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Survive [1x1 Closed to WI_]

By Lovely_Poison



Everything we know is gone. The dead have taken over. What's worse? We're all infected.




"It's been months since the world came to an end. Some would say it was God cursing us for our continuous sins. Others would say it was the government. Either way, none of it matters now."


"What matters is survival. The way to do that? Don't get bit, scratched, or...well, die. Even if one hasn't gotten ahold of you, you'll still turn if you're brain isn't destroyed. It's rough out there."


"Another way to survive? Be careful who you decide to trust. Those fearing for their lives will toss you to a group of the undead faster than you can blink."


"If you've taken the time to read this then thank you. I don't have much time left, since one of the bastards got me, but if you don't know any of this by now, then here you go. Take it, leave it, burn it. I don't care. It won't mean anything to me anymore."


The letter sits beside a decomposing body, blood spattering the page. The bullet in the skull suggests the writer took the "easy way out."





Puppetmaster:

Name:
Desdemona Sterling

Nickname(s):
Desi

Age:
26

Personality:
Soft-spoken, kind, people pleaser, loyal

Bio:
Desdemona was a kindergarten teacher for the elementary school that she attended when she was a child. On her off days, she was often at her mothers' house, helping her with gardening or just hanging out to watch silly Rom Coms. On the day the world ended, she was out buying a birthday gift, a new watch for her mom. Unfortunately, she never got to give it to her, and though it's broken now, she continues to wear it as a reminder of what she's lost.



Puppetmaster:

Name:
Eric Caldwell


Nickname(s): E, Rick

Age: 38

Personality: Cautious, mistrusting, demanding

Bio: A general contractor by trade, Eric was a man of a thousand skills. He was caught outside of town at a newly developed gated community when it all began. It afforded him extra time to prepare, though he was making do in half-built structures and surviving through hiding mostly. As resources dwindled he was forced out into the world at large.
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Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   32d ago

[center Kicking doors open wasn't Desdemona's favorite thing to do, especially when she didn't know what would be on the other side. In this case, however, it was absolutely necessary, since she had to make sure she could keep her grip on the baseball bat that she carried in her hands. There was no telling what could come rushing out once that barrier wasn't in the way and she had to be prepared to deal with it.]


[center The lack of an undead body leaping out at her sent a wave of relief through her. Letting out the breath she'd been holding, she stepped inside of the office, doing a quick look around before she stepped back into the main part of the drugstore. [b "Looks like it's clear,"] she said softly to her companion, hoping he could hear her well enough. The place wasn't too big, so it wasn't like they would have to yell at each other to get the other's attention, which was another thing they had going for them.]


[center Closing the door, she strapped the bat back onto the backpack that rested off of her shoulders and started making her way down the aisles, kicking an empty box that lay on the floor. For the most part, the shelves were empty, probably picked clean by groups before them. Whether those groups had been from their community or not was a question she didn't have an answer to. She could only hope so, but it was unlikely. She was doubtful they would've sent another group if they were aware that the place was practically wiped clean.]


[center [b "Think we'll actually find anything useful?"] she asked, wanting to fill in the silence. She really wasn't sure if her partner was the type to try and hold a conversation. She'd only met the guy a couple of weeks ago, and even then, it wasn't like she'd had much time to talk to him or get to know him. Even on the way to the store she'd been hesitant to try and strike up a conversation. He just looked intimidating...]


[center Unfortunately for him, she couldn't stand the quiet anymore. It made her feel uneasy. Made her mind wander to places she didn't want it to go.]


[center Leaning down, she picked up an empty water bottle, letting out a sigh before tossing it over her shoulder. [b "Damn,"] she mumbled under her breath. This was going to be a waste of time, wasn't it? That was what she thought as she turned down the next aisle, staring at similar empty shelves. Her eyes scanned each one carefully, something quickly catching her eye as she made it to the end. Crouching down, she reached out and picked up the box of pills, a small smile forming on her lips. [b "Hey, I found some pain relievers,"] she said, a little more excited than she had meant to.]


[center The count was one-hundred, which was great, though she was sure it wouldn't last very long. Slinging the bag off her shoulder, she opened it up and tossed the box inside before zipping it back shut and standing up again. Once the bag was back on her shoulders, she stretched, looking around the corner of the aisle to check on her companion. Hopefully, he'd found something as well.]
WI_     32d ago

Grey clouds loomed overhead giving the street an even more dead and deserted look than it originally had. Remaining in the doorway, a boot propping it open, Eric watched for any external threats as his colleague cleared the store proper. He glanced inside when he heard the door splinter from her kick and slam against the inside wall. Not exactly as quiet and cautious as he had hoped, but it was better than leaving a locked door at their backs.

With her confirmation the building was clear, he retreated inside fully, letting the screen door close slowly behind him. He clicked his tongue in annoyance as she kicked an empty box and the sound of her footsteps seemed to echo so loudly in the near empty store. Whilst she wasn’t doing any of this on purpose to annoy him it was a lesson in her character and one he would commit to memory. The girl wasn’t an idiot, she had a good head on her shoulders, though at times she was too laissez faire in her ways. In return, he only offered an unenthusiastic hum of disagreement that anything useful may be found.

Working his way down the other side of the store he was a little quieter in his search. Bottles were lifted off shelves and packets shook to discern if they were empty before being returned. Each confirmation was a small stab at his confidence of finding [i anything]. They needed these supplies for their community but he had to remind himself constantly that at the end of the day, if there were none here, then he wouldn’t be mortified. It was all about finding what you could and staying alive but not losing hope.

On that thought, he neared the counter, crouching down behind it to sift through several plastic baskets that had once held something of use. Aside from an empty bottle which he tucked into his backpack, he was left wanting for more and clicked his tongue once more in castigation of their situation. From this crouched position he ran a hand over his face, up and through his greying hair. This place was emptier than a pharaohs plundered tomb.

Her exclamation of delight at finding some pain relievers was welcome but it wasn’t the bounty they had thought they’d find. It left Eric to stand up and look at her, his unenthused blue eyes catching her youthful brown.

He felt they were missing something as he placed the rifle in his hands down on the counter and leaned on the wooden top. For a time he would just stare around the barren shelves and dozens of empty and discarded containers. It was a small store, it wasn’t some pharmacy at a megastore with shelves upon shelves of stock. And that was when something clicked in his mind.[b “Where’s the storeroom?”] He queried his partner though she didn’t look like she had an answer as she joined him in looking around. Pushing from the counter he walked to the doorway of the office.

The room was illuminated from a high window showing a few filing cabinets, a desk, a computer and naught much else. There was no other room or doorway save one to a bathroom that Desdemona had opened and searched first.[b “They don’t have a storeroom here.”] He commented once more, a little louder for her to hear him as he walked into the office, over to one of the filing cabinets which he pulled open, taking out file after file in search of a particular piece of information.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   31d ago

[center Okay, so he wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as she was. She bit the inside of her cheek before making a small [i pop] with her lips, turning her gaze away from him. He [i definitely] wasn't the talkative type. She almost sighed. It didn't seem fair that they were stuck here together while he wouldn't say a word to her. Just a small sound here and there. Reaching up, she brushed some blonde strands behind her ear and continued looking about, though she didn't come across anything else of use. A pity, it was.]


[center She was busy running a hand over a shelf, humming softly to herself a song that her mother would sing to her when she was younger. It was times like this when memories would hit her the hardest, especially when she caught sight of the watch on her wrist. It was a constant reminder of the first day. A constant reminder of the fact that her mother wasn't around anymore.]


[center The humming ended just as quickly as it began as she came to a stop, a wave of sadness washing over her. When was she going to wake up and find out that it had all just been a bad dream? That she'd just get up and get ready to head to school to teach a room full of eager faces as she'd done so many mornings before?]


[center [b [i "Where's the storeroom?"]]]


[center The question caught Desdemona so off guard that all she could do was give Eric a puzzled stare in response. It was a good one, though. Where [i was] the storeroom? Her moment over, Desi began looking around, realizing that she hadn't seen one in her earlier search of the store. [b "I suppose not,"] she mumbled to herself. How did the place run without a storeroom? Where did they keep everything?]


[center Without much thought, and unable to do much else, she followed him into the office, standing in the doorway for just a moment to take in the small room. She had no idea what it was Eric was looking for and didn't have any interest in asking before she made her way to a desk, opening up the drawers to see what was inside. She didn't find much outside of some notepads, a set of keys, which she stuck into her pants pocket, and some receipts and checkbooks. Nothing that would really come in handy.]


[right [pic https://imgur.com/ib67Y8k.jpg]] [center Opening one of the last two drawers, she reached inside, frowning as she pulled out a frame. Turning it over, she frowned, examing the couple in the picture before she turned her coffee-colored eyes to her partner. [b "Not sure if you really want to see this or not, but here,"] she said, holding the picture out to him.]


[center They seemed like such a happy couple. Desi couldn't help but wonder what happened to them. Had they escaped and found a safe place like the community that the two of them came from? Or had they suffered the same fate as her mother when this had all started? A chill ran down her spine at the thought. The optimistic side of her wanted to believe they were somewhere safe and happy.]
WI_     31d ago

His cold blue eyes flittered back and forth over the papers in the file, tossing them aside as and when they became irrelevant. He had gotten to the third file before Desdemona stepped into the room, watching him as he silently read the papers by the light of the window. He didn’t look up to inform her what he may be looking for, nor did he call for her to do anything. It was very much an individual task that he completed by himself.

As she went to the desk and began to search through drawers, he took up a single piece of paper and allowed the rest of the file to fall to the ground with a light rustling. Observing the paper over his eyes must have read the same part ten times over before he looked up and stared at the wall before him. His mind was racing though a clue was before him.

Focusing, he stepped forward, beside Desi now, and glared with mild confusion at the photo that had hung before him this whole time. It wasn’t anything special in all honesty. It was the family truck. It wasn’t some big semi-trailer truck, but rather the kind of thing you’d expect an Amazon driver to be scurrying around in. Perhaps something for home deliveries? Regardless, on the side it had the name of the family written on it and was parked up on a driveway.

Things began clicking even further as she offered up the photo of the elderly couple, snapping him out of his momentary daze. It was the final key to the puzzle as his free hand came across to take a hold of it. Without a word he lifted it up towards the picture of the truck. Sure enough, the green window shutters and bushes under the window were there.

[b “They must keep it at home,”] he said quietly as if only now wishing to voice his theory aloud. [b “The extra stock. There’s no stockroom here. It’s too small. It’s a local family business so maybe they keep extra supplies at home.”] He said as he put the picture down onto the desk and brought forth the sheet of paper he had taken from the folder.

[b “This is a delivery address for their drugs,”] he added as he showed a delivery receipt to her. [b “It could be that home,"] he gestured swiftly to the pictures, [b "their home, or the very least a storage place.”] He held the paper out for a moment to show her before he set off out the room, a delicate hand brushing along her back as he moved around behind her. [b “You have the map right?”] He called back as he moved to the counter and the rifle he had left there. Placing his arm down flush he pushed along and cleared it of the empty packets and containers that littered its surface.

[b “It’s an area code for the north of the town, somewhere near the river maybe, but I haven’t been there before. Darson Street.”] He put the paper with the address down, turning to await her with the map so they could try and find this location. [b “It’s gonna delay us getting back by a day, maybe two, but I think we should check it out.”] Whilst he was a silent and often brooding man, Eric wasn’t going to drag her away from the community if she didn’t wish to go. She had been there before him, she quite likely knew them all much better and therefore may wish to just check the pharmacy and go back rather than risk things for a hunch.

[b “What do you think?”]
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   30d ago

[center Had it not been for the concentrated look on his face, Desi would've become frustrated. His lack of communication was beginning to grow tiring. There was no way she was going to be able to just walk around in silence and talk to herself. Then she'd surely go crazy. Instead, she watched him with a puzzled look, wondering if perhaps [i he] had finally lost his marbles. She can't say it would've surprised her. Everyone had their breaking point.]


[center Even when he spoke at first, she still found herself confused. [b "What are you...?"] [b [i ...maybe they keep extra supplies at home."]] [b "Oooh,"] she said, the realization finally dawning on her. Why hadn't he just said anything instead of letting her stand there like an idiot? Looking over the receipt, she quickly nodded. [b "That would make a lot of sense,"] she mumbled, turning her head to follow him as he moved behind her. His hand brushing across her back was much more gentle than she would've expected, but not something she lingered on for much more than a second or two. Pushing away from the desk, she followed him out. [b "I do,"] she said as she shimmied the backpack off her shoulders, placing it on top of the counter to open it up and pull out the large piece of paper.]


[center As she lay it out and open on the table, she set the bag by her feet. Her eyes quickly scanned over all of the names, markers, and random lines as she searched for the street he was talking about. His question hung in the air for a few minutes as she thought about it.]


[center In truth, it wasn't safe, nor was it very smart. They had no idea who or what would be there, if there would even be any supplies left, or if this was all just a wild goose chase. In the end, however, if there [i were] supplies still left then the community leaders would be much happier with their little scavenger mission. A sigh escaped her lips before she nodded. [b "The delay should be fine. We'll still have plenty of time to get back before they assume we're dead meat,"] she said, reaching down to grab a pen that had hit the floor. Making a mark on the map, she looked at him. [b "Ready to blow this popsicle stand? I'm doubtful we're gonna find much else."] It seemed the pain relievers she had snagged were it for the building.]
WI_     30d ago

She found the street long before him, and Eric nodded as he looked on the map. Desi was thinking the community would strike them off as dead and leave it at that. Seemed the group wasn’t so trusting or hopeful if a day or two’s delay was enough to cast them off as goners. He was quiet a moment as his finger traced from Darson Street back towards where they were, trying to make a route whilst avoiding any obstacles they had already marked on the map.

[b “Seems straight forward,”] he murmured all but to himself, not wishing to dwell on their easily forsaken lives. With a deep sigh he pushed up off the counter, letting her fold and store it away into her bag as his hand came to rest atop the rifle. [b “We’ll likely hit this place by dusk. Should give us time to make it safe and then bunker down for the night. We can search it properly come morning.”] He sounded confident in the plan though it could easily go sideways with any unforeseen events that lay between here and there.

He was glad to see she was focused though, given how often he’d find her humming a sweet song or gazing longingly at that watch of hers. The time for sentimentality was when they were safe, yet he stayed his tongue from chastising her. [b “Popsicle stand?”] He questioned with a raised brow though didn’t wait to hear her response as he turned away.

Back out on the street, things were their usual unnerving silence marked with the whistling of the wind or the rustling of leaves. Rusting and dirty cars lay in their path as he guided them down the middle of the road, his rifle held to his chest as he kept his eyes at a swivel. It was about half an hour down the road before he would say something, rather out of the blue, [b “what’s that song you keep humming?”] In Eric’s gruff demeanour, it came across as if he was annoyed, but on glancing back to her – to look out for threats behind, of course - his rich blue eyes looked at her with genuine curiosity. [b “Just, you been humming it the last few days, I’m curious is all.”]

He turned back to face ahead, though he kept an ear open to her explanation - if there even was one forthcoming. If she prefered not to talk of it, then sobeit. He'd tried.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   30d ago

[center Getting there by dusk wouldn't be too terrible, considering everything went according to plan. Unfortunately, she wasn't that confident that it would. It was a sad part of her that had been chipped away over the years. Before the end of the world, she had been a very optimistic person. It didn't matter how awful things were going for her. She always saw the rainbow after the storm. It was just the kind of person she was. Most of that had stuck, but not like it used to. She'd slowly begun to realize that she wasn't as positive anymore.]


[center It was quite sad, really.]


[center Folding the map back up, she threw it into the backpack and slipped it back onto her shoulders, looking up at him. [b "It's a figure of speech,"] she replied, though doubtful he had heard her. Had he never heard the phrase before? She shrugged to herself before following behind him. How many more similar phrases could she use that he wouldn't know? Desi almost smiled to herself. She could turn it into a game...]


[center No...no. On second thought, that probably wouldn't be smart. If she pissed him off, he might leave her for dead. She was doubtful that was true, but she didn't put anything past people any more.]


[center Once outside, the tone had shifted. Not at all surprising. Unstrapping the bat from the bag, she rested it over her shoulders, letting her hands relax on top of it as they walked. For the time being, all she could hear was the slight breeze through the trees and the sound of their footsteps. If it weren't for the fact that they were outside, she'd have probably started whistling. She knew how much of a risk that was, though, so for now, she would endure the silence.]


[center Or so she thought until Eric spoke up. Biting the inside of her cheek, she hesitated. She wasn't quite she wanted to answer right away. If it had been a problem, he could've asked her to stop. She wouldn't have minded in the slightest. Him clarifying his curiosity, however, eased her mind just a little. [b "Oh. This is going to sound a bit silly, but it's just a song from a musical movie we both loved. It was about a daughter who's getting married and she goes through the movie trying to find out who her dad is by inviting the three men that her mother wrote about in her diary. It was dumb but the music stuck with me..."]]


[center It hadn't really been dumb to her. She'd been obsessed since she was younger, mostly because her mother and she had such a great time when they would watch it. Singing at the top of their lungs, no matter how off pitch, popcorn spilling to the floor when they'd try to reenact scenes. Just..silly things. [b "I apologize for it. Sometimes I just do it without thinking."] Pulling the bat from her shoulders, she ran a hand through her hair, pushing some of the shorter strands from her face as she glanced around.]


[center It was so quiet right now. How odd...]
WI_     30d ago

The pause between his asking and her speaking was a little drawn out, and Eric knew he had hit on something perhaps a touch personal. That, or she was feeling embarrassed that her humming had gone on so long that he’d noticed. Though they were currently in a lull of action, having not seen an undead since the morning, he understood that she may have felt a little self-conscious about her humming.

Her description was detailed, though he felt a touch perturbed that she felt the need to apologise. He wasn’t trying to chastise her after all. [b “So your humming Mamma Mia?”] He queried rhetorically as she described the basic plot to the very popular movie. There was a hint of humour in his tone, but just barely. He didn’t have his head in the sand when the world went to shit, he knew of movies and video games and all that. Whilst he was a grey old soul to most, he liked to think he was still a relevant old soul.

[b “No need for apologies Desdemona,”] he added as he slowed his walk at the sound of scuffling ahead. His hands tightened on the rifle a little more. [b “It’s... rather nice to hear, if I’m being honest.”] He continued in a whisper as he moved over to a car, resting the rifle on the roof to steady his aim, seeking out the cause of the commotion ahead.

He wasn’t some crack shot, a hobbyist at best though a decent hunter before this all began. Give him a deer and a hunting perch and he had a good chance of hitting the target. A moving rotter, especially a fast one? It was all down to chance. [b “See anything?”]
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   30d ago

[center A faint blush painted Desi's cheeks, causing her face to warm up. She prayed he didn't notice. [b "Ah...yes, I was."] She shouldn't have been embarrassed, yet she was. It wasn't a surprise at all that he knew of the movie. It wasn't like it was unknown or anything. Her cheeks only flushed a little more as he continued to speak. At that point, she didn't know if it was still because of embarrassment or because he kind of enjoyed it. She made a mental note to tone it back just a little, but not completely.]


[center Coming to a stop beside him, she frowned, finally noticing whatever it was that had caught his attention. [b "Oh no,"] she said softly under her breath. She didn't want to know. She really didn't. A wave of dread washed over her as she stared ahead, not seeing anything right away. [b "No..not yet. I'll go scout up ahead a little. I promise I won't go too far,"] she said, holding her hand up to stop any objections.]


[center Taking a deep breath and steadying the bat in her hand, she made her way forward, keeping behind cars as much as she could. The road sloped not too far ahead, which would help in whatever it was she was trying to see without getting caught. Kneeling down beside another car, she slowly moved forward, her eyes widening as she placed a hand over her mouth.]


[center You never got used to the sight of the undead chewing on a dead body. At least she hadn't. Maybe she needed to be desensitized to it all, but a part of her thought she'd lose whatever humanity she had left if she did that. So she watched in absolute horror as a small group, maybe eight or nine, chewing on what looked like another corpse, though it was hard to tell. She could see by their jerky movements that they were newly turned. That didn't bode well for them at all.]


[center She didn't think the situation could get worse. That was her first mistake. Her eyes only widened more at the sound of a horn honking in the distance, catching the attention of the undead below. Looking up, she could see a large armored vehicle speeding towards them. [i Shit...] She didn't want to see what happened next. Staying as low as she could, she backed up just enough for her to finally stand, hurrying back to Eric. Setting the bat on the hood of the car, she pulled a hair tie off her wrist and pulled her hair up into a high ponytail. [b "We need to move, whether that's to hide or to go around. There's a small group down there, but some assholes are blowing their horn. It won't be long before we get swarmed."]]


[center The thought made her stomach knot up.]


[center [b "What do we do?"] she asked, grabbing the bat and looking up at him.]
WI_     30d ago

Looking through the scope on the rifle he saw little movement ahead. The curve of the road and its slope made things rather pointless, but he stared silently as Desi stepped up beside him. He pulled his eye from the scope to stay her from walking off, but her hand was already waving off his objection before he could speak a word. Frustration contorted his face, not liking how she strode forward almost without care.

Thankfully she crouched down and used the cars for cover, and he returned to looking around them as she looked on ahead. They were quite clear all around, though several sight lines were blocked by buildings or other vehicles. Unfortunately, their luck was about tapped out. He heard the horn. His head pivoted back her way and she was soon rushing back at a slight crouch, blonde hair bobbing along. Her report was not best received and his lips pulled taut as his eyes narrowed on the road ahead. The cars ahead would not form a strong enough barrier to whoever was driving their way, not to mention that horn would drag in any stragglers that were around.

[b “We move,”] he said as he looked about them. They were in a semi-residential area now, and the houses around were small and packed together. Many had broken windows, doors hanging from hinges, blood splatter up their walls. One caught his eyes; door open, clean, windows intact. [b “There. Come on.”] The rifle fell in one hand, his other grabbing her forearm to turn her around, pulling her along with him a few feet before she was released to go on her own steam.

Rushing across the street and up the steps to the house he barely hesitated before stepping inside, the weapon drawn up but the long barrel not good for this environment. The initial hallway was messy but nothing came at them and that would have to do. [b “Get the door.”] He hissed back as he turned around, the rifle propped up against the wall as she closed over the door. His hands grabbed at a chest of drawers and with a grunt he pulled it away, swivelled it, and eased it up against the door itself.

With the door braced he snatched up the rifle once more, though this time he pressed it to her chest as his other hand seized the bat, his fingers warm around hers. [b “You take the gun. If anything comes at the door, you point, you shoot.”] His cheeks were a little flushed from the sudden exertion as he looked into those dark eyes of hers, holding her gaze until she gave him a nod of understanding.

Satisfied, Eric would release the gun to her and take the bat, turning back into the house. [b “Stay here.”] He said as he eased a step forward. He paused, looking back at her, seeing that she wanted nothing more than to come with him and he held a hand out to her. [b “I need you to watch my back. Keep me safe.”] His gaze looked over her a final time before he lofted the bat and stepped off into the house to ensure it was clear as the horn outside blared with gay abandon.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   29d ago

[center Chocolate eyes watched Eric with intensity, knowing they didn't have a lot of time to think about it. If they were going to do something, they had to do it soon. Surely he knew that as well as she did. All she could hear was the sound of that stupid horn, which sent chills down her spine. The slow ones wouldn't be so bad if any were nearby to hear it. It was the other ones she was worried about, though. [b "Alright, then,"] she said after he finally spoke. For the time being, she had to put her trust in him. She didn't know what he was like in situations like this, but she had to believe that he knew what he was doing.]


[center A small gasp escaped her lips as she was suddenly dragged along, stumbling for just a second at the unexpected movement. She was glad when he let go just a few seconds later. He had moved just a bit faster than she was prepared for and she had to jog a couple of steps to keep up with him. [i Damn these short legs of mine,] she thought to herself.]


[center Hurrying into the house, she glanced around, praying that nothing was inside to harm them. It was a bit of a relief when nothing happened. She knew that didn't mean anything, however. She was going to have to do a more thorough sweep of the house as soon as they were safe and secure. Nodding, she turned back around and shut the door, locking it before moving away. Hopefully, that would help keep it shut.]


[center She took a deep breath, having just closed her eyes for a second when she felt the rifle hit her chest. She glanced at the gun before looking up at him, another puzzled look on her face. His skin burned against hers and for just a moment, she was worried about whatever it is he was thinking of. For a second, she just stared at him. He was putting his trust in her just as much as she was. Unable to say anything, she only nodded, wrapping her free hand around the rifle as he pulled away, allowing him to take the bat.]


[center Desdemona suddenly felt nervous. She hadn't used a gun since any of this had started. The one time she had used one, it was a smaller one, a .45 if she could remember correctly. She'd hated how loud it was, how much it had made her hand hurt, and how heavy it had been. Not just the physical weight, but the mental weight, as well. It didn't help she'd had to use it against a friend...]


[center She quickly shut those images out as she glanced over to Eric. [b "Okay,"] she said softly, too afraid to tell him to take it back. It didn't matter if she didn't feel comfortable with it. It was only temporary. [i You'll be fine,] she thought to herself reassuringly. She glanced to the door for a moment, her hands trembling a little. Damn it, she hated feeling this way. It wasn't any different than using her bat to defend them. [i Now you know damn well that's a lie.] Yeah, but at least it had helped a tad bit.]


[center Looking back to her partner, he must have realized how much she didn't want to just stand there. Relief flooded her again before she took his hand for just a moment. [b "Not a problem,"] she said, pulling away once she was close enough to him. She hated that she could still hear that stupid horn, but it did keep her believing that the house was empty. Something would've come at them by now, she was sure of that much.]


[center Still, she kept her hands as steady as she could on the rifle, keeping it pointed to the ground for the time being. It would suck if she accidentally shot him because she didn't know how to be careful.]
WI_     29d ago

There was a fleeting look of surprise as she had reached out to take his hand, fingers grasping onto his as she pulled herself away from the door. He had been trying to reassure her that she could guard the door alone and that it would be okay. Instead she had taken that as a request for her to come with. A thought of correcting her was lost by the warmth of her hand in his and he nodded as she let go to grasp the rifle once more. The door was locked and blocked. If anything came at it, they’d hear.

With her following not far behind, the house was a simple task to clear. The living room was plain, bereft of pictures though there were nails protruding from the wall where they had once hung. The fire was inviting but smoke and light were as big a signal as that horn. He kept them moving along lest her legs begin to seize up with the anticipation – though it was for his own benefit too.

Sweeping through they cleared the dining room and kitchen, a light scratching sound heard in the latter though it was as likely to be a rat than anything significant. This brought them back to the hallway and he checked the door briefly before turning back. [b “Just upstairs left,”] he whispered to her with a reassuring nod. They were doing well.

Heading up the stairs he paused at the top, a single room to the left and right – thank god this was a small home. Using the tip of the bat he pushed the right door. It groaned and his hand tightened on the bat until he saw it was a bathroom. Poking his head inside, it was rather clean except for a layer of dust over the porcelain features. There was a medicine cabinet but it could wait to be searched.

Across the landing was the bedroom and inside was a mess of discarded clothes and a suitcase left open, half filled with trinkets and other assorted items. Eric didn’t pause to look through them, content the room was empty. [b “Seems we’re good.”] He let her know as the bat lowered and he turned to face her, brushing a hand up through his hair as he released his nerves.

[b “Did you get a look at whoever was in the car?”] He asked, moving over to her, leaning close to her side to look out the window she stood in front of at the landing. It felt reassuring to have her close, the warmth she offered inviting but he quickly peaked out the window for a few seconds and pulled back, beginning to move back downstairs.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   29d ago

[center The look of surprise didn't register with Desi. She had been completely oblivious, having looked away for just a second. Usually, she would take the hint when it came to things, but years of working with children had hard-wired her to have to explain and understand things when described in detail. One would think that not having to do that job anymore would have rewired it back, but that didn't seem to be the case. She didn't even think anything of it, following behind him without issue at all. There was a slight ringing in her ear to make up for the silence, interrupted every few seconds by the sound of their footsteps or the creaking of the floor beneath them.]


[center She was relieved to know that the downstairs area was empty, but she wouldn't feel relaxed until the upstairs had been checked as well. Glancing at him, she only nodded, wanting to keep the talking to a minimum, for the time being, less there be another person inside the house hiding from them or an undead upstairs, waiting for them to open the wrong door. Standing just a step beneath him, she tilted her head, watching him as he went for the right door first. She didn't aim the rifle right away, hopeful that she wouldn't need it. She was glad to be right for once.]


[center [b "Thank God,"] she said with a sigh of relief, leaning up against the wall for a moment. She hadn't noticed it before, but her legs were a bit shaky as well. Perhaps it had been from the worry that something might have actually been in the house with them. She glanced up at him as he moved closer, stepping to the side to allow him some more room to look outside. [b "Nothing that could help identify them,"] she said, taking her own peek outside before she followed him back down.]


[center Once at the bottom, she set the rifle against the wall, cracking her knuckles before she reached up to tighten the ponytail. [b "They were wearing what looked like ski masks. Not really sure why they would do that but to each their own,"] she said with a shrug. Glancing at the windows, she frowned. [b "Should we cover them? Or just stay out of sight for the time being?"] The undead wouldn't see them, but if those strangers did, who knew what would happen?]


[center As she waited for his response, she moved over to the couch, placing her hands on the back of it. [b "How long do you think we'll have to wait before we can head back out?"] She prayed it wasn't too long. She was already feeling claustrophobic with the door barred shut. [i So much for getting to the house by dusk...]]
WI_     29d ago

Back downstairs he move immediately to the door, leaning over the drawers to press an ear to the heavily lacquered wood. Listening brought no further clues as to what was outside and he looked over to Desi as she fixed her ponytail. It was a good thing she was aware of keeping her hair tied back in case of issues popping up. If he was more impulsive he may have offered to cut it down to length, but that was overstepping several personal boundaries he wasn’t comfortable with going near.

Ski masks made little sense in a world where to simply see another living soul was such a rare and identifiable moment that hiding ones face was pointless. Following her into the living room he looked to the windows at her question, pausing in thought as she leaned against the back of the couch. [b “Shouldn’t have to do anything with them,”] he said as he lofted the bat to rest against his shoulder. [b “I doubt we’ll have to wait around for too long. Any fast ones will be off chasing the truck and we can outpace the rest.”] He didn’t want to be stuck her just like her. It was too close to the town centre, too hemmed in.

[b “I’ll go check the back. There’s a service road that runs between the backyards. We can probably hop the fence and follow that along to the next intersection, then get back on track.”] It would keep them out of sight of the road they had been on, and if the fences were still in tact then they would have good sight lines both in front and behind.

Heading into the kitchen he went over to the window. Looking into the garden was like looking into a wild field. The grass had overgrown, bushes were twice as thick or long dead, and a tree had splintered and half of it had fallen into the yard. Regardless, it looked empty, and he moved over to the door to test it. As expected it was locked and shook in the door frame. He was about to turn back when that distinct scratching came again and he held still, trying to discern where it came from. It would prove his undoing.

With little warning, as these things were apt to do, a set of decaying hands grasped at his leg and pulled hard. Having tried to pull back quickly he was swept from his feet, falling backwards and the back of his head rebounded off a cupboard door in the small kitchen. The bat slipped from numb fingers, rolling aside as his vision prickled with black spots.

When he regained what focus he could, slumped against the cupboard, he stared down at his feet which were being pulled this way and that by fleshy fingers that reached through a doggy-door. Dazed and sluggish, he tried to pull his feet back, though it had grasped his boot firmly. Pulling back only eased it through the flap, snapping teeth and hissing in anger as it eyed Eric with glassy eyes. [b “Fuck..”] The old-man groaned as he tried to go for the bat but was too out of it to do much more than vainly kick back at the monster.

There was a skittering sound beside him, something said, though it was far off and muted. Looking aside he saw Desi with rifle in hand, the barrel shaking as she looked in two minds about what to do. [b “Don’t! Don’t shoot!”] He called out though it felt like he was talking slow. [b “Use the bat… the bat!”] His hands reached behind him to grasp at the cupboard handles and give him some additional leverage with which he could kick out at the corpse that gnashed at him. It had his left foot firmly in its hands and though he tried to shake it free, its teeth were going for his ankle.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   28d ago

[center Letting out a sigh, Desi nodded and leaned forward, resting her forehead on her hands and closing her eyes. Now that they were safe, for the time being at least, she would take some time to just breathe. The horn had finally stopped, which was a relief, but that didn't mean they were safe just yet. He was right in what he said, about the undead. It wouldn't be a problem once they were far enough away to not have to worry about. So now they just had to play the waiting game. [i How fun...] She knew she shouldn't complain, whether it was out loud or in her mind. They were alive and safe and that was what mattered.]


[center [b "Sounds like a plan, then,"] she said softly, letting the silence settle around her once again as he walked away. As she stood there, she let her mind wander, part of her wondering what they would find once they arrived at the old couple's home. Would they find the stash they were hoping to or would it all be wiped out? Would their trek be for naught? The thought made her stomach knot up. She hoped that wasn't the case. They really needed the supplies that the drugstore had promised them. It would be such a shame if it were a waste of time. [i Is it really a waste though if we confirm that there's nothing there?] No, perhaps not...]


[center A sudden thud from the kitchen drew Desdemona from her thoughts, causing her to straighten up. [b "Eric? You okay in there?"] She waited for a second, then another before she frowned. [b "Eric...?"] No response again. Her heart began to pound in her chest as she grabbed the rifle. She had a sick feeling sinking into her chest now as she quickly made her way to his location. Her eyes widened as she quickly raised the gun, her finger on the trigger, prepared to fire at a moment's notice. Had he not said anything when he did, she would've done it without hesitation.]


[center Dropping the rifle on the counter, she rushed over to snag the bat, her breathing labored as panic slowly set in. Gripping it so hard her knuckles turned white, she brought the bat up, hitting the undead creature up under the jaw. She could hear the sickening crack as its head snapped back, but that didn't stop her from swinging at the side of its face the second time around. There was a moment when Desi wasn't in the house with Eric. Instead, she was back at her mother's house, having stumbled in on the horrifying scene where he mother had been attacked by one of the first undead.]


[center Whatever place that memory had brought her gave her the strength to bring the bat down again a few more times, probably more than she needed to. It was all too familiar a setting, all too familiar a situation, only this time she hadn't arrived too late. This time, she'd been able to do something to save someone.]


[center Convinced the thing was gone for good, she dropped the bat, which bounced once or twice before it rolled away. Blood had spattered just a little onto her shoes and pants, though she paid it no mind as painful memories tore through her. It felt like an eternity had gone by as she stood there, trying to catch her breath. The panic had yet to go away, instead evolving into a full-blown panic attack before she turned and quickly hurried out of the kitchen, feeling like she couldn't breathe.]


[center Back in the living room, she leaned against the wall, closing her eyes tightly as she placed a hand on her chest. [i Breathe...just breathe.] It had been a while since she'd had an attack as violent as this one felt. She'd actually believed she'd had them fairly under control. Yet here she was, having a meltdown over something she'd done plenty of times before.]


[center Only the environment had been different. It had caused it all to come rushing back to her so fast she felt she'd be sick.]
WI_     28d ago

Swinging his right foot back, he feebly drove his heel into the undead head. It bought enough time for Desi to dispose of the rifle and take up her bat and that first swing was a crunching hit. Spittle and blood streaked up the cupboard beside the prone duo as it lethargically snarled at her. Eric did his best to pull free but the grip of death was a strong one and the feeling of nausea was prevalent in his concussed mind.

He was drawn back to the situation at hand only when he felt a heavy thud and peak of pain from his ankle. Desi was lost to another world, she wasn’t in this small kitchen with Eric, and it allowed her to wail away at the rotting corpse – but her swing was too good. As she drew back time and time again, blood cast over the ceiling in a speckled spray, she had smashed through the skull and struck Eric’s ankle several times over.

[b “Desi stop! Desi~!”] He called out in a yelp of pain like a wounded pup. The bat clattered off the linoleum floor, bouncing away as he rolled to his side, blood covered foot pulled free of the fully deceased intruder, hands grasping at his knee as he couldn’t reach so far down. The dull throb of pain rushing up his body met the pulsing and blinding pain from his head, converging at his stomach which tightened. How he managed to keep from puking was some Herculean effort as he hissed and gasped through the agony of having his ankle almost snapped by the woman.

For a few minutes he would remain on the floor, the ankle swelling slowly as did the lump on the back of his head. With his eyes shut tight he could focus better on coping with the pain, though the focussed mind also picked up on the laboured breathing and muffled sobs from the next room.

Grunting and groaning, he eased himself up and fought through several waves of nausea as he grasped the kitchen counter he’d hit his head on to get onto his knees then onto his one good foot. He put some pressure on the left foot, feeling a shot of pain. Good, it still had sensation in it, and his foot moved – if barely – so it wasn’t dislocated or broken. Just badly swollen. Using the wall he hopped and dragged himself out the doorway, blurry vision coming upon the blonde girl who was covering her mouth as if to silence her cries and end her panic attack through force.

[b “Desi,”] the name croaked out as he leaned against the wall beside her. Eric was a solitary man, something she had seen in their journey out here, but in the moment – and with not the most sound of minds – his hands grasped for her and slid around her. Pulling her to him his hands were secure around her, tight about her back. [b “Thank you… thank you…”] He repeated over and over. His ankle would heal, his life had been saved, and in the moment he was an affable fool keen to give his thanks.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   28d ago

[center Desdemona had seen Eric stumble into the living room, using the wall as a sort of crutch, had heard his cries for her to stop back in the kitchen, but none of that was registering at the moment. She was trying so hard to drag herself back into the present, yet the past kept its grip on her so tight that she thought the attack would never end. It didn't help that her partner was seeing her like this. Anytime she'd had one, she'd done it in the privacy of her room back home. It was easier to pretend they didn't happen when one was alone.]


[center It wasn't until he said her name, had his arms around her, that she finally snapped out of it, her body trembling against him. The action had been so unexpected that it had grounded her into reality. For a moment, she just stood still, allowing herself to come completely down from the whole thing. It gave her some time to think that maybe he wasn't as closed off and cold as she liked to act. Or it might have been because they were both in a lot of pain, whether it was physical or emotional.]


[center Brown eyes widened as a realization dawned on her. [b "Oh my God."] Pulling away from him, she placed her hands on his shoulders before she looked down at his foot, noticing that he wasn't putting a ton of pressure on it. It was then that she also realized that it wasn't just the creature's head she had hit. [b "I am so sorry,"] she said, quickly tugging him towards the couch. [b "Let me take a look. It can't be broken, right? Damn it...we need ice or [i something] cold you can put on it."] She was starting to panic again, but this time it was because she was almost positive she had just screwed up this whole mission.]


[center [i How could you be so stupid?] She scolded herself fairly harshly when she screwed up. This time was no different. It was probably evident on her face as she frowned. [b "I shouldn't have gotten so carried away,"] she mumbled under her breath.]
WI_     28d ago

Holding onto her provided Eric with physical support as much as it gave her a little mental fortitude. He wasn’t aware of her panic attack, only that she was perhaps hopped up on nerves and little energy so her reaction was to become skittish. Regardless, he winced as she pulled away and all but dragged him over to the couch. Its springs squeaked lightly as he eyed the window, satisfied the net curtain and years of dust and grime were enough to keep them hidden for now.

As she began to overly fret and look about her for some mythical bag of ice or cold pack of peas to help him, Eric reached up to take her wrist. [b “Shh, sit. Just sit.”] He said pulling her arm lightly until she was forced to sit beside him or push him away. With a grunt of effort he lifted the ankle onto the coffee table before them, hissing as he turned it one way then the next.

[b “You did good there, real good.”] He commented as he stopped moving the appendage, leaning back into the couch. [b “It’s not broken, I don’t think. Just bruised.”] He said it more so to ease her own nerves than his.

Thankfully his vision had refocused, though he would have a ringing headache for quite some time. There was no threat to blacking out, and he closed his eyes for a moment as a deep sigh left him, hands resting in his lap. [b “Thank you for saving my life Desdemona. I owe you one.”] He added in comment as his body tried to calm down and register all that had happened. Only now was his heart starting to slow down to steadier rhythm. With the slowing heart and playing back over what had occurred, a hand came across, nudging her hip with the backs of his fingers.

[b “You okay? You know what you did was right, yeah? Better a broken ankle than a bitten one.”] Unaware of the links between her past and this moment, he had thought she was overly upset with herself. Her face was flushed red as cool blue eyes opened, head tilting to the side to look at her.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   28d ago

[center Words left her as Desi was pulled down beside him, still glancing at the ankle as he moved it to the table. It was obvious that it was hurting him, causing her to feel even more guilty for hitting it, to begin with. Had she been more careful, they would probably be back outside, heading towards their original destination. The only thing keeping her from being completely angry with herself right now was the fact that her partner didn't seem to be pissed. [b "How can you be so sure?"] she asked in a soft tone. He had walked on it, sure, but he'd been using the wall. Best case scenario, it really was just bruised. Worst case, he was lying to her.]


[center Her arms were tense as she kept her hands in her lap, wanting to reach out and just feel to really make sure it wasn't broken, but also knowing that she would be crossing a line if she did so. The hug was one thing. She'd been upset and he'd been in a daze. That moment, short as it had been, was over with now. She wasn't going to get more physical than she needed to going forward.]


[center She quickly shook her head as she watched him. [b "You don't owe me anything. I have to assume you would've done the same thing if the roles were reversed."] In truth, she wasn't quite sure she fully believed that he would actually do it. She had no real reason outside of the fact that they were kind of in this together. If it came down to it, would he have allowed her to get bitten or would he have actually saved her? She leaned towards the latter, if only to help ease her mind a little more.]


[center His fingers brushing against her hip startled her just a little, that action also unexpected. [b "Yeah, yeah... I hear ya,"] she said, finally looking away from him. She had to find a way to cope with her panic attacks better than had. Had it been worse, she could've gotten him killed instead. The thought didn't sit well with her at all. [b "I promise that won't happen again going forward. They're usually not a problem."] So long as they didn't get stuck in a kitchen again, she was sure she would be fine.]
WI_     28d ago

His hand pulled back as she looked away from him, mumbling an acknowledgement that she had heard him. Eric wasn’t some kind of, body language expert, but he had enough social experience to know he was perhaps being a little ‘touchy’ for her – for anyone really. They were harmless and innocent moments, an embrace for saving his life, a brush of the hand to get her attention, but take away the backdrop of apocalypse and she’d have maced him and called the cops most likely.

That thought almost brought a derisory laugh from him but it was suppressed into a gentle huff. [b “You’re bad at accepting thanks, you know that?”] He commented in an overly sarcastic tone, sitting forward to pull at his pants leg and gingerly ease down the sock. The skin would swell nicely but some gentle probing found no bone protruding through skin – and as seen, his foot still moved side to side, it was attached.

[b “Yeah, just bruised, see?”] He gave it a last poke and hissed, smacking his right knee to chastise himself for such a stupid move. Pulling the sock back up and pants leg down, he slid his foot off the table and let come to rest on the ground. It was mighty painful, but the way she was reacting he didn’t want her to know.

Instead, he remembered that little comment of hers and brought his hands up to rub over his weary face. [b “If it was me, I’d have shot that thing in a heartbeat. But Maxine, from the camp, she told me you weren’t too accustomed around guns. So I didn’t want to risk you missing and.. well...”] He was perhaps a little ‘too’ honest with her there, but still leaning forward he turned his head to peak at her with one eye. [b “You’re all upset over hitting me a few times with a bat. Imagine how bad it would be if you’d shot me.”] His tone had lifted up, a little bit of mockery tickled his words. A gentle ribbing would be her punishment for saving his life.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   28d ago

[center Desdemona would frown as she turned her gaze back to him. She opened her mouth to argue with him, to say that she had no problem accepting thanks at all, but then quickly realized that she'd be lying. Instead, she let out a soft laugh, moving her gaze down his leg to his ankle. [b "I suppose I am."] With that laugh, her shoulders would finally start to relax, the tension leaving them as she shifted on the couch. [b "In my defense, I'm used to interacting with children. They don't exactly give thanks often."] It was a poor excuse, more her trying to grab at something normal. Like there wasn't a world full of the undead right outside the door.]


[center Reaching up, she couldn't help but pinch the bridge of her nose and shake her head at his reaction. [b "That was very convincing,"] she said in her own sarcastic tone. However, it wasn't at an odd angle and he was still able to move it around, which did make her feel a bit better. Perhaps she was worrying just a little too much. Resting her elbow on the back of the couch, she leaned her head against her hand, frowning at his next words. She probably should've been offended, but what Maxine had said was the truth. She couldn't get upset over that.]


[center Another laugh escaped her lips before she brushed back some blonde strands that had come loose. [b "Yeah, [i that] would have been a disaster,"] she said, meeting his gaze. She didn't have the heart to tell him that it was more than just the ankle. That she was still hurting from a loss that happened at the beginning of the end. She felt it would be silly to say aloud. Everyone had lost everything when the world went to shit. She wasn't the only one and it didn't seem fair for her to voice that at the moment. Plus, it wasn't like he needed to know about it. It wasn't his place to listen and it certainly wasn't her place to just dump it in his lap.]


[center [b "Well, I suppose we'll just rest here until it starts to feel better. If we get moving now, you might make it worse. Plus, it won't be good to run on if we get attacked by any of the faster ones."] It wasn't the best ideal plan, but it was the best that she had at the moment. Now that the adrenaline was fading, she felt like crap. She couldn't tell if that was because it was just too much excitement or if she'd cried just a little too hard. She allowed her eyes to drift close for a second, now lingering on the thought for too long. It didn't matter the reason. [b "Not unless you think you'll be okay, but I don't really want to push it,"] she continued a second later.]
WI_     28d ago

The gentle laugh was as lovely to hear as her humming. It wasn’t some romantic notion, but rather it was nice to hear positive sounds. He’d locked himself away in a gated community for nearly a year and the isolation had driven him close to madness. The past two years had been jumping between outposts and communities, linking up with a group for a couple of weeks before he inevitably got too scared to stick it out and left in the night. Truth be told that was what this mission was a test run for, to see how easy it would be to just slip away. But her airy laughter was a damn sight better than the groans of the dead.

Desi’s plan was sound enough if cautious. She didn’t want to risk going out there and watching him get over-run because he couldn’t run. But he clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and shook it gently. [b “’fraid that can’t be,”] he said as he turned his head back ahead and stared over to the hallway.

[b “We can’t risk sticking here. Not least because those horn-pricks might come back. Don’t know about you, but guys in masks in an apocalypse spells only trouble to me.”] If they came back and decided to go for the one house with the door closed, they’d be surrounded and overwhelmed easily. If she was so upset after hitting him with a bat, he couldn’t imagine how she would fair against a living opponent trying to attack her back.

Then there was the issue with the dead. [b “The fast one’s will have ran off after the truck. The slow ones will start to filter in from the surrounding area. This close to the centre of town, that could be a lot.”] He disliked urban areas for just that reason. If he had his way, they would stick to the countryside and never venture near civilisation. Shame that all the useful supplies and equipment was kept in towns. [b “I’ll strap my ankle up for support. You check upstairs for anything useful, I’ll check the kitchen, then we’ll cut out the back and keep going.”]

Eric knew that would sound like nothing but the worst idea in her mind. She was being practical and sensible, he wanted to just do the ‘man thing’ and press on, persevere, ignore the danger. [b “You worked with kids, right?”] He asked rhetorically. [b “Well, truth be told, I’m just a big ol’ kid myself. Stubborn as a mule and about as bright as one. I'm sure you met your fair share of them.”] He grunted with the effort of sitting forward, his body wanting to remain on the nice soft couch. [b “Trust me, we got this. Yeah?”] With that he balled his right hand up and held it up to her, hoping for agreement that this was for the best.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   27d ago

[center To say she was surprised by his disagreement would be a lie. Desi had been a little hopeful that he wouldn't have argued against it, but she had to admit that he had a point. If those guys came back, who knows how many undead freaks they'd bring with them? [b "You're right,"] she said with a nod, pinching the bridge of her nose. They'd had a sound plan. It wasn't fair that they were having to stall it because of all of this. [b "That many, slow or not, would be too much for us to handle,"] she said with a head of her head. No, leaving as soon as possible was the better idea.]


[center Standing up, she nodded and glanced down at him, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. [b "I thought that was all men?"] she asked as she bumped her fist against his. [b "We've got this."] And with that, she turned on her heel and made her way for the stairs before her teasing could come back and bite her in the ass.]


[center Once upstairs, she took a moment to lean against the wall and just breathe again. She was worried about his foot being a problem, even more so because it was her fault, but that wasn't the only thing on her mind. She hadn't thought about the kids she had worked with in a while. When she'd mentioned them earlier, she hadn't once given thought to what had happened to any of them. Yet for some reason, when he brought it up, it was the first thing that came to mind. She'd barely thought about it since everything went to hell in a handbasket. The thought hurt just as much as the memory had.]


[center Shaking her head, she quickly pushed it from her mind, deciding to check the bathroom first. Inside the medicine cabinet, she didn't find much. There was a box of q-tips, which she decided to grab just because it might come in handy, along with two orange pill bottles, though the labels had been scratched off. Shoving them into her backpack, she searched underneath the sink but didn't come across anything useful. A bit disappointed, she left, closing the door behind her before she made her way to the room.]


[center Not much could be said about the bedroom, either. A broken picture frame lay on the floor beside the bed, but the picture was long gone. She had to be careful not to cut herself on the shards of glass as she picked it up and set it on the nightstand. Rummaging through the clothes, she found a mix of women's and men's. At first, she set them to the side, not thinking much of them, then backtracked and looked at the sizes. The women's clothes were a size too big, but she figured that would be fine. As for the men's, without knowing Eric's size, she wasn't quite sure. She grabbed them anyway, knowing it wouldn't hurt to bring them down and ask.]


[center Whoever had left the room had been in a hurry, that much was evident, but if they had anything of value or that could prove useful to them, they hadn't really left it behind. One of the only other things she found was a snow globe, but the turner for the music box didn't work when she turned it. A sigh escaped her lips before she glanced around once more. The clothes would be good for them, should they need them, and she had the strange pills inside the bag. Maybe they would come in handy down the line?]


[center Closing the bedroom door behind her as well, she hurried back down to the living room. [b "I found some medicine and clothes. I figured if we couldn't fit them, we could use a shirt to wrap up your leg,"] she said as she set them on the back of the couch. [b "Any luck with you?"] She asked as she turned to lean against it.]
WI_     26d ago

The smile was what he’d been searching for. Whilst he could rely on her thinking logically, and to a certain extent that should would just go along with what he proposed, the little smile that threatened to break was a more clear sign that things were not as bleak as once thought. It was like a flash of sun amongst the dark clouds, and gave him a touch of optimism that he wasn’t being a complete fool with his ideas. Just most of one.

As she sauntered off upstairs, he gingerly made his way to the kitchen, biting his inner cheek to save from humming with the discomfort he felt. The ankle was badly sore, but he had promised it wasn’t so bad and therefore had to live with it. If he just didn’t bend the foot, it wasn’t all that bad, he lied to himself.

In the kitchen there was nothing in the cupboards or drawers save two lonely chocolate bars. No doubt they would be bleached a little white given the time they’d sat there but they would be edible nonetheless. Save for eyeing the dead body that lay slumped through the doggy-door, he quickly returned to the couch with a quiet hiss as he sat back down.

Her return was warmly greeted, as warm as Eric could muster, and he relayed his lack of findings. One of the shirts was quickly pulled off, looked over briefly and then torn from collar to hem. A few minutes of fixing one or two strips around his bare ankle and he was left with something serviceable – that was to say his ankle was fixed rather firmly in place. And he had only gasped in pain three times; such a strong man.

Leaving the house to reach the pharmacy owners home was more pain free and easy than anything this last week. The occasional undead they met was avoided with a moments pause or some clever distraction work from Desi, her throwing skill much better than her swinging skill. She did well to keep a calm and level head whilst giving him the time needed to rest his ankle every so often. It was a welcome change of pace for the duo that she could assess and combat any challenges without him, and left him feeling far safer knowing she wasn’t some incompetent survivor who had just lucked out in getting this far.

Reaching the house as the sun just fell over the horizon there was a little eagerness and anticipation on seeing the pharmacy van parked outside. [b “Okay. Nothing special here. We get in, we clear it like the last one, head upstairs and bunker down in a bedroom to wait out the night. Sound good?”] He asked her as the distraction of the house took away from his swollen limb. He hated searched houses at this time of day where light could play tricks on the mind, but they had no other choice did they?
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center It was a bit of a disappointment to hear that Eric hadn't found anything but not at all surprising. The house had seemed bare enough when they had been making their way through it. It would have been foolish to think that there would be anything of use hidden where they couldn't find it. She was glad that one of the shirts worked in their favor and she took what was left before she threw the rest of them into the bag. They wouldn't have time to change them now, though she'd have rathered wash them in water first, so she figured she'd just bring them along for later.]


[center By now, the blood that had stained her shoes and pants were forgotten about, just a distant memory in what would be their day. Before she knew it, they were out of the house, moving along as best they could towards their original destination. She didn't bother to hum or make small talk again, unsure if it would be welcome for the time being, and knowing that it might catch some unwanted attention. She was fairly proud of herself for being able to keep some of the undead at bay, not wanting to put them more at risk than they already were with his ankle and breaks. She didn't mind them. of course. If she had bothered to complain, she would've just come off as a bitch.]


[center Upon finding the home, a grin spread across her face, and it took everything Desi had not to get excited over what they may or may not find inside. [b "Sounds good,"] she said, glancing at him. She was relieved that they had arrived before it got completely dark but hated that they wouldn't really have any light. It was moments like this that she wished she'd had a flashlight on her. Unfortunately, the ones they had back in the community were used for emergencies only and weren't to be taken outside of the walls. They were supposed to know better than to travel at night.]


[center Gripping the bat in one hand, she approached the house, gripping the doorknob and slowly turning it. She was glad to see it wasn't locked but that didn't make her uneasiness go away just yet. While she wanted to check the van, she didn't want to do it while it was dark out, so she decided to wait until the morning to do so. With that, she slowly pushed the door open, peaking around inside. As her eyes adjusted, she could see the slight layout of another staircase straight ahead and two doorways, one to the left and the other to the right. Keeping her steps light, she made her way inside, bat ready to go if she needed to use it.]


[center To the right was a kitchen, which was free of any undead, along with the living room, which had an overturned couch and smashed television. [i How unfortunate.] On the opposite side of the living room was an opening, which led into a dining room. It was unfortunate that this house was much bigger than the last, but it made sense if this was where the couple had kept their things. With the first floor cleared, she motioned towards the stairs before she made her way up. On the fourth step, there was a creak, which caused her to stop immediately, her blood running cold.]


[center For a second, everything seemed to still as she waited to hear something, anything, from the top of the stairs. It felt like forever before she finally released the breath she was holding, grateful that nothing had happened, though her heart still pounded against her chest. She made it the rest of the way up without incident and stared down three different doors. The first one on the left was a bedroom, which was clear of any undead, along with the bathroom beside it. Turning to the door behind her, she hesitated before opening it, eyes widening as she saw what was inside. It was a bigger room, probably the master bedroom, and sitting inside were a good few boxes. She prayed that resting inside were supplies and not more clothes or something.]


[center Closing it, she quickly made her way back downstairs, careful to watch that fourth step, before she met back up with Eric. [b "It's clear. There's a room upstairs with some boxes, but I don't think we should check them until morning. There's also a bedroom as soon as you get to the top that should work for us,"] she said in a whisper, a small smile on her face.]
WI_     26d ago

Rifle in hand, Eric was just as wanting to search the van or the garage off to the side. But with light fading faster he followed her up to the front door and into the house. Like at the pharmacy he remained at the door to give her her route out. Should anything be in side, she had a direct line to him and his waiting gun, enough firepower to kill off any would-be foe. She was sprite and quick and they’d done this a few times now. Still, he was nervous for her. Perhaps it was because she had saved his head, or the lump on the back of his head, but he felt a little more attached to her than before. He could only stand and hope all was well in the house.

She was quick to clear the house downstairs and just as so upstairs. When the creak came, he had paused too, lifting the rifle to his shoulder just incase. Thankfully they were alone and he breathed deeply as she continued up. Minutes later she returned and he felt the tension ease from his body. [b “Nicely done,”] he replied as he closed the door over behind him and turned a lock and a bolt.

Her pack at his feet as she had searched the house, he raised the rifle out to her. [b “Here, carry this for me.”] He requested of her, thanking her when she did as he grabbed her bag. Not wanting to wait downstairs for the remaining light to fade, he made his way for the stairs, pausing on reaching that fourth step. With a soft huff he leapt over it, the bannister giving him support as he limped on up to the top. Pointing to a door for clarification of which was the right one, he headed into the bedroom and gave it the once over before easing both of their bags onto the floor at the foot of the bed.

[b “This will do very well.”] He said as he limped across to the window. Cautious eyes peered out but thankfully this window faced the neighbouring house. Looking at the curtains he saw how thick they were and nodded in approval. The older couple were likely most sensitive to light, so the heavier curtains would keep it out all the better, which was good for Eric and Desi when it came time to sleep.

For now, he turned back, turning to the bed as he eased himself down at the end, falling back and letting out a pleasurable groan at the feeling of the soft mattress beneath. [b “Oh, that hits the spot,”] he whispered to his partner as the pressure eased off his ankle and he already felt so much better. [b “Come on, just take a minute to enjoy this.”] Given most of the beds in their community were just bundles of cloth or clothing, a real mattress was a treat. His hand reached out to her, grasping at the air like a newborn, seeking her own slender fingers much as she had found his in the last house. [b “Seriously. It’s like heaven.”] The small things in life were often the ones with the biggest impact.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center She welcomed his praise with a smile and a quick thank you before she strapped that bat back in its place. So long as the doors and windows were locked, she was sure she wouldn't need it. With her hands free, she would open and close them a few times, trying to relax them after holding the bat so tightly, before she looked up at Eric, taking the rifle from him without complaint. She was a little surprised when he took her bag from her but didn't ask him about it. She was quick to follow behind him, opening her mouth to scold him just a little for leaping over the step, but decided against it as she stepped over it as well, gripping the banister for support.]


[center At the top, she motioned towards the door to the room, stopping in the doorway as she watched him, setting the rifle against the wall. With a nod, she closed the door and leaned against it, letting out a sigh of relief. Her legs were burning from all of the walking they had done that day. It wasn't like that back home, where one could sit down and take breaks whenever they needed to. It wasn't as easy to do out in the world with the undead roaming about. One wrong move and that was it.]


[center She chuckled once he hit the bed, glad to see that he could finally relax and get off of that foot of his. [b "That's good to hear,"] she said, pulling her hair out of its ponytail. As necessary as it was, she hated having it up. She liked the locks when they cascaded down her back and over her shoulders. She felt they just looked better that way. At his request, she hesitated. She hadn't been on a bed in so long and it seemed so inviting, but he needed it more than she did. She planned to decline and just find a way to get comfortable on the floor, but then his hand was out and she felt like she couldn't.]


[center As soon as she laid down, she let out her own soft groan, closing her eyes for just a moment. [b "You weren't kidding,"] she said quietly. If she had a bed like this back home, she'd never wake up miserable. [i Oh, the things you take for granted,] she thought to herself. Rolling onto her side, she propped her head up on her arm and looked at him. [b "While the bed feels great, do you need me to take the floor or something? I figure with your ankle you might need all the room you can get."] She'd feel awful if they shared a bed and she somehow hit it during the night.]


[center Now [i that] wouldn't be fun.]
WI_     26d ago

Watching as she pulled her hair from it’s cute and efficient ponytail, he would silently agree with her inner thoughts; she did look better with it down. It made her look younger somehow, or perhaps it just gave her a gentler appearance? The ponytail was for war, this was relaxed Desdemona. Regardless she gave in to his request to try the bed. Had he been a more saintly soul, that groan she gave may have flushed his cheeks. But he understood. It was [i such] a good bed.

Given a minute or two to simply enjoy the stillness of the room and peace of the world in that moment, he felt the bed move a little and turned his head to see her looking at him. The sun wasn’t yet gone, so both of them were cast in a faint orange hue, and he shook his head lightly. [b “You don’t need to do that,”] he said in disagreement. He felt the bed was plenty big enough they could both sleep in it – back to back of course.

[b “I am a touch offended you’d think that of me,”] he added as he caught those rich dark eyes. [b “It’s the end of the world and you think I’m going to steal away the entire bed to myself? Tsch. You think so little of me!”] He wasn’t the most chivalrous soul for sure but to take this piece of heaven and hoard it away for himself was just mean.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center Desi's own cheeks would flush as he spoke, eyes widening slightly, more out of embarrassment than anything. [b "No, no, I didn't mean-"] She quickly shut up, feeling like she would bury herself in the hole she was starting to dig. It was obvious he was teasing her, which only made the blush darken. She'd never taken to teasing that well, usually just brushing it off or ignoring it, but that was harder to do when they were the only two in the room. [i Especially] when they were laying on the same bed.]


[center There wasn't anything romantic to the situation, that was for sure. If she were honest, Desi didn't think the sort was possible in the world now. Sure, there were people in the community that made it work, but they had been together when they had arrived, some of them from before the end of the world, so it made sense that they could work through it. She was sure if she were in this situation again she would think along the same lines.]


[center A sigh escaped her lips before she laughed. [b "Look, it's not like that. I was just trying to be accommodating,"] she said, motioning to his ankle with her free hand. [b "Just a warning, though; I haven't shared a bed with someone in a very long time. If I hog the covers, that's on you."] She wasn't sure that she was really the kind of person to keep the covers to herself or throw herself all over the bed, but she didn't put anything past herself. No one had ever told her how she slept, so she truly was unaware of what she was like once off in dreamland.]
WI_     26d ago

Having seen how he drew such a rosy cheeked reaction from her with only light taunting, Eric was quite eager to seize upon the advantage. Perhaps the hit to his head had knocked some personality into him, or his body was just so tired that he was more open and talkative than he often was. Regardless, the rouge tint to her cheeks went well with the dark eyes and light hair framing it all.

The laughter left his chest lighter, the positivity from her quite infectious. He knew she was just being kind and considerate, but he was enjoying pushing her boundaries. [b “Oh, now we’re sleeping [i under the covers together]?”] He’d thought perhaps sleeping atop the covers would be pushing the limit, yet here he was being told she may hog the sheets from him. [b “How very bold of you to presume Desdemona.”]

Finally he cracked, finally a light smile tugged at his lips before spreading to a full on grin. It was almost shocking to himself, but he lifted a hand up to rest over the one she not propped her head up on. Giving the back of her hand a light squeeze he nodded. [b “You’re a good kid. Too good for this world to deserve.”] He added as he looked at her.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center There was a moment of silence as her eyes widened again, her cheeks flushing brighter as she opened her mouth to object, to say [i something] that could counter the situation, but words had left her speechless as she watched him. It was wrong of her to assume anything like that. Perhaps it was just because she was used to sleeping that way, even when it was just clothes tied together for a makeshift blanket. The more she thought about her words, the more she realized that they were pretty bold. She scolded herself mentally for it. She didn't want him to get the wrong idea.]


[center Her eyes met his as she caught his smile, feeling a little reassured by his hand over hers and his words. She didn't agree with him, though she wouldn't say that out loud. She was just trying to get by being the person that her mother had raised her to be. She had never been someone who was selfish, only to a small degree, or who could put her own needs before others. There was one time she had broken her foot and been told to use a motorized cart at a store. She'd opted out and used her crutches, despite how uncomfortable they were, for the simple fact that "someone might need the cart more."]


[center That was how she felt about this situation. She just didn't want to risk hurting him more. [b "I apologize that it came off that way,"] she said with a nervous chuckle. [b "I just... I have this thing where I can't sleep without the covers, so I definitely just assumed that was how this was working,"] she said, blowing a stray strand of blonde hair from her eyes. [b "Also, not a kid,"] she said with a huff. [b "Full blown adult, even if I don't act like it,"] she said with a smile. [b "If anything, [i you're] the one who admitted to being like a child, remember?"] She knew where he was coming from, she did. She just felt like throwing a bit back at him. Try to ease her embarrassment.]
WI_     26d ago

[i How did such an easily flustered girl survive for so long?] It was a question he played to himself, Eric not sure if it would have been insulting to have asked aloud. She had grit, that was for damn sure, but she looked too innocent and naive and had the personality of a woman who hadn’t seen the depths of depravity this world was now open to. He couldn’t cast her down for having no experience. Nor could he say her attractiveness was to do with it, that was just a personal thought after all. Perhaps he was just heavily jaded to most people in the world now.

His hand remained atop hers a little longer, nodding at her explanation of just [i why] she needed to be under covers. It was understandable. He’d just gone so long without he was kind of used to it. As she blew the loose hair away, so too did his hand flitter back and rest atop his stomach. [b “Oh I agree, I’m an immature and head strong youth. Just wish the body matched.”] He said with an exaggerated groan as he lifted his arm up and behind his head to rest on.

[b “But I’m not so stubborn as to force you to sleep on the floor.”] He said as he matched her grin, her attempt to tease not working so it seemed. [b “Don’t worry, you can have all the covers to yourself tonight. But if I draw the line at you taking over the entire bed.”] She was a dainty little thing, no way she could steal this whole bed to herself. He’d let her, and had been ready to propose he slept on the floor for the good of his ankle not slipping off the bed to strike something in his sleep. This was a nice compromise.

With a huff he had to psyche himself up to sit upright, pulled from the comfortable bedding as he stretched out his arms and felt muscles popping along his back in a satisfying manner. [b “I’ll concede though,”] he said as he looked aside and down to her, [b “you aren’t a kid. Definitely showed me that today. You’re a big strong woman.”] With that he gave her knee a pat, but also used it to ease himself back onto his feet, stumbling a step forward as the pain returned to his ankle.

[b “I’m gonna try and find another pair of trousers, or shorts or something for tonight.”] Given one leg was covered in the remains of a dead body, he doubted she’d want to slept beside either the smell of the mess.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center Desdemona could help the next laugh that escaped her. That was certainly not the comment that she had expected, but she understood nonetheless. When she'd worked with her classes, she'd always wished she had the energy and minds that they did, untainted by the cruelness of the world and smart as whips when given the chance to prove it. As an adult, she'd poked and prodded at the parts of herself she didn't like or had to worry about things like taxes and the like. [b "Doesn't matter how old the body grows,"] she said with a smile, [b "So long as the mind stays youthful, you'll be fine."] That wasn't completely true, since a body did tend to break down, but it was something she thought about all the time regardless.]


[center Another smile tugged her lips before she nodded. [b "Sounds like a good deal to me."] She got to keep the covers and they would both be comfortable? Who could complain about that? Watching him sit up, she frowned. She almost felt like he was being sarcastic, though she was doubtful. She had definitely proven herself, she liked to think. [b "You okay there?"] She could tell that standing wasn't exactly comfortable. Guilt stabbed at her as she sat up.]


[center She motioned to her bag. [b "You're free to check in there for what I grabbed, or maybe the dresser,"] she said, motioning towards that next. [b "Not really sure if there's anything in it, but it wouldn't hurt to look."] She'd forgotten all about her own clothes, sighing before she reached over to take off her shoes. [b "I'll leave the room so you can change, that way you don't have to go to the bathroom. Once you're done, I'll find something of my own to sleep in,"] she said, sliding off the bed.]


[center With another smile, she made her way for the door, giving him a look over her shoulder. [b "If you need help getting something, don't hesitate to ask, okay?"] And with that, she stepped outside, shutting the door behind her and leaning against it. No need to stay in the room while he was changing. That would be the [i last] thing she needed to see.]
WI_     26d ago

Not wanting to check ten drawers or five cupboards for clothing right now, he nodded his thanks to her that she had thought to grab stuff from the old house. He hobbled over to lift her bag onto the bed, a huff of derisory laughter from him the best to be found when she commented on leaving the room. [b “Lucky you. I wish I could leave the room too.”] Self-deprecation was rife in his tone and he paused to look at her as she turned at the door. [b “Thank you..”] He said in a genuine manner before the door closed behind her.

His gaze lingered on the door a moment longer before he shook his head, reaching up to press at the light bruising to the back of his head. He was tired. Everything was not what it seemed, especially someone like Desdemona being kind to him. Like a lost puppy he was just starved for attention and so gravitated towards her kind and helpful nature. Still, it was nice to have held her hand..

In the bag was a pair of jogging bottoms – not ideal but they would do well for the night at least. He would hiss and huff his way through removing his boots, his socks and finally the jeans. Keeping the belt, he moved to the window and with little effort – and very quietly – opened it to throw the pants and socks away in the adjoining garden. Sliding his pale yet muscular legs into the leggings, after a moments inspection of the bruised ankle, he pooled his jacket, bag and boots into one corner and out the way. Left in a t-shirt and the new pants, he felt a little refreshed.

Over at the door there was little warning before he pulled it open, a certain blonde haired girl stumbling back against him for a moment before she pulled herself upright. [b “Look at that; falling for me already.”] He teased quietly before he turned aside for her. [b “All yours. Take your time. I’m going to re-wrap my ankle.”] He commented as he held up another strip of cloth he’d torn back at the old house. With that, he brushed by her with a hand gently brushing over her back same as in the pharmacy, squeezing by her as he limped over to the bathroom, door left open as he sat himself down on the closed toilet.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center While leaning against the door, Desi found herself humming again, not so worried now about one of the undead hearing her. It was nice to know that it wouldn't bother her partner, though she still kept it rather low just in case. It was a moment where she could just allow herself to get lost in her thoughts, mentally singing the words to herself as the tune echoed throughout the hall. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head against the door. She couldn't hear when the window opened, unaware of whatever it was he was doing inside the room. Hell, had she heard it, she might have assumed he was going to jump out, though it would've been doubtful.]


[center Due to the humming and just letting her mind wander, Desi wasn't paying attention when his footsteps sounded near the door. She didn't even notice when the handle turned. It wasn't until it swung open that she gasped, eyes widening as she fell against him. Once again, her cheeks flushed as she quickly stepped away, looking up at him. Rolling her eyes, she gently nudged him in the side before shaking her head. [b "You wish,"] she said with a soft laugh. Nope. She wouldn't even allow herself to go down that road.]


[center His hand along her back made that a little difficult, causing a shiver to run down her spine, though she kept it as hidden as she could. [b "Just be careful,"] she said before closing the door again. She let out a sigh before she ran a hand through her hair again. Maybe she was just going crazy. Back in the community, she was used to interacting with people, making jokes, etc. Little comments here and there wouldn't cause her cheeks to feel so warm. [b "You need a cold bath,"] she mumbled to herself before pushing away from the door.]


[center Rummaging through her bag, she pulled out a shirt and pair of shorts, quickly changing into them. Sure enough, the shirt was a bit bigger than she needed it to be, but comfortable nonetheless, and the shorts had a string that she could tie to keep them from falling down while she walked. All in all, it was better than nothing and would help make that night's sleep feel somewhat normal. It wasn't long before she opened the door again, poking her head out into the hall. [b "You're free to come back whenever you're ready,"] she said, moving back towards the bed and sitting on top of it, one leg bent on the mattress while the other pointed down towards the floor. She was exhausted, sure, but not quite ready to pass out.]
WI_     26d ago

Sat on the toilet he rest his foot onto the rim of the bath, sighing as he gently felt around the ankle. Maybe it was fractured? Or hell, it could have been dislocated, he wasn’t a doctor after all. Such thoughts would be kept to himself. Maybe a few days would give him better clarity as he wrapped the cloth around his ankle in a firm manner, not too tight though as he wanted a little more give now he wouldn’t be walking on it.

It was only a few minutes before he heard Desi call that she was done, and he pushed up off the seat to test the new binding. The skin would be a nice colour come morning, but with a little more luck they wouldn’t be looking at something long term. Heading back through into the bedroom he paused in the doorway, eyes on Desdemona as she sat on the bed.

Could he really be blamed for staring? The shorts were rather throwing him off, given how her legs were on show. It wasn’t like this was some ploy to entice him in. Again, it was just that long space of time since last he’d shared a room like this with someone else. At least, shared with another woman. He’d been thrown in some bad rooms with other guys since this all went down. This.. was a welcome change.

Walking in he closed the door over behind him, grabbing the rifle from beside the door as he went for his bag. [b “You err.. you look good.”] He commented as he paused to grab a bottle from his bag before moving to the other side of the bed. Placing the rifle in an advantageous position, he looked back over to her.

[b “Sorry, not sure what I was meant to say then.”] Eric added truthfully as he unscrewed the bottle, taking a sip before offering it out to her. [b “Just a touch awkward this, right?”] He asked though clarified what he meant quickly. [b “You know, to be getting ready for bed like there aren’t cannibals running around outside? Feels almost wrong.”]
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center No blush right away, luckily enough for Desdemona, but that didn't mean she didn't tilt her head, watching him with a puzzled look as he stared at her. Was there something wrong with the outfit? Maybe something on her shirt? She glanced down and tugged at the hem to double-check. She didn't think the outfit was revealing or anything so she was quite oblivious to a problem. She bit the inside of her cheek before she offered him a smile. [b "Thank you?"] She wasn't quite sure how she was supposed to take that, but it was kind of him, nonetheless.]


[center She chuckled and shifted to move completely on the back, leaning up against the headboard and pulling her knees to her chest. [b "No worries,"] she said, taking the bottle from him. For the time being, she didn't care what it was. It would be better than nothing. She took a sip of her own before handing it back to him, letting out a laugh before she nodded. [b "Definitely feels wrong to a degree, but at the same time, it feels kind of nice, too."] She glanced at him. [b "It feels nice to just do something normal."]]


[center Even if it was just for a few hours, Desdemona felt like she could put the outside world out of her mind and just enjoy the unfamiliar bed and company of another person. It was almost like a sleepover in a way. Just a night to relax and pretend everything was okay. Of course, she didn't expect the two of them to do one another's hair and gossip, though she had to wonder what his reaction to that would be. The image alone was almost funny.]


[center [b "So, in the morning, we just go through the boxes and van, grab whatever we can carry, and head back. If this place has a good stock, the community will be good for some time."] It was a comforting thought, knowing that they could help the place keep running. If anything went wrong, they'd lose their home in a heartbeat. That wasn't something Desi was ready to do again.]
WI_     26d ago

He wished it was alcohol he was handing her. Not for nefarious reasons, just because he could really do with a drink right now to just ease himself into sleep. He took the bottle back and refitted the cap, nodding with her sentiment. [b “Yeah. Oddly relaxing.”] He agreed as he looked at her sat against the headboard. Someone certainly looked comfortable.

Eric eased himself back down onto the bed, this time pushing the covers over so he wasn’t laying atop them, He lay down fully, letting his head come to rest against the pillow and letting out a satisfying sigh of delight at how fluffy it still remained. [i Perfect.]

When she propositioned the mornings events, he turned his head and nodded, looking up at her in a reverse of their earlier positions. [b “Yeah. If we’re lucky maybe we find the keys to the van. If not, we grab a few bags and fill them up best we can.”] She was right that the community needed the supplies, but at the same time he had that gnawing thought of [i ‘for how long’]. It was that pessimism that had crept in in his time alone that often forced him away from groups, and he raised a hand to rub at weary old eyes.

After a few minutes of them just enjoying the moment once more, the silence was getting to Eric, his mind wandering and his lips began to move before he knew what he wanted to say. [b “You know I didn’t expect us to make it to the pharmacy to begin with,”] he said as stared up at the ceiling in the last on the sunlight. [b “I had this thought, this gut feeling, that I was gonna fuck up. Turn the wrong corner. Go into the wrong building. Trip over something. Just this belief that something bad was gonna happen the moment we stepped out of the gates.”]

It wasn’t exactly the gossiping and sleep over talk she may have been expecting, but it kept the silence at bay and their thoughts from the darker parts of their minds. [b “I dunno if you believe in that stuff, but I think there’s a kind of balance to the world. Good for bad, y’know?”] He turned his head back to her. [b “I figure you’re the good, I’m the bad. We cancel out a lot of the shit.”] His free hand came out, nudging her foot briefly. [b “Now, am I right, or did that bang to the head knock a few things loose?”] He asked and let out a huff of laughter.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center Desdemona rested her cheek on her knees for just a moment as she looked at him, not at all surprised by him sighing. The bed was comfortable enough to just throw themselves on. She could imagine it would be pretty great to sleep on once they were completely relaxed. Had beds always been so amazing, or was it just because they didn't have any back home? She really wasn't sure. What she did know was that she was going to hate leaving it in the morning. [b "Finding keys to the van would be amazing,"] she said with a nod. She hadn't even thought of that possibility.]


[center Brown eyes would drift close for just a moment as she let the silence settle in, okay with it for the time being. It was relaxing and peaceful right now, something that wasn't often achieved when out on a scavenger hunt. There was always the threat of something popping up when they didn't need it to. Right now, however? She could easily pretend there wasn't a chance of that.]


[center She opened her eyes to look at him as he spoke, frowning. She wasn't mad that he had said it, just a little surprised. [b "I can't say I blame you. It's so easy to believe that something bad is going to happen once you're past the safety of the walls."] In truth, the community wasn't completely safe, either. Every day there was a chance that the walls could be breached or that some rogue group of strangers could come in and ruin everything. Sometimes getting out felt a bit relieving. If something happened when one wasn't around, they wouldn't be there to witness it or get caught up in the mess.]


[center It was terrible to think about, but true nonetheless.]


[center She let out a soft laugh before she shook her head. [b "I don't necessarily disagree with you, about the balance of good and bad. However, I'm highly doubtful that you and I have a place in that. You haven't done a single thing for me to believe you have a bad slot."] She smiled at him. [b "Now, maybe you have bad luck,"] she said, motioning to his ankle, [b "but that's not your fault."] She then sighed and reached out to snag the blanket, throwing it over her legs before bringing them back up to her chest again. [b "How [i does] your head feel? I'm a little worried about you falling asleep because of it if I'm honest."] It would really suck for him to die on her during the night and turn on her while they were sleeping.]
WI_     26d ago

[b “Oh, I was kinda hoping you’d just call me crazy. It would be easier if I was just insane.”] Eric remarked as she covered her legs and enquired of his head. It was nice of her to be concerned for him, but in truth he felt a little mad in explaining how his mind worked. Sometimes if you had some explanation, it was better than the truth that he was just a normal man going through bouts of insane thinking.

The mention of his head had some odd effect. Like a child who had fallen over, the acknowledgement of the injury brought on a dull throb in the back of his skull. His hand came up to brush through his hair and he looked at her. Mulling over his answer for a moment, he nodded lightly. [b “I’ll be fine. I felt nauseous earlier when it first happened, but it went away.”] He understood the worry of losing him in the night, but thankfully he’d never lost consciousness so things were much better for them.

Still he had the feeling she was quite a cautious girl. [b “You always this mindful of others or is it just because I’m an old man?”] He questioned her, having never really spoken to her much in the short time he’d been at her camp. It was odd to think they were partners out here given how newly arrived he was, but it seemed they thought enough of him to send him out alone with one other member.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   26d ago

[center A grin found its way to her face at his words, though it didn't quite reach her eyes as she nodded. [b "My apologies, then,"] she said with a slight chuckle. It [i would] be easier to plead insanity, though. The world was crazy enough that it would be believable. [b "Next time, I'll do just that,"] she said, nudging his arm. Upon answering her question about his head, she only nodded, biting the inside of her cheek. It had always been a bad habit of hers. [b "Alright, but if you start to feel nauseous again, please tell me."] She'd stay up all night if she had to just to make sure he made it till morning.]


[center His question caused her to pause as she thought about it. Before the undead took over the world, the answer would've been no. She had always believed that there was good in almost everyone. That if someone did something wrong, it was because they were backed into a corner and didn't know how to get out. She couldn't fathom the idea that some, like serial killers and other horrible people, could be so evil. Now, however... so many things had changed her in the past few years.]


[center [b "No, it's not because you're an old man,"] she said, smiling at him again. [b "I wasn't always so careful. In fact, I guess you could say I was pretty reckless. I would always lend a hand or give money away when I could because I felt like people deserved it. That they were truly kind and wouldn't try to stab me in the back. Even when I did, I would just smile and move on from it."] She then sighed. [b "Nowadays, though, I can't say I trust anyone. Desperate times call for desperate measures."]]


[center She grew quiet for a moment as another memory floated to the forefront of her mind. [b "Within the first few months of this crap, I ended up with a group of strangers, five of them. They had seemed so sweet at first sharing rations, taking care of one another. I felt like they'd be great people to stay around."] Tears filled her eyes as she tightened her arms around her knees. [b "Then one night we were ambushed by another group. One of the guys I was with, Jeffery, turned around and tried to throw us all to them, basically saying that he didn't care what happened to us, so long as he lived. He was given a gun and told to shoot one of us to prove it..."]]


[center She sighed before she shook her head. [b "I still believe there's good in people, but I know better than to hand them a knife and keep my back to them, lest they bury it inside of me."] Her voice was barely above a whisper now. It wasn't his fault that the memory had come crawling back. It wasn't even a problem that he had asked. She would have, too. Wiping at her eyes, she quickly smiled again, pushing away the dull ache in her chest. [b "The caution will go away, though, once I get to know you better, so don't worry about that,"] she said with a wave of her hand.]
WI_     26d ago

Things had gotten very serious in a swift manner. Eric listened politely and intently, hearing how she once was quite sweet and outgoing before all this began. Yet just three years, and a particularly traumatising moment in her life later, she almost came across as jaded and reserved. From what he had seen of her in their time together he’d seen a resilient if timid girl. It was disheartening to know she had once been so much more optimistic.

Reaching across he put a hand on her arm just as she finished wiping her eyes, giving a light squeeze as she tried to wave off the emotion that had come with the memories. [b “Hey,”] he said to get her to look across to him again, [b “never lose the caution. You’re only goal is to keep [i you] alive.”] He added as his hand held on to her. She wasn’t having a breakdown, nor did she look to be in need of a pep talk, but similarly he didn’t want her to chastise her own thoughts or actions because of what had happened to the world. It was all about self-preservation now.

Letting his hand drop away he nodded. [b “I was the opposite to you. Before all this began, I was pretty much the same as I am now.”] A soft laugh came as he flexed his ankle and sucked in a sharp breath. [b “Minus the headache and swollen ankle, of course.”] He turned his gaze back upward, closing his eyes as the dull throb of pain lessened to a manageable level.

[b “I was doing some finishing work to a house out near Harson, a small gated community some developer from Wyoming was building. Well, the proverbial shit hits the fan, and I just went full hermit.”] His own memories come forth and he sighs in resignation more than sadness. [b “I threw some locks around the main gates, made it look abandoned and whatnot and just… sat there. For an entire year.”] In some people’s minds that would be bliss. The solitary confinement was heaven to him as well, for a time.

Letting out a grunt he drew in a deep breath. [b “Saw a lot of people come up to those gates. Couples. Families. Old folks. Little kids. Soldiers. Saw a lot of those same people get torn up by fresh dead.”] The screams would haunt him forever, the recollection of their dying cries like some horror film compilation. [b “Didn’t lift a finger to help none of them. Didn’t care much for others then. Don’t care much for others now.”] It was a different means of keeping distance to Desdemona. She did it to stop herself being taken advantage of. Eric did it because… well, maybe just because he was a selfish prick.

[b “Not telling you this for you to try and tell me it wasn’t my fault. Don’t need you to diagnose me or call me out on what I did. I know what I did, I know why, I’m at peace with it.”] Her opinion mattered but only to an extent. They were still relative strangers to each other, despite their time together on this excursion. [b “Just thought you’d want to know the kind of man I am before you think of letting down that caution. Like I said, cautions good. Keeps you alive. That’s all you have to do these days.”] His voice had carried a very flat and even tone throughout, no emotion either positive or negative in his voice.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   25d ago

[center His hand on her arm gave Desi some comfort almost immediately, which was nice considering she'd let herself fall into that painful hole again, though not as bad as last time. She knew he was right. Nowadays, it was about surviving, no matter what. That truth, however, scared her deep down. She didn't want to be one of these people who were willing to just shoot someone in the head to save her own skin. If she ever became that person, ever took that step to losing what humanity she had left, she would surely go crazy.]


[center As he spoke, she couldn't help but think about how nice the conversation was, in a weird, twisted way. They were learning a little bit about each other, which was probably a bad idea in the long run, but for the time being, it was pleasant. It gave the two of them a little bit of insight into who they were working with. There was a hint of a smile as he joked about his head and ankle, though she still felt a bit bad about it. A thought came to mind, but she knew she could wait until he was finished recounting what he'd been doing when all hell broke loose.]


[center [b "I can't believe you got by for a whole year on your own,"] she said softly, purposefully avoiding the part about the people he'd seen. It was sad, yes, and had she been in his shoes, she personally would've helped, but she also knew that what he had done had kept him alive this long. She knew she would have gone insane sitting alone for a year. No human interaction at all? She couldn't even bear the thought. She was a social butterfly. It wasn't in her nature to be alone.]


[center She offered him a full smile this time. [b "I'm not going to let my guard down. While we've helped one another so far, if it comes down to it, I have to believe that you would throw me to the undead if it means saving your life."] The words were harsh, but her tone was kind. It wasn't a thought that sat well with her, considering the story she had told just a moment before, but she wasn't fooled enough to believe that he would risk his life for her if there was a choice. She, however, was the opposite, and she would admit it if she had to. [b "You did what you felt you needed to do to save yourself. I won't judge you for that."] Everyone reacted differently to the end of the world.]


[center Wanting to move away from the heaviness the conversation had taken on, she motioned to her bag. [b "I have those pain relievers,"] she said, bringing herself back to the thought she'd had a little while ago. [b "Do you need some? I bet they'll help a great deal."] She'd hate to see him in pain throughout the night.]
WI_     25d ago

Eric concurred with her surprise at his self-imposed seclusion. She was not some wallflower, but rather seemed like the centre and life of a party. [i This] was a demure Desi. This was her three years into a global collapse and yet she still held so much positivity and joy that he wondered if she hadn’t really cracked back with Jeffery. He kept quiet though.

Instead, he responded with a shake of his head, though the sun was all but gone now so it may have been missed. [b “No, don’t be silly. It’d be a waste.”] He commented swiftly, not wanting a social back and forth on whether he should have them versus if he really needed them. His tone was a touch harsh, his body tense, but he let out a deep sigh and turned his head back towards her. The last of the light still shone on her youthful face and lit small fires in her dark eyes.

[b “Desi,”] a final time his hand came back to her arm, [b “you’re right not to trust me. I get it. We're not exactly familiar with each other.”] Their back-and-forth nudges of one another had been trivial and light, a little playful to help lift the mood of such deep topics. Now however, his hand slid upwards, finding her hand about her knee and taking hold of it. [b “But, I was honest before. You saved my life. I owe you for that.”] Her hand was warm in his and his voice had dropped to a gentle whisper, his tone still holding that serious note to it.

[b “Thank you.”] He added as his hand squeezed her gently. [b “You should get some sleep. We’ll start up again early in the morning, maybe we can make up some lost time getting back.”] Her community was her own, and though he was not an integral member, he felt a responsibility to get her back and not keep her out here too long.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   25d ago

[center An argument rested on the tip of her tongue. She wanted to tell him that it was fine, that it wouldn't really be a waste if they were needed, but Eric had proved earlier that he was a stubborn man, willing to push through the pain rather than wait for it to subside or anything like that, so she bit it back, knowing it probably wouldn't get her anywhere. [b "Alright, but if you change your mind, there's nothing wrong with asking,"] she said, hoping that with the offer out there, he might at least think about it.]


[center The way he said her name, the way he rested his hand on her arm again, threw Desdemona for a loop. He really hadn't seemed like the type to be so physical. Was it just his way of trying to ease her mind, or did he need to feel another human being? It was a thought she wouldn't linger on for too long, but it had been there nonetheless. A slight shiver ran down her spine as his hand found hers. It wasn't because she was flustered or anything. Just that his hands across her skin had caused some goosebumps to rise.]


[center [b "You don't owe me anything,"] she said, squeezing his hand in return. [b "I know one day my selflessness is going to get me killed, but if it means someone else gets to live, especially someone who can make it back to the community, then so be it. I would do it again in a heartbeat."] If she died saving someone else, she would die staying true to who she was. She would be okay with that.]


[center She frowned at the way he had worded his next sentence. [b "You need to sleep, too,"] she said, raising a brow. [b "It won't be good for either of us if you don't."] Both of them probably needed it more than they were willing to admit. Hesitantly, she pulled her hand away, having enjoyed the warmth of his hand against hers before she shifted to lay down, still facing him for just a moment. [b "I won't sleep until I know you will,"] she said in a lighter tone, trying to ease any tension in the room.]
WI_     25d ago

Even for a heartless and stubborn man like Eric, hearing her speak about dying due to her selflessness, hearing about her dying for any reason, brought a little tightening feeling to his chest. This damn woman was a different kind of stubborn to him, but nevertheless she was stuck in her ways. When two rocks came together then neither were going to be moved. The feel of her hand lingered even as she pulled it away and he felt the bed shift as she settled down.

Remaining atop the covers, or what little weren’t already bundled over her lithe frame, he watched her turn to face him as she stated her intention to remain awake to spite him. [b “I don’t need all that much sleep to be fair…”] He started with his excuses, but they would fall on deaf ears as she remained silently staring at him. [b “Alright, alright, fine, I’ll try to sleep. But… damn you’re good.”] He complained in astonishment that he would bend so easily to her. Perhaps it was just an after effect of his declaration to pay her back. This was merely a small means of payment.

With that, he would turn his head back upright, his hands resting on his stomach as he closed his eyes over. For a good portion of the night he would sleep, drifting off after some time where her gentle and therapeutic breathing was all that could be heard. The presence of another warm body nearby was unknowingly comforting.

Unfortunately, he did not sleep through to morning, instead waking with a start at some point beyond midnight. He’d taken time to calm himself, to ensure Desi was asleep and fine, before he slipped off the bed. Not risking opening a creaking door, he moved to the window and would be found there when she woke, looking out the window whilst perched atop the drawers. His hands idly massaged his swollen ankle as he saw in the morning like an old friend.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   25d ago

[center A raised brow and silent look had been all it took to get him to listen to her? Admittedly, Desi was a little surprised. She kept the smug look that threatened to break across her face at bay but that didn't stop the satisfaction that bloomed inside of her chest. [b "Thank you,"] she said, feeling at least a little better knowing that he was willing to try. After a few minutes, she rolled over, pulling the covers up to her chin and getting as comfortable as she could. It was difficult at first since she really wasn't used to someone sleeping near her, but she drifted off eventually.]


[center Despite the events of the day before, she was fortunate enough to not have any nightmares. It was one of the things she would be grateful for when morning came. There were weeks at a time where she would be plagued with them, unable to sleep for fear that if she did, she would relive something or even think of something worse than what she'd already gone through. Maybe it was because she was sleeping in a real bed for the first time in forever.]


[center When morning came, she was completely oblivious to the fact that Eric hadn't slept as long as she had. Of course, when she first opened her eyes and found the spot beside her empty, she shot up, almost panicked, before she caught sight of him at the window. Relief flooded her just as quickly that he was still around, though she wouldn't say anything about it out loud. With a yawn and a stretch of her arms over her head, she would start running her fingers through her hair as she watched him. [b "How are you feeling?"] she asked tilting her head to get her fingers through a little easier. [b "Were you able to sleep okay?"]]


[center She prayed she didn't roll over and hit him or anything during the night. She was sure she'd never get over the embarrassment. [b "Still against those pain relievers?"] The question was asked as she slid out of the bed, stretching again before she made her way over to him. [b "How's it look?"] So many questions so early in the morning. Desi couldn't help it: she was a morning person. Once she was up, she was ready to get talking and moving. It was one of the things her mother hadn't enjoyed about her as a child.]
WI_     25d ago

Her yawn and stretching drew his attention back to the bed, the sun on the other side of the house so light was minimal and grey this early. Lazily he looked over at her as she brushed back her hair and he was a touch annoyed; how did she look like [i that] when she had only just woken up? Purely as a man, it was difficult to look at her as anything but attractive. Thankfully he could file that away as quickly as it came up and watched her slip free of the bed to approach him.

Each time he went to answer, a new question came forth. Raising a finger to her to finally silence further inquiries, he nodded lightly. [b “Feel better,”] a second finger flicked up, [b “slept as well as you might imagine, still against those painkillers and it looks like shit.”] Additional fingers rose with each question answered and he shifted a little from his perch to show her his ankle. Indeed, it was akin to a wine stain, from above his ankle bone to the hell of his foot. It looked bad but he quickly interjected before she could decry his stubbornness.

[b “It feels better already. Tender, but better. I’ll keep it wrapped up but it’s looking good.”] He commented as he caught her gaze with his own, no hint of a lie in his face. [b “Though if you’re offering a massage, I wouldn’t say no.”] The tease had returned as he rubbed his hand over his bearded chin. Her chipper and upbeat nature was wearing down his cold outer shell.
Lovely_PoisonDesdemona   25d ago

[center Desdemona stood patiently with her hands behind her back as he answered each question. She was a little annoyed that he still didn't want any of the painkillers she had found but at least she knew she still wouldn't get anywhere if she tried to push it. [i You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.] She couldn't say she'd heard a truer statement. She was offering him a way to ease the pain, but if he didn't want to take it, she couldn't force him. Hell, she wouldn't try to force him. That would just get awkward very quickly.]


[center Brown eyes left his to check out the ankle. She drew in a sharp breath before she nodded. [b "Definitely looks like shit."] She really thought it looked worse than it had the day before. [i God, you suck.] She couldn't help but scold herself. Had she not been lost in her own thoughts, his foot would be fine. She opened her mouth to say sorry but quickly thought better of it. He was probably tired of her apologizing for something he had already forgiven her for. No point in repeating herself.]


[center She brought her gaze back to his face, hoping he really was telling her the truth. She wouldn't feel as guilty if he was, though she wouldn't tell him that. A light blush came to her cheeks as he spoke some more. [b "I... I mean, if you really need me to, I have no problem with it. Really, anything to help ease the pain I caused."] Why her cheeks felt warm, she had no idea. It was a silly thing to flustered about, truly it was.]
WI_     25d ago

Her reaction was priceless, and he shook his head lightly as stood back upright. His foot slipped off the dresser and with a little pressure he eased upright once more. His hand came up and on to her shoulder, patting it lightly. [b “My god Desi, you’re so guilt ridden it’s now rather sweet.”] He said as he gingerly eased around her. He paused a few steps on, turning to look back at her and eye the shorts she wore.

[b “I’m gonna go check downstairs in the kitchen,”] he said before turning back and going for the rifle he’d propped up near his side of the bed. [b “You search here, though keep an eye out for some jeans for me, thanks.”] He lifted the rifle up, checking the chamber carefully before nodding in satisfaction.

He moved back over to her and paused at her side, leaning in just a touch closer to speak, [b “Thank you for the offer, it was very kind of you.”] With that, Eric would hobble his old ass out the door, keen to search the kitchen to see if they could replenish their food supplies. The extra time out from the community meant they needed more rations to stay out here.

His alternate excuse for wanting to be downstairs and out of her way was not wanting to be caught staring at her legs. She already thought him callous enough to use her life to extend his own, getting caught perving at her would not help at all. She was a sweet girl, so he’d respect her by busying himself looking for food and other supplies.

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