Day Zero – Chapter 2 – Marin – 03

            “You okay, Marin?”
            I rested my chin on my knee, looking up toward Kellin and managing a shrug.  “Thinking, mostly.  Not good things.”
            “Not a lot of good to think about right now, ‘cept that we’re what’s left of…well.  What’s left.”  She came over and sat down next to me on the mattress.  “What’s up?”
            I grimaced.  “Carolyn.”  She blinked at me, momentarily confused.  I sighed and shook my head.  “She knows what we know, I think.  Sort of.  She feels…she feels that something’s gone wrong, beyond just saying it.  I can tell.  It’s in her eyes.  She knows, Kel.”
            Kellin’s voice was quiet.  “She Awakened?”
            “Yes,” I whispered, exhaling slowly.  “I’m pretty sure of it.”  For better or for worse, she’s aware, Awake.  Hopefully the former.  I guess we’ll know soon enough.
            Kellin didn’t say anything for a long moment.  “Well,” she said finally, “I guess that’s a bridge we have to cross sooner than we’d have liked.”  She scrubbed her hands over her face and leaned back against her palms, looking at me.  “We knew that it might eventually happen.”
            “Eventually.  We also decided it might never happen in this lifetime, so why worry about it?”  I blew out a breath through my teeth.  “If she’s becoming aware, Kellin, what about the others?  They can’t be far behind.”  We always thought she would be the last one to Awaken.  Maybe we were wrong.  I hope we are.  I just want to be able to take this one person at a time.  Carolyn first, everyone else later.
            “A bridge we’ll cross when we get to it.  We’ve got other issues.”
            “I’m sure we do,” I mumbled.  I dug around in my pocket for my keys, coming up empty.
            “We took them already.  That’s how we got into the other dorms.”
            “Oh.”  I chewed the inside of my lip.  Of course they’d loot my keys.  If furniture is going to equal shelter…  “Who’s in charge, Kellin?”
            “Right now?  We’re kind of leading by consensus.  Professor Doyle seems like he’s in pretty good shape, now that his arm’s set.”  Greg Doyle was maybe eight years older than me—in his early thirties, I thought—and taught biology.  I’d only met him a few times, at meetings for the campus pagan group, which I’d helped to create and then promptly abandoned as things got…well…too fuzzy for me.  Kellin had stuck it out, probably just to see if she could channel some of the members in positive directions.  I wasn’t sure how successful she’d been—we didn’t talk about the organization much.  “Haven’t really found anyone else other than you that’s even moderately in the realm of authority figure.”  The only thing that made me an authority figure was that in addition to my off-campus job, I was one of the people in charge of the summer camps staff—which had resulted in me having a lot of keys, mostly to the dormitories and a few associated buildings.  Between me and Davon, we probably had keys to most of the campus and knew how to find the rest.
            I nodded slowly, taking another long swallow of water.  “It’s a Sunday.  Guess we can’t expect much of anyone to actually be on campus, right?”
            “For better or worse,” Kellin murmured, looking at her hands, which were stained with dirt.
            Oh.  Oh.  Oh, Kellin.  I reached over, squeezed her arm gently.  “How many have you buried already?”
            “Thirty or forty, maybe,” she said quietly.  “Long graves—trenches, really.  Out by the PAC.”  She paused, then looked at me.  “We haven’t found Thom yet.”
            Why would they be looking for Thom?  Thom left for Chicago…he’s not here.  He didn’t want to stay to say good-bye to me.  Interview was too important.  All that rot.  He’s gone.  My throat tightened.  I didn’t want him to be gone, to be dead, but that was probably the reality.  I fought to keep my voice steady.  “Thom’s in Chicago.  We’re not going to find him here.  He’s probably dead, like most of the rest.”  The words tasted like ash in my mouth.  I felt sick just saying the words.  I’m never going to fight with him again because I never can.  Because he’s gone.  I’ll never see him again.  Damn it.  What I wouldn’t give to fight with him one more time.  I swallowed hard.  Now wasn’t the time to mourn him—there’d be a chance eventually, but not just yet.  Right now, we had to make it through the next few days, the next few weeks.  I could come apart later.
            “His car’s still here, Marin.  Drew said he decided not to go.”
            I stared at her.  When did he decide not to go?  Why did he decide not to go?  That job was so, so important to him.  Idiot!  Why didn’t he…  My chest tightened.  Oh god.  That means he’s still…that he’s…  “So he’s here somewhere?”
            She nodded.  “We have no idea where, though.”
            I stared at her for a long moment.  She looked the same as always, right down to her necklace that wasn’t a necklace.  A way to find lost things.  One use for scrying, for dowsing.  Not just for finding water, but finding anything.  “…then what the hell are you wearing that around your neck for?”
            “Huh?”  Kellin looked down toward the finger of rose quartz she wore around her neck on a slender silver chain.  It was her pendulum, one she wore like a necklace so she’d always have it on hand.  She blinked a moment at it, then looked back at me.  “What?”
            She must have hit her head.  “You can scry for lost things, can’t you?  I’ve seen you find your keys with that thing before.”
            Kellin shook her head, hard, as if she was struggling to clear it.  “You want me to dowse for Thom?”
            “You said you can’t find him.”  I started pushing to my feet again, grimacing.  Fuck it.  Push past.  Time enough to rest when you’re dead, or when he’s dead.  Or something.  Need to find him first.  I smiled grimly to myself.  So I can slug him, then kiss him, and scream at him for not telling me that he wasn’t going to Chicago this weekend.  I wavered a moment on my feet; Kellin was quick to steady me.  I tugged on her pendulum.  “Use it to find him, Kellin.  Hell, use it to find any other survivors.  We’re…we’re going to need everyone we can get.”  I leaned against her, knees shaking.
            “How do you know?”
            I deadpanned.  You have to ask, Kel?  I just know.  “I haven’t had a real, bona fide vision yet, if that’s what you’re asking.  Then again, I think I’m still half high on fumes from cleaning supplies.”  Brains are still half scrambled.  Give me a good night’s sleep, I’m sure I’ll start seeing things again.
            She recoiled as much as she could with me leaning against her.  “Right, right.  Sorry.”
            I shook my head.  “We don’t have time for sorry right now.  We need to start hunting.  Where are the others?”
            “Rory and your brother are helping bury the dead I think, though he may have hooked up with Davon to check out buildings.  Jacqueline’s with Leah, working with the folks that’re hurt.  Drew’s working with some of the camps crew on shelters.  Tala’s scouting for food.”
            That’s it?  What about everyone else?  She must’ve seen the question in my eyes and shook her head.  “That’s all we’ve found so far, Marin.  It’s not looking good.”
            “Apparently not.”  I exhaled a sigh, feeling goosebumps race up and down my arms.  I shook my head.  “Let’s get on with this.  My feet are killing me.”
            “After you walked all that way?  Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me.”  She let me lean on her as we made our way out from under the shelter, out into the waning light.  The sullen sky roiled, clouds gathering in the west.  I grimaced, watching them drift ever-so-slowly eastward, toward us, tendrils reaching across the sky.  Here and there, every so often, a faint streak of light would mark them—whether rock or lightning, I couldn’t be sure.  Either way, they were coming.  A storm was coming.



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