted not in clothing, or food, but another survivor! She turned around and the strange froze like a deer in headlights. Even disregarding the torn lip, the poor girl looked scared out of her wits. Adam looked down at his other companion. ”You should be alright for now, please let me look at that ankle when we’re back at camp.” Even so, he apologized again to Kateryna for dividing his attention from her so often.

The brunet took a gentle step forward to greet the stranger. Whatever terror she was feeling it certainly showed on her face. ”Hey--it’s alright. He spoke softly, “It's alright to be frightened...we all were at one point, but I promise you, you’re safe now.” Admittedly, shy, frightened, and sick children had given Adam a lot of experience speaking to the timid. He was an unassuming man in daily life, but as soon as you were his patient, he always gazed at you with a rare, irresistible prejudice in your favor. As if you were understood as much as you wanted to be understood. As if you he regarded you with the impression of you, at your best, that you hoped to convey. “We were just about to return to our camp. There's food, a warm fire, and a safe place to sleep. You’re welcome to join us. I can patch you up there as well.” Practiced fingers reached into his sack, pulling out a cotton pad. He held it at the level of her broken lip, to allow her to see what he was holding. “May I?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards

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#, as written by krashby
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The guitar didn't belong to Anna, at least not before. No, her own baby was long since lost, probably still back leaning against her bed frame in her dormitory room, if it hadn't been destroyed by zombies or looters. Out of the three guitars she owned back home, her dark wood acoustic Gibson had been her pride and joy, her one first true love. She had often teased Daniel about it, telling him that she if the choice had to be made she would pick the instrument over him. And now, she had lost both in one cruel and fatal swoop.

The thing -- it could be classified as little more than a thing -- that Anna held now had been looted by her just a few days ago from a different little town the group had been scavenging, where Anna spotted it in a store window and separated from the group to retrieve it. She couldn't help it. Perhaps the others had scowled at her for risking her life over a non-essential -- she recalled Nathan's comment about flip flops just earlier today -- but if so, they just didn't understand. The didn't understand that music was the only thing left in the fragile girl's life, the only familiar thing for her to cling and allow her some glimpse to the normality, the only thing to keep her sanity intact.

The guitar she now owned was nothing compared to the ones she owned before. It was lightweight, smaller than she was comfortable with, a guitar meant for beginners. It was a cheap thing with cheap strings, and Anna was gentle to ensure that they wouldn't break too soon. Who knew when she would run across replacements? The sound was lacking, but it played, and that's what mattered. At least the size had it easy to carry when the group had to move from one base to another, though Anna knew that if the time came when they needed to flee suddenly, the guitar would have to be abandoned. Anna didn't like to dwell on that possibility.

She sat alone in one of the bedrooms of the farm house. She had a small bag and blanket rolled up against the wall, which along with the guitar and the clothes she wore were her only possessions. The sheets and mattress of the bed had been gone before they moved in, so Anna sat back against the wall as she strummed a melody. Without any picks, she strummed with her fingers, playing as softly as possible as to not draw attention of zombies outside. In solitude, the music was her personal haven from the hell outside these walls. She quietly sang along as she played:

"I have seen the rain
I have felt the pain
I don't know where I'll be tomorrow
I don't know where I'm going

I don't even know
Where I've been
But I know
I'd like to see them again

Spend my days just searching
Spend my nights in dreams
Stop looking over my shoulder baby
I stopped wondering what it means..."


(Song credit: I Have Seen the Rain -- Pink (written by Jim Moore)