You have an interesting way with words.
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Garrison must have sensed that her eyes were wide open. He propped himself up on his right arm to watch her in the faint light. His fingers lightly tickled across her belly and up the center of her chest. He touched her face. Normally, she did not like her face being touched. Somehow, when he did it, it was more like her own hand doing the touching. Although, that was not exactly it either. The movements were too unpredictable and the tickle spark had too high of a voltage. It was definitely his hand. It was more like it was also his face. She surrendered it to him. He was free to leave as many cool tingly trails on it as he wanted.
As much as she tried to ignore it, something had to be said about her uneasiness here. “Does this place seem right to you? Isn’t there something that bothers you about this house? It’s like we are not really alone or something. I know it’s silly. I just don’t think I can sleep here.”
His fingers stretched across to her far shoulder and down her arm. No doubt by intention, his arm drug lightly over her padded chest. His voice took on the reassuring tone that it was so good for. “I know that a new place every night is not easy. For now, we are home. This is our place. I promise we are safe. We’ll both feel better after we wake up in the sunshine.”
He did have a point. It was definitely too late to pack up and wander off into the dark. That would not make her feel more comfortable at all. Maybe her uneasiness was from going to bed with everything so unorganized. Their stuff was scattered everywhere. They were normally ready to leave at a moment’s notice and they were now depending on the morning for packing. That was probably all that was bothering her. Maybe it would not be so bad to stay here. She was clean, the bed was fresh and there was a charming naked guy nibbling on her, and that infamous bottom lip was up to its old tricks again. There was no sense in fighting it. Relaxation would lead to sleep.
Vanessa’s dreams were back. There were mazes of dripping brick tunnels- all leading into distant fog. Straining her eyes revealed approaching figures in all directions. Only outlines of their swaying bodies could be made out. One of them must be her Garrison. He would not leave her there alone. He must be hurt. That is why he is moving slowly like all of the others. The lines of the approaching faces would not stay still long enough define themselves, and the rushing wind was too loud for her to hear him. The only other sound was the flashing of squeals from the alarm on the stairs.
She sprung up, eyes open and wide awake. The alarm had been real. She was sure of it. It had been triggered and had crept all the way down the hall and into her dream. Now, it was all dead silence. She shook Garrison. He was lifeless. There was only thing that could wake him from the heaviest of sleep. She leaned down to his hear and let out the quietest whisper that her pounding lungs could push out. “Garribaby?”
His limp mouth paused its snoring and immediately whispered back. “What?”
“Wake up!” A dry eyelid pried open as he rolled his head. “Get up. I heard the alarm.”
They both made it to their feet as quietly as possible. Time wasted as she tied on her robe and Garrison pulled up his camo pants. His night vision goggles were within his reach. Vanessa’s were still in her pack and it took a few seconds of awkward wrestling to free them. The device slid over her head and came on with a slight whistle in front of her face. She could appreciate the technology and usefulness, but she hated the contraption. It was the most un-lady-like thing that she had ever worn.
Still in a groggy haze between dream and reality, the two ventured into the hall with guns held in front of them. The weapons were heavy in their arms that had not yet gotten the message that they weren’t asleep anymore. She would be relying on adrenaline to supply her finger with enough strength to pull the trigger.
Garrison crept away toward the loft. Vanessa stopped. The goggles made the once cold, dead walls shimmer with grainy green life. There were thousands of cells all dancing and working together to make one giant engulfing organism. She had to remind herself that she was not awaiting digestion in a big stomach. Needing proof, her fingers tentatively stretched out like thin spider legs to touch what used to be a man-made surface. “Sheetrock. Plaster. Paint.” She whispered to herself. Just as her fingertips were about to make contact, a presence was felt beside her. It was close. In a panic, she swung the goggles and the gun to confront it.
It was three-eyed Garrison. She had only been distracted for a moment and had lost total track. He had grabbed her forearm and redirected her muzzle to the ceiling. It would take a moment for her heart to resettle. His words would not help. “I heard something downstairs.”
Passing each open door was a new challenge of bravery. “Instead of ‘night-vision” they should call it ‘tunnel-night-vision’”. She was pretty sure that she had said that only in her head. Finally, they reached the loft looking down into the living room. The couches below them were green with thousands of bug dancing over every surface. So it seemed. Garrison stepped over the laser and started down the steps. A white beam was visible now. He worked his way slowly down. Each step that creaked sparked another chill down her spine. Her gun was ready. She was ready to pick off anything that came rear him, even if it rang both of her eardrums. Eventually, he disappeared below her into the kitchen. She was alone…again.
Suddenly aware of her loud breathing, it was impossible to quiet it. The open mouth of a hall behind her was sure to hear her. She made her way down in Garrison’s path while carefully avoiding the thin string of light that was trying to trip her. Steps that creaked chilled her spine even harder then when Garrison pressed them. There was no sign of him in the kitchen area. He must have gone down the hall toward the garage and bathroom and laundry room. Determined to catch up, she scurried off the last step and wandered toward the kitchen. The carpet seemed more alive than anything else. It buzzed around her toes as they sunk into it. The hutch was still in front of the window. The mess they had left was too busy to look at while covered in shimmering green bugs.
Something shot across the living room behind her. She spun. Nothing was there. Startling her once again, Garrison came up from behind to investigate. If she had kept her finger on the trigger, adrenaline would have fired off all sixteen rounds by now. He walked over to couch and peered under on his knees. His head dropped with a sigh. Lifting up one end of the couch made a cat scurry out and duck under the loveseat. Once relaxed, he strolled over to kitchen and lit the candles left on the counter. The both took off their headgear and the space turned back into dim wood and paint.
She set down her gun and stormed into the laundry room. How could she have missed it? One corner of the floor was covered with empty food bowls and the other corner housed a disgusting litter box. There was also a very small pet door leading to the outside. Picking up one of the bowls in the center revealed the name “Chastity” in bold script. She brought it into the kitchen to show Garrison.
“Yeah, I think I saw some food in here.” She found a can in the pantry. Before she could finish peeling back the lid and dumping into the bowl, the cat was on the counter with a single leap. Chastity dove into the brown mush. Black and white fur clung to her thin purring ribs. The last of their bottled water went into another bowl beside the mush.
Vanessa sat at one of the barstools. Her head dropped into her hands.
“Well, that was fun.” Garrison started moving things around the counter as if organizing something. Keeping his hands busy was his way of pretending to be useful.
Vanessa sat up. “You know what I need? I need to laugh.”
He grimaced and shook his head. “You just laughed three days ago. I saw you.”
“I need to laugh again.”
Normally, he would have taken the time to entertain her with either a movie reenactment or a song and dance of some sort. With a little more pushing, she probably could have prodded something out of him. Instead, it was decided to let him have his sleep. She, on the other hand, did not have the same ability to shut herself down like a switch.
Garrison repositioned the laser a little higher to avoid the cat and returned to bed. Vanessa’s second wind kept her stewing around the upper level for a while. A book and a quiet corner were her favorite things when she couldn’t sleep. Looking around, she realized one of the things that bothered her about this house. There was not a single book, not even in the Spongebob room. Even if they had all been taken by the previous owners, there should still be open shelves with dusty outlines. Fashion magazines stuffed around the TV might be the only choice. She crept in to the bedroom with the idea of pulling some out.
Freeing the magazines from the armoire without disturbing her roommate didn’t seem likely. A chain reaction of falling debris would surely follow.
Perhaps a trip back to the closet would prove to be interesting. It was.
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Things that had been taken for granted in another time were now to be extremely coveted. Garrision had the essentials things covered like food and water and the boring stuff like that. Vanessa had given herself the task of preserving the less sought after, yet equally important little luxuries that had come to be considered as unnecessary. Bucking the trend of discarding the niceties in life was a selfish-sounding stance to take, but the folded pink silk nightly in the draw was a piece of forgotten art. Anyone finding a buried Mona Lisa painting would have an obligation to humanity. A piece of tightly woven and cut material like this should be worn, at least for a little while, to remind the two of them of humanity had once achieved. At least that seemed like a good enough justification to slip it over herself and feel like a girl again.
It was extremely tempting to wake him to share her find, but his solid sleep was just too comforting to interrupt. His arm turned out to be a good place to lay. Suddenly, it was no longer indestructible. What she had been relying on to hold her and keep her safe and complete was made of bone and muscle. It could be broken, shattered, torn. It was far too fragile to be counted on. Perhaps this was what had been bothering her for a while. Luckily, she was far to smart for that.
Pulling herself tighter to his ear in a grip that not even he could have broken, was her mouth. From it, spontaneously came the words “I don’t love you, you know.”
He grumbled and tried to pull away for a second before giving in to sleep again.
Spookiness of the house was beginning to fade into a home like any other. Dreams would be better tonight.
“What time is?” he asked as they both sputtered awake.
The room was now invaded by bright sunbeams around the edges of the curtains. It had suddenly become morning. She was barely able to respond with a crusty mumble. “I don’t know. Sun’s up.”
They were both still heavy to move themselves. “It’s your turn to cook.”
“What are going to do about the cat?”
“She’s made it this long. She’ll be fine.”
Vanessa stretched and yawned. “We could stay here.”
“We could move into a different house every day and eat the food and stink up the bathrooms and dirty the sheets…”
“People are counting on us.”
She was disappointed that he squashed her fantasy so quickly. “Stupid people.”
“Yeah, what the heck were they thinking?” Garrison didn’t seem to be in any hurry to move either. His speech was muffled into a pillow. “A little longer. Some bikes in the garage. We can ride and make up time.”
A puzzled twitch went over her closed eye. A close call had caused them to abandon their bikes a few days ago. It was decided afterwards that being perched on a moving pole out in the open was not an ideal situation. It was a point she would bring up later. For now, more sleep was not something to be argued against.
They drifted off together again, this time in blatant disregard for the opportunity the sunlight provided.
It wasn’t long before something disturbed their sleep. They’re eyes were wide open in front of each other’s and answered the question of whether they had both heard it. Either that or they had just had the same dream. From the edge of sleep it still lingered in Vanessa’s upright ear. Thudding wood, shattering glass, tinkling broken dish pieces on a tile floor? The hutch in front of the window?
They held their breaths motionlessly. False alarms were freaking her our far too often. She was tired of being stressing out at every half-heard noise, no matter how seeming real.
In the distant hall, the stair alarm began squealing intermittently and then stopped completely with a cracking thud. Looking up, they spotted Chastity watching them with wide yellow eyes from on top of the armoire. They’re lingering inaction ended with one last shared look of ‘can you believe how unready we let ourselves become?’ It was the last thing communicated to each other before rolling off the bed in separate directions toward their guns.
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You are a cruel, cruel person... What or who is after them? What is the package they are carrying? What scenario would cause a collapse where they can depend on food still being in houses? Why were they picked for the task? Where did they start and where are they going?
Oh well it's a good story and my imagination will have something to do.
Thanks for your writing and I hope to read more.
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Neither made it to their Gun?
What got them?
Was the cat somehow involved?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
I kinda got the idea that they were a couple of Wankers anyway.....
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Its true, there are a lot of unanswered questions. I could fill in the blanks, but decided to leave it to where the background story could be open to many scenarios. The reader can insert aliens, zombies, or vampires, mutants, foreign invaders or whatever. This story was an attempt to focus more on characters that would likely be in any disaster. Apocalyptic survivors will still have personal issues to deal with no matter who their adversary turns out to be. The background story became less important in this limited space.
Thanks for the input, guys!
Loved it Samich but was equally disappointed there isn't anymore. I think we'd like to see a prequel or sequel of some sorts to this story. Very well written and thanks for the story!
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